First steps with a Pixelbook

So, my 2009 MacBook Pro decided to slowly die … and after dithering for about 3 years over what to buy to replace it …. I chose a Google Pixelbook (i7 variant, 500Gb NVME disk etc) (via eBay).

Here are some findings …

  • Installing Linux within the supported VM environment is straight forward (see docs) but it’s a 4.14 kernel with Debian Stretch. Given it’s using BTRFS I’d prefer a newer kernel (or at least the ability to choose what kernel the VM boots…)
  • I can’t seem to find a way of getting a clipboard manager that works across all applications (so I can copy+paste multiple things between windows). I’ve been using ClipIt for years on my main desktop.
  • Sharing files between the Linux environment and native ChromeOS is kind of annoying (go into the Files app, and drag/drop the file(s) around). The UI hints at there being shared folders, but I’m guessing they’ll be enabled in a future release.
  • Sound from a Linux app doesn’t work (when running vlc within the Linux VM, there is no sound); apparently a known bug so I’ll hope it’ll get fixed soon.
  • It’s fast. Especially browsing the web.
  • It’s not burnt my lap yet (unlike the MBP)
  • It’s possible to get sound to stutter from e.g. Play Music, if you’re doing a reasonable amount of I/O (like PHPStorm rebuilding it’s indexes)
  • Installing PHPStorm (and other Linux apps) was fairly straight forward (either via apt or however I’d normally do it in Linux) and generally works fine …
  • There’s no “right click” for the mouse pad; instead you do a double finger tap. You can ctrl+click or use a two finger tap.
  • Tablet mode is great for Android Apps – I’ve tried a couple of toddler apps and they just worked fine.
  • Not all Android apps work properly – e.g. using Authenticator Plus for 2FA auth codes – doesn’t seem to be able to sync with my Google Drive backup and when opening it, there are always two windows for some reason.
  • Thankfully you can “right click” on the launcher tray and configure it to auto-hide and pin apps you use often.

I’m toying with the idea of replacing ChromeOS with a native Linux install; but I’ve not yet seen enough evidence to suggest that it’ll work well.

Hopefully the Campfire project will have a release soon …. Until then I’ll be watching etc



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2 responses to “First steps with a Pixelbook”

  1. Hans Nieuwenhuis Avatar

    Hi, you say phpstorm works fine.
    I notice on my new acer chromebook that i can not copy files or directories in the project window. Does this work on your chromebook ?

  2. David Goodwin Avatar

    Yeah it does sort of – but it’s really picky – half the time it doesn’t work.

    It often takes a few times to work, and I think I need to do right-click-menu -> copy …. right-click-menu -> paste more (whereas on my linux desktop. this isn’t necessary).

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