See this LWN.net article for the details. The Chromebook is still interesting for virtualization because it’s one of the few, cheap, available machines that has a Cortex-A15 chip, which is the first ARMv7 chip that supports hardware virt. This change makes it even more interesting again.
(Thanks Dan Berrange for the heads up)
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.
- * 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.
- 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?
- * 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.
- It’s very light weight. Carrying it around everywhere was no effort at all.
- 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.
- A touch screen would have been a really nice addition. But not if it meant increasing the price.
- It’s pretty robustly built.
- 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.
Dan’s blog has a post on how to install Fedora 17 ARM on the Chromebook. I’m going to try it out as soon as the 16 GB SD card that I ordered arrives.
Edit: I followed Dan’s instructions and had no problem installing Fedora 17 on my Chromebook.
I’m taking a short trip around Japan next year, so I needed something light and small to carry with me, and Google/Samsung have just released this interesting machine at a very reasonable price:
- Very lightweight
- Seems fast so far (running ChromeOS)
- Not sure I’ll get used to the touchpad
- Confused about the difference between Android and ChromeOS, and why they didn’t just put Android on it
- Samsung invent yet another $%!? proprietary power plug
I’m using ChromeOS at the moment, but since that requires an always-on internet connection and is basically a fancy full-screen web browser, I’m going to wipe it and put either Ubuntu or Fedora on it shortly.
The interesting thing about the hardware is the Cortex-A15 processor at the heart of the machine. This supports hardware virtualization, and although the patches haven’t even landed in the upstream kernel yet, the hope is that this could run KVM at a reasonable speed.
Also, 2GB of RAM is nice.