Balancing features with simplicity

| 2 min read

I was browsing forum-based conversations on ChromeOS this evening and came across yet another thread that started along these lines:

"I've just bought a Chromebook. How do I use Word on it?"

After my initial, and usual phone-biting reaction, I read a reply that went along these lines:

"Soon you'll be able to run Linux apps, so perhaps you could run Libre Office"

Apart from that reply instilling a similar "good grief" response, it got me thinking. I have for a while felt slightly disappointed in the explosion of 3-in-1 Chromebook devices, with touchscreens, 180 degree hinge flip capabilities, and the ability to run Android apps. Now there's the prospect of running native Linux apps too.

Now I don't want to appear as a stick in the mud, but this is a little sad. I love the simplicity of ChromeOS as it is, a great browser on a fast device with little else: a secure shell facility for connecting to remote systems, and a simple file manager for when you absolutely need to give the cloud a leg-up by downloading and uploading files from one service to another. I grew up with the keyboard + screen combination; the keyboard shortcuts in ChromeOS are great, which means I use the trackpad on my Pixelbook less than I otherwise would. And I found a software switch that allows me to turn the touchscreen off. I hardly ever want or need a touchscreen. I just want my web terminal.

I don't want another Linux style OS - if I do, I'd use Linux. And those that know me know that I certainly don't want any Windows type OS - in fact, I don't allow any form of Windows operating system in the house, my son runs macOS and my two nephews' machines have Ubuntu Linux running on them.

I know I'm probably in the minority, but with the prospect of Linux apps coming to ChromeOS, I hope the project team manages to keep that sense of simplicity - and speed - that made ChromeOS so appealing in the first place.