How well do Android apps run on Chromebooks?

Also in today's open source roundup: DistroWatch compares live version upgrade methods, and which e-ink devices can run Linux?

chromebook play store
Credit: Google

How well do Android apps run on a Chromebook?

Google has been working hard to bring Android apps to ChromeOS, and now that work is starting to pay off. A writer at ZDNet has been running Android apps on a Chromebook, and so far he's impressed.

SJVN reports for ZDNet:

The vast majority of other applications work flawlessly. With well over a million apps, I can't look at more than a small fraction, but out of the hundred or so I've tried, the only one that's out and out failed for me was Bethesda Game Studio's popular Fallout Shelter game.

Most of my favorites apps, such as Amazon Kindle, Audible, and Netflix, worked well on my ASUS Chromebook Flip. Some, however, aren't supported on Chromebooks, or at least they aren't yet. These included my airline apps, Fandango, Uber, and Yelp. In most of these cases, I strongly suspect it's because they're hardwired to work with GPS services.

On the other hand, business apps, such as Adobe Acrobat, Polaris Office + PDF, Skype, and the Microsoft Office programs, ran without a hitch. Most business programs, which work best with a keyboard, actually work far better on my Chromebook than they ever did on my Nexus 7 tablet or Samsung Galaxy S7 smartphone.

I was also happy to find that some apps I did not expect to work on a Chromebook did just fine. For example, I'd been told that custom launchers wouldn't work. Since, for now, Android apps and Chromebook apps are kept together I saw that as a potential problem. Instead, I found that my favorite custom launcher, App Swap Drawer, an app drawer, made managing Android apps on Chromebooks a cinch.

More at ZDNet

DistroWatch compares live version upgrade methods

In a previously published post, DistroWatch compared how well a live upgrade worked between major versions of Debian, Fedora, FreeBSD and Ubuntu. Now the site has followed up with an article that compares live version upgrade methods for additional distros: openMandriva, Linux Mint, PC-BSD, and openBSD.

Jesse Smith reports for DistroWatch:

In my previous trial I experimented with five operating systems and, despite a few issues, four of them successfully updated across major versions. I considered four out of five to be a success. This week I experimented with four operating systems and the results were split with two successfully completing live upgrades and two failing.

OpenMandriva failed with a certain amount of grace, allowing me to continue to use the operating system. However, PC-BSD failed to upgrade in a way which left the operating system unable to boot even with file system snapshots in place. To a degree, PC-BSD failing to boot was my fault. When the update manager refused to perform the upgrade automatically, I could have left it at that. Attempting to push ahead with a manual install was what drove to the operating system over the edge and past the point of no return.

I had much better luck this week with Linux Mint. Though Linux Mint 16 was no longer supported and its repositories shut down, I was able to upgrade the distribution. I was quite happy to see Mint survived the live upgrade despite live updates not being the recommended path for upgrades.

OpenBSD was probably the smoothest upgrade of the four. OpenBSD provides clear documentation, step-by-step instructions and the upgrade happens very quickly. The command line nature of the OpenBSD upgrade might be intimidating to newcomers, but it works as documented.

More at DistroWatch

Which e-ink devices can run Linux?

E-ink devices have proven to be quite popular as e-readers. But one redditor wondered if it was possible to run Linux on an e-ink device.

Traverseda started the thread with his question:

I know that kobo releases kernel sources, and produces some pretty great devices at beneath cost, but there doesn't seem to be any concerted effort to get a modern linux distro running on them.

It would be nice to have at least one e-ink display device running linux, and I presume there is one, but I can't find it.

Anyone have any experience putting linux on an e-ink device? Which ones?

More at Reddit

His fellow Linux redditors responded with their thoughts:

p4p3r: “Let's be real: all of them are probably running the Linux kernel, but they're locked up behind a bunch of crap. The Mobile Read forum is your best bet.”

Valgrid: “You can run Debian on the Kobos, but it not really practical.

Tidux: “There's a NetBSD port to one of the Kobos that iirc even has a working framebuffer driver for the display.”

Geruman: “Onyx and Boyue devices are Android devices, you can use GNURoot to run a full up to date Debian Arm inside. There is a Debian port for kindle devices (they run linux inside), but they might be pretty old, I haven't check that on a while. Old Kobos are android devices (gingerbread), so you can also chroot a debian on it. All of them release the kernel sources so you could try compiling a more recent version, but you will probably have issues with the video driver.”

Hellmark: “Right now, there aint much that is really nice.

Really about the best thing to do is to build your own. There are a few projects to try and build something using the ED060SC4 (the panel used in most devices, including many kindles). Something like that combined with a Pi Zero would be cool.”

Rbaleksandar: “A full-fledged Linux distro is (at least for most consumers) useless on such a device. The only decent devices I know that use e-ink are for example the Yota phones but they too use it only on a secondary display. Anyhow I supposed with e-ink device you actually mean e-book readers so I have to ask - what would a typical consumer want such a thing for on an e-book reader? I also do believe (just like @p4p3r has stated) that most such devices do run on Linux except the devices that are way too weak like smartwatches. ”

Leer10: “It's technically possible cause the kindle e-ink devices run linux, but it's a heavily bastardized form. My Pic One can, however, run a chroot with a more complete distro. I've followed tutorials for arch and debian but every time it was touchy and I've corrupted the to-be-mounted images.

Terminal is a lot easier but it seems a few can do X like this and this.

Mileage may very since the devs of Amazon (lab126) are playing a cat and mouse game with jailbreaking so the current version is survivable but not hackable.”

_Del3ted: “Because why would you? You can toss ubuntu on a cheap windows 10 tablet and make it an ereader way easier than you could a kobo/kindle/whatever eink device.”

More at Reddit

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