Chromebooks FTW!

2 minute read

I’ve been playing with Chromebooks for a while now. I got my first one (an Acer C720) a few years ago, and have done a load of stuff with it - using it for a while, then leaving it for a bit, then picking it up again.

All in all it is fair to say that it is a divisive sort of machine. The naysayers says it’s an underpowered half-computer that only works online. While the other camp (the yaysayers??) says they do everything that most people need.

You want to know the truth? I’m not normal. I don’t really fit into the simple categories of who may or may not deal well with a Chromebook. So I just had to try them.

And I love it. I really do. And for a bunch of reasons.

Firstly, I use mine for malware analysis:

One of the great things about Chromebooks is that the operating system is seriously secure.

The OS is updated automatically; it checks itself for corruption/infection every time it boots; it encrypts the user partitions; and it allows anonymous logon via Guest mode.

So, by using Guest mode I use my Chromebook for visiting potentially infected websites. I can safely view the sites, analyse them through Chrome’s built-in Dev Tools, download and debug any scripts on the sites, and check numerous other aspects of site security.

And once I’ve done all that I just reboot into my normal account and all is well. Whoop

Secondly, I use it for coding

I have found a marvellous use for my latest Chromebook - an Acer R11 (a convertible, flippy, touchscreen thing).

I had to get another one - my wife keeps on borrowing my C720

You see, some epic fellows have found that by switching a Chromebook to Developer mode you can install a chroot (fancy name for running multiple Linux-based operating systems at the same time. So… I have installed a command-line version of Ubuntu via crouton, which I run from the Chrome terminal (crosh), while editing code on useful Chrome apps (like the Text app) and using git for version control and sharing.

Thirdly, Android apps are coming!!

Yep, Android apps (and the whole Google Play Store) are coming to Chromebooks by the end of this year - or thereabouts. My R11 should be getting the update any day now, and the reports for those already testing the update are largely very favourable.

Android apps on Chromebooks will be a total game-changer, with Chromebooks being cheaper than good quality tablets, while being better for typing and multi-tasking. They are more secure than Windows and Mac OS, faster to boot, slick for website stuffs, and can do most things offline nowadays - which Android will improve upon.

I will also be expanding my Android security testing my analysing the Play Store integration as soon as my R11 gets the go-ahead. I will also be using it as another platform for testing Android apps on for other security purposes.

Lots of fun to look forward to!!