So now I have a Chromebook

Chromebook

So now I have a Chromebook clone from my revived Kogan Atlas X14FHD, what can I do with it? One reason for using CloudReady Chrome OS was that I was finding that my Ubuntu 18.04 notebook was not connecting at all to the wifi in a hotel I stayed at. Although based upon Gentoo Linux itself, my “new” Chromebook seems to be much more reliable with captive portal wifi connections than does native Linux: on about par with my ASUS Windows 10 notebook.

My main motivation in using a Chromebook was to find a less distracting, more mobile and productive environment, for writing and blogging. This proposition is, at least for me, confirmed: my 14-inch notebook Kogan is far easier to lug around with me than my 15.6-inch ASUS notebook, for writing and notetaking. there’s no loss of system responsivity.

As an extra bonus, I’m finding better battery life since switching to CloudReady Chrome OS Although the replacement of the HDD with an SSD would have helped a little too, my battery life with Chrome OS was about 2-3 hrs. With Windows 10 on the same system, the battery life was more like 1½ hours.

Chromebooks and Microsoft

Although Microsoft has improved things somewhat, Windows 10 systems are notorious for taking hogging your bandwidth to download 4 GB of updates and then taking over your entire system for hours on end while those files are installed. By way of contrast,  Chrome OS updates itself in minutes, the bandwidth footprint is tiny, the updates are installed as they are downloaded into a special account area. The next time you reboot, your updates are ready to go. This is as it should be: updates from Microsoft are no reason for you to lose productivity.

filemanager_box.jpg
The Chromium file manager showing how cloud-based files on Box can be managed similarly to that for Google Drive using the Box add-on (see discussion).


MS_office_onlineMicrosoft Office Online

In regards to office software, most users of Chromebooks will be using Google Apps, and Drive for file storage.  I have a lot of Word and Excel documents from past life and work, I also have a lot of my research notes in Onenote for which I haven’t been able to find a suitable replacement app.

So if I’m going to continue using Onenote I might as well continue using the other Microsoft online apps. I can then use my Chromebook while away from my desk, use the simplified online environment with the Chrome extension (see RHS), and then use my Microsoft Office subscription for doing for finishing touches when back at my desk.

Additionally, CloudReady offers Chrome OS settings support for Office Docs, Sheets and Slides (using chrome:://flags). This setting allows Microsoft Office 365 documents to be opened by default (rather than GDocs), This option can be used with the ChromeOS file manager extensions for Onedrive or Box Because I have a lot of my previous work stored in the cloud on Box, I often use that add-on for the file manager (see the screen image above), in conjunction with the CloudReady settings for Office 365. However, the Box add-on frequently wants to connect to Box to check credentials which decrease its usefulness.

You can also try the File Manager extensions for OneDrive but that add-on repeatedly gives an error: “An operation is taking longer than expected. Do you want to abort it?” Which is highly annoying and makes the OneDrive add-on practically useless.

Edit 17 September 2018:
The update to CloudReady v68.3 doesn’t appear to have improved the support for the Box and OneDrive add-ons for the Chromium OS FileManager at all. I hope that Neverware will be able to offer bug fixes in forthcoming releases.

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