(March 1, 2017) Chromebooks offer respite from antivirus software hassles, system maintenance hassles, and more. The idea is that with the Chrome web browser as the only user interface, people can compute in safety. But what about the whole slew of existing software that runs outside web browsers - Skype being just one example. What about video or audio editing? What about traditional word processors or spreadsheet applications? None of those run inside a web browser. Yet. For a long period of time the only way to install Skype involved installing Crouton, the add-on supporting Linux software as described below. Since this was originally posted in Feb 2014, Microsoft released an official Skype for Chromebooks. However, Crouton is still useful because of the need for other software such as Gimp, for image manipulation.
(2015-02-16 13:10) The last couple weeks I've switched my working environment from a MacBook Pro to a Chromebook that has Ubuntu installed under Crouton. A lot of my work is developing Node.js software, and writing website content, and my habits are to live at the command line typing commands. But it also means accessing the large amount of content I have stashed on the MacBook Pro, and a Drobo 5N. MacOSX can easily mount shares on the Drobo, letting me access those files as if they were on the local machine. By default Chromebooks cannot do this, meaning the Chrome browser side of my Chromebook cannot (at this time) access anything stored on the Drobo. Because Ubuntu is installed (via Crouton), that side of the Chromebook theoretically can mount shares on the Drobo, but I ran into problems trying to directly mount the SMB share using Ubuntu 14.04 tools. Fortunately I've developed an alternate method that's nearly as good and quite easy to implement.