Installing Skype, photo/video editing, word processors, and more on a Chromebook
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.
Revisiting software development on Chromebooks - rapidly improving state of Chrome apps for developers
Chromebooks make surprisingly great laptops for software developers. If you don't know much about the Chromebook model, you might dismiss it as just a web-browser with delusions of grandeur. I'm a long-time software developer, writing code for a living since the mid-80's primarily on Unix/Linux/MacOSX systems, and I've pretty much abandoned my MacBookPro in favor of a Chromebook. The Chromebook is much faster than the MacBook (primarily due to the SSD drive), and lots lots lots cheaper to buy/own than any MacBook or MacBookPro. Yes the Chromebook doesn't have native code apps, but there is a growing list of Chrome apps available and if you're desparate enough for native app support you can always jailbreak the thing and install Linux and access the open source native apps. The result is a system with a top-of-the-line modern web browser (Chrome), with a hugely great security story, many very interesting Chrome apps, and the possibility to install Linux.