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Polish the Chrome

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Using Chromebooks is a bittersweet experience; it feels as if we’re so close to using a successful Linux-based ecosystem, and yet it never comes close to feeling like a fully fledged FOSS solution. In spite (or despite?) of our misgivings about Google Chromebooks, the platform has become a hit – not just in educational circles, but businesses are also picking them up for a number of reasons. Not least their ease of maintenance, low cost, lightweight software footprint and the built-in integration with the flourishing Google ecosystem.

There are bonuses to running the shared Linux heritage. It has enabled Google to expand the the Chromebook’s basic abilities to running not just Android apps (in a clever containerised system), but now fully fledged desktop Linux software too.

It’s this flexibility that makes Chromebooks so interesting to use here in our ivory-clad Linux Format Towers. So, if you’ve been put off by Google’s lockdown of Chromebooks, this issue we’re hacking full desktop Linux on to them for a freer, more private device. Our own paranoid android Jonni is your guide and he’s stripping Google away from the outset at the Coreboot, right down to the kernel, so anyone can run a full Linux distro or Linux desktop apps in safety.

If you’re happy on your current desktop then worry not – we’ve got plenty of projects, Pi guides and coding fun in the rest of the issue. From a Roundup on the best rescue distros, a feature on how open source is helping to track down and rescue lost children, to getting a better webcam experience with Linux and exactly how to get the best from those super Steam controllers that make gaming on your sofa a reality. I’m pretty sure that covers most corners of the FOSS world, so enjoy!

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Issue 250, June - on sale now

Hack your Chromebook

Hack your Chromebook! Get the most from these low-cost, super powerful, Linux-powered devices as we show you how to put the full Tux back into your Chrome OS device, getting more power and more privacy. It might even tempt you to buy one!

PLUS: We test the best in rescue distros, get more from our webcams, explore better Linux gaming with Steam and Lutris, run our own thin clients, build a better find command, control servos and LEDs, discover how Linux is powering better hearing aids and how open source can rescue children.


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