The Chromebook

by ihtasham

Overview

So I got my HP Chromebook 14 a couple of weeks ago and I thought it’s about time I should do a review and just give my opinions on how I find it. I have the HP Chromebook 14 and it’s rocking an Intel Celeron @ 1.4GHz with 4GB of ram which is pretty decent. You can find more details about this Chromebook here. I’ve been using this as my daily driver, now, note that I am/was a heavy Windows User; so I used to just be all about my apps and programs such as SSH, C/C++/Java/Python compilers… You get the idea. The Chromebook utilizes the ChromeOS which is VERY VERY basic. It’s supposed to be all about the Web technology and is basically Google’s operating system to put everything in the Cloud so you’re carrying around a very light and low-spec notebook but in fact all it is intended to do is browse and make small documents, and it fulfills its goals but for a person like me? Not really.

ChromeOS

ChromeOS is basically a very basic operating system which runs on top of Linux and is made to run fast, on low resources and be a very basic operating system allowing almost everyone to use it, from a toddler to my grandma. Google decided it was time to invest in web-technology. All applications in ChromeOS are webapps, they all use JS, HTML and CSS on the client side which makes it very interesting for developers. Unfortunately, ChromeOS doesn’t have any support from Linux packages or actually any programs at all which is what bugged me because I was unable to use things like Skype, Compilers, FTP etc etc. However there are A LOT of applications to choose from and I actually found the web browsing experience very pleasant and quick. The Chromebook is definitely a good idea if you’re a browser and likes to watch movies, shows, browse and socialize.

Chromebook 14

The HP Chromebook 14 is built very well, it is very light and portable which makes it a perfect travelling device and allows me to go around without any trouble of breaking my shoulders with a 2KG laptop. As far as the build quality goes, it’s a plastic body and feels relatively firm for the pricetag. There are a few problems but not like you’ll wear it easily. The screen is 1366×768 and to my eyes it looks better than good. I’ve used my Chromebook for more than 100 hours at least just watching movies, shows and YouTube videos. The HDMI port also makes it great for connecting to a TV/Monitor and it works great. Overall I’m generally happy with the device as it satisfies me completely in my day-to-day tasks. The main reason I do love this device is because of the battery, on the box it’s said to do “9.5 hours” but does around 5-6 on medium/heavy use which is really great. On the first day I charged it up fully and was able to squeeze about 7 hours on maximum use, and when I say maximum I mean MAXIMUM (browsing, SSH, reddit, music, YouTube, blogging). I think considering everything the Chromebook was a really good purchase because it’s fast, light/portable and customizatable, CUSTOMIZABLE YOU SAY? Yes, read below!

ChromeOS -> Ubuntu 

So as I told you, I like my programs!! Now, we all know that Windows is heavy and CPU-intensive and doesn’t do so well with driver and kernel support. But what does? UBUNTU! As we’re running ChromeOS based on Linux it’s only fair to assume that we can run other distributions and lucky for us there are two ways you can turn your Chromebook into an UbuntuBook, way #1 is ChruBuntu and way #2 is Crouton. I tried to install ChruBuntu at first because it uses the dual-boot system and I thought it would be a good idea to switch between ChromeOS and Ubuntu but that turned out to be a complete mess because the trackpad failed to work, at least for my Chromebook 14 (this could have been due to me being a noob but there are known issues of trackpad not working in some distributions). So I thought, “MEH I’M GIVING UP!!” UNTILLLLLL I found Crouton. Crouton is kinda like a virtual machine running within ChromeOS but not quite, it runs side-by-side with ChromeOS and you can switch IN REAL TIME between Ubuntu and ChromeOS using hotkeys. It’s wonderful and revolutionary and amazing and I could go on forever because the way it works is great. No lag, full support for the kernel and drivers and everything seems to work, at least everything I’ve reached. At the moment I am using ElementaryOS (Ubuntu 12.04 “Precise”) and it was all thanks to THIS guide!

Conclusion

At first I thought this device would be basic and not very useful. But it’s NOT! I used ChromeOS for about a month and it seemed perfect because I do browse A LOT, I didn’t open my Windows Machine much because I just loved how fast and convenient it was to use this. I then thought I need to make it more functional and I found that it is possible to install Ubuntu in an amazing way which doesn’t require me to lose ChromeOS and also prevents me from simultaneously rebooting to get between operating systems.

So whether you’re a developer, a kid, a granny or a businessman. I think that the Chromebook can be useful for all of you! And don’t forget that Google NEVER EVER stops developing so if you think something is missing, I’m sure it’ll come soon!