Saturday, December 3, 2011

Chrome OS ssh

We recently bought a Samsung Chromebook (v5) to replace a 3-year-old laptop. I must say, I'm impressed. It's not a Macbook Air, but it's surprisingly close considering the price ($350). It's small and light, boots quickly and has amazing battery life. 'course, it's basically just a Chrome browser, but, seriously, how much more do you need in a laptop?

Ah, yes, after two days of using it, I yearned for one more thing: ssh. But, Chrome OS is a bit more than advertised---it's easy to access a shell and ssh support is native. Press Ctrl+Alt+T to bring up a shell. Type "ssh user host" to ssh. Yup, it's that easy.

I like the fact that they chose Mac-style mouse controls. You have to push down to click, scroll is achieved by swiping two fingers and right-button is press with two fingers. One drawback compared to the Air is that scrolling isn't as slick. It's certainly more effort to get to the right place on a page versus using Chrome on an Air. But, the Chromebook doesn't seem to have the odd bugs that Mac OS X does, like the occasional inability to focus after logging-in.

Update 12/4/11: After reading this post I was afraid that my Chromebook might not do video chat (at least not without some effort on my part). My suspicions were proven wrong when I tried video chat today. It worked fine. The speakers and microphone seemed a little weak, and it took me a little while to realize that to maximize you have to hit the "full screen" button (in the top row of the keyboard next to the reload button), but it's fine for family video chats.