Some thoughts after 2.5 weeks with the Samsung Chromebook

A couple of months ago I bought a Samsung Chromebook to use while travelling around Japan. So how did that work out?

I need to point out first that I was mostly using Fedora 17 (but could dual-boot into ChromeOS for occasional things like G+ Hangouts). Fedora 17 isn’t the latest release, and it is still using the ChromeOS kernel, not a Fedora-compiled kernel. I’ve marked with an asterisk all the points that I think are caused by the ChromeOS kernel rather than by Fedora or the Chromebook itself.

  1. * Suspend pretty much doesn’t work. It suspends OK, but can’t resume. This all works fine on ChromeOS however, and I suspect this is just a kernel issue which will/has been fixed in F18.
  2. Trackpad sucks quite a bit. For example, it’s very hard to accurately right click. Left clicking often causes the mouse to zoom around the screen. It works better in ChromeOS. Is this an X server issue and/or does ChromeOS use X?
  3. * There is some hardware clock problem I couldn’t quite fathom. Either the h/w clock is set to the local time or else Fedora cannot save the timezone, but either way, unless NTP was running (and hence I had wifi etc) it always flipped back to UTC after rebooting. Almost certainly some sort of kernel issue that has/will be fixed in F18.
  4. It’s very light weight. Carrying it around everywhere was no effort at all.
  5. Battery lasts “forever”. Well, at least 6 or 7 hours which was the longest I needed it for. XFCE Power Manager was predicting 8+ hours, but I don’t know how accurate that is.
  6. A touch screen would have been a really nice addition. But not if it meant increasing the price.
  7. It’s pretty robustly built.
  8. It’s fast enough, with enough storage, for serious development. While it’s not blazingly fast like x86-64, it’s good enough even for libguestfs development (libguestfs being a very large program).

I’m going to categorize this one as a definite success.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Some thoughts after 2.5 weeks with the Samsung Chromebook

  1. Peter Robinson

    1) Will likely be fixed with a proper Fedora kernel
    2) Known issue, the X driver sucks too which is going to be a PITA to deal with in the short to medium term
    3) the rtc driver is likely a module. Fedora/linux/systemd has issues if it’s not built into the kernel. Still undecided the best way to deal with this. Its a problem on all ARM platforms in general.

  2. Zack B.

    I just bought one of these. After looking at all the other ARM hardware you’ve reviewed lately – do you still think this is worth having? I’m not planning on doing much serious (non-web) development on it, but installing Fedora eventually and playing around with ARM hardware virtualization will definitely be on my list. A little late now, but I definitely based this purchase on your review.

    So what do you think? How does it compare with some of the newer ARM devices you’ve reviewed?

    • rich

      I would go for an AllWinner device, probably the Cubietruck. They aren’t as fast as the Chromebook, but far easier to get everything working (and much cheaper). Edit: And a friendly community who are working to put the AW hardware support upstream.

      • Zack B.

        Thanks. This is helpful. I’m going to go ahead and get a Cubietruck too. Too late for me to back out of the Chromebook now, but it will also give me a chance to do a comparison of my own.

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