Chromebooks – Revolutionary Client Device

“What is truly revolutionary is that the for the first time ever the hardware vendor (Google) is taking complete ownership and control over the maintenance of the operating system. Local users (or even domain administrators) are not responsible for installing service packs, malware filtering, disk management, or driver updates. It’s a sealed system that is cryptographically signed to ensure a verified and trusted boot process.”

see Google Chromebooks: Cloud Sherpas Weighs In on Cloud Notebooks | The VAR Guy.

This is a major feature of thin clients. There’s less for the end user to do to actually use the machine. It works very well for all of use using mostly web servers to actually do stuff. It’s still not the best for content-generators but the world is a write-once, read-often kind of place. For businesses and organizations large and small seeking to increase performance/dollar, this could be just the thing. Expect M$ never to have monopoly in this space.

It’s still a FLOSS world on the client and lots of FLOSS is used on the servers but it’s not happening in Google’s data-centres. What’s the point of opening the code when none of us can compete on price/performance with Google? It comes down to trust. If you trust Google, you get cheaper/faster IT. If you don’t, you can still build your own infrastructure with lower performance and higher cost. In the past many trusted M$ and agreed to slavery. At least Google seems a benevolent monopolist in comparison. If that changes, the world can still make its own software and share but what about data-centres? Will society create shared data-centres, cutting out the likes of Google? I don’t see it in the short term.

About Robert Pogson

I am a retired teacher in Canada. I taught in the subject areas where I have worked for almost forty years: maths, physics, chemistry and computers. I love hunting, fishing, picking berries and mushrooms, too.
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12 Responses to Chromebooks – Revolutionary Client Device

  1. dougman says:

    As I have stated previously, opensource hardware is the next big thing.

    HP, DELL and a host of others better keep an eye on this or they may be the next ones to decline.

    With the idea of 3D printing of components, circuit boards, graphene and willow glass. The future of IT is set to explode for the betterment of everyone.

    One thing, I do not agree on his statement of Moore’s law slowing down. Making the statement of its collapse in 10-years time, is asinine. The era of silicone may by ending, but graphene will supplant this notion and Moores law will continue down its path.

  2. d. says:

    When it comes to laptops… have you guys seen this already?

    And people say laptops are dead, that everyone wants tablets… not true I say, there’s still market for laptops, just not for the mapplesoft brand.

    I seriously hope we’ll see more of these open hardware projects in the coming year. They’re a nice breath of fresh air after all this UEFI nonsense.

  3. d. says:

    d. you are forgetting that Google made it mandatory with chromebooks to be able run something other than chrome.

    I am? I didn’t think I was forgetting that. I thought I had made a good job of remembering it up until now.

    Seriously, all I’m saying is that google isn’t a perfect saintly benefactor. They have their own agenda and their own flaws. They’re still a better option than mapplesoft, all things considered – I’d much rather use google search than bing – but that doesn’t mean we should accept everything they do without question.

  4. oiaohm says:

    d. –but there are some pretty stable distros that can function just fine in a non-connected machine without needing a single update.–

    Myth computer needs updates at some point you are forgetting sneaker net. Yes external storage drives can bring infections even to Linux. There will always be a need for an update or two. Function yes been safe long term without getting an update source sooner or latter not so.

    We have had to format over windows machines for years to use Linux. Formatting over chrome OS is nicer. At least you know the hardware will work with the right kernel.

    All chromebooks can run other things other than Chrome OS. Even if they are x86 most cannot run windows ever. The Bois in them is optimised for a Linux kernel.

    Android Ubuntu Debian…. Work on most chromebook hardware at 199 dollars you cannot complain.

    d. you are forgetting that Google made it mandatory with chromebooks to be able run something other than chrome.

    Microsoft with Surface makes it mandatory to run Windows RT. I know what is a worse deal.

    From a market place for Linux compatible hardware more chromebooks the better. This does not say us Linux people will leave them running Chrome OS. But poor windows people are snookered.

    This is where the idea that people will just take a Linux machine down to someone and get it formatted over with window has to die. As you see hardware customised for Linux Kernel formatting Windows over is impossible. Chromebooks give hardware makers something they can ship using a Linux kernel and very limit Linux Distribution that Microsoft cannot say they are producing machines that are being formated over.

    Most modern Chromebooks sold you can put in the stack its running Linux Something as that is all it can run.

  5. d. says:

    All computers can function in an offline state, but what good are they? Apps require the ‘Net, programs generally do not, but are lacking in some functionalities.

    Uh, what good are they you ask? I’ve been using computers since the late 80:s – early 90:s, and the internet has become prevalent only after 2000 or so. There’s plenty of useful things you can do with a computer without any online connection. Word processing, image manipulation, graphic design/digital art, sound processing / music composition, video processing, playing games, programming… none of these things, strictly speaking, require an internet connection.

    Maybe it’s just me, call me an old fogey, but to me the main point of a computing device is not to post about my mood swings on facespace every 5 minutes. I of course like and enjoy the connectivity the internet provides, and use it well to my advantage, to keep in touch with friends, to discuss serious business, to shop, read forums, interact, etc. That’s all good, and are all also very good uses of a computing device. But if my computer were to lose internet connection for the next month, I wouldn’t consider it an expensive paperweight, because a lot of the stuff I do with a computer I can still do without an internet connection.

    As for updates… so what? Without an internet connection, what do you really need updates for? Security? No. Bugs? Well, maybe – but there are some pretty stable distros that can function just fine in a non-connected machine without needing a single update.

  6. d. says:

    Never heard anything bad about google?

    Come on Pogson. I get that google makes a nice Champion of Free Software against the evils of mapplesoft, but the reality is never tha black and white.

    Google is a much more palatable corporation than mapplesoft, all things considered, but they’re far from perfect and refusing to acknowledge their shady parts is simply disingenuous.

    They provide wonderful search and targeted ads: yes, but there’s a price, and that price is your privacy. Sure, if you don’t care about your private information being monetized, well I guess that’s fine for you. But know that the moment you use any google services, or browse any pages that have any ads from google ad networks, every single thing you do online gets recorded into google’s database. They gather huge amounts of data about your browsing habits, what webpages you visit and how often… that is how they’re able to provide those targeted ads, because they monitor you constantly.

    Now you might say that all that data is anonymized, and fair enough, maybe it is. But it’s still tied to an IP, and if you use any google services that require registration, they can easily tie all that information with a name if they so choose. Sure, maybe they don’t do that now, but what about if some totalitarian government decides to usurp that database for its own gain sometime in the future? That’s the problem with such databases, you’ll never know what happens with them in the future.

    Oh, sure, you can install all kinds of browser plugins to counter all that. That’s not the point though, because obviously most people don’t do that, either because they don’t care or because they don’t know about all this.

    Every single piece of google software is designed to track you and report back home to google. Think about chromebook – why do you think google offers them so cheaply? And why do you think they make it so that they’re totally useless without an online connection, totally cloud based? Because, their business model is totally based on selling information about their customers to their partners. A computer with their OS, where you need to use the web (littered with google ads) to access google web apps to do anything, simply turns that computer into an information-gathering-device, which provides valuable data for google while you use it.

    Now all that said, google has its good sides, which is the way they support FOSS software, the GSoC is an admirable project for one, and android has been an overall success despite its shortcomings.

  7. d. wrote, without evidence, “google is basically almost as bad as m…”

    Besides being a big insensitive corporation, I have never heard anything bad about Google. They provide wonderful search, targeted ads, and help distribute the world’s content for $0. That’s worth more to the world than Google’s total revenue by far. They must be one of the world’s most charitable organizations. I know some people criticize them about copyright but what’s the web for? Then there’s the avoidance of GPL in Android/Linux. I thought that was petty, but it was their choice. What has the GPL ever done to them that they should lock it out of the ascendance of Linux on the world stage of clients?

  8. oiaohm says:

    d. All chromebooks must have a firmware unlock switch to allow user to install own firmware and not use the google system if they are worried.

    All nexus devices from google are the same.

    Google has all the way along allowed all the devices the provide to be paved over.

  9. dougman says:

    On the topic of Chromebooks, they make for excellent devices to give travelling sales person.

    They can RDP through the browser if need be. Why spend $1000+ for a laptop, when you can spending $250 per device and not worry about maintaining it.

    Re: wouldn’t buy a Chromebook except to pave it over with Linux.

    Yes, that can be done thankfully, there are numerous blogs and videos describing how to do such.

    I am fine with cloud storage, but I still like a local backup of my data.

    Re: government decides to enact totalitarian laws that allows them to spy.

    They already do that, NSA is building large data-centers and plan on storing all data for years, for later retrieval.

    Re: next management of google/whatever decides they want to monetize the information.

    Please clarify yourself, I think if Google were to do that there would be a huge outcry. I know Facebook and Instagram has tried this and failed.

    Re: I don’t want my computer to be dependent on internet connection.

    It already is, go ahead and unplug from the ‘Net and let us know how you plan to submit/receive documents and download updates. At one point in time, will will need to plug back in, either with the existing computer or another machine. if you have sensitive information, then leave it unplugged form the ‘Net.

    All computers can function in an offline state, but what good are they? Apps require the ‘Net, programs generally do not, but are lacking in some functionalities.

  10. d. says:

    Also I wouldn’t buy a chromebook except to pave it over with linux. I don’t trust clouds enough, call me old-fashioned but I like to keep some stuff on local storage. Sure, cloud storages might be safe for the moment (maybe), but situations change – what if the next government decides to enact totalitarian laws that allows them to spy on all the cloud storages, or what if the next management of google/whatever decides they want to monetize the information they can gather from user-stored files?

    Also, I don’t want my computer to be dependent on internet connection. I want a computer that can work in offline state. I want apps that I can run locally. But that’s just me – if chromeos works for you, by all means…

  11. d. says:

    I’m of two minds regarding google. They’re certainly not as benevolent as many would like. There’s many valid criticisms one could make of them, such as their abysmal treatment of people’s privacy.

    I think google is basically almost as bad as micros~1 and apple, only they have some extenuating circumstances on their side. They balance the dodgy shit they do with some actual good things. So the grand total comes closer to neutral.

  12. kozmcrae says:

    Google is a publicly traded corporation. I have no problem with Google’s leadership as it stands now, but that leadership can change to who owns the most shares.

    It would be prudent to build “home grown” versions of some of their services. I’m not talking about Bing or Apple Maps. That’s just going from the pan into the fire.

    It would have to be an open source project to ensure continued f/Free and open access. Even if they are not as good or efficient they can be ramped up in the case of a hostile takeover of Google.

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