What is this Chromebook?

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What is this Chromebook?
What is this Chromebook?

If you are thinking of buying a laptop, you may have seen Chromebooks among the commonly known notebooks.  What are the differences between these notebook computers that are often heard?  We’ll tell you what a Chromebook is, what works best for it, and what ChromeOS runs on it.

 What is a Chromebook?

 The primary difference between a Chromebook and any other computer is that it runs Chrome OS as its operating system.  These computers belong to the category of laptops and there are some tablet computers and even desktop computers with Chrome OS installed in the market.

 Netbooks were popular about ten years ago.  Then tablets became popular.  The current trend in the world is Chromebook computers.  These Chromebooks are very similar to Netbooks.  Also, in some models with a touch screen, the laptop lid can be rotated 360 degrees so it can be used as a tab.  Therefore, there is no mistake in calling Chromebook a combination of tablets and netbooks.

 Since most netbooks run Windows and the computer is underpowered, it’s hard to tell a complete similarity.  While netbooks have low-end processors like Celeron, Chromebooks can be purchased with your choice of processor (Core i5 or Celeron) and as high as 8GB of RAM.

 In terms of what can be done, Chromebook computers are limited to netbooks due to the simplicity of their operating system.

Light and simple Chrome OS

Chrome OS is an operating system built on the Linux kernel using C and C++ computer languages.  This operating system created by Google cannot be downloaded and installed like Windows or Ubuntu.  Its interface is based on the Chrome web browser.

It basically runs web apps that can be used over the internet, running on the Chrome browser.  The operating system comes with a File Manager and a Media Player.  Since 2016, Google Play Store facilities were opened to ChromeOS so that Android Apps could be run, and in 2018, Linux desktop software was also officially allowed to run.

It has the ability to give more speed to the computer due to its simplicity and lightness.  Since x86, x64 as well as ARM, and ARM64 processors are supported here, this operating system can be run even on Intel used in computers as well as Qualcomm chips used in phones/tabs.  Chromebit devices running ChromeOS can also connect to the TV via HDMI and turn it into a SmartTV.

 Try Chromium OS before buying a Chromebook

If you have tried to download the Google Chrome web browser through the Software Center in Linux, you may have encountered the Chromium Browser with a blue icon.  Chromium Browser is the open-source version of Google Chrome.  So now even the Microsoft Edge browser is based on Chromium.

Similarly, Chrome OS also has an open-source code.  It is called Chromium OS.  Chrome OS is also built on top of Chromium OS.  We can’t download Chrome OS directly, but the very similar Chromium OS can be downloaded and installed just like a Linux distribution.  That’s why it’s wise to install and test a Chromebook on your existing computer before you buy it.

Unfortunately, ChromiumOS does not (yet) have the ability to run Android Apps.  As a solution, FydeOS, a distribution (distro) built on Chromium OS, can be used.  But it is also an operating system developed for China, so it is more suitable for use in that country.  Even though its website is in Chinese, the operating system can be installed in English.  ChromX also has the Play Store but it is limited to a 30-day trial.

 We do not recommend installing these for long-term use on your everyday computer.  Better to install it in a Virtual Machine or use a Live USB to just enjoy the Chromebook experience.  Because it cannot be dual-booted with Windows or any other Linux distribution.

 Who Can Use Chromebook?

Even if a Chromebook has a large RAM or a powerful CPU, it cannot run heavy software such as Photoshop and 3Ds Max.  But you can open about 1000 Chrome tabs without fear, and create software such as Android apps.  That means a Chromebook is not suitable for someone who does heavy work such as photo, sound, or video editing, or 3D animation.

 Chromebooks can basically run software like Google Docs, and Spreadsheets, so it’s best suited for a college student who only uses the Internet for project management.  Because Play Store is available, Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint can even be installed if needed.  Because some products come with a touch screen and a stylus, a person who creates simple graphics such as cartoons or someone who loves to draw can use a Chromebook using Android Apps.  After enabling the Linux apps feature, even a coding person can install Android Studio and Visual Studio, so this is suitable.

In the online market, these products cost Rs.  50,000 onwards.  If you want a good processor, more RAM, a touch screen, and Stylus, the price will increase a bit.  The best advantage here is that when we buy a notebook with a touch screen for Rs.  More than 100,000 people can get that facility with a Chromebook.

 Another way to save money is to get a good Android tab and buy a hardware keyboard (and mouse if needed) separately.  Then a laptop running Android can be made with a touch screen for less than a Chromebook.  But there is a problem if you are a person who often types Sinhala Unicode, you will not be able to get any benefit from it.  Because Android does not yet have the facility to type in Sinhala with a hardware keyboard.

 So, have you changed your mind about buying a Chromebook?  If there are any flaws you see, what are they?

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