Author Topic: Bought a Chromebook. Feeling like an Chromeberk  (Read 1386 times)

Fambo Number Mive

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Bought a Chromebook. Feeling like an Chromeberk
« on: May 23, 2021, 12:38:19 PM »
My old laptop which I've been using for WFH is worn out. The only affordable laptop that didn't have bad reviews was a Chromebook, and I didn't realise the VPN device I use to get onto my work computer doesn't work on Chromebooks.

I understand that you can install Ubuntu on a Chromebook and then install Windows 10 but this might invalidate my warranty. I know there is a desktop extension you can install on a Windows machine for remoting on via a Chromebook but not sure if that has any issues.

Any advice/suggestions? Really don't want to stop WFH given I've only had one jab, I could send the laptop back and buy one of the Windows 10 laptops but the reviews left me sceptical, and I can't afford the £500 ones that had Windows 10 and decent reviews.

I feel like a right idiot now. I should have checked with my work's IT before buying a new laptop.

Sebastian Cobb

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Re: Bought a Chromebook. Feeling like an Chromeberk
« Reply #1 on: May 23, 2021, 02:09:39 PM »
A few unrelated points here:
If you're mostly wanting to use the machine for work, is there any possibility of requisitioning/badgering your work to supply you a laptop? I personally wouldn't want to mix the two environments, I have a work laptop that isn't well monitored, but I still like the delineation between 'work stuff' and 'home stuff'.

It looks like there isn't much special about ChromeOs so if you did stick ubuntu or windows on the machine instead, you could build a bootable restore stick if you ever needed to get warranty work done, so I wouldn't worry too much about this.

If you want to send it back and get a machine that is more fit for purpose, I'd steer away from cheap consumer-grade laptops (which inevitably physically fall apart quite quickly because they're cheap and plasticy) and consider either a refurbished or second-hand business machine, Thinkpads are always a good buy, the x2*0's are good value, I have an x260 with an i5, 8gb of ram and a 250gb SSD that cost less than £200. Obviously you're taking a bit of a punt on the 2nd hand ones, but the refurbs usually come with some amount of warranty. HP's Elitebooks seem to have reasonable build quality these days too.

Fambo Number Mive

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Re: Bought a Chromebook. Feeling like an Chromeberk
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2021, 02:14:04 PM »
Those are good points, the bootable restore stick is a very good idea. I don't think my work has any spare laptops but will have another ask.

Agree about avoiding consumer-grade laptops - the last two I've bought have fallen into that category and they have only lasted a few years. I'll have a look into the refurbished machines.


MojoJojo

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Re: Bought a Chromebook. Feeling like an Chromeberk
« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2021, 10:22:21 AM »
It looks like there isn't much special about ChromeOs so if you did stick ubuntu or windows on the machine instead, you could build a bootable restore stick if you ever needed to get warranty work done, so I wouldn't worry too much about this.

Assuming things haven't changed since I bought mine a long time ago, they have a locked boot partition. Depending on the precise model, it can be possible to get round this, but the process is similar to unlocking a phone. You can run ubuntu through chroot shenanigans, and if the CPU supports virtualisation* I suppose you could then run windows through that.

I'm a big fan of chromebooks, and mine is about to stop getting software updates, but this does sounds like a situation where it isn't going to work. Getting windows to run will be complicated and will probably be a worse experience than a cheap windows laptop.


(*mine doesn't and it's an odd feature to have on the low power cpus in chromebooks, but maybe it's just standard now)

Sebastian Cobb

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Re: Bought a Chromebook. Feeling like an Chromeberk
« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2021, 12:35:40 PM »
Yeah to be fair I did do some googling and got to this, but it's old so may be a bit outdated, i probably should've been more diligent:
https://www.reddit.com/r/chromeos/comments/3qbzag/reinstalling_chromeos_after_installing_linux/

Pavlov`s Dog`s Dad`s Dead

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Re: Bought a Chromebook. Feeling like an Chromeberk
« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2021, 04:08:53 PM »
What model is your Chromebook? IIUC all new models are able to run Linux programs without going through the chroot malarkey. I found out literally this morning that my old Chromebook (Asus C302c, bought in 2018 and still my main machine) has just had the kernel update which allows Linux without the chroot, so that's what I'll be playing around with tomorrow. Is your VPN dongle (or whatever) compatible with Linux, or just Windows?

All that said, I've never tried it. I love my Chromebooks, but I'd imagine running Windows via a VM on typical Chromebook specs would be disheartening...

Fambo Number Mive

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Re: Bought a Chromebook. Feeling like an Chromeberk
« Reply #6 on: May 24, 2021, 04:27:39 PM »
It is an Acer 314 FHD touch. I'm not sure if the VPN can run on Linux. Never really used Linux before, is it complicated?


Pavlov`s Dog`s Dad`s Dead

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Re: Bought a Chromebook. Feeling like an Chromeberk
« Reply #7 on: May 24, 2021, 04:59:26 PM »
Well, according to this page, you should be all set. In terms of complexity, you're maybe asking the wrong person: I started messing with Linux back when Vista was looming on the horizon. Certainly, you can still make it as complicated as you could wish, but it is way more user friendly these days.

However, thinking laterally, do you have an Android version of the VPN? Don't forget your Chromebook can run Android apps, too. That might be the way to cut the Gordian knot.

Also, have a word with your IT guys anyway, see if they have run into this before. If your VPN needs a dongle or similar, and not just an app, they might have a compatible one they could courier out to you.

Don't give up on the Chromebook just yet, though. Like I say, I've been using them as daily drivers for the past five years or so, and they are much pleasanter to use than Windows machines. I recently worked at a place that gave laptops to employees, and it was a real throwback using Windows again. An awful experience, in comparison.

MojoJojo

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Re: Bought a Chromebook. Feeling like an Chromeberk
« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2021, 08:53:50 AM »
I guess the missing part here is what is your "vpn device"?

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