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


Intro

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:

ubuntu-1304-2

I’m Interested, Tell me More

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

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