I wrote about the Pixel before. This review will be about using Fedora 20 on the Pixel.
ChromeOS is nice. I was using a lot of vim in a ubuntu chroot. It is of course limited. I was also having suspend issues which takes away from the stability of ChromeOS which is really it’s main feature. Might have been related to using crouton. Ubuntu installs on the Pixel but I can’t recommend it. Unity has poor high dpi support. I also had a nightmare of crashes and bugs with Ubuntu. Fedora 20 comes default with gnome 3.10 which I heard support high dpi. So let’s try it out.
The fedora installer is bad. An installer should target two groups of users – technical and casual users. Ubuntu does a great job of this giving you fast routes to what any user is looking for.
Fedora on the other hand is just odd. The partition editor is horrid. After finding it, one must type in the size of any created partition. No slider, really? One more complaint – why is there a five second delay in grub? I only have one OS.
Booting to gnome 3.10
The boot animation works, another +1 over Ubuntu whose boot animation is lots of flickering and random text. I’ve heard it described by teachers as “programming talk”. Ok now to hack on gnome to make this readable….holy fuck it detected my high dpi screen automatically. Wow…I’m speechless. Unity can’t resize the top bar. XFCE requires editing themes to make larger borders. KDE can work but requires tweaks (and still looks ugly IMO). Gnome 3.10 just works.
I like the option to add accounts right away on first boot. I added my Google account with 2 factor auth no problem. The mini browser like window was scaled perfectly too. Too bad I don’t like evolution as it’s ready to go without any more configuration. I did install gnome-tweak-tool to decrease the text scaling factor just a tiny bit. The only tweak I had to do was install a dpi support plugin for Firefox. For the most part things size correctly. Google Chrome has an notable lack of high dpi Linux support despite ChromeOS being Linux but can set the default zoom to compensate.
Fedora vs Ubuntu
Fedora has been mostly stable so far. The bug report tool hides in the Gnome Messaging center unlike Ubuntu that displays it more prominently leading to much panic from some users I’ve encountered. I like Gnome 3.10 over Unity in other ways. While I hate my defaults it’s a easy to install extensions. Here’s what I use. Unity has equally annoying defaults but doing something as simple as changing the default tab behavior to the way God intended is difficult and buggy even!
So far I would say I’ve experienced less bugs than Ubuntu but using Fedora for a few days is hardly a scientific study.
When I say touch support I mean gestures that are intuitive and functional. Sliding a finger to scroll for instance. Emulating a mouse is not touch support.
Gnome has the best touch support I’ve seen in (non-google) Linux and it sucks. Some but not all of the gnome apps actually support touch out of box. I can scroll around in Nautilus to my heart’s content. I can launch applications too. But no browsers support it – making is 90% useless. Not even Gnome’s browser epiphany supports it.
Touchegg is a poor man’s touch support. It works sometimes…if you can manage to install it. I had to install from source and find outdated rpms on http://rpm.pbone.net/. If you aren’t an expert I would plan at least an hour or more to get it running. Anyway I can now scroll with two fingers in Firefox and Chrome. I disabled the other gestures because they don’t work.
Resizing windows using touch is still impossible.
- Headphones autodetect is disabled by default. Fix – Run alsamixer, select sound card, HDA Intel, press right until selecting HP/Speaker Auto Detect, enable by pressing “m”
- Suspend fails sometimes. I have no fix. In the 8 years of using Linux I’ve never had a laptop that works reliably with suspend. Sometimes the mouse gets stuck in a specific location. Sometimes it just turns off.
- Wifi – Ubuntu and Fedora both have issues connecting to the tether wifi on my phone. ChromeOS connects fine. Sadness.
- Most people who support Linux mean that they support Ubuntu and maybe it works elsewhere. Take Dropbox for example – download the rpm from their site and it will break updating because it installs a non existent repo. Easy fix for someone experienced. For the casual user I could see this just bricking updates.
Should you install it?
Are you a casual Chromebook user looking for extra functionality? Go crouton – it’s a lot easier to set up and you keep the more stable ChromeOS around.
If you’re an experienced Linux user and thinking about which distribution to try – Fedora makes a fine choice. Especially if you want the latest Gnome version.
I’m trying to install Fedora 20 on my Chromebook Pixel, and I’m having trouble: The LiveCD install doesn’t detect my keyboard, and it doesn’t have the correct memory settings to boot into the installer.
What did you do to get past these issues?
I noticed sometimes grub would not detect the keyboard. Just reboot.
You can change the memory settings by selecting the kernel to boot, pressing tab to edit, and adding “mem=4g”. Note after installing this won’t be necessary.
I bought an Acer c720 specifically to run Fedora and it runs well.
One problem I have though is that the Intel driver stack in Fedora 20 seems to still be the one from Q2 which seems quite old. I was able to compile the Q4 stack but I had problems with opengl applications afterwords so I had to go back to Mesa 3D 9.2. I haven’t had any obvious problems with 2D yet though.
Have you any experience with the Intel open source drivers and the proper options to compile them? I just followed the instructions on Intel’s site but they’re pretty basic.
The Pixel’s suspend issue has to do with bad tpm behavior: https://code.google.com/p/chromium/issues/detail?id=221905
Ouch – is there any work around? Toying with seabios sounds very scary.