Are Chromebooks suitable for users who aren't developers?

In today's open source roundup: Are Chromebooks a good option for users who aren't developers? Plus: DistroWatch reviews SuperX 3.0. And Ultimate Edition 4.4 has been released

Are Chromebooks a good choice for non-developers?

Chromebooks seem to have wide appeal, as you can tell from the very positive user ratings and reviews in Amazon's list of bestselling Chromebooks. But one redditor wasn't sure if a Chromebook was suitable for users who don't know anything about open source or who aren't developers.

Matthiastrek asked his question in the ChromeOS subreddit:

I've been lurking on r/chromeos for about a week. From what I can tell, it seems like the chromebook caters to developers who like to tinker with open source stuff. While I like the idea of a cheap, fast, lightweight laptop that is chiefly used for surfing the web and using online software like docs and spreadsheet, I am not a developer and as such don't see myself using things like linux or ubuntu in the future.

That being said, is it worth it for people like myself buying one of these?

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His fellow redditors shared their thoughts about Chromebooks and more casual users:

Fragmede: "Yeah a Chromebook does absolutely fine for web surfing.

Recognize that /r/chromeos is full of people that willingly spend their free time talking about their laptop's operating system on the internet, and is by definition an enthusiast that loves to tinker with all sorts of stuff - people that just want a cheap laptop to surf the web aren't really going to log onto /r/chromeos and rave "omg im surfin the web SO HARD right now!!1", so naturally /r/chromeos makes it seem like we're all tinkerers.

From another angle - Dell sells laptops with Ubuntu pre-installed but you can't walk into Best Buy and buy any laptops with Ubuntu, yet BestBuy.com lists almost 40 different Chromebook models for sale. If ChromeOS was purely for developers who like to tinker, Best Buy wouldn't sell them because people wouldn't buy them, or would be returning them in droves."

NorthernNed: "Like everyone here has said, if you want a computer that just works for your basic word processing/web browsing then the chromebook should be perfect for you.

I work in electronic retail and I have had a few customers buy chromebooks, a couple returning them because it wasn't what they expected but most coming back and saying how it worked perfectly for what they needed it for. I actually had one guy come back and buy a few of them to outfit his business."

MamaD_Cooks: "I love my chromebook, and I pretty much only use it for surfing the web. Occasionally I will use Google docs/spreadsheets but not often. It really is a great laptop for people who are just going to go online. $500-700 for a laptop that I was just going to use for facebook and reddit. A chromebook was a perfect fit. "

Lodc: "Its easy to test. Just don't open any programs except the Chrome browser on whatever computer you use now. No matter what, pretend Chrome is the only program your computer has.

If you can do everything you need to do without opening any program but Chrome, you will be fine on a Chromebook without ever using developer mode.

Often people come to /r/chromeos when they run into something that can't quite be done in Chrome, that's why you see discussion of Linux and development mode here a lot. The majority of chromeos users never encounter this but they don't often post just to say everything is fine."

Bailout911: "I'm a linux geek/tinkerer. I originally bought my Chrombook with the intention of wiping it and installing Linux. After playing with ChromeOS for a little while, I turned off developer mode and am running it stock. It does everything I need my laptop to do, boots instantly, has amazing battery life and is super-light.

My wife is still using a several-year-old MacBook that we bought brand new for nearly $1500. She primarly uses it for the same things I use my Chromebook for - web surfing, email, photos, etc. Nothing really all that demanding. My $250 Chromebook runs circles around it without getting blisteringly hot and sounding like a 747 at takeoff.

I'm strongly considering getting her a Chromebook to replace it so I don't have to hear the damn thing's fans anymore."

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If you're new to Chromebooks and aren't sure where to start, be sure to check out Amazon's Chromebook Buying Guide:

Chromebooks are a unique class of mobile computing devices, designed specifically for Web-based tasks. They differ from traditional laptops in a few important ways:

Chromebooks are designed to be connected to the Internet. You can create documents and spreadsheets or edit photos on a Chromebook using Google apps designed for these purposes. The Chrome operating system will not load and run traditional PC software like Microsoft Office and Adobe Photoshop. However, files created in these applications can be viewed and edited using Google apps on your Chromebook or cloud-based applications like Microsoft's Office web apps.

To help make them thin and light, Chromebooks are built without large-capacity drives. So instead of storing your documents, videos, and photos on your computer, you save them to Google Drive (Google's Cloud-based storage service). Your files are password-protected and secure, and you can access them anywhere there's an Internet connection. If you know you'll want access to a file or photo offline, however, you can easily save it to the built-in solid-state drive.

Chromebooks boast energy-efficient mobile processors, making them exceptional performers in this department. But there is definitely a range of up-time between charges—check to see that the machine's battery life meets your needs. You may be able to excuse yourself from the power-outlet war during your next airport layover.

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