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Nerdy Reasons to Get a Chromebook

Why Computer Geeks Should Get Chromebooks

Chromebooks don’t have a good reputation among computer people. However, some Nerds like myself believe that once you go Chrome, you’ll never want to go home. This article will show you five nerdy reasons why to get a Chromebook. Do note that I’m not in any agreement to advertise this. Chromebooks are ACTUALLY that cool. So, let’s get on with the list!

My Chromebook, the Samsung Chromebook Plus
The Samsung Chromebook Plus, My Chromebook

1) The Chromebook OS a Form of Linux

Computer people love Linux. Computer people also wish there was a distribution that’s widespread enough that you can buy it at Best Buy. Well, that exists. Chrome OS is a Linux-based Operating System. This means it comes with all the significant advantages of Linux. Chrome OS is based on Gentoo, and if you root it, there’s even a package manager. (Check out my article on installing Chromebrew: How to Install Many Linux Applications onto the Chrome OS Base System).

2) It Can run Chomebook Apps, Android Apps, and Linux Apps

A lot of the bad reputation of Chrome OS dates back to when it really could only run Chrome Apps. And there are not that many Chrome Apps either. However, that all changed when Google added the Android System WebView, which enables people to almost flawlessly run Android Apps on Chromebook. There is also a Linux Virtual Machine (currently in Beta) that you can get on Chromebook. It’s based on Debian, and it’s presently pretty slow, but they will probably iron stuff out pretty soon. To add on to that, Linux can run WINE, which means some Windows apps will run on Chromebook. This means that Chromebook can run far more applications than any other Operating System on the market.

Linux VM Wizard
Wizard for Linux VM. Image by Foss Mint.

3) It’s Insanely Secure

A lot of nerds love bragging about how secure Linux is. However, the fact of the matter with Linux is that it’s only safe because hackers don’t see it as an excellent target to make malware for. Linux is probably only slightly more secure than Mac.

There are certain things done by developers in the Linux world that are terrible practices. FreeBSD and other BSD UNIX avoids many of these. For example, many Linux distributions nowadays throw command-line applications into /bin. The original intention was for /bin to only be for basic applications required for the computer to boot. And then /usr/bin is applications that come with the distribution, and /usr/local/bin is where all of your applications go. This makes uninstalling malware tricky because you can’t tell where the virus had planted itself apart from essential programs needed for the Operating System to run. I digress from my rant.

Unlike most other Linux distributions, Chrome OS applications can be uninstalled simply by right-clicking on the app and clicking Uninstall. Everything is sandboxed, meaning it’s practically impossible for viruses to get anywhere. All applications come from the Chrome Web Store and the Play Store. Besides, even if your Chromebook is rooted, root is only accessible via the command line, and no GUI applications have access to root.

4) The Chromebook Operating System has zRAM

Chrome OS employs something called zRAM. zRAM is a memory management system where when an application is not being used, instead of writing it to the hard drive/SSD (swap), it is compressed, similar to a zip file. This is one of the reasons Chrome OS can run Google Chrome better than any other Operating System. The amount of time it takes for data to be loaded into and out of swap is much longer than the amount of time it takes to compress RAM. This causes a significant performance increase because it takes more time to load in memory from swap even if it’s on an SSD.

5) Crouton Dual Boot

Chrome OS has an application called crouton, which allows you to simultaneously run two Operating Systems – Chrome OS and your choice of Linux. You heard that right – simultaneously. And it’s not a VM either. For some weird reason, the BIOS on Chromebooks supports this. You don’t start with both of them running, but you start Linux from Chrome OS, and you can switch between them easily. Both Operating Systems have full access over the hardware. For example, it is possible to overclock a Chromebook using crouton. (See https://www.bennettnotes.com/overclock-chromebook/) When you do it, both Chrome OS and the crouton Linux feel the effects of the overclock. It’s the weirdest darned thing, and it doesn’t make sense from any aspect of the imagination, but crouton can do it.

By the way, if you’re wondering what crouton stands for, this is what the actual GitHub page says:

It stands for ChRomium Os Universal chrooT envirONment …or something like that. Do capitals really matter if caps-lock has been (mostly) banished, and the keycaps are all lower-case?


I also have a tutorial on how to install crouton here: How to Install Linux on a Chromebook.

Once you’ve got a Chromebook for yourself, you may want to follow our tutorials on Chromebooks: https://infotoast.org/site/index.php/category/tutorials/chromebook/.

Well, I hope you enjoyed it, maybe this has made you decide to get a Chromebook and try it out for yourself. If that’s the case, I will tell you that you’ll notice a lot of them are underpowered. But don’t worry, the bar for how powerful a computer needs to be is a lot lower on Chrome OS. This is because Chrome OS is speedy and lightweight. Chrome OS’s 1.5 GHz processor is about the equivalent of a 3.0 GHz processor on Windows, and Chrome OS’s 4 GB of RAM is the equivalent of 8 GB of RAM on Windows. Alright, have fun exploring all the stuff this Operating System can do!

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