Monthly Archives: November 2018

Linux Apps on Chromebook R13! Finally!

For a while I have owned an Acer R13 Chromebook that I occationally have used as a development computer. I have been using Crouton, which is quite ok, but it is like something is missing.

Lately there has been talks and writings about Crostini, Container technology on Chrome OS, which enables Linux applications to run in Chrome OS. This would be different from Crouton in different ways, like:

  1. The Chromebook does not need to start/run in unsafe developer mode.
  2. There is a Terminal App, instead of running Crosh in the browser

This is perhaps not huge, but it is a step closer to making Chrome OS more universally usable.

New features are added to Chrome OS on different times for different devices. Just now (according to this thread) “Linux” was added to the Development Channel for Acer R13. I can confirm it. I changed channels to Beta (R71) and got nothing. I then switched to Dev channel (R72) and now I finally have Linux (Beta).

I guess in a few weeks R72 will have made it to Stable. If everything seems fine I will probably switch back to Stable, disable Developer mode and never touch Crouton again.

The terminal gives me a standard Debian Stretch system. The terminal itself is very minimal. I am aware of these shortcuts:

  • Ctrl + : make text larger
  • Ctrl – : make text smaller
  • Ctrl Shift P : open preferences
  • Ctrl Shift N : open new terminal windows

Compared to the terminal application I am used to in Debian or macOS this is pretty basic (and the limitation of Chrome OS is that you cant just install another terminal application easily).

Unfortunately I tried to install something (the screen command) using apt-get, and something went wrong. apt-get does not finish and when I open another terminal it crashes. A restart of the computer fixid this though. However, when during more real work things crashed on me. So there is clearly a reason for this to be in Development rather than Beta or Stable today, but it is very promising and fun nevertheless.

A new MacMini! Finally!

After well over four years Apple upgraded the MacMini!

I have like most other people only read about it, and I may never own one. But I can have opinions (as I have had before) about it anyway!

First, it is clearly a fine machine. If you buy it, put it on your desk and make use of it, it will probably serve you well for many years.

I think it is a shame that the SSD is (as it seems when I write this) not a standard replacable M.2/PCI unit. It would be so easy, trivial, and cost nothing, to make it a user replacable part (just like the memory appears to be). To me, this is a reason not to buy it. A non-replacable SSD is worse than non replacable RAM.

Previously – especially the earlier version – MacMini has been quite limited. It has seemed Apple has not wanted it to compete with the MacPro or the iMac in any way. Now it is possible to equip a MacMini with i7 CPU, 64GB of RAM and a lot of SSD storage. I think Apple has accepted that professionals will get it for doing real work (I think Adobe-stuff and perhaps programming). That is somewhat an interesting shift.

However, the entry level MacMini costs twice as much as the entry level MacMini cost when it was the cheapest. Apple seems to have abandoned the idea of selling it to regular consumers on a limited budget or as a dedicated media machine. I think it is a pity. Also if it was $449 it would be less of a problem that the storage is not replacable.

The GPU is not really for gaming and I kind of keep wondering why Apple does not release a computer suitable for Steam and market it with “pro gamer approves it runs top 10 games at 1920×1080”. However, external GPUs are becoming a real thing and perhaps a quite standard MacMini, with external storage and an external GPU could be a reasonable machine for gaming. But I don’t regret buying my Hades Canyon for gaming.

A “cheap” Apple laptop still seems like the best option to stay in the Apple ecosystem but also the new MacBook Air is quite pricey (and how can they get rid of the mag-safe?). I owned my first Mac in 1993 and I am typing this on a MacBook Air 11, but it may be the last Apple computer I ever own.