More Pixelbook adventures...

So, 2 months in and I can say that I'm loving my Pixelbook more and more. I decided that running the dev channel was too unstable for my daily driver, so I dropped to the beta channel. That meant I had to wait it out until ChromeOS 69 reached beta and unlocked Linux apps for me - only a month or so.

In the meantime, I've been learning to work with Chrome OS little quirks. The file manager is pretty poor and I've had particular issues opening Microsoft Word files - normally this is straightforward and Google Drive can open them, but when opening files from the file manager, it's hit and miss whether they'll go or not.

I've taken the PB on several work trips now - to overseas destinations with mixed internet connectivity. Mostly it has been fine - however, the whole offline side of things is still janky and I've run into problems when I've lost internet connection. Slowly I've worked out how to resolve them, but it's involved a few four letter words in airport lounges.

Which brings me to Linux - now that I've got Chrome OS 69, native Linux apps are available! Joy! First thing was to install LibreOffice, which solved a lot of my Microsoft pain. However, a few things...

  1. I can't access my Chrome OS files from the Linux container - which is frustrating as I have to copy files over to the Linux container to work on them, them copy them back to sync to my Google Drive. I wish there were a decent Google Drive sync solution for containerised Linux, but as of now, I haven't got a working answer.
  2. LibreOffice crashes liberally. For no reason. With no warning. And irrecoverably. This is a total dealbreaker for me. I am largely unable to work, or at least not without many wasted hours and a constant fear of losing things. Now it may be that my hacking around has screwed some config, so I'll persist - but right now it is not a viable solution. If I was not so idealogically opposed, I could just buy a MS365 subscription and then use the web - totally doable. Except that I hate Office and I hate OneDrive/SharePoint/whatever the hell it's called these days.

Other Linux things I've been able to install with more success - QGIS. Awesome, works fine - in fact, more stable than my Mac OS install of it. GIMP and Inkscape for graphics. Sublime Text (and now trying VSCode) for coding. GNUCash for my accounts. Musescore for music notation. All work perfectly and give me a whole heap of power.

So, my core use (word processing) is utterly crippled, but I've found some ways to work around things. TBH, the easiest thing would be if everyone else just sacked of Microsoft and moved to more open formats, but that's not likely anytime soon.

But perhaps the thing I love most about my Pixelbook and Chrome OS is just how quickly it's evolving. I can see new features in the pipeline and bugs being squashed - releases are only months apart and the whole system just keeps marching forward. Right now, it's not perfect, but it's good enough for my needs - and I'm willing to put up with the pain points because I can see them being solved soon.