A happy Linux chromebook experience 5/26 '18
I wanted a cheap, super-portable, lightweight Linux computer good enough for occasionally working at home. Something that would also be small enough to open easily in the most cramped of airline seats.
Many people have found that adding some extra storage to a Chromebook and installing a full Linux distribution it is a good way to get that cheap Linux "light development" machine. And GalliumOS is the flavor of Linux tailor-made for that.
So I tried installing GalliumOS Linux on the Samsung Chromebook 3.
TL;DR: this was not a good idea. There is a major issue that wasn't mentioned on the wiki page. It wasn't very well known or consistently diagnosed until I started beating the drum and other users came out of the woodwork. Unfortunately, still not fixed.
I'm not angry about this. GalliumOS is a volunteer project, the issue is tricky, and nobody owes me an open source rose garden. If I wanted a sure thing, I should not have bought a new model. Linux tends to run best on slightly older computers people have simply had more time with.
So this time around, I posted to the GalliumOS Reddit and asked for personal accounts of 100% happy GalliumOS experiences. And lo, there were many. But the machine that really sounded spiffy was the Dell Chromebook 7310. It is strongly recommended by "Mr. Chromebook," the guy who writes custom firmware to let you boot these machines directly to Linux, without weird startup prompts and a risk of a family member quite inadvertently reverting the whole thing to ChromeOS... arhgh!
Only thing is: it's not available new anymore. And because it's as nice as it is - for instance, you can upgrade the SSD, and it contains a proper SSD, not soldered-in eMMC storage - and is available with several different processors and an excellent screen, it costs a little more.
I decided to leverage the first to address the second. In other words, I bought a used unit on eBay, with an i3 processor. And I am super-very happy with it.
So far everything just works. And it's fast - the experience so far feels zippier than my i7 Mac at work, because GalliumOS deliberately goes light on flashy stuff that slows computers down... but also because an i3 is still a whole lot better than a Celeron. Don't get a Celeron. Just don't.
At 13" it's a little bigger than I initially wanted. But I work from home far more often than I fly.
Here, I hope, endeth the saga. Except for the bit where I'll be flipping the two (!) Samsung Chromebooks I bought, in my zeal to prove it was a real issue and not just the hack job I did removing the write-protect screw from the first one. Sigh. I think I might donate them to a school. On the whole, I'd prefer getting back 100% of the karma over getting back 30% of the money.