Spent another few days trying to get Ubuntu fully functional on a Chromebook. The Chromebook is sleek and cool, not quite the spare austerity of a Mac, but not as pretentious either. The Ubuntu installation was frustrating and byzantine; full of Developer Modes and arcane key clusters. By my third time through the install process I was starting to remember “sudo … 34v87 /dev/mmcblk1”. But did it work? Yes, if you didn’t care about sound, or a stable implementation of Java; first 7 then 6, but still with the error messages, and third party disclaimers on bug reports.

At the end of the second day I threw in the towel. I learned a lot, but mostly that the idea of Ubuntu on Chromebook is in its infancy, and not likely to mature anytime soon, if ever.

Why not just use Chrome on the Chromebook? Well, mainly because it’s invasive, and takes the concept of vertical integration another step deeper into the lives of the users. This is of course Google’s holy grail. To move the population into, if not forced trust, at least subservient acquiesence, born of the necessities inherent in the new communication forms. Relevance requires Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Gmail, etc. Ubuntu was to be a layer between me and the data mining industry.

Let me take a breath and tighten down my tinfoil hat.

In order to use Chrome the user apparently has to register a membership (free) with Google. And this membership gives the user access to a suite of integrated communications options; each connected to, and enmeshed with the others. But that’s a good thing, right?

That’s a great thing as long as you are aware of the price you are paying for all this “free”, and are willing to pay it. Your personal data paints a pretty clear picture of who you are and what you are likely to do. And that might be okay too, except that there is a reinforcing pattern of information filtering that is quietly closing down options for the user. You should know that this is a feature. It’s meant to remove the clutter and move you toward the information you really want, not those distractive undirected shards of information but rather the clear well worn neural pathways that lead to comforting consumption.

In the end I found the Chromebook experience shallow. It’s an appliance meant to connect one to the infrastructure of narcissistic self reference. I still hold out hope that I will be able to create rather than talk about what I would create if I weren’t just talking about it.

It was a fascinating roller-coaster ride of successes and failures, and I did learn things I might not have learned if I hadn’t made the effort. Thank you Chromebook and good-bye.