Those Linux apps on your Chromebook …

I mean the ones that appear in the launcher. There are files in your Linux container that specify the icon, the program to launch and a number of other things. Where are they located? Launch your terminal (or your favorite Linux file browser) and navigate to ~/.local/share/applications/ and/or /usr/share/applications/ and there you should find a number of files ending in .desktop. These are text files that contain the specifications for the applications that will be shown in the launcher (it is, in fact, a standard across Linux that is defined in https://specifications.freedesktop.org/desktop-entry-spec/desktop-entry-spec-latest.html). You can modify them, add, or delete them but I find it useful just to look through the files to see what’s executed and the other various parameters associated with launching an program by way of its icon.

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Getting set up with Chrome OS

I’ve had chromebooks for quite a while but it’s only within the last year or so that I’ve thought it was ready to be my primary tool. My Acer Spin 713 has an 11th gen Intel i5 with 8GB RAM and 256GB disk and it’s quite fast and capable! I run a Debian Linux and have a number of Android apps installed. It’s my “daily driver” as some call it – the machine I reach for and use far more than any other. And I got it on sale for less than $500.

It can be a chore getting set up for the first time but I came across https://github.com/mikeroyal/Chrome-OS-Guide which has some good information to get set up. And if you’re interested in doing more than just getting set up, it has some useful info on expanding your Linux environment and preparing to develop. I recommend it.

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A cookbook to run docker on your chromebook

I know, if you’re running Linux on your chromebook then you’re already running a virtual image but until Google releases the code that makes it easier to add images alongside Linux, this is probably the easiest way to run them, albeit in your existing Linux container. https://dvillalobos.github.io/2020/How-to-install-and-run-Docker-on-a-Chromebook/ is a cookbook approach which makes setting it up even easier and you can be up and running docker images in…well, it took me less than 10 minutes (I already had my Linux environment set up on my 11th gen Acer Spin 713)

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Switching to a chromebook

I’ve been using a Mac for the past few years a work. It was an opportunity to learn and use a Mac at no cost to myself and, well, honestly, the corporate addons for the Mac were considerably fewer than those for a Windows machine. At home I was a die hard Windows and Linux user. Linux couldn’t do everything I wanted easily – too many distros, too many packages, too difficult to upgrade to a new version – and Windows did pretty much everything I needed (especially with the new Windows Terminal and WSL/WSL2) for my use here at home. When it came time to replace my work Macbook, I was offered my old Macbook at a very reasonable price so I took it and began using it for my stuff here at home. What made me move to it as my primary machine? Windows updates! I use a Windows laptop and every time I picked it up the battery was dead because Microsoft had decided it needed to wake it up and install the latest updates! So I eventually moved all my home stuff over to the Mac.

I’ve had chromebooks for a few years and they’ve been OK as an occasional use platform. The best part is you have a real desktop browser in Chrome on them. So, with a small-ish chromebook (10-12″ screen) I could easily and quickly pull up a desktop site on a fully capable browser. Over the years Google has added the ability to run Android apps and even host a full Linux (Debian) distro, complete with full GUI access…and support for Windows is just around the corner (it’s already available for Enterprise customers). So I’ve been on the lookout for a new chromebook, which I found in the Acer Spin 713 with an 11th generation Intel i5 on sale at Best Buy for a tad over $500. That’s what I’m writing this on. It’s still on the small side – 13″ screen – but plenty powerful. And, honestly, I can already do 95% of everything I need on it now AND I can run the Android apps that I use every day as well as Progressive Web Apps. This is now my go-to machine. The one I keep nearby and reach for whenever I need to do something…pretty much anything that requires a decent keyboard and/or a larger screen and/or a desktop browser and/or multiple windows.

Feel free to reach out to me with questions or comments. Honestly, I can’t recommend this enough and I may consider getting a chromebox to replace my little Linux server.

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