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Thread: Do Chromebooks Make Good Linux Laptops?

  1. #1
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    Do Chromebooks Make Good Linux Laptops?

    Hey Everyone,

    As the subject states, I'm looking for a good portable computer (11-13in range) and my attention immediately went to the cost effective chromebooks available. Do they make decent Linux laptops for general usage?


    A bit more background on what I am trying to achieve:

    Background:
    This won't be my everyday main computer (primary machine), as I have a MacBook Pro for that.....but before I got in bed with Apple, I ran Ubuntu and other Linux flavors for several years as my main OS.


    What I Want:
    I am looking for a portable "travel" laptop in the 11-13" range (as stated earlier) with great battery life. I've read all about the ARM vs. Intel debate, and know that I need to concentrate on finding a true Intel CPU if I want to run Linux the best. It needs to be able to do basic web surfing, but I also will be using this machine a lot for watching movies (non-internet) on an airplane or other locations where internet might not be available....thus giving me an excuse to "scratch" my Linux itch and start tinkering again. So, travel laptop + light-use occasionally,
    great battery life with the ability to run movies I have downloaded or ripped.....but my main work items will most likely be reserved for the MacBook Pro I own.

    Questions:

    1. If I buy one of these lower-end chromebooks, am I going to be SOL when a new version of Linux (Ubuntu Mint, Lubuntu, etc.) come out and suddenly I find I can't run the latest and greatest any longer?
    2. Does it make sense to even get a chromebook vs. an older windows laptop?


      Thanks in advance!

      --Asif
    Last edited by Asif_Ahmad; December 13th, 2015 at 08:03 PM.

  2. #2
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    Re: Do Chromebooks Make Good Linux Laptops?

    Personally, I would get an older Thinkpad, perhaps the X60 series or similar. Most (or all) of the Chromebooks that I have seen with an Intel processor have a Celeron, which will make you want to pull your hair out in frustration. They are crappy processors that are designed to be crappy, and give crappy performance, and a crappy Linux experience.

    As far as Question 1. You won't hold on to the Intel-based Chromebook long enough to worry about compatibility with newer Linux versions.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Do Chromebooks Make Good Linux Laptops?

    How portable is the older X60 series? Do they get excellent battery life like a chromebook (6+ hours)?

    And most importantly, are they cheap? =)

  4. #4
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    Re: Do Chromebooks Make Good Linux Laptops?

    I am actually running 14.04 32bit on a Acer C7 Chromebook. I use this as my daily driver. Personally I don't mind the performance issues. I am not trying to play games on this. Most of the servers I need to access are though a SSH session, so the Chromebook works great for me. I have been thinking about getting something more powerful, but I don't want to give up the small size of my Chromebook.

    If you are looking for a $200 laptop, it will work. Just remember you get what you pay for. For my next laptop, I will be spending a little bit more to get a better CPU and more RAM.

  5. #5
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    Re: Do Chromebooks Make Good Linux Laptops?

    No, no, yes.

    Used ones are in the $200 to $250 range. Battery life is around 2 hours. 4 hours if you put in fat battery or a DVD battery. I think they are a good balance between portability, performance, and Linux compatibility. Higher performance, longer battery life, and tougher case, I would go with the T60 or greater. But they are heavier and not as portable. I have a T43p (slightly older than the T60 and X60) and it's a decent machine for the $250 I spent for it back in 2009.

    I have yet to see a blog post where someone put Ubuntu on a Chromebook and raved about the performance, battery life, and $200 price tag. I have seen lots of posts, where Ubuntu was installed, most things work, some things don't, and it runs like treacle. "Oh well, let the kids play with it."

    If you find such a post, please provide a link.

    My T43p was $2500 when it was new in 2006. Was used by a corporate person until the warranty ran out, then sold on craigslist. There are thousands out there. 2 GB, 300 GB fast hard disk, 1.46 GB Centrino (mobile, dual Pentium Core), ATI FireGL graphics. It runs circles around any Celeron processor-based machine. I can compile the linux kernel in 2.5 hours. How many hours to compile the kernel on a Chromebook? Anyone tried?
    Last edited by tgalati4; December 15th, 2015 at 11:59 PM.
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  6. #6
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    Re: Do Chromebooks Make Good Linux Laptops?

    I have a Lenovo Chromebook, I am on it now. It has an Intel Celeron and a 16GB SSD with 4GB of ram. I was going to put Xubuntu on it but decided to stick with Chrome OS. It is a great machine, I have had it a year and it has been 100% trouble free. The battery lasts for about 10 hours and it surfs really well. It plays videos fine and interfaces with all my other computer stuff perfectly.

  7. #7
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    Re: Do Chromebooks Make Good Linux Laptops?

    Quote Originally Posted by tgalati4 View Post
    How many hours to compile the kernel on a Chromebook? Anyone tried?
    No, and I have not tried carrying bags of sand home from the DIY store on my bicycle either, but that does not invalidate the bicycle as a viable means of transport for many people.

    I have never compiled a kernel on any machine, and I feel confident in saying almost everyone on the planet is the same. The OP never mentioned it and also made it clear the Chromebook was to be a secondary machine only.

    This reminds me of the arguments against Unity and Gnome Shell a few years ago. Posters claimed they were no use for their ill-defined "real work", but OK for the (implied) lesser people to play about on. Well, that is real world use for almost everyone. Look at how many commuters are on tablets, and they are weaker still in processing power.

    We get you don't like Chromebooks. The old Lenovos are great, but battery life, even with a new battery, is not much use for travelling if your commute is an hour each way.

    Disclaimer: I do not, and have never had, a Chromebook
    [/QUOTE]

  8. #8
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    Re: Do Chromebooks Make Good Linux Laptops?

    The Lenovo T61P looks like a solid choice that can be had on ebay for around $150. Put Lubuntu on it, and be happy.

  9. #9
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    Re: Do Chromebooks Make Good Linux Laptops?

    Good for three hours on a new battery, so Google says. I don't think you can buy a new Chromebook with a battery life that short. It all depends on what is important to you, as always

  10. #10
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    Re: Do Chromebooks Make Good Linux Laptops?

    I have an Ebay Thinkpad X201. Very portable and excellent *buntu compatibility. Paid just over $100 U.S. on Ebay, it looked like new when received. The battery was about 55% capacity fully charged so I bought a new Ebay 5200 mAh battery and SSD. I could have gone with a larger 9 cell battery but then it starts to get a bit big. It'll run about 5 - 5.5 hours with brightness around 50% web surfing. I haven't tried watching a movie on it. I kept the old battery, it's still good for around 2.5 - 3 hours and it's small and light so I can have additional capacity if I need it.
    Last edited by kurt18947; December 20th, 2015 at 05:14 PM.

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