Author Topic: Chromebook crush? - tough + Linux + not too expensive  (Read 1522 times)

ergophobe

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Chromebook crush? - tough + Linux + not too expensive
« on: September 01, 2018, 02:01:28 AM »
I've been looking for a cheap Chromebook that I could travel with and not worry too much if it were destroyed, because it's so cheap.

But I also like the idea of a Chromebook that runs Linux apps, or, even better, Crostini (i.e. full Linux in a container). But those tend to be heavier and much more expensive.

So, I started going through the list of machines that supposedly support Crostini already
https://www.reddit.com/r/Crostini/wiki/getstarted/crostini-enabled-devices

And then looked that weight, battery life and CPU performance on this list
https://zipso.net/chromebook-specs-comparison-table/

And came across ASUS Chromebook Flip C213, a ruggedized Chromebook designed to be beat on by kindergartners and have a longer than typical battery life, even for a Chromebook (PCMag reported 14.7 hours; Asus says 12). You have to upgrade to the touchscreen version to get Gorilla Glass

https://www.asus.com/us/Commercial-Laptops/ASUS-Chromebook-Flip-C213SA/

Seems like a bit of a clunker (not fast, not bright), but a decent travel companion.

I'm trying to decide whether or not I'm stupidly limiting my choices by getting excited about the Crostini capability. In reality, mostly what I want is a way to answer email, write, surf the web and maybe watch a move from the road without putting my primary machine at risk on trips where it will get banged around a lot. For real "work" trips, I would probably still bring my main laptop.

I think most of my Linux work would, realistically, be on a server that I connect to via an SSH client.

littleman

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Re: Chromebook crush? - tough + Linux + not too expensive
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2018, 06:58:56 AM »
That Flip C213 is my type of laptop.

Mackin USA

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Re: Chromebook crush? - tough + Linux + not too expensive
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2018, 11:30:25 AM »
We JUST bought one for our 10 year old granddaughter over my objection  8)
Mr. Mackin

ergophobe

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Re: Chromebook crush? - tough + Linux + not too expensive
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2018, 04:31:30 PM »
We JUST bought one for our 10 year old granddaughter over my objection  8)

Over your objection based on the recipient or based on the product?

That Flip C213 is my type of laptop.

:-)

Theresa is pointing out that my idea was a laptop so cheap that I wouldn't mind breaking it... on the other hand, from an environmental perspective, I'd rather not think of things as disposable and was thinking 2X price for something ruggedized might be better.

Still thinking.

I think it has enough power to run a non-GUI Linux distro which would give me a local server for development work. So that's kind of cool for longer trips

Mackin USA

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Re: Chromebook crush? - tough + Linux + not too expensive
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2018, 08:18:16 PM »
The devices are primarily used to perform a variety of tasks using the Google Chrome browser, with most applications and data residing in the cloud rather than on the machine itself.
Mr. Mackin

littleman

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ergophobe

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Re: Chromebook crush? - tough + Linux + not too expensive
« Reply #6 on: September 02, 2018, 03:25:14 AM »
https://blog.lessonslearned.org/building-a-more-secure-development-chromebook/

Thanks! Great article. That gives me a way better sense of what a low-end Chromebook can do. Half the stuff he recommends I had not heard of. Termux looks like it would offer everything I need from Linux. He doesn't mention MySQL/MariaDB, but it looks like

$pkg install mariadb

gets it for you ( https://hackermindsite.wordpress.com/2017/09/26/first-blog-post/ ). Way better than I expected from a $169 Chromebook.

The devices are primarily used to perform a variety of tasks using the Google Chrome browser, with most applications and data residing in the cloud rather than on the machine itself.

I have a 2TB account on pCloud with encryption and they have a Chromebook app. During our recent fire experience, I was quite glad that my laptop backs up to the cloud.

And the most important use for it is, in any case, doing things online such as email, which is also ipso facto in the cloud (or passing through the cloud along the way as a minimum).

So that doesn't bother me. Want some Kool-Aid?

littleman

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Re: Chromebook crush? - tough + Linux + not too expensive
« Reply #7 on: September 02, 2018, 06:44:58 PM »
If you want to go for a Windows variant in the disposable range the Acer Aspire 1 is a good choice. 

About $200
Intel Celeron processor, 4GB Ram
32GB eMMC SSD, Intel HD graphics
14" 1080p display, 3.65 lbs, 9 hr battery

I bought a Windows 10 S addition for one of my kids and it has been working out well for her.

Looks like it runs Linux well too!
http://michaelb.org/installing-ubuntu-17-10-linux-on-acer-aspire-1/
(Lubuntu would probably be a better choice than Ubuntu)

ergophobe

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Re: Chromebook crush? - tough + Linux + not too expensive
« Reply #8 on: September 02, 2018, 10:21:11 PM »
Thanks.

For a road warrior that is mostly for email and minor web updates and possibly the occasional emergency for a client I can't shake, I kind of like ChromeOS. All the data should back up except what I did since the last time I connected, and if I lose it, I can disable it remotely.

Google owns me anyway. I'm honestly not that concerned about that aspect especially if I'm using pCloud for most storage.

ergophobe

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Re: Chromebook crush? - tough + Linux + not too expensive
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2019, 09:13:39 PM »
I ended up buying the Samsung 3 recommeded in the article that Littleman linked.

Since the article, the Samsung 3 has gotten full Crostini support. That means you click on toggle in the settings, wait for a 300MB download (first use only) and it launches a full Linux container.

I haven't looked into it, but apparently it's a standard LXC container, so in theory you could build an entire server on your Chromebook, export it, import it to any machine running LXD and it should just run. I've always been stymied every time I've tried to get Docker to work, so I don't see myself doing that anytime soon.

Plus it's half the price of the ruggedized machine I was initially looking at. So for a machine that is meant to be a burner, that's a plus.

My impressions... I actually love it. I have a few programs that I use on my Windows machine that I can't run on a Chromebook (Photoshop, Beyond Compare, a couple others, but not many).

And onboard storage is limited. However, it is currently $89 for a 400GB microSD card and my main computer only has 460MB on the data partition and that includes 75GB of materials from my old job and 200GB of photos, many quite old and many existing in multiple copies.

Beyond that, I actually love it. I could see my next machine being a more powerful Chromebook. Apple fans are always saying that it just "feel" better than a Windows machine, but they pay an exhorbitant premium for that feel in my opinion. With the Chromebook, I sort of have that sense of pleasure in working on it, but instead of paying 3X what I would pay for an equivalent Windows machine, it's a $172 burner that I took to the desert and didn't worry about at all.

My one disappointment is that the machine that I was originally looking at when I started this thread had, according to spec and reviews, over 10 hr battery life. This machine only has about 6-7 hrs of battery life. I would gladly "pay" an extra 100gms for an extra couple of hours. But I suppose shoppers like me are looking at price and weight as main criteria, so it's like the airlines adding legroom - everyone says they want it, but nobody makes buying decisions based on it.

Rupert

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Re: Chromebook crush? - tough + Linux + not too expensive
« Reply #10 on: January 06, 2019, 07:34:12 AM »
Can you run it off a back up battery?  Lucy has had one for a few years now, loves it... never had an issue with battery life so not looked.  But I would be surprised if it cannot be run the way a phone can off a secondary battery.
... Make sure you live before you die.

martinibuster

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Re: Chromebook crush? - tough + Linux + not too expensive
« Reply #11 on: January 06, 2019, 08:55:37 AM »
Quote
This machine only has about 6-7 hrs of battery life.

I was thinking the same as Rupert. Can a replacement battery be used? That's what I do with travel laptops.

ergophobe

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Re: Chromebook crush? - tough + Linux + not too expensive
« Reply #12 on: January 06, 2019, 07:32:26 PM »
I might just be wrong about battery life. That was the number it gave me a few minutes after a full charge. Now it's been sitting with the plug out being used intermittently for a couple of days and it says it has 8:21 left in the battery.

Rupert - Lucy has the Samsung 3? There are many models of the Samsung 3, BTW. So there might be differences there. But I"ll just have to use it more and see how the battery does. People were reporting 11 and even more hours with the Asus and mainstream reviews (like PC mag) consistently said it had the longest battery life of any machine tested. So I was not expecting this one to last that long.

>>Backup battery

Perhaps, but it's not like a phone where you can plug in a USB cable to a small backup battery and it's note like a laptop where you can easily change out the battery. It needs a full inverter. Theresa has one that would give me days of use on this thing, but I would rarely carry that. It's an option though. Much, much bigger than a spare laptop battery though.

MB - yes, I usually travel with 2 laptop batteries... different situation here - I wouldn't even know how to find the battery.

Whatever, it's got better batter life than most laptops, weighs nothing, costs nothing, and is a really nice user experience. Shocking compared to what $1200 bought me in 1991 when I got my first laptop

Chunkford

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Re: Chromebook crush? - tough + Linux + not too expensive
« Reply #13 on: January 07, 2019, 10:07:11 AM »
I went a month trying to use an ASUS flip C213 as my main machine.
But I couldn't do it. The change was too much. I was finding myself spending way too long finding alternatives and forcibly changing my workflow which most of the time I couldn't do anyway as the software wasn't out there. So most of the time I was logging into my machine using Chrome remote desktop at home to do certain tasks.

Saying that though, I could use it as a temp solution e.g. when popping out to a meeting, or on a long train ride as the portability and battery life is top notch.
Also being able to use Android on the Chromebooks was a blessing (that was one of the main reason for getting the C213, plus the 1080 screen).
For example, I couldn't get on with Terminus so I used JuiceSSL instead - https://juicessh.com/

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rcjordan

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Re: Chromebook crush? - tough + Linux + not too expensive
« Reply #14 on: January 07, 2019, 01:56:41 PM »
>use Android on the Chromebooks was a blessing

A great feature for me, too.  Because of that, my chromebook is the only access device I need to develop my smarthome setup. SH stuff assumes you're using a phone and require an app (G Home, for example). Even if they have both apps and browser-based UI, some features can be set up or programmed only from the app (Alexa).  ...And I have a few cloud-based legacy devices that require an app.  The chromebook handles it all in one place and eliminates a PITA.