At some point you need to commit to an ecosystem with IT, Microsoft, Apple, Google, OpenSource its a choice and you make it and roll with the pro's and the con's of said choice. this post is a bit of personal opinion, probably might not be the same as your opinion, its a waffly, oft misspelt post with terrible grammar in places.. It a thought dump on Google, ChromeOs and this life.
For a very long time my choice was one of the opensource route, I've been using Linux as aon OS personally and when possible at work for over 20 years, i tried home automation with opensource formats and by doing all of this I learned something very important.
The opensource community has a huge amount of innovation, however its fragmentation is killing it.
What do I mean by this? The choice is the downfall of Opensource.
Take Linux, as an OS its powerful, there are plenty of choices, in the main it works, however its where it doesn't work that causes me issues. A choice on Drivers, an update missing, an old version here or there.. unfixed glitches.
And yes, I agree there is an argument this is the same to a degree with walled garden systems.
Its not just Linux, its Home Automation, its Media services.. Its all amazing that there are so many people out there spending so much time to create these services and in the main doing so unpaid. Its possible the last bit is also the problem..
With this being said having spent years trying to get Opensource setup I finally had to bow down to the Wife Test and it just wasn't working.
At this point you're going to need to make a choice, and my Choice was
But Dear Sir, Google is evil..
At this point i'm 100% not going to argue with that statement, there is a part of what Google does which is "evil" thats not hard to deny. Google are inherently a marketing organisation who use technology to obtain data to sell to make money
They are not selling your data, they are selling data about you as a demographic.
They make this paletable by providing free and paid for variants or attractive services
This is a good article around asking the right questions about Google before attaching to the twitter feed mod answer
So why Google?
As I have said above, for google to flourish it needs to make compelling services and when doing that create a usable ecosystem. The better they do this, the more people (might) use it. Over the years Google have proved both the ability to do this AND the ability to end of life quickly those services which are not working or as popular
Of the current Google services I have migrated over to
Having run Alexa, Siri and OK Google I find the latter works best with my daily workflow. Turning lights on and off, shopping lists, weather checks, routines news updates, travel checks, reminders, when are places open/closed, recipies all work better for me on my Android phone Google Assistant Pucks and ChromeOS devices.
Because of this we have added voice listening pucks and Google Home assistant boxes around the house.
Living in a house over 3 floors I've used several things to provide strong wifi throught the house. Powerline adapters, Wifi extenders none of which worked. The implementation of a 6 puck Wifi Mesh using Google Wifi.
This is actually a product that for me falls short, however I'm not its intended audience.
While the interface offers a certain degree of control around the network which is being setup, its not quite as detailed as I'd like it. As an example DNS isn't obvious and is flakey so i use AdGuard as my local DNS. However it has created a mesh over 3 levels of the house that gives me fast internet all over the house.
Chromecast is one of those services i just cannot live without any more. the ability to Cast media from my phone or Chromebook to a remote device is one of the most used services. This is to the point if away (pre Covid) n trips i've got a mini network I can setup in a hotel room for the Chromecast so i can stream my own media from home.
Its too cold, can you get up and turn up the thermostat on the heating? Nope, i'll pick up my phone and do it.. and i'll do it per room in the house to make sure i'm not wasting any money. While the core concept there is one of laziness the result if done right is cost savings in heating around the house
I'm not a gamer, not in the sense that i'd see the point of having an xbox or a PS5, even handheld gaming devices lost thier appeal. Being able to fire up my web browser and Be a Jedi, an F1 driver or part of a Tom Clancy novel however works for me. While my gaming is casual when I am going it I do like it to be aesthetically pleasing.
Whats not Google?
While we have gone in a lot for Google and its home services its not everywhere, I have webcams over the house which are not Google, I've got a Ring Doorbell, the core internet isn't Google. The Sonos in the living room is, but in the kitchen a mis purchased Amazon Echo tells the time..
So this paints the picture. I've gone down the google Eco system, invested in hardware, drunk the cool aid, evil or not I'm now just a statistic in the Alphabet family..
This gets me to ChromeOS. Its something i've been using since around 2015 when it was released. Started out with a rather plasitic Acer Chromebook which also ran Crouton and was my first tentative step into the product. I then took a leap and bought a very portable Asus Flip Chromebook which was amazing. This was followed by purchasing the HP Chromebook X2 tablet which was an amazing purchase and well worth it.
Last year (2020) on my other laptop saw me try to find a Linux Distro which was right for me and spent a long time on OpenSuse then flipped around different KDE based distros and ended the year on Kubuntu.
What the year taught me was that there isn't a Linx distro which ticks all the boxes for me and often this is about choice, I'm always looking for the next big change, update.
This lead me in Jan 2021 to install Brunch on my Dell XPS 13
The purpose of the Brunch framework is to create a generic x86_64 ChromeOS image from an official recovery image. To do so, it uses a 1GB ROOTC partition (containing a custom kernel, an initramfs, the swtpm binaries, userspace patches and config files) and a specific EFI partition to boot from it.
I wrote a post on this at the end of 2020
Running ChromeOS as my primary Operating system has been a breath of fresh air. Sure there are limitations on what software I can run, however in the most part coming from a Linux desktop those limitations are not great.
I tend to do most work in the command line anyway and as ChromeOS provides access to a Linux commandline via a Debian container I can install the deb packages for the few software items I need.
Changing how I work to use the Web interfaces for Outlook, Teams and other office products has not caused me any problem and day to day I've also installed a splattering of android apps but in the most part can use the web interface for most things.
Its the integration into the wiser eco system however that has made this easier to use. my account across 2 Chromebook devices and an Android phone and the consistancy is nice (and abut to get nicer with future upgrades)
For those Webpages i'd like to treat as Windows Applications there are PWA's or just creating a Windows version of the Website
A lot of the Day to day tricks and Tips i've picked up i've been logging in a blog post here:
However I think the main factor in going all in chromebook is i'm able to just get on with using the computer as a tool now as something which needs constant care and attention. Updates take a simple reboot, 10 seconds at most. Offline files are editable, I can get my emails offline and play media files offline should I need to.