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Chromebook

How to install Firefox on a Chromebook

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment
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There are many reasons why you may want to install Firefox on a Chromebook (could be for security, privacy or just as a technical challenge). You could install the Android app but that isn’t a full featured browser. Here are the instructions on how to install it in the Linux container.

Go to Settings

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Search for Linux and Turn it On.

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You will get the installation window. Continue and let it complete.

Prepare Linux

You will then be presented with the terminal window, run an update then an upgrade.

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sudo apt update
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sudo apt upgrade

Install Firefox on ChromeOS

Now we are ready to install Firefox.

Got to the terminal and enter sudo apt install firefox-esr

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Now you can start Firefox by entering the firefox-esr command to invoke the app.

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If you want to invoke Firefox-Esr but also need your terminal to work (at the same time), use the command firefox-esr &

Review of the Asus C434 Chrombook

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment
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I am lucky enough to have the chance to test a tone of devices every year. Chromebook testing is an interesting endeavour because the higher end units usually are fantastic to use, while the cheaper products are slow and clunky. Chromebooks that live in the middle ($500-600) typically inherit the bad characteristics from both categories.

The mid-priced ($600) Asus C434 doesn't fall into this typical model.

Build quality

Most (non-premium) Chromebooks feel cheap and flimsy. They creek and crack when you grab them from an edge.

The Asus C434 is an all-aluminum design that looks and feel premium. The design includes chamfered edges that give it a more premium feel. Even the hinges are chrome covered, which adds to the premium look and feel.

When used in laptop mode, the hinges slightly raise the screen end of the keyboard which makes typing slightly more pleasurable.

It feels like Asus has crammed a 14-inch device in the body of a 13-inch device without sacrificing usability.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, the design of the Asus C434 is wonderfully tough-out and makes using the device a joy.

The screen

My everyday personal use device is a Pixelbook. I love my Pixelbook, but it's enormous bezels make it feel dated. Although the Asus C434 isn't breaking any new bezel records, its design is noticeably modern (87% screen to body ratio). It has a very good 14-inch Full-HD screen (1920x1080) IPS panel that has good viewing angles, good colour reproduction and respectable (300 nits) brightness.

The Asus C434 screen isn't class leading like the Pixelbook or Samsung Pro but isn't a slouch either. Most users will find the screen amazing and a pleasure to use.

The keyboard

Keyboards can make or break a device. Look at the thousands of vocal Macbook fans on Reddit that have jumped ship to Windows because they can no longer deal with the horrible butterfly keyboards included in most new MacBooks.

So a lousy keyboard can kill even the best most thoughtfully designed laptop. Luckily the Asus C434 does reasonably well in the keyboard category. For users coming from an HP x360 or a Pixelbook, the keyboard doesn't feel as good, but for most users, this thing will be a joy.

Asus chose a non-glass trackpad which makes using it a bit more of a chore. The included trackpad is acceptable, but the device does suffer a bit from a less usable trackpad. Remember that I am comparing the Asus to the premium end of the market. If you compare this to a $500 windows laptop or other similarly priced Chromebooks, you will not be disappointed by the trackpad’s performance.

The ports

I regularly curse at my Pixelbook for not including at least one USBA port. Sure I love all things USBC, but I still have a tone of useful accessories that are USBA, and I seem to forget my dongles when I need them most.

This is where the Asus C434 beats my Pixelbook; it has a tone of ports. The Asus C434 has USBC ports on either side but also a USBA port, a headphone/microphone port and a microSD card slot.

The Asus C434 has the ports you need to get your job done without worrying about dongles or adapters.

The Internals

Most reviewers based their tests on the Core m3 (m3-8100Y) device with 4GB of RAM. While 4GB is good enough for the casual web user, it isn't enough to load a tone of Android apps and to comfortably run Linux apps.

The Asus C434 comes in the m3, i5 and i7 varieties and power users will probably opt for the mid-tier i5 processor with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of internal storage.

As I write this review, most sites still don't offer the 8GB/128GB version of the unit (Amazon, B&H, etc.) but it is coming. Unless you need a device right away (then get the 4GB/64GB), I would wait a couple of weeks to pick up the more powerful model.

VPN Support coming to Linux apps on Chromebooks

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment
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It seems everyone has jumped on the VPN bandwagon these days. On Chromebooks, we can use VPN extensions, but these don't protect Android apps. We can use Android VPN apps, which protect the entire ChromeOS (including Android apps but not Linux apps).

So what happens today? Even if you have an Android VPN running, the Linux apps go our via your origin IP bypassing the VPN network adapter. If you need to use a VPN with the Linux container today on ChromeOS, you have to install a Linux VPN client in the container itself.

In Chrome 76, Google will finally fix this issue and app Linux traffic will also flow through the VPN (extension of Android app). You can test this today if you have the developer or Canary versions of ChromeOS installed on your Chromebook.

We expect ChromeOS 76 to be released to the Beta channel June 13-20 and to the stable channel around July 30.

Other cool features coming with the ChromeOS 76 release will be

  • "Picture In Picture" support for most video platforms

  • "Web Share Target Level 2" which will allow any installed application to receive a file share (using a manifest)

Exciting new multi-monitor feature coming to Chromebooks

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment
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Every professional understands the power of a dual screen setup. The additional real estate enables a more fluid and productive work process.

I use a tone of platforms (mainframe & mini to Mac, Windows and Linux) and I find that ChromeOS handles multi-screen setups with ease and grace. Every time I have hooked an external display to a "good" Chromebook (something that costs $500 or more), it has worked flawlessly immediately without having to fiddle or fine tune.

I have successfully connected 2 external monitors to my Pixelbook at work using a Lenovo USB hub but this isn't something most people will have access to and therefore the 3 monitor option normally isn't used.

We know the sultan of search, El Goog, is working on an elegant solution to solve this 2 external monitor issue using a technology called display daisy chaining. This is something that is known in the industry but not currently supported on ChromeOS. The idea is to connect one USBC monitor to your Chromebook and then connect the second USBC monitor to the first one (as long as the monitor supports it).

This means you can connect (eventually) one cable to your device and everything just works. Technically this daisy chaining will be able to go beyond 2 external monitors to a larger number (as long as your device hardware can push the required number of pixels).

This is a request we have regularly seen in the Chromium forums

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How do we know it is coming? We know it is coming because we can see a commit for Multi-Stream Transport Support or something called Hatch.

The commit enables a chip to support the Multi-Stream flow and there is a good chance this won’t be enabled on existing older Chromebooks. We know that generically Multi-Stream required DisplayPort 1.2 and a handful of Chromebooks already have it so… There is hope for existing customers. We will just have to wait and see.

Many of you know I love my Pixelbook and may be wondering… “Does the Pixelbook support displayport?”

The answer is that the Pixelbook does support Displayport. The USBC ports on the Pixelbook are of type 3.1 Gen1 and support PowerDelivery (PD), DisplayPort (DP) and HDMI.

We don’t know which version of ChromeOS this will be enabled in yet. That’s all for this article dear readers. Stay tuned for more cool tech news as I find them.

Best USB C Hub for your Pixelbook or PixelSlate

GeneralEdward KiledjianComment
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This is not a sponsored post. I was not provided with a sample product and the links are NOT affiliate links.

USB C is a thing of beauty. It means I can travel with one charging brick and charge all of my devices. It truly has been a liberating technology. The only additional accessory I truly need is a good USB C hub.

This is the on question I receive regularly “What is the best USBC hub?” I am not going to pretend this is the “best” for everyone but this is the best one (HooToo USB C Hub, 6-in-1 Premium USB C Adapter with Type C Charging Port, 4K HDMI, Card Reader, 3 x USB 3.0 Ports for MacBook/Pro/Air(2018), Chromebook, and More USB C Devices) I have found and this is the one I grab anytime I am leaving my house (even though I have over 20 available).

  • This Hub gives me 3 Type-A USB 3.0 ports. This is useful when connecting traditional USB devices like USB keys, external hard drives, etc.

  • It has an HDMI port (I’ve used it with an HDMI monitor at 30 fps).

  • It has a USBC cable you plug into your laptop and another one to receive power. It supports up to 100 watts so you can charge any device.

  • It has a full speed SD and micro-SD Card port.

It seems most other USBC hubs I have tried miss important ports, have slow ports or support low wattage charging. The only additional port I would like added would be a gigabit Ethernet port but I can live without that.