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About Chrome OS Life
This collection shares my experience and lessons learned on using exclusively Chrome OS and the cloud on the desktop. I post tips, experiments, information, app and tool reviews, and resources.

My story
In February, 2015 I got curious about Chrome OS and the next month bought an Acer C720 Chromebook to learn about the operating system and the cloud lifestyle:


At the time I had a Linux PC and using the Chromebook I soon realized Chrome OS would perfectly fit all my desktop computing needs. By then I had gotten frustrated with the struggle of keeping Linux up to date without breaking support for my hardware, and the almost maintenance-free Chrome OS seemed even more appealing.

So in September of 2015 I took the plunge and bought an ASUS Chromebook to permanently replace my Linux box:

My fully Chrome OS desktop computing environment

I got hooked and Chrome OS is now my only desktop computing environment. Here I tell this journey and share what I’m learning.

The journey continues, follow this collection to learn how Chrome OS can improve your (computing) life.

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Zencastr now supports mic selection on Chrome OS is my favorite audio recording tool in the cloud.

All its features work on my Chromebox but, unlike for other desktop operating systems, Zencastr didn’t let me select a specific microphone as an input source. It always picked the predefined mic and the selection had to be done through the Chrome OS audio settings.

Now Zencastr lets me select a mic, see the screenshot where my Blue Yeti and the Logitech C900 webcam’s mic are listed. You access this option by clicking the gear icon in an episode page and clicking the selector under Audio input in the Audio Settings dialog.

To learn more about Zencastr see my other posts about it:

Zencastr and the limited Chrome OS local storage

Zencastr to go freemium

Recording podcasts in the cloud with Zencastr

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The whole point of Chrome OS is it’s not Windows, macOS, or Linux
The release of the Google Pixelbook reignited the old, pointless tech press debate on whether it’s worth getting a Chromebook or paying premium for such a device.

You can spot these tech writers as they rehash the usual stale example of Chromebooks not being able to run the latest and greatest version of Photoshop. Can’t they at least update their examples and use cases? In the meantime +JR Raphael explains what the naysayers are missing.

It’s not rocket science.

Once you understand -- and accept -- what Chrome OS is and is not, you have no trouble figuring why one may want to pay premium to get a Pixelbook-quality device, i.e. a combination of hardware, software, and experience. What’s so difficult in figuring why one may want a, say, Intel i5-i7 class machine instead of an ARM or i3 one? Or 8 GB or 16 GB of RAM?
Hi! Mr. Unpopular Perspective here: Most Pixelbook conclusions are missing the point.

Allow me to elaborate:

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Image upload broken in Hangouts on Chrome OS
For the past couple of weeks or so uploading images to a group conversation in Hangouts is broken on Chrome OS.

When clicking the image upload icon I briefly get a 404 not found page, then the usual upload dialog where clicking any button to browse or select images does nothing, and the selection button is grayed out. This happens with both the Hangouts Chrome app and extension and others not on Chrome OS are experiencing the issue, see:

A high-priority bug was filed to Google and a user reported Chrome OS Stable 61.0.3163.120 fixes the issue. But with the same and the following version the feature is still broken for me.

The bottom line is Chrome OS shares the best of Chrome but also the worst, i.e. bugs. There have been more Chrome OS or Chrome issues than average over the past few months, see my previous posts:

Inbox Chrome extension deactivated and stopped working on Chromebox

Missing device frames in Chrome developer tools

I reset the Chrome settings to default on my Chromebox

I powerwashed my Chromebox

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Retailers still confused about Chromebooks
This page of Media World’s website, a major Italian and European consumer electronics chain, provides the product details of a Chromebook:

The product page also lists an optional software bundle at a special price, McAfee Lifesave and Kaspersky Internet Security Attach. Yes, Windows antivirus and security software is being offered for a Chromebook.

So it looks like Chrome OS devices are still confusing to retailers, and likely consumers too. Which contributes to the sorry state of consumer Chrome OS in my country and I suspect many others:

Chrome OS is still not a consumer platform

Google definitely needs to ramp up its vendor and consumer education efforts.

Via +Gianluca Cogoli

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Inbox Chrome extension deactivated and stopped working on Chromebox
This is one of the weirdest bugs I’ve experienced on my Chromebox:

Save to Inbox Chrome extension spontaneously deactivates on Chromebox!topic/inbox/lGFe84uStD8!topic/inbox/B2moSTUqOzg

The official Inbox by Gmail Chrome extension had been deactivating frequently on my ASUS Chromebox, i.e. saving a link did nothing. The extension, although present on my Chromebox and visible in the top bar of windows, behaved as if it wasn’t installed. The extension stopped working altogether with the latest Chrome OS update (Stable 60.0.3112.114). The only workaround is copying URLs and using the save button directly from the Inbox website.

The issue survived a powerwash and a browser reset. And my setup didn’t change while the issue got worse, so this is likely a genuine bug.

It’s not clear whether the bug is related to Chrome OS, the Inbox extension, the Inbox website, or a combination of the above. But some users are now reporting to the Inbox Help Forum the extension stopped working on other operating systems:

Save to Inbox is not working. Chrome Browser, MAC and PC!topic/inbox/K6ysIHQJ250

So it looks like the issue, which is being escalated, may be related to Inbox after all:

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My second year with Chrome OS
Two years ago today I left traditional desktop operating systems and switched to Chrome OS for all my desktop computing needs. That day I started using only an i3 ASUS Chromebox with 4 GB of RAM I still use today.

How it went
Chrome OS just works. I have finally been able to focus on getting work done instead of wasting time maintaining my setup. The operating system fades into the background. The simplicity and convenience of Chrome OS spoiled me. I’m not going back to traditional operating systems.

All the tools I need are available as websites, cloud apps, Chrome apps, or extensions and I’m not really missing any traditional desktop software.

Speed bumps
It wasn’t all rosy though.

Over the past two years I experienced a few very occasional glitches that were mostly minor and rare inconveniences. The system crashed a few times and still has some outstanding bugs. However, recovering from the crashes was simple and fast, with no lost work and the previous context fully restored. And the bugs involve minors issues, not major missing functionality..

My Chromebox is still handling well the workload I throw at it but sometimes it feels sluggish and could use more hardware.

Did you switch to Chrome OS only? What was your experience?

The future
I love my ASUS Chromebox but it’s a dead end.

I’d like to try Android apps but my Chromebox is a legacy one and won’t support them. I’m trying to upgrade it to a higher specced Chromebox but right now there are no new consumer Chromeboxes supporting Android apps:

Why are there no new Chromeboxes?

See also
Here I told my first year with Chrome OS:

My first year with Chrome OS
My fully Chrome OS desktop computing environment
I did it. I switched to Chrome OS.

In late February 2015 I got my first Chrome OS device, an Acer C720 Chromebook I intended it as a secondary computer and an opportunity for learning about Chrome OS. Back then my primary computer was a desktop PC running Ubuntu Linux.

I was hooked, and planned to eventually switch to a fully Chrome OS desktop computing environment.

But an aging PC, the hassle of maintaining Ubuntu, and the need to migrate to a different ISP, from a slow ADSL to a fiber connection, made me take much earlier the decision of a major hardware upgrade.

That summer I initiated the administrivia for the ISP migration and researched the new primary computer, an i3 ASUS Chromebox with 4GB of RAM On September 2, 2015 the new ISP activated the fiber connection and I retired the Linux box, replacing it with the Chromebox.

Now my only computers are the Chromebox and the Chromebook. And I have a fairly good 50 Mbps (download) / 10 Mbps (upload) fiber Internet connection. Using Chrome OS devices with such a fast connection is a match made in heaven -- or perhaps a cloudy heaven.

In this photo of my workstation you see the Chromebox and a new monitor I bought for it. It’s a 23”, full HD HP Pavillon 23cw unit with a glorious IPS panel. Finally, as part of the major hardware upgrade I also got the Cloud Print Ready laser printer Brother HL-L2340DW

The keyboard and mouse are the only peripherals I kept from the old PC.

#Chromebox #ChromeOS

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Missing device frames in Chrome developer tools
On my ASUS Chromebox I’ve been experiencing a weird Chrome issue for months.

When I open the Chrome developer tools, turn on the device toolbar, and turn on the device frame, the frame is missing and only the device window is visible. Turning on the frame has the only effect of pushing down a bit the window.

In the screenshot an arrow highlights where the missing frame is supposed to be.

I’m running Chrome OS Stable, 60.0.3112.112 as I write this but device frames have been missing since at least version 55. I actually never got the frames. I’m unable to make any frames show up regardless of what device I select, mobile or desktop. Neither a powerwash nor a browser reset help.

Have you ever experienced anything similar?

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WeVideo’s new paid plans
+WeVideo is my favorite cloud video editor.

A year ago I purchased the $49/year Personal plan for individuals, which lets me export videos at 1080p. I recently checked WeVideo’s plans page and the Personal one is missing. The closest is the new $4.99/month plan that allows exporting only to 720p and requires per-video publishing fees starting at 1080p for $2.99 or 4K for $4.99.

What gives?

I contacted WeVideo’s support and it turns out the plans did change sometime over the past year. The Personal plan is no longer available to new subscribers. However, the plan is still supported and existing subscribers can retain it for as long as they want.

Here I posted about WeVideo and how I use it on my ASUS Chromebox:

The new HTML5 WeVideo video editor

Making a video with WeVideo: my experience

WeVideo: first impressions

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Why are there no new Chromeboxes?
+Chrome Unboxed wondered why no new consumer Chromeboxes have been released or announced in a while. And it struck a chord if the comments to the article are any indication.

Among the possibilities, as the article notes, is Android apps may be more limited or less convenient to use on devices with traditional desktop monitors and no touch support. Besides, Chromeboxes are just a small segment of the growing but small Chrome OS market. However, all this doesn’t explain why at least 4 new Chromebases, which share the same hardware limitations of Chromeboxes and likely have even less market share, were released since the announcement of Android support for Chrome OS:

The challenges of shopping for a new Chromebox in 2017

This is really puzzling and frustrating for Chrome OS users who, like me, are beyond positive they don’t need a portable device on the desktop, not even portability across rooms.

Yes, I could hook up a Chromebook to an external monitor and a keyboard. But, no matter how cool the latest Chromebook form factors are, a Chromebook used that way would be essentially ballast for me, with an awesome display and other features I’d never use. Also, many Chromebooks just don’t have the horsepower of an i3-i7 class Chromebox.

Why are Chrome OS vendors ignoring the consumer Chromebox segment?
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