Don’t ask me why but when I was in the military exchange in Okinawa last week I bought a new HP Pavilion Chromebook. Always wanted to play with one and the price sure was right. Less than $300 and I had a discount coupon to boot.

Anyway its a lot of laptop for less than 3 beans so now to see what it can do.

The first thing I noticed about it was even though it has so-so technical specs for computer hardware it is ridiculously fast. Another thing I noticed that once you are logged in and you configure Chrome a bit your configurations stay put. If you slick the machine and start fresh as soon as you log in your apps and settings are just persistent. Very cool.

Here’s what she looks like after I configured mine.
Screenshot 2014-02-01 at 9.12.20 PM

If you notice along the bottom I have it configured with Chrome, Gmail, a file manager, google, google docs, youtube, dropbox, google drive (who gives you a 100 free GB’s of storage for two years when you buy a Chromebook), then Spotify, Pandora, and Hulu.

Nice! So while it isn’t a super serious business machine it sure has some decent free apps. If you want a super fast machine for internet and email this is what you buy.

Speaking of email the Chromebook doesn’t seem to think anyone wants an email address other than Gmail. Simply not true in my case. I have a Mac. What to do. Well they have an iCloud app which really just directs you to so you can check your email on the web based iCloud.

This is not really to my liking especially since the calendar in iCloud doesn’t tie into my own cloud server calendar. So I installed Linux side by side with Chrome.

It’s pretty simple. Basically you enable Developer Options and follow the directions on this page.

Bang. Ubuntu Linux.

desktop 1_001

So now while I have Linux as you can see I added Thunderbird Mail so now I’m good.

All I have to do is hit CNTRL + F2 then CNTRL + F3 to switch from Chrome to Linux. and CNTRL + F1 to switch back. Couldn’t be easier. First you have to hit CNTRL +ALT + T to open a terminal first.


sudo startlxde (or whatever window manger you use, i.e. KDE, Gnome, etc)

Screenshot 2014-02-03 at 3.08.14 PM
Next i tried to add a Digital to Analog Converter (DAC) to my usb port in Chrome for headphone listening. A DAC will produce much better sound than the onboard audio so why not.

It was a little tricky and instead of just working as it does in Linux this setup is weird because of the symbiotic relationship of the two operating systems. So I have to get a little geeky and start three or four programs from the command line as the super user.

- squeezeboxserver
- squeezelite (with all kinds of commands on how to operate)
- alsamixer (to control the volume.

It’s kind of a pain but when it’s done I have audio pumped through a DAC. Sweet!


And then you can open a browser and navigate to localhost:9000 and play music from Logitech Media Server.
desktop 2_004

So then what I do is start the audio then flip over to Chrome and enjoy the benefits of its speed.

Great laptop, great price. Somewhat hackable. What’s not to like?