Ubuntu – A Replacement for Chrome OS

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In the broadest sense Chrome OS is a consumer of Google Services. But it is not alone in this role. This topic has been broadly discussed in the context of Google services for Apple’s iOS and others. I am thinking of Google Maps and Google Now.

I’ve been on the fence relative to Chrome OS; I’m waiting for it to mature to the level where it offers something I can not get elsewhere. In many ways Chrome OS will not be wildly successful until it does.

In addition to being a supporter of Chrome OS and I am also an avid supporter of Ubuntu. I recently discovered if you add the Chrome Browser (Version 27.0.1453.81 beta) to Ubuntu 13.04 something magical happens. View the image at the top of this post as evidence.

I have Ubuntu running with all of my Google Chrome apps docked to the Unity launcher.

If this excites you then the next question becomes how hard is it to make the transformation? The answer is easy.

Install Chrome Beta

I was only able to get this to work using the Chrome beta package from Google. To be clear, Chrome stable from Google or the Ubuntu Software Centre did not work. A little frustrating is the fact the installation of the Google package throws an error.

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Rumor has it a fix is coming, but until it arrives install the dependent “libudev0″ file from launchpad.

  • For Ubuntu 13.04 32 bit click here
  • For Ubuntu 13.04 64 bit click here

Next – download the Chrome installation package from here.

Open and install with the Ubuntu Software Centre by right clicking from Nautilus.

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Add Your Apps to Chrome

When Chrome is installed, the next item of business is to add your apps from the Chrome Web Store. If you have sync enabled, login and they will install from the cloud.

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Update Ubuntu Unity

The last step is to update Unity with your Google Chrome Apps. Open Chrome and go to the apps page. Right click the desired app and select “create shortcuts”.

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Ubuntu will prompt for the location(s) of the shortcut; select applications menu.

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Close Chrome and open Unity and select applications. Scroll through the application list until the Chrome app you just installed appears and click to open. When the Chrome apps loads right click the icon on the launcher to lock it into place. Repeat with other apps until you are satisfied with the result.

Wrap Up

The result of all this is Chrome apps are first class citizens on the Ubuntu desktop. In addition, all of your local apps are available. The advantages of this solution are numerous. For one, your’re not locked into Google hardware if you already have your own or prefer something different. You also benefit from the other features of Ubuntu which include messaging and fast execution. The only disadvantage is this is not Chrome OS.

I will admit I love living in the cloud or on the fringes of the cloud as I feel I have access to whatever I need whenever I want it.

The only issue I have is the lack of apps in some cases. For example, I am looking for an adequate replacement for the graphic applications Gimp and Inkscape. They may or may not exist.

Either way the Ubuntu Chrome solution is a good fit.

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