What to do when your Chromebook is no longer supported

When Jack Wallen’s Chromebook Pixel fell out of help, he needed to maintain that machine working. See what he did to eke out a bit extra time from the tools.


Picture: Jack Wallen

Just lately, my Chromebook Pixel 2015 discovered itself not supported. I actually cherished that Chromebook. The 2 of us wrote a number of novels collectively and the keyboard/display screen was unmatched. To today I’ve but to expertise a greater keyboard/trackpad combo. However, as they are saying, all issues should finish. So, once I obtained the notification that my Chromebook Pixel would not be receiving updates, I felt a tinge of unhappiness. Positive, I had a Pixelbook as a backup machine, however it simply wasn’t the identical. It had a pleasant keyboard, however it was nowhere close to that of the Pixel. And the display screen? There was zero comparability.

I had a selection: Proceed utilizing the Pixel, although it will not be receiving upgrades, or do one thing about it.

SEE: Analysis: Video conferencing instruments and cloud-based options dominate digital workspaces; VPN and VDI much less fashionable with SMBs (TechRepublic Premium)

Now, earlier than we get into this, I will warn you this is not a method to defeat the top of life on your Chromebook. As soon as that fateful day comes, ChromeOS will not obtain updates, which suggests the laptop computer will ultimately change into susceptible to safety points. That’s not a scenario you wish to end up in. However once you need (or want) to eke out a bit extra life from that machine, you will have choices. 

First, you could possibly set up a full-blown Linux distribution on that Chromebook. I’ve performed that earlier than and it really works (largely) properly. However I needed to retain that degree of simplicity that comes with the Chromebook. Moreover, once I wish to use Linux on a laptop computer, I will flip to a machine that is higher able to powering the OS in the way in which I am accustomed to. An alternative choice could be to put in CloudReady, from Neverware. However that requires cracking open the chassis and disabling write safety. Nah. 

There’s an alternative choice, one which is not almost as safe as merely buying a brand new Chromebook (one which’s truly supported). However if you wish to hold utilizing that Chromebook, and accomplish that with a browser that is not (ultimately) dangerously old-fashioned and insecure, you may should wander down a path less-taken. 

SEE: Why Chromebooks may nonetheless be your greatest laptop computer choice (TechRepublic) 

My answer is not elegant, neither is it profoundly game-changing. Nevertheless, what it does is permit me to proceed utilizing that Pixel for some time longer (till I chew the bullet and set up Linux). 

The answer? Set up and use Firefox.

That is proper. As an alternative of working with an out-of-date model of Chrome, I can set up an up-to-date model of a browser and never fear that utilizing mentioned browser could be susceptible, just because it was outdated.

Now, here is the catch. The one solution to get the common model of Firefox on a Chromebook is by way of Android apps. Sadly, that model does not play properly on regular-sized screens. So, to get a model of Firefox that behaves as you count on, you will need to go the Linux app route. Even then, the one model of the open-source browser that is out there is Firefox ESR. What’s Firefox ESR? Primarily, ESR is a model of Firefox constructed for faculties and different establishments that require a extra examined, secure and safe model of the browser than what’s frequently launched to the general public. This model does not embrace the entire newest options, however it works very well. The ESR model additionally maintains the present safety and stability patches.

Earlier than I present you easy methods to set up Firefox ESR on ChromeOS, you will need to first allow Linux. To do this, observe the method I define in How one can set up Linux apps in your Chromebook.

Upon getting that system enabled, you may then set up Firefox ESR.

How one can set up Firefox ESR on ChromeOS

Open the Linux terminal window. As soon as Linux has been initialized, replace apt with the command:

sudo apt-get replace

When that completes, set up Firefox ESR with the command:

sudo apt-get set up firefox-esr -y

The set up will decide up all the mandatory dependencies. When full, you may discover a launcher for Firefox ESR in your ChromeOS menu. Click on to launch the browser, and also you’re able to go.

SEE: Suggestions for changing into a Chromebook skilled (free PDF) (TechRepublic) 

One large caveat

As I mentioned, it is not good. The one large downside I’ve discovered (and I can not determine a manner round it) is that you just can not add recordsdata from Firefox. Even for those who grant entry to the directories housing the recordsdata to Linux (see How one can share recordsdata with Linux apps on Chrome OS), Firefox does not appear to have the ability to entry the filesystem within the file add instrument. To some, that may very well be a deal-breaker. If you happen to’re solely utilizing that end-of-life Chromebook to doomscroll, store or learn articles on TechRepublic, you need to be good to go.

In the long run, in case your Chromebook has reached its closing days of help, you must completely think about buying a substitute. Positive, you may be hard-pressed to discover a higher piece of {hardware} than the 2015 Chromebook Pixel, however there are some significantly stable choices out there. And even for those who do set up Firefox on that end-of-life Chromebook, please don’t think about the issue solved. You are still coping with an working system that is not get up to date, so it will behoove you to drop the coin for a brand new piece of {hardware}.

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