Google’s Chromebook Pixel is quite versatile after all. Here’s a video look of it running Chrome OS and Linux at the same time, allowing me to use Skype and other third-party apps.


My daily use of Google’s Chromebook Pixel is working out like a charm for what I do, nearly all of which is web-based. Yet, there are still times when a native app is better, or even required, to get the job done. My weekly podcast and videos are perfect examples, although I have found a number of web app options to test out for content creation.

As I noted last week, the Pixel has more flexibility than you might think because there are a number of ways to run Linux on the laptop. I opted to install and use crouton, a set of scripts that set up the Pixel to run Chrome OS and Linux at the same time. Here’s how it looks and works after the setup; you can get the crouton setup steps at this link so I don’t show those on camera:

The one-time setup was simple and now all I need to get Linux up and running is a quick set of commands in a terminal. Then it’s just a matter of switching between Chrome OS and Linux as needed. You can see in the video that the same app I use on a Mac for my weekly podcast, Audacity, runs just fine so I’ve got the podcast issue licked. And I’m going to test some video apps for occasional use as well.

Oh, and if you want to run Skype on the Pixel, you can do that to with this method: Check out how I stay on a video call while switching back to Chrome OS to check something on the web!

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  1. Pretty cool , would this work on my Samsung chrome book too ? And you seem to like webOS a lot :D

    1. Kevin C. Tofel Varun Tuesday, March 5, 2013

      Pretty sure it would work, but of course, if not, you can easily wipe/restore Chrome OS in just a few minutes. :) And yes, I realized afterwards that I let webOS slip out of the mouth. UGH!

      1. Great. Let me try it and report back

  2. that is really neat. waiting on my pixel to arrive right now. i live in the cloud, but its fantastic to know this option is available. ps thanks kevin for the the ongoing great coverage of chrome os. been following your reviews of chromebooks for a while.

    1. Kevin C. Tofel bk Tuesday, March 5, 2013

      Thanks for the kind words, bk. Let me know what you think of your Pixel when it arrives!

  3. I just wanted to let you all know that you can run crouton on the other chromebooks. I have it running on my Samsung series 5 550.

    Kevin, I really like your reviews. I was wondering if you were going to play around with some of the experimental flags before submitting your official review. There are some very useful features like additional multi gestures for the touch pad. I think it would add much to your review as I haven’t seen anybody else really address them.

    1. Kevin C. Tofel Jason Tuesday, March 5, 2013

      Thanks, Jason: good to know about crouton. I’ll have to get it going on my Samsung Series 5 550 now! :) I did play with some of the flags so maybe they are worth a mention. The upside of those is that they obviously can add functionality. The downside is that folks reading the review often say “you shouldn’t have to do that” when they hear these aren’t enabled out of the box. ;)

  4. Lucian Armasu Tuesday, March 5, 2013

    Have you tried https://imo.im for Skype calling on the web? I haven’t tried it myself, since I don’t like using Skype, but I think it may work. I noticed they have Video Call in there.

  5. Gabriel Lawrence,CMA Tuesday, March 5, 2013

    I imagine you could do a RDP session in the Linux environment?

    My biggest issue is not having microsoft office available; however, if I could log into my work desktop it wouldn’t be so bad I guess. I also hear rumors of a Linux version of Office, but that’s just a rumor at this point.

    Thanks Kevin

    1. Hey If you Log into your Hotmail. You would access SkyDrive and be able to use Word, Excel, PowerPoint and One Note for free.

    2. I think you can install wine QEMU or Virtual Box or XEN under XFCE to run MS WOS programs or even the entire OS virtualized.

      I would like to see a video with virtualizations and OSX and MS WOS inside and perhaps the MS WOS 8 touch screen works virtualized too

  6. Isn’t 4GB of RAM too little?

    1. Too little for ChromeOS or for ChromeOS and Linux at the same time? I’m not finding it to be detriment in either case.

  7. Nice blog..:)

  8. Duane Bekaert Wednesday, March 6, 2013

    It’s really really nifty… but I don’t really see the point.
    Correct me if I’m wrong, but there is nothing that you can do on Chrome OS that you couldn’t do on a regular Linux distribution using Google Chrome, right ?

    I don’t really see the point and the appeal of Chrome OS, but if you have to switch back to a full fledged Linux distro to get your work done why not simply get rid of it ?

    Also, I noticide that ChromeBooks in developer mode didn’t boot right away, that was the case of the samsung one, where you need to do a keystroke each time you’re booting, is it the case with the Pixel ?

    1. Duane, except for 2 specific activities, that I do once per week (a video and a podcast), ChromeOS is what I use full time, i.e.: for 99% of my week, I use the web only. The appeal is that it’s just me and the web; there’s nothing in terms of an OS or any related overhead to get in the way. It’s not for everyone, I get that, but for me, it’s an outstanding and productive setup.

      Yes, the Chromebook must be in developer mode; you can do a keystroke when booting or wait 30 seconds. I find that I boot the Chromebook maybe once ever few days; 2x a week at most.

  9. “This video isn’t encoded for your device”
    Running Chromium on Ubuntu Linux with Flash installed; I never have trouble watching any kind of video.

    1. Hmmmm…. odd. And I have the same issue when trying to watch in Chromium on the Pixel. I’ll dig around to see what’s going on. Meantime, I was able to watch the video in Chromium on our YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v031udlfY5E

  10. “Oh, and if you want to run Skype on the Pixel, you can do that to with this method: “…

    what method? was there supposed to be a link there?

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