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June 15, 2019, 6 a.m.

5 Reasons Why I — A Die-hard Windows Fan — Finally Switched to a Chromebook

Short Link: http://jsmtech.org/windows-to-chromebook
Read Time: 9 min

Yes, the rumors are true. Justin has switched over to the dark side. Well, dark as some people call it. But when you actually think about it, it may be the light side.


The thing is, I’ve completed my switch to a Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 — and contrary to what my tech friends think, I’m happy :)

Why am I happy, you ask? Well, that’s an easy one. But also a long one. Below, I’ve outlined my ten biggest reasons for switching to this supposedly miserable platform.


Reason #1 — The Cost


One thing I without doubt love about Chromebooks is their cost. The Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 I got will set you back $450 — unless you’re lucky enough like me to get a refurbished one for $200 (and that’s super cheap for a premium laptop :) 


You can also get super cheap Chromebooks for less than $100, but let me warn you that you get what you pay for. I originally got an ARM Acer 2-in1 Chromebook for $100. I mainly wanted to run Linux apps and use the touch screen for math and notes. However, ARM processor severely limits you from running a lot of pre-packaged Linux apps meaning you have to compile from source for literally anything to work and the laptop didn’t come with a built-in stylus, so my notes with a universal one were pretty terrible. I promptly returned it when I found a $200 listing for a premium Samsung Chromebook Plus V2.

Finally, you can also grab some of the more expensive higher-end premium Chromebooks like the Google Pixelbook or Google Pixel Slate (which is actually a Chrome OS tablet with a keyboard). Both of those will roughly cost you around $1000 depending on which options you want on them.   


Reason #2 — Linux Apps


This was going to be reason #1, but I’m too cheap ¯\_(ツ)_/¯  


Linux apps are the biggest if not the only reason to use Chromebooks. Back in the old days, most people were subject to running things just in the browser or a chrome app/extension. I can see why so many people hated Chrome OS back then (yes, even I hated them at one point). However, now that Chrome OS can run Linux apps, it’s a whole lot more useful, especially for a tech guy like me.


Linux apps allow me to code on my Chromebook. Which means I can run VS Code and SSH into my server’s VM’s just as easily on Windows or my Mojave Hackintosh. In fact, the only reason I can completely switch over to Chrome OS is because of its Linux apps. VS Code, Chrome, and a terminal are literally all I used to run on my old Windows laptop, so I don’t really miss much.


You might’ve read about my switch to Ubuntu Linux and prompt failure. However, Chrome OS has satisfied me so much with its interface, I don’t see myself going back to Windows for my daily driver. Even Linus Torvalds – creator of the Linux kernel (also known as the father of Linux) and founder of the Linux Foundation – thinks that Chrome OS and Andriod are probably going to end up being the future of Linux for consumers.


Reason #3 — Andriod Apps 


Remember in the previous section on Linux apps how I said Linux was the biggest reason? Well, Andriod apps are the second biggest reason to switch. Before the advent of Linux apps, Andriod apps were the de-facto reason. The ability to run Andriod apps on a Chromebook is like the ability to run Windows x86 applications on Mac OS, IOS, and Andriod at the same time. It just gives you so many more software choices and abilities. Another thing I like about Andriod apps is how it essentially allows a Chromebook to replace Andriod tablets – making Andriod tablets almost obsolete. You can see pure tablets like the Pixel Slate running Chrome OS or even see 2-in1’s like my Samsung Chromebook Plus V2 in tablet mode. 


The ability of Chrome OS to replace Andriod tablets is huge. If you want to browse the web or just read the morning news on a screen bigger than your phone than Chrome OS is there to completely replace your tablet. This means that all that you need is a (2-in-1 tablet like) laptop and phone – removing the tablet from that picture. I’d actually recommend you get, or hopefully build, your own Desktop PC for more power. You’d probably want to run Windows on that, but you could totally run Chrome OS with Linux & Andriod app support using Chromium OS and Chromefy 


Reason #4 — Run Chroot’s with Crouton


If for some odd reason Google’s shot at running Linux apps disappoints you, you can always run a chroot (or two!) in Chrome OS.  


A chroot on Unix operating systems is an operation that changes the apparent root directory for the current running process and its children. A program that is run in such a modified environment cannot name files outside the designated directory tree. – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chroot

A chroot is sorta like a Docker container. It’s completely separated from the host except for the kernel they share. 

But can you run a chroot on Chrome OS? Yes! Chrome OS is based on Gentoo Linux (with a Google modified kernel), Linux is based on Unix and all Unix operating systems can run a chroot. Therefore, Chrome OS can run a chroot just like any other Linux distribution. The only downside is that Google requires you to enable developer mode – which essentially makes your device insecure but allows you to read/write system files so you can chroot. If you’re interested, a script called Crouton will help you make a chroot. If you’d like to learn how to do it, I’d recommend this How-To Geek post. The plus side of a chroot is that you can a complete graphical Linux environment. I personally run Ubuntu Bionic 18.04 LTS with Gnome 3. I actually themed Gnome to look like Mac OS xD


Reason #5 — Seamless Updates 


Seamless updates are yet another reason to switch to Chrome OS. The engineers who came up with were ingenious. 

Essentially, there are three partitions on Chrome OS.

The “stateful partition” and two additional root file system partitions. All of your user data (Downloads, Pictures, etc) is held in the stateful partition and all of the system data is held in one of the root file system partitions. Only one root file system partition is used at a given time and the partition being used is read-only. When Chrome OS needs to update, it updates the second unused root file system partition while the machine is on causing absolutely no downtime. Then, when you’re ready to get the next update, you just reboot your Chromebook and you’re instantly in the new update with no downtime. This seamless updating process is so good that even Microsoft plans to add it to their rumored Chrome OS alternative dubbed Lite OS.


Personally, I really love updates. I even update my Windows 10 laptop to the next feature update the day the update comes out. So that makes this a big reason for me moving to Chrome OS. (Side note: the media says not to update to the next Windows 10 version because it’s “bad,” but I’ve personally done it ever since I moved to Windows 10 in 2015 and didn’t have a single problem. Not even on the so-called “disastrous” October 2018 update – I used that update for a good 7 months until the nest feature update came out and I was totally fine. Tsk, tsk, I hate to say this but don’t believe the media, it’s fake news.)

For more information on how Chrome OS updates, feel free to read the full in-depth article on the official Chromium blog.   


Conclusion of The Matter?


When most people talk about operating systems and computers, they seem to say that one is always better than the other. However, I sort of feel like the opposite of that mindset. Think of it this way: Windows, Mac OS, Chrome OS, and graphical Linuxes all have the same feeling. They all open windows, run programs, have taskbars or docks to open programs, have some sort of list for all the installed programs, and have a way to search through that list of installed programs. They all pretty much do the same thing. Of course, some computers supposedly can do a few things better than others, but nevertheless, all of them can do the same job. 


Therefore, what is the conclusion of the matter?


Well, I think I’m pretty much stuck on the Google ecosystem of Chrome OS, Andriod, and Chrome. While I understand that there might be that one program or two that only runs on Windows, for %98.9 of all my everyday work can be done on a Chromebook. However, I’m not going to get rid of my old Windows laptop and Hackintosh anytime soon  – I mean, after all, the title does tell you how much I love Windows and I think you can take a guess at my level of dedication to Hackintoshes ;) 


So… what do you think of my switch to a Chromebook? Feel free to leave a comment, join my newsletter, or send me a private message on the box on the bottom right and I’d be happy to get back to you :)


About Me — JSM!

I am a programmer who blogs, an entrepreneur who writes.

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