First thoughts using this Chromebook Pixel: I like it. I like it a lot.
So far I’ve dropped into Developer Mode and installed Crouton which lets me run relatively new Ubuntu or Debian distributions. These are pretty much the complete installs at large (with a windows manager) or small (barely anything!) configurations. Since I only have 64 gigs of SSD space I went with the
core option and have been adding all the usual command-line apps as I need them.
In case you don’t know about Crouton it lets you run a Linux installation DIRECTLY in a Chrome window. And it’s not a VM, it actually creates chroots (with an option to fully encrypt each) and jails a user inside. You get a fully functional version of Linux that runs natively in a browser window. I know it sounds weird, but it works!
The first app I install on any new computer is Notational Velocity. Since that wouldn’t work here, I found something I think is just as good: Terminal Velocity, the same user interaction written for a CLI.
The second app I install is usually 1Password—but there isn’t a version that runs on the ChromeOS; which is not great. Still looking for a solution there. There is a hack that lets you run a windowed version of the HTML output file—but that doesn’t feel right. For now I keep my iOS 1Password nearby.
So far I’ve been able to install any Linux tool I’ve needed. This weblog is published with Jekyll and built and deployed with Grunt, so no problems with Ruby or Node. If you’re a developer who works on remote Linux machines this is Linux on a Desktop done right.
Things I love: the screen is VERY nice. Nicer in some ways than my Macbook Retinas, but also a bit colder and lacks a F.lux app which could be a deal breaker for some. I love F.lux but I don’t work at night as much as I used to.
The keyboard is snappy and clicky. More like an Apple USB keyboard’s keys than a Macbook. The rest of the hardware is the best I’ve seen outside of an Apple product.
Things that bug me: tmux or Fish shell don’t seem to play well inside a Crouton window. I am not sure who is at fault but one of these three is inserting a new line for every shell prompt. I feel like the fix is just a configuration change away, but I’m not sure where to start looking. I will try
byobu next, even though they aren’t as nice. (edit: using byobu now, works fine.)
I always try to type the correct ‘ or ’ when single-quoting or using apostrophes. I can’t figure out how to type them on this keyboard and so to write this post I have to actually type &rsquo when I want a proper apostrophe. I know I can write a plugin for Jekyll to do this, or find someone who already has, but it’s annoying not to have a non-HTML option for other documents.
If you have questions feel free to ask me on Twitter. I might post about the Google services next. They’re flawless so far and you get a terabyte of Google Drive space for three years when you register your Pixel. I almost think anyone who lives in Google apps all day should just throw their current laptop in the lake and get one of these. They’re that good.