Crostini Linux on ChromeOS Chromebooks. How good or bad is it?


#1

2 nights ago ChromeOS V70 landed on my Acer R11 bringing linux in its Crostini variety to my chromebook. I’ll share a bit of my tips and experiences, I hope you will contribute too.

I like Manjaro so much because it saves time on tech admin, compared to W10 or other linuxes. I like chromebooks because they require least tech admin of all computers I’ve owned and are capable enough to serve almost all of my needs. I was delighted about Crostini because it would remove some of the limitations.

I more or less followed https://www.androidpolice.com/2018/08/19/install-linux-applications-chrome-os/

I then experimented by installing several packages to see if Crostini would bring me the additions I wanted/needed most.

I identified these two needs/problems.

  1. Docxs being sent that are too confidential for the cloud and too complex for G Suite.
  2. Folder-synchronization of larger sets of folder trees with docxs of projects.
  3. Embedded Java based software I need to use for my work.

The top 2 of these were slightly possible using Android software using Total Commander with plugins and WPS office, but the experience on linux was better. The third point necessitated Linux (or Win or a Mac).

Experiences so far?
Generally speaking: activatiing Limux rook a couple of minutes. I installed the gnome software centre, flatpak and Libreoffice 6.1. These should all be automatically updated. They are a bit slow, but perfectly usable.
I downloaded Onlyoffice and installed with sudo dpkg -i ‘onlyoffice-desktopeditors_amd64.deb’
On Linux I use the snap version of Onlyoffice, but that is not available for Crostini. So I will occasionally have to upgrade this package.

I tested Onlyoffice and Libreoffice with some documents and they worked very well. So the experience is identical to other linbuxes.
I installed Doube Commander and copied some of the folders with documents and the embedded jave software I need and it all worked in one go, though I had to manually set the default editor for docx to be /usr/bin/desktopeditors.

I was delighted that everything worked so well. I can truly compare it to a rolling version of linux except for Onlyoffice which needs to be manually updated occasionally.

Double Commander does not work with SMB files on Crostini and there is no webdav plugin for linux. On Manjaro I use Gigolo to set gvfs connections to various networks/clouds, but these, predictably, do not work on Crostini. Gigolo cannot assign or allocate file-systems.

I then started looking for a filemanager that uses panels and can get access to both the linux filesystem and the networked SMB and webdav sources.

I trid and failed with Dolphin, Nautilus, Thunar, PCmanFM (which did allow webdav), Konqueror, Gnome Commander, etc. etc.
Then I tried Krusader: Krusader was the first to simply allow me to detect workgroup-names on the LAN and select NAS’s. It asked for my pwd and just worked. This means I caqn synchronize the folders between my NAS and my Chromebook for private backups. Brilliant.
I then started experimenting with krusaders webdav abilities (I remembered from the past that it does not allow webdavs to be selected in its gui, but it allows direct paths to be typed to webdav sources. ).
I tried: krusader works. I can type webdavs://[username]@dav.box.com/dav and it will ask for my password and just work. I can synchronize trees between my NAS, Chromebook and webdavs sources.
Kate, Krusader and Ark work very well.

The sound does not work in Crostini Linux, so for media we still have to wait. Audacity and Avidemux would be welcome. Many will also install Firefox, I may when I need it. I will probably try to replace most android browsers (Brave, Firefox, Vivaldi, Chrome Beta) with linux ones.

My daily driver is maturing to do almost everything I want from a computer. For heavy lifting I will keep Manajro on an i7 based Lenovo (which even runs W10) , but for most of my use I can now do with my chromebook. When my 8 year old, tattered Acer with a wonkey key and water-damage to its screen conks out I can just dump it and use my chromebook. No need for a second Linux laptop as a backup.
Small issues?

  1. Some linux apps can only run maximized, but if you move the mouse down the panel does become visible and you can minimize or switch away.
  2. After uninstalling dolphin, nautilus, thunar etc. several remained visible as installed until I rebooted.

Do you appreciate the tips of Onlyoffice, Libreoffice, Krusader and Gnome Software Centre? Do you have tips yourself?
What are your experiences?

Generally speaking, If a family member or friend wants to buy a computer I might recommend Manjaro, but I would probably recommend a crostini-capable chromebook. They will have very few issues and be secure. Without having to know much. Highly confidential docs and objects can be used separately in Crostini with backups on the NAS which are comparable experiences to Win, MAC and Linux.


#2

Tell google to make a real distro or just release their android app support for linux.that chrome os is like a demo version of linux distro


#3

I am not sure they will listen to little old me . :slight_smile:
It would be nice if they release they play-store additions for linux.

The advantages of the most advanced rolling distro getting linux apps are that we may see increased linux-app uptake by non-technical users.

Capabilities wise Crostini is limited when compared to other linuces, however end-users might be served much better with this stable rolling release and some apps, than with an OS that allows selecting ZFS, BTRFS etc. without the users seeing a need to make those choices.


#4

They won’t as their brain is made to think how to make money.they can’t even make linux apps.they want their own independent os so they can be in control of everything take android as example use android without play store and gapps u can’t do much on it.although things have changed but they remain mostly same

There is no security with google


#5

We’ll see.
I think that chromebooks are a viable alternative for more and more users. The only users that will not be able to move are those with the large spreadsheets with lots of VBA or other specialized hardware/software. Most day-to-day users can now have an auto-updating alternative to Win or Mac that is more fun.


#6

Sure why not if we can put up with google android data collection and their specially targeted ads, most people have no knowledge that their data is used for god know where.take an example of google photos they can sure let u upload unlimited photos.but what’s in it for google.although its quite convenient to have all automated but think of all the risks.they give you false sense of security.Using those ur compromising ur privacy.just consider if google is employing people on their google account behavior.but there is no powerful alternative to these in mobile market yet.but in desktop laptop segment you have the alternative.F*ck even I use it.knowing all the cons.any alternative as of now to android???


#7

I just picked up a CB in order to give Crostini a spin. I don’t use anything other then terminal and VIM. So at this point it works great for me. However I will always argue for a native installed Linux distro over Linux (app) in a container. I think one would need to spend a few hundred dollars in a CB to use more graphic intensive app like Gimp. But I do love the battery time on these things. I get at least 12 hours of time out of it. And this includes surfing and some streaming. And it is pretty much instant on when you hit the power button. I can see these becoming more mainstream very soon.


#8

Thanks for your feedback. I do not see myself using that many Linux apps, that often. But sometimes tools are needed that my CB cannot offer. It is the same with my touchscreen, I sometimes do not use the touchscreen for days, but when it comes in handy it is bloody handy.

I do understand the case for native linux for advanced users, but for most users a chromebook can be enough. Chromebooks are now up to 1.15% and linux is steady or perhaps slowly going down. http://gs.statcounter.com/os-market-share/desktop/worldwide
I hope to eliminate Win/Mac and replace several Manjaro boxes with Chromeboxes and one or two Manjaro “heavy lifters”.


#9

Why don’t you try building Chrome OS on top of gentoo. Like Google was doing!

Chrome os started as a Ubuntu base. Then move to gentoo. Mostly for the rolling release idea. Now it Google linux base and still keeping portage for it package manager.

As much you want to mock them. There no doubt Google but a lot effort making there os as how it should be for them. And keeping a complex package manager to keep it rolling release . I say it is a real linux distro. Even though it not what your used to.


#10

After just a couple of days of Crostini I can say that I am elated. It is working very well and I have my Chromebook in its best security state in the stable channel.
Onlyoffice is much better than WPS and runs well in Crostini.
Libreoffice runs well as a Flatpak.
Some experimenting taught me that krusader runs very well.
I really like it.
Printing does not work yet, but I can prin to pdf.
Sound does not work yet, but that should come in the future.
I think I have enough tools to abandon w10. But I do not do gaming.


#11

You should have a look at r/Crostini on reddit.