Offline with Chrome OS, will it work?

Chrome OS! Who doesn’t know that name very well?

I take it back. There are a lot of people that is very well uninformed of the existence of this good-in-a-way operating system and that is not because of no reason either. In the realm of operating system, you probably have have heard the three crowned kings. Windows, Mac, and Linux, those are the names you’re familiar with and have it spelled out nearly everywhere when you’re talking about computer.

What about Chrome OS? Does the name ring any bells to you? If that rings one thing, that is the similarities to the Google Chrome browser then I won’t say you’re particularly wrong, because Chrome OS is exactly that. Gooogle Chrome on steroids, a lot and a lot of steroids.

For one, it is a cloud-based operating system, meaning that it requires some degree of internet connection be running to actually unleash the full possibility of the operating system itself.

Whenever I try to explain Chrome OS to the general public, I will often get the question like “So, how well will it run without an internet connection?” or “Will it work if I don’t have a working WiFi at my home?”

So, instead of theoretically answering it with statistics. Let’s actually use a daily experience! Let’s use Chrome OS without an internet connection and testify to the rest of the world how horrible the experience can be!

1.) Mounting the cannons

Before we begin, let’s pick some apps for our offline usage. Chrome Web Store is nice enough to show us which apps can be used offline so we don’t have to use our intuition to guess.

The main guns for this show is Image editor for editing images (duh), Wordflow that I use to write simple notes or long paragraphs (such as this article), Google Docs in case I remember that I have an actual work to do, and finally, Text for that sweet programmer’s notepad. All of those are first downloaded before I go dip my toes into offline state.

Of course, this all depends on your usage. My usage may do very well in offline, but if you’re someone that relies heavily on those web apps that can’t be offline in just a flick of a second, you’re mostly out of the race.

While I could try and have Android apps loaded, I’d rather keep the show fair by sideloading only Chrome OS apps. This ensures that those Chromium OS users (read: me) that can’t properly use Android apps gets the same treatment.

2.) Let’s get the show going!

As I flicked the WiFi switch, I immediately noticed something.

… All of my files are uploaded in my Google Drive and now I have no means of accessing them, I could get the ones I already have cached before, but not the ones that I have never accessed in my Chrome OS before. This review was thankfully drafted locally, so I don’t have to fetch it using a WiFi connection.

Thanks to Chrome OS seamless integration with Google Drive, I forgot that those files are in Google Drive itself, not in the list of local files.

There are so many things missing when you’re offline (apart from the very obvious lack of Google). Most of the core features of Chrome OS relies on you to have internet access.

Chrome OS extreme lack of apps is showing very clearly if you don’t have the connection to open up some web apps that requires you to be offline. There’s very little that can run here without hitting into the dreaded “There is no Internet connection” screen.

Screenshot 2017-04-19 at 23.51.26 - Edited

I’m proud of my high score

 

That’s the main source of the problem here, while Google is actively pushing Android apps to work on Chrome OS, there are some that is left out in the wild without the support for Android apps. It sucks to be limited in these web apps, not because they’re bad, but rather because they’re limited in terms of feature compared to its more full-blown online siblings.

Some key components that you’d expect (such as music player) still works in Chrome OS, our cannons that we mounted seems to work well enough. Image editor is handling the job as Microsoft Paint replacement finely, Wordflow handles this article in a great way, Text reads most of the codes and highlights them without a hitch. Google Docs sadly didn’t work because I needed to download the “offline” parts of it, which I didn’t do.

Here comes the big problem of all: printing! You literally can’t print using USB printers for some reason in Chrome OS, unless your printer is made by HP, in which case they do support USB printing through the drivers made by HP.

Screenshot 2017-04-20 at 00.06.56 - Edited

I have two printers connected here, none of them are detected

This all does make me finish the article faster, I can’t deny the fact that having less intrusion works well to push me to work faster.

3.) Conclusion(-ish)

Yes, you can go offline with Chrome OS. Yes, it will boot and will work fine.

What you will miss out is a whole lot of things. Apps won’t work as well and only some can endure the offline state without flickering or changing its behaviour.

And don’t expect gaming a lot in this, Chrome OS was never made with gaming in mind and with the combination of small storage size in most Chromebooks, you won’t be doing a lot of WASD action here.

However, will I say that this doesn’t work? No, absolutely not. For me, personally, just having a medium to type this article is already fine. Is it enough? No, the lack of apps is still a problem. But is it “okay”? Yes, definitely.

So, do I recommend Chrome OS if you don’t have a constant internet connection? Definitely not.

Screenshot 2017-04-19 at 23.51.26 - Edited (1)

Unless you love seeing that particular screen a lot.

 

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