Using ChromiumOS in a daily basis

The very first time I heard about ChromeOS I thought it was an amazing idea. I always hated the painful process of keeping a computer running smoothly, which consists of formatting, installing OS/apps, update everything, repeat it all. When Google released their Chromebooks, I joined the waiting list, but they were not available here in Brazil. Damn it!

It did not stop me from trying ChromeOS. After some time, I searched the web and found ChromiumOS builds by Hexxeh. I first created a bootable USB stick carrying the ChromiumOS and used it a couple times. It was cool, so I decided to go hardcore and installed ChromiumOS on my notebook (Lenovo ThinkPad T400). Those are my first impressions.

Is it fast?

No and yes. Deeply inside I was expecting an extremely fast boot time (the famous 8 seconds), but I got a 23s boot. I know I don’t have an official Chromebook, so I was expecting that “slow” boot time. The resume time, however, is dead-fast. I guess it takes about 2 or 3 seconds to be ready to use after I open the notebook lid. Great!

Excluding the boot and resume time, everything feels fast. The windows, the apps, the UI. The OS interface is easy to understand and is simple, no complex options.

Can you still do everything you used to using another OS?

It depends. All tasks that are not related to game/app development I am able to do, such as create/view docs, read e-mails, blog, etc. I could even plug a data-show into the notebook and share the screen to use in my classes. I did not create anything unusual yet such as a banner or an image using any image editor in the cloud, but so far, so good with the rest.

About my development tasks, I cannot perform any of them using ChromiumOS. Google already knew that was a problem for several developers out there, so they created Chrome Remote Desktop, an extension that allows me to remotely access my other computers. I must say that it is fast, really fast! I’ve been using LogMeIn or Windows Remote Desktop for that, the latter being the fastest. Chrome Remote Desktop is so fast that I feel like using the remote computer locally. It will fill the gap I need to use ChromiumOS to develop, however I still need another computer.

Is it buggy?

Sure! I assume ChromeOS is able to use the Chromebook hardware perfectly, but it is not able to do the same with my Lenovo. I was already expecting that. My trackpad works relatively well and all notebook shortcut buttons (such as the volume ones) work as well. However I am not able to use the trackpad to perform all OS gestures such as tap with two finders then drag them away from each other.

Something I was not expecting was the network problems. Frequently ChromiumOS is unable to load any website, reporting there was a DNS problem. My network is just fine, because all other computers are using the Internet normally (using Chrome, by the way). To fix that I must constantly disable and enable the network, so everything starts to work again. Sometimes after the network reset ChromiumOS keeps telling me my device is offline, even when it is not.

Final thoughts

I am happy with the experience so far. It is a new concept and I think it is the future. I’ve been trying to integrate ChromiumOS into my life one step at a time, starting with home activities. I plan to use it on my work too, but I need to set everything up first.

Stay tuned for more reports!