Giving ChromeOS an Honest Try

Unsplash image, not representative of the Thinkpad C13 Yoga

Hello there again! Long time no see!

Recently, I’ve been getting to using ChromeOS a bit more, with the Thinkpad C13 Yoga that was on sale recently in the USA

So far, I’ve used this for a few use cases:

  • Blogging, as you see here
  • My job, customer support- mainly Firefox and chrome with some VSCode in between
  • GeForce Now gaming
  • Casting videos to our various “smart” sticks in my family’s TVs
There’s a dedicated button for opening workspaces

Some of the “workspace” functionality I usually see in my various Linux flavors is even here too! Well, I guess that should make sense, considering ChromeOS is technically based on Gentoo with some Google flair and design language thrown in.

The Linux container experience with Debian is definitely adequate for most developers’ needs it appears. A friend of mine who worked at Google for a short stint once mentioned “A Chromebook should be as simple as possible, while having the tools a web developer may need” and I can definitely see that here. Tons of partitions for updating on reboot, kind of like the frzr idea, and keeping the Debian instance in its own container …while also allowing you to see your Linux apps as icons in the launcher alongside everything else.

Now, onto the use cases in more depth!

That might be my next laptop

Having edited this blog post, turned Medium article, on the Chromebook, everything is smooth as butter. When I receive a new machine, or have a machine that I’ve refurbished, I usually end up going through the quick process that is installing Fedora or Pop!_OS on it. However, running my bash script to set things up the way I like usually takes a while afterwards.

Not the case on ChromeOS. You sign in to your separate work and personal emails, and just get stuff done. Here I show myself doing some web browsing, editing this blog post and checking out the new Framework laptop, with fully modular components. This Thinkpad C13 Yoga breezes past it all.

An example of one of the workspaces

For my work, now at System76, I’m mainly on my work-provided Gazelle getting things done. I would say I probably use this Chromebook two days a week for work, due to various time-sensitive things needing a full Linux experience. When I am on the Chromebook though, I’m answering calls through our dedicated call app, typing up notes in VSCodium and testing various packages in the Debian VM.

Outside of having a few web browser tabs open, a terminal and a text editor, I don’t need much else for my job. Having access to the Android app for our calling system is nice, for sure. That way I can have a dedicated device for it. I need the computing power to compile Linux kernels from time to time, but other than that I mostly live in the browser. Need I mention the keyboard? I’ve been spoiled by Thinkpads for most of my young adult, and now maturing adult life. I can type up to 100wpm on this bad boy.

Consuming media. We all do it, on various devices we own. I like that this is a 2-in-1 style laptop, so I can just fold it when I want to use it as a “director” of sorts for Youtube video playlists on the TV in our living room.
Want to have a music session? Easily cast various Soundcloud songs/Youtube videos to the television and sound system my family owns.

Not much more to say here, everything just works!

Gotta love GFN

Something else I’ve been using this Chromebook for, is for testing various cloud gaming and streaming services.

I own a lot of games on Steam, but mainly play games on Linux- more info about that in a prior post. I’ve been testing GeForce Now game streaming for a month or two. When all I have is this Chromebook, I just plug my wired Xbox 360 controller into it, and jump into a Rocket League or No Man’s Sky session.

Games such as Destiny 2 or others that have had issues running on Linux either due to developers who do not support Linux or some sort of anti-cheat software incompatibility, I’ll play via this method…and in my testing, they run fine! Our home internet is fairly quick at around 100mb/s down and 40mb/up, and my work-from-home friends that I visit occasionally also have fairly quick internet, so game streaming wasn’t an issue there either. One thing to be careful with is if you’re streaming something like Rocket League from your phone, though, as that latency could potentially result in a lost match.

I have tried a Bluetooth 8bitdo Pro controller, but had issues using it with Moonlight or GeForce Now on my C13 Yoga. It appears that GeForce Now is very picky about what Bluetooth controllers they’ll accept, so I mainly have been sticking to my USB Xbox 360 controller.

Those are my short thoughts on the use cases I’ve been testing out ChromeOS for recently, feel free to let me know your thoughts!

Originally published at https://www.s31bz.com on March 6, 2021.

I love Linux and tinkering with all things fun

I love Linux and tinkering with all things fun