I have a top-of-the-line MacBook Air, which is truly a work of art, but I discovered fairly quickly that subjecting a machine that cost almost $2000 to the vicissitudes of today's travel is worrying. So for years now the machine I've travelled with is a netbook, an Asus Seashell 1005PE
. It is small, light, has almost all-day battery life and runs Ubuntu just fine. It cost me about $250, and with both full-disk encryption and an encrypted home directory, I just don't care if it gets lost, broken or seized.
But at last the signs of the hard life of a travelling laptop are showing. I looked around for a replacement and settled on the Acer C720 Chromebook
. This cost me $387 including tax and same-day delivery from Amazon. Actually, same-day isn't accurate. It took less than 9 hours from order to arrival! If I'd waited until Black Friday to order it would have been more than $40 cheaper.
For that price, the specification is amazing:
- 1.7GHz 4-core Intel Core i3
- 4GB RAM
- 32GB SSD
- 11.6" 1366x768 screen
Thanks to these basic instructions
from Jack Wallen and the fine work of HugeGreenBug in assembling a version of Ubuntu for the C720
, 24 hours after ordering I had a light, thin, powerful laptop with a great display running a full 64-bit installation of Ubuntu 14.0.4. I'm really grateful to everyone who contributed to getting Linux running on Chromebooks in general and on the C720 in particular. Open source is wonderful.
Of course, there are some negatives. The bigger screen is great, but it makes the machine about an inch bigger in width and depth. Like the Seashell and unlike full-size laptops, it will be usable in economy seats on the plane even if the passenger in front reclines their seat. But it'll be harder than it was with the Seashell to claim that the computer and the drink can co-exist on the economy seat-back table.
Below the fold, some details for anyone who wants to follow in my footsteps.