Showing posts with label chromebook. Show all posts
Showing posts with label chromebook. Show all posts

Saturday, November 17, 2018

The machine that started it all...

In December of 2010, I started a website called Pretender to the Power. I was recently back to school and thought I had a little free time on my hands. Not so.

Instead of learning how to blog, I spent much of my time with my Asus PC EEE 700 series machine trying to get a handle on Linux.

Today, I found that little machine shoved in a drawer.

I plugged it in and booted up. It worked. It has 512 MB of RAM, 4 GB on a SSD with an actual 8 GB SD card for supplemental storage space runs at 800 mhz and as a 7" screen.

It's a Kindle Fire without the touchscreen. Or a Fire with a keyboard.

Well, not quite. The Fire is on the left. Both had their uses but I find myself using my Chromebook for most tasks. How things change.

I purchased the EEE PC for $138 back in 2009 on NewEgg. It was an open box return. For less than 200 bucks, I figured I could take a chance. It came with two 8 SD cards, a sleeve and the charger. Out of the box, it ran Xandros. Xandros served for a time but I out grew it.

I ended up running Netbook Remix, Ubuntu 10.10. It was simple, clean and invigorated my curiosity about Linux. I never really looked back. My current Chromebook has a copy of Linux hiding in the Crosh.

I recently updated my C710-2487 Chromebook from 4 to 8 Gb and my first thought was to transfer the old ram to the Asus. No dice. Wrong type.


Of course, I found 3 other 512 mb RAM chips lying around, but with a single slot, that is no help.

I am trying to decide if I will keep my old Asus or let it go. Not sure. In the image above, note the large empty space begging for some new gadget to be installed. Oh... the pain of being a nerd.


Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Strange Chromebook XFCE Glitch

This morning, I had some trouble with my version of XFCE on my Chromebook. Tab-Alt stopped working, the menu bar had vanished, the programs opened would not keep focus and the cursor was either X or invisible.

How I hate messing with a perfectly good distro. The solution is rather easy. Delete your ~/.cache/sessions directory and the functions come back after logoff/reboot. How simple.


Of course, I forgot you can't rm directories and needed to try three times before I remembered the rm -r modifier. So the actual command is above.

Whew! Thank god for Ubuntu and XFCE's easy of use. If this was windows, I'd be screwed.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Incantato, il mio vecchio amico Alsamixer!

If you use Duolingo on a chromebook, you may have microphone problems. I tinkered around with the settings and chromebooks do not allow websites to access your microphone and camera by default. Change that by going into settings and Privacy.
Now for the surprise. This didn’t completely fix my problem. I did a little more searching and found that Alsamixer is the key. Press crtl+alt+t to pop open a new crosh tab. Type shell and enter.

Bamb! Alsamixer almost like linux. That shouldn’t be a surprise. One issue I did encounter was the function keys wouldn’t work even when I used the function key. Not all is lost. For some reason the search key needs to be pressed to invoke the function keys.
No problem. Press it with your desired function key. Escape to exit. 
I like Duoling to keep up on my Spanish, but it occurs to me that it is also useful for my horrible Italian. Duolingo lets you select multiple languages at the same time. I have no idea if there is a limit to the number, but I thought that I would stick to the two I know pretty well. 

New chromebooks are much better than the one I have. Check one out today.


Sunday, February 15, 2015

Terminal Refresh - Chromebook Users and Terminal

Years ago, I wrote a terminal cheat sheet over on pretendertothepower.com I think it is time for an update.
One command that I misunderstood from the beginning was sudo. This concept troubled me as there is a root account, which is sort of analogous to being an admin on Windows. Windows is bad news, because the admin account is so handy, or worse, required to do many standard things. This is not the case in all the various forms of Linux. xPud is a notable exception as you are always logged in as root.
By way of example, in Windows, the Admin account will not allow you to delete critical files from your system. At least, not without a lot of effort. Linux will happily allow the root user to delete ANYTHING!
Linux Rule One: If you don't know what outcome you need, root is NOT the tool for you.
On the other hand, you can gain temporary access to elevated privileges with the sudo command. This is actually the correct method for gaining privileges. Let's say you want to install some software, and you intend for all users to access it. The sudo command allows a user to gain privileges using their own password, not the root account password. The process creates a log of what is done in /var/log/auth.log; if mistakes are made, you can easily figure out what and when it was done.
In this example of sudo, we are going to install gedit. But we need to get ready for it.
sudo apt-get update
This command will tell your system to go and check what versions you have against what versions are available on the servers. It installs nothing. This is very important, because your linux computer has a local list of software available and it could be out of date. Update, update, Update!
The command for installing is:
sudo apt-get install gedit
Linux is made up of packages of software, in discrete chunks to make it more useable. The command apt-get install will put these packages on your system and make them useable.
You can go ahead and try to run both commands without the sudo. It will throw a nasty looking error.
Ok. Now we have gedit installed. We can open gedit without the sudo command. Type
gedit
As you can see, gedit is a very basic editor. We are going to use our elevated privileges and use gedit to do something a normal user cannot do. I am using a Chromebook with Crouton and I would like my Linux system to default to the $HOME/Downloads directory.
Let's fix this. Type sudo gedit .config/user-dirs.dirs to open the protected .config file.
What is not shown is all the activity in the terminal. At this point, since terminal opened gedit with elevated privileges, you should not close the terminal window.
Go ahead and change the text $Home/Desktop to $Home/Downloads.
I changed them all, but obviously you don't need to do that. Click save. You should see some activities in the terminal window.
Tomorrow we will look at using sudo for other purposes.


Monday, December 15, 2014

Chromebook's Task Manager

I have recently been suffering from some lockups and crashes. The need for a task manager was incredible and I lamented the lack of one.
How wrong I was. The hot key is Esc+Shift. Well. I feel stupid.
What I discovered using the task manager was that Adblock Plus was eating my RAM. Google Drive Sync, the ability to use and edit drive documents offline is also chewing on my memory.
As valuable as I find Adblock, I decided it to turn it off.
We shall see what happens.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Chromebook and Ubuntu - How do I right click?

If you are using Crouton on a Chromebook, there will come a day where you ask "How do I right click?" With Chrome, you tap with two fingers. In Ubuntu, this does work.
Nothing special is needed. Just hold the ctrl button and click. This also works with any Ubuntu variant and a Mac single button mouse.
Good to know, eh?

Monday, July 21, 2014

C710-2487 Acer Chromebook Hardware Specs

I had to mess with it, I put myself in developer mode and switched to the dev channel in an effort to get my Wacom Bamboo working with my Chromebook. I just don't have time to test to night, so I will simply make a brief post about this Chromebook.
Hopefully, if I keep notes all will go well. This post is for my sanity.
C710-2487 Specs:
Screen Size11.6 inches
Screen Resolution1366 x 768
Max Screen Resolution1366 x 768 pixels
Processor1.1 GHz Celeron 847
RAM4 GB DDR3
Hard Drive320 GB SATA
Graphics CoprocessorIntel HD Graphics
Graphics Card Ram Size128 MB
Wireless Type802.11bgn
Number of USB 2.0 Ports3
Average Battery Life (in hours)4 hours
Brand NameAcer
SeriesC710
Item model numberC710-2487
Hardware PlatformLinux
Operating SystemChrome
Item Weight3 pounds
Item Dimensions L x W x H11.22 x 1.09 x 7.95 inches
ColorIron Gray
Processor BrandIntel
Processor Count2
Computer Memory TypeDDR3 SDRAM
Hard Drive InterfaceSerial ATA
Hard Drive Rotational Speed5400 RPM
Optical Drive TypeNo
Audio-out Ports (#)1
Battery TypeLithium-Ion (Li-Ion)
Batteries:1 Lithium ion batteries required. (included)

This Chromebook
A newer Chromebook

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Multi Day Chromebook Offline Test Part 3

My questioning mind. Google Drive stores files locally. I wonder where? Could I find those files and drop them on a jump drive to edit elsewhere? I can’t see them anywhere on the hard drive and since this is an offline test of the Chrome OS, I don’t want to connect or fire up Ubuntu to poke around.
My other question is why doesn't the spell check work? I noticed that the spell checker for the Chrome Web Browser is working, but that function is apparently different than the spell checker for Drive files. I find it baffling; you would think they are the same tool.
The other funny thing is, I can’t delete drive files. I am sure that is a safety feature, but in messing around, I have created several “Untitled Documents” that I can't ditch. That is maddening to a file freak. Why can't I delete?!?
Well, I guess some mysteries in life are good.
Aw, who am I kidding. I am so gonna Google the answers later.

This Chromebook
A newer Chromebook

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Multi Day Chromebook Offline Test Part 2

As my multi day test of my Chromebook’s offline I noticed that I have some curious behaviors. Dropbox happily stores and updates information on my Chromebook hard drive by virtue of either manually downloading via the Chromebook’s App or automatically via Ubuntu’s capabilities.
Strangely, when I click Chrome’s Dropbox App, I am told I am offline.
I know that. The App doesn't do any caching locally even though the files are all present and accounted for. I have to manually navigate to the folder and open the files.
Some files open natively such as .jpegs or .pdfs. MS Word files open in Quickoffice, not Drive. From the Drive’s Open menu, I can't even access those files.
I could copy and paste information from Quickoffice to Drive, but that is just weird.
Or is it? I have to ask myself “why are you using both Dropbox and Drive?”. Well, the answer is Dropbox offered features that Drive didn’t have when I first starting using them, and now that each has more features, I am using them wrong.
I have 5 gb of space on Dropbox and over 100 gb on Drive. I should be using Drive all the time. I just can’t do it, because there are items I want to be available offline that drive does not handle. A copy of the Ubuntu installer for Minecraft. I suspect Drive wouldn't like that file at all.
Drive is a different sort of animal. It isn’t the beast of burden that Dropbox is. Drivebox stores data while Drive creates data. Someday I will adapt and figure it all out.

This Chromebook
A newer Chromebook

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Multi Day Chromebook Offline Test Part 1

I am currently offline today, but still wanted to do a little writing. Google Drive is an excellent writing tool and the offline capabilities are great. Drive offers a snap shot of my current files and the last time they updated.
In theory, I guess I could lose some work by not syncing or syncing in the wrong way but I won’t be doing this today.
According to my indicators, I have two hours of battery life from a fresh charge. Normally, this is four or more hours, but I am using 3pm-Player for music and charging my phone at the same time. This is a pretty big drain on the battery. Unpluging the phone and turning off the music cause the indicators to creep back to about 3 hours.
This particular model of Chromebook has a 300 gb hard drive and I feel that this may be killing the battery life. I hear it spin up from time to time while playing music and when the automatic save kicks in.
In offline mode, Drive does have some limitations. I can create a Doc, a Presentation, Spreadsheet or Drawing. Forms, Geogrebra, Python, Source Code and StackEdit are all unavailable. That is ok, I don’t really need those now, but my hyperactive mind wonders if there is a setting or option that I could select to make them active offline. I should Google that… later.
When writing offline, I am hesitant to edit a currently existing file. The reason is I do have my iPhone that is connected to drive and obviously could use another computer to connect. I don’t want to wonder what edit will appear first. Until I get comfortable with this offline cloud stuff, anyway.
All and all, this is pretty good. The tunes are rocking and the internet is safely held at bay.

This Chromebook
A newer Chromebook

Monday, May 19, 2014

The Chromebook Post I Always Meant to Write

For Christmas, my wife and I exchanged Chromebooks. I received the Acer C720 and she the HP Pavilion. We were replacing my Asus EEE and her Toshiba A210 and Macbook. We had some doubts about each machine as we were used either Ubuntu, Vista or OS X. However at the $200 price point, we thought we'd take a chance.
It's 145 days later and the report back from my wife is excellent: her Chromebook is used daily. Her favorite features are the quick boot time and the easy to use interface. It does nearly everything she needs.
She has two basic problems with her Chromebook. First, she can't connect her iPhone. This is the walled garden problem with iPhones. You just can't do it. The second issue is the lack of good MP3 player software. However, she found Spotify which is excellent on the Chromebook to address the lack of music.
My experience has been completely different. I am a power user and I was very concerned with the lack of offline capabilities, drawing software and photo editing tools. I have taken every step to avoid any problems by installing Ubuntu with Crouton. I cannot convey how easy this was, the Crouton is brilliant.
In my case, installing Crouton was premature. I do enjoy Ubuntu and all the powerful software that comes with it, but I discovered that I needed very few add-ons to make my Chromebook perfect for daily use. The Acer comes with a 300 GB hard drive plus 100 GB of cloud storage via Google Drive. I never have a lack of music. In fact, I can use Google Drive to store my basic music collection and download it to either my Chromebook or iPhone from my desktop. My player of choice is 3PM-Player, it reminds me of the old CD Player found with Windows 2K or Mac OS 9.
In the first few weeks of using my Chromebook, I was pining away for GIMP or Photoshop. Then I noticed that I was firing up Ubuntu and GIMP to do really basic editing. I guess I am more addicted to power tools than I thought. Talk about killing a fly with an axe. Recently, I added Pixlr to my machine and it meets most of my day-to-day needs. The Photo in this post was edited using Pixlr. The touchpad is not the tool for photo editing, but even a cheap mouse fixes this issue.
The only other downside is the "lack" of offline software for the Chromebook. The Chrome Store has tons of offline software, but for the longest time, it was hard to find. Recently, the Store added a checkbox filter for locating offline software which corrects the problem, sometimes. There are software vendors that try to sneak online stuff into the offline category, but those offerings stand out like a sore thumb.
I am really very pleased with our Chromebooks, I am starting to think of Ubuntu as a security blanket. I just can't let it go. Not now. But everyday, I'm learning to love my Chromebook more and more.


This Chromebook
A newer Chromebook

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Notes on installing Crouton on a Chromebook

I opted for the Unity interface for Ubuntu. HowToGeek has a great set of instructions.
At the end of the install, you have a very basic Unity interface. Everything useful is missing. The absolute easiest way to fix this is to get the Software Center.
Open Xterm by pressing ctrl-alt-t. Now type in sudo apt-get update. Wait. The next command is sudo apt-get install software-center. Wait again. There is no icon again, so go to lens and search for it.
That is all there is to it. Get installing.
My short list of software is:
Firefox
Chromium (to match Chrome)
Stellarium (to match Chrome's Planetarium software)
Dropbox
VLC Player
Restricted Extras
Inkscape
Libre Office (Search for LibreOffice and scroll down a bit for the suite)
Document Viewer
At the end of the day, you will need to "reboot" Ubuntu to all changes to go into effect. Click the gear and click the restart option. This will eventually return you to Chrome. Go ahead and open the shell and type sudo startunity again.

This Chromebook
A newer Chromebook