Neverwhere Cloudready, Create a Chromebook


Refurbished ACER ASPIRE V5-122P AMD A6-1450 4GB 500GB Windows 10 11.6" Laptop

I bought an acer aspire v5 122-p for my daughter to go to university with. It’s a nice size, runs reasonably well on its battery, although never quite runs to the initial predictions of battery monitoring software. It feels good with the touch screen. It worked reasonably well for a couple of years, but it never took to working with Windows 10. It ran like a slug on windows 8 and it’s always downloading updates when running Windows 7. Eventually it gave up the ghost and hung up permanently which was not a good thing as she was in her final year and writing her thesis.

I replaced it with a vanilla full sized screen, full sized keyboard, heavy, Core 3 duo processor. It’s not a miracle of modern design but it’s solid and she gets on well with it.

The aspire v5 has no resale value that I can make out so I thought I’d look at some operating systems that would run on something that’s a bit underpowered.

I found Neverwhere CloudReady, a version of the free Chromium operating system that will convert your aging PC in to a Chromebook. Well that was the hype.

Now I never thought of doing that until I read a couple of articles, I could never see the use of an operating system that was based around a browser. And to some extent if you’re doing real work then you have to put up with browser limitations all the time. That being said I was intrigued enough to take a further look. One big plus was that they have a build that will run with the acer aspire v5 122-p. So I followed the instructions, created a live install disk, messed with the bios settings so it would boot from flash drive and I was in business.

I liked the initial look of it and did a full install. Not a dual boot, or any other half way house. This PC was never happy with Windows, at least not in my experience. So it’s now a sort of a Chromebook.

As a working tool, it’s not that great for me. I’ll say that up front because when I develop websites I use xampp as a local server, can’t do that here without messing about under the hood, and although I could work it all out, I can’t be bothered. I want to find something that just works out of the box for once.

The main thing to think about in advance is that it’s designed to be online all the time. That’s all the time it’s running it works best if it’s online. So if you think there may be times when you’re without wifi of some sort then plan for it.

Best bet for a word processor is google docs, and it’s not half bad. You could use  word and the online version will sort of work offline but it doesn’t feel good. So if you really need all that power of MS Word then this is not for you. The full chromebooks have started  being able to run Android apps, that doesn’t work on CloudReady. So I’m starting to learn the ins and outs of google docs.

There are text editors like Caret that work fast, offer tabs and let you crank out the words online and offline so that might help.

Software development, not really the forte of this type of computer. But there may be scope for HTML, CSS, Javascript and PHP. I’ve yet to try that out.

Web development is not bad if it’s browser based. Websites like this one are wordpress based and so they include online editing and provide a framework that works like a word processor.

Image editing can be done but many of the offerings are limited to working online.  Offline there’s a built in one that works but is limited and there’s one called Polarr. There may be others but Polarr gets reasonable reviews and works offline.

If you think how google drive works, then the space on your hard disk that is the local copy of your cloud storage, then working offline shouldn’t be too much of a problem. It will synchronise again when you link up with WIFI.

Security is something that is interesting. The chromebook is Linux under the hood, and they tend not to be targets for viruses, also the access to the internet is secured via google. Security is generally reckoned to be quite good. I am yet to be convinced so I’m treading carefully.

I do quite a bit of research so it’s taking a while to get to grips with how to put together longer articles with a set of citations references. I know it’s possible but I’m not quite there yet. When I am I’ll update this article and add some notes.

In summary then:

I hated it to start with. Knew I would, so I made up my mind to give it a fair trial. Before hanging it out to dry.

Now I’m a bit further on, it’s not bad. I’m getting used to a new paradigm, and bending it as far as possible to fit what I know. It’s growing on me, but slowly.

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