Review: Acer Chromebook R11 including Crouton

The Acer R11 Chromebook is a product with something of an identity crisis. It doesn’t have premium build quality, like the Asus C100P Chromebook Flip. It also isn’t packing impressive performance and hardware at the expense of its build quality, like the Toshiba Chromebook 2 2015.

Made up mostly of white plastic, with a thick, flat design, and packing Intel’s new, but relatively low-end N3150 Celeron processor, the Acer R11 isn’t going to win any awards for design or performance.

I’m really selling you on this Chromebook so far, I know.

While it is true that the Acer R11 is not be the fastest or best-looking Chromebook, there’s also no other Chromebook on the market with the R11’s combination of characteristics. With its 360 degree display featuring an IPS touchscreen, 32 GB of local storage standard, and a quad-core Intel Bramwell processor, the R11 gets many things right despite a first impression that is mediocre at best.

In fact, after using it for a few weeks as my primary laptop, I think this is one of the best Chromebooks available for a wide percentage of the consumer market… or, it will be, once the price drops a bit.


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Chromebook Pixel 2015: Crouton Demo [Video]

If you’ve been  curious what Crouton looks like on the 2015 Chromebook Pixel, I’ve got the video for you. This is 20 minutes of showing how Unity 14.04 runs on the Pixel 2015, including Minecraft, Steam, Skype, classic game emulation, Software Center, and more.

Want to install Crouton on your Chromebook? Check out my guide!


Continue reading Chromebook Pixel 2015: Crouton Demo [Video]

Crouton Installation Guide: Updated for Broadwell Chromebooks

So you’ve got yourself a brand-new Chromebook, featuring a 5th-generation Intel Broadwell CPU. Maybe you want to use Crouton to access a full Ubuntu environment, but don’t want to have to look all over the internet for the reference material you need to get started?

Good news: I’ve got you covered.

If you’re looking for a Crouton install guide and have a Haswell Celeron or Bay Trail Celeron processor, this will also work for you! Simply skip the sections regarding Intel driver updates and resolution adjustments.

Below you’ll find a comprehensive guide to installing Crouton and setting up Ubuntu in 8 steps:

  1. Enable Developer Mode
  2. Download Crouton
  3. Install Ubuntu
  4. Enter your chroot
  5. Adjust your Display
  6. Update your Intel drivers
  7. Install Ubuntu applications
  8. Exit your chroot

Each step is explained in detail, though I’ve tried to keep this basic enough that a novice could follow, and I’ve also focused on some specific options to keep this to a manageable size.

Again, while I’ve tailored this specifically to the new Broadwell-powered Chromebooks with a core i5 or i7 processor, the steps themselves will cover the vast majority of Intel Chromebooks; if you’re using a Haswell or Bay Trail-powered Chromebook, just skip step 6 as you won’t need to update your drivers. If using Bay Trail, strongly consider using XFCE rather than Unity.

NOTE: This guide also works for newer Core i3 Chromebooks including the Toshiba Chromebook 2015 and Dell Chromebook 13.

Please note that for those using the Intel Celeron 3205U Broadwell processor in the Acer C740, Acer C910, Acer Chromebook 15, and Dell Chromebook 15,  you should be able to follow this guide as well, follow the appropriate steps listed below. I can confirm I was able to install Trusty 14.04 with XFCE and the Crouton Extension enabled, and it worked beautifully on my Dell Chromebook 13.

Continue reading Crouton Installation Guide: Updated for Broadwell Chromebooks

Steam In-Home Streaming on an HP14 Chromebook

Today, a very brief guide on how to set up in-home streaming using Steam’s service, which recently came out of beta.

In order for this to work, you need the following:

  • A computer running Windows, OS X, or Linux to act as the host; this is typically going to be a more powerful PC and should be connected to the internet via a Wired connection.
  • A computer running Windows, OS X, or Linux to connect to the host computer; for our purposes, we’re going to be using an HP14 Chromebook running Ubuntu 14.04
  • A sufficiently fast network connection for both devices; I’ve been able to get this working at 50 Mb download / 25 Mb upload, but if I run much slower things start to lag*
  • In order to run Ubuntu on your Chromebook, you need to have Crouton installed or have set your Chromebook to dual-boot into Ubuntu

If you have a PC to act as the host and have a Chromebook, but haven’t installed Ubuntu on it yet, see here for instructions on how to get Ubuntu and Steam running on your Chromebook.  At this point I recommend installing Ubuntu 14.04 as it is fully compatible with Crouton.

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Chromebooks: Classic Game Emulation via Crouton

Ubuntu Emulation

If you have Ubuntu running on your system, you have an abundance of emulation options available to play classic games and game systems. So, in addition to the native gaming options available in Linux via Crouton that I discussed here you can also turn your Chromebook or Chromebox into a pretty awesome classic gaming box using Crouton!

Below, I’ve compiled the steps needed to emulate NES, SNES, GBA, PS1, Sega Saturn, and N64 games, though this is not a complete list; there are native emulation programs for Atari, arcade games, PS2, Gamecube, and more!

With that out of the way, let’s get into some classic gaming…


FCEUX is an NES emulator, and it is pretty awesome.  It lets you take screenshots, record video, and it ran every ROM I threw at it. Step 1:  Install the software by entering the following into a terminal:

sudo apt-get install fceux

Then, open the program, select Options -> Video Preferences, and click off “Enable OpenGL”.  Failure to do this will prevent full-screen functionality from working.  And, that’s it – this is a great emulator.  I tested:

  • Contra
  • Mike Tyson’s Punchout
  • Super Mario Brothers
  • Metroid
  • The Legend of Zelda

All worked, no issues.

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Luftrausers running on an Acer C720 Chromebook via Crouton

Video of Luftrausers running on Steam on an Acer C720 Chromebook. I’m using Crouton to run Ubuntu 13.04 and the XFCE desktop on a USB 3.0 Flash Drive. Great game, and it runs perfectly, and it even synced up my Steam save from gameplay on my Windows PC. Very cool.

Fore more information on gaming on a Chromebook using Crouton, see here:

Chromebooks, Part 3: Beyond Chrome OS – Ubuntu and Crouton

Note:  This is part three of a multi-part series about Chromebooks, consisting of the following:

Part 1:  What is a Chromebook?

Part 2:  What Can I Do with a Chromebook?

Part 3: Beyond Chrome OS – Ubuntu and Crouton


Before we get started, a few points.  If you’re starting here, I’m going to assume you’re already familiar with the concept of Chromebooks. If that isn’t the case, skip back to one of the earlier parts and then come back.

I’m also going to assume you have a passing familiarity with Linux and Ubuntu – not how they work, perhaps, but what they are.  If not, here’s a great intro you may want to check out before proceeding:

Introduction to Ubuntu


Expanding your Chromebook’s Horizons

I’ve written about what Chromebooks can and cannot do in the first two parts of this series, and for the vast majority of Chromebook users, this part is going to be superfluous.  If you’re looking for a laptop mainly for using the web, that also has some ability to open and edit basic Office files, and has great battery life and a cheap price, a Chromebook is a great option for you.  Similarly for those who don’t want or need to deal with the hassles of managing a Windows PC, or just can’t do so, a Chromebook is an ideal option for entertainment and light productivity.

But, if you’re willing to invest a little time and energy, your Chromebook can actually be more.  A LOT more.  In fact, it can do some of the things that I said a Chromebook can’t do:

  • You can install Steam for Linux and play native Linux games, or directly install Linux games via download from HumbleBundle
  • You can run some .exe files meaning you have access to some Windows software
  • You may be able to print to your network printer (ignoring the Google Cloud Printing nonsense)
  • You can install native Linux programs for far more advanced music, video, movie, photo, and programming options than you have in Chrome OS

Basically, you can “unlock” your Chromebook from Chrome OS into a full-on desktop environment that works much like Windows or OSX, giving you a full file management system, the ability to use other browsers like Firebox and Internet Explorer, and a full library of software you can’t find in Chrome OS.

For me, it was all about the games.

Here’s what the Unity 13.04 desktop looks like on a Chromebook.  Note how similar this looks to a more traditional PC or Mac experience:


I’m Interested, Tell me More

If you’re still with me, let’s start to talk options and decisions.

Continue reading Chromebooks, Part 3: Beyond Chrome OS – Ubuntu and Crouton