From Linux to Chrome OS
I thought I would always be a GNU Linux user but I switched to Chrome OS early this year.
Why Switch to Chrome OS?
There were multiple reasons why I switched.
- My company builds Chrome OS and I was interested in trying our own dog food.
- Chrome OS can run Linux (via Crostini) which allows me to use Emacs and keeps my workflow.
- Every new year need some changes and I believe the variety is worthwhile.
As a result, I started to use my spare Chromebook more often and it has been 3 month already. I loved it. Light and thin. Fanless and silent. Long battery life. Bluetooth just works.
What Changed After the Switch?
Let’s talk about what I have changed after switching from Linux to Chrome OS.
Less Bias on Tiling Window Manager
I thought tiling window manager is superior to stacking window manager. After using Chrome OS, I think both are fine. I am not less productive with Chrome OS’s stacking window manager than my beloved i3wm. It works well for most daily scenarios:
Alt+=to maximize the window.
Alt+]to tile the window on the left and right respectively.
Alt+Nto focus to a specific application from the taskbar, like the i3’s scratchpad.
Alt+Tabto switch windows. It works most of the time, given the two main windows I have are Emacs and Chrome.
However, I still complain the overuses the
Alt key in Chrome OS’s system keybinding which can conflict with the underlying application. Hope that it will be improved soon.
Less Time Tweaking Dotfiles
I am spending much less time tweaking my dotfiles like i3wm, rofi, randr, wayland, ibus and so on. I might still configure the Crostini like the sommelier daemon, but on average, much less often. As a result, there is more time for other things, the family, the kids, real work, and even just taking rest.
More Okay to the Google Eco-System
There are advocates to reduce the dependency on big tech for privacy and autonomy. I love this vision and also self-hosting some services to own my data. I tried to self-host Google Photo and/or Google Drive with an open-sourced alternative, I don’t find a good solution as these two services require backing up a large amount of data, and need a special setup for transcoding video.
The idea of self-hosting Drive and Photo fades away after using Chrome OS more often. It makes sense to use Google Drive on Chrome OS because the integration is so good. The more I use Chrome OS, the more I am okay to use the Google eco-system.
I am very happy with Chromebook and Chrome OS so far. I even switched my work laptop to Chromebook a few weeks ago so now I am using Chromebook for both personal and work. I don’t know how long I will stay. Likely until there is a decent Linux laptop with great hardware and driver supports.