OSX to ChromeOS

Updated 20-Sep-2023

Moving from OSX to ChromeOS can be complex because the ChromeOS ecosystem includes Android and Linux applications, though support for those platforms are not fully implemented as of July, 2018.

Nevertheless there enough advantages to make a comprehensive attempt at such a migration desirable at this point in time. My personal reasons include an upcoming end-of-life for a 2011 Macbook Air and the strong impulse to avoid OSX, as it is becoming less and less stable and the future is not very inspiring or trust-engendering.

At the same time, the incremental progress in ChromeOS, Android, and Linux applications makes a system that can support all of these all the more interesting.

Update June 2019

Update June 2019 - It is best to treat ChromeOS as a full Chrome Browser + Android applications + Linux applications. There are a few ChromeOS apps that are superior (slightly) to ChromeOS Extensions (for example the Chrome Secure Shell app) but in general, go with the Android ecosystem for most functionality.

For actual OSX-like functionality then a Linux desktop of some kind is (still) needed, though for a part-time, mobile (e.g., travel) solution, ChromeOS and its Android and Linux app support is pretty neat.

ChromeOS Apps

  • Calculator
  • Cog (system resources display)
  • Secure Shell

Android Apps

  • Barcode Scanner
  • Google Maps
  • Keepass2Android
  • mpv
  • OpenVPN Connect
  • QuickEdit Pro
  • Syncthing
  • Telegram

Linux Apps

  • Inkscape
  • ImageMagick

There are many more Android Apps that could be installed, if I wanted to use the ChromeOS device as my primary mobile device. Also, If I wanted to edit videon the the ChromeOS device, then Shotcut would be my go-to solution.

Chrome Extensions (mid 2019)

For completeness here are some chrome extensions

  • AdGuard AdBlocker
  • Checker Plus for Gmail
  • Checker Plus for Google Calendar
  • ColorZilla
  • Darkness
  • EditThisCookie
  • Mailto: for Gmail
  • Multiple Twitter Accounts
  • MyIP Cam
  • Personal Blocklist (by Google)
  • Quick Javascript Switcher
  • Secure Shell Extension
  • SomaPlayer
  • Video Adblocker for Youtube
  • Yet another flags

Keyboard Issues

There are several converging issues with keyboards, specificially external hardware keyboards, configuring them, and also learning the new shortcuts for various commands, including:

Command Keystroke
Sleep/suspend Shift + Search + L
Task list Search + Esc
Crosh shell Ctrl + Alt + T
Screenshot Shift + Ctrl + Fn + Fn-5
Keyboard layout Shift + Ctrl + Space (akin to the Win/CMD + Space keystroke)

See the list of ChromeOS keyboard issues and keyboard shortcuts

Migration Issues and Platform Limitations

The biggest issues are around what ChromeOS cannot do, such as limitations on hardware support of certain printers, scanners, the limitations on supported Android apps, and the Linux container used in Crostini for Linux apps. Besides this there are the hardware limitations of certain devices, such as the standard issue of there being enough RAM and local SSD storage.

OSX Applications and Utilities

The applications and utilites in need of a comparable set on ChromeOS are many. In some cases there are identical applications on one platform or another. In other cases a different application needs to be used. Using the same Apps that are available on a mobile (Android) device is a good solution, since the apps are already known. In general, preferred precedent should be as follows:

  • Websites
  • ChromeOS Apps
  • Android Apps
  • Linux Apps

Some examples:

  • Telegram Chrome App vs. Android App (which is not fully functional on ChromeOS).
  • Caret Chrome App vs. Android, Linux App
  • Twitter website vs. Android App
  • YouTube website vs. Android App (more control over ads/adblockers)

In the future there may be a preference for Linux Apps over other Apps. The main idea is that websites are less complex and may be more functional than ChromeOS Apps, and the like. For example, Git Issues is best on the web, as well as Trello and Wunderlist.

Certainly choices that do not represent the order of precendence on a case-by-case basis.

Plain Websites

  • Github

Note: I've not standardized on a set of github apps (besides git and the website).

ChromeOS Apps

  • SomaFM - Internet Radio
  • Checker Plus for Gmail; Checker Plus for Google Calendar

Android Apps that work in ChromeOS/Android Environment

  • Barcode Scanner
  • Duo (Google Video Calling)
  • Foscam
  • Google Maps
  • Keepass2Android
  • mpv
  • OpenVPN Connect
  • QuickEdit Pro
  • Syncthing
  • Telegram

Linux Apps that work in ChromeOS/Linux Environment

  • GIMP
  • Inkscape

Outstanding Issues to Fix

  • Replace Optim with Trimage
  • Resize/Relocate boot or data storage for Crostini (to sdcard)
  • Printing/Scanning with new Cloud-friendly device (Samsung Xpress SL-M2070?)
  • Implement new fonts in Crostini but also more importantly in Crostini linux container to run Inkscape, etc.
  • Install Duo when it (finally) becomes available on the Chromebook