Google Chromium

I have a laptop that no one was using because it was old and slow. Between the tablets, iPhone, iPods, and Blackberry it got left in a dark corner and forgotten about. I stumbled upon it the other day and thought it was the perfect opportunity to test Google’s Chromium Operating System.

The laptop is an ACER Aspire 5610 running Vista Home Premium. It uses an Intel T350 processor @ 1.87Ghz and has 1GB of RAM (no wonder its so slow). It was taking over 2-minutes to boot and log into Vista.

I installed Chromium Vanilla (Build 4028) from hexxeh, which unfortunately has not been updated since April of 2013. I used this as it was quick and dirty and I was able to install it onto a USB to boot from. I figured it gave me the quickest way to test and the easiest way to revert back to Vista if it didn’t work or I didn’t like it. The install process was painless and in less than 10-minutes I was booting to Chromium. The system now takes about 30-seconds to boot and login…. significantly better than before.

Jack M. Germain from the LinuxInsider has an excellent review, which you can read here

Logging in with my Google account brought across all my bookmarks and because its Google I had instant access to my gmail and apps like word processing & spreadsheet. I could also store all my data in the cloud via Google Drive. You also have access to the Chrome Web store with hundreds of apps and games. I was also able to complete this blog post as WordPress editing happens via a web browser.

acer aspire 5610

Now, enough of the pleasantries… what can I actually do?

#1 Netflix doesn’t work! Why? Because the version of Chromium is too old. I’m researching and confident I can update it, but have not figured out why yet. [If anyone has some suggestions on either updating chromium or getting netflix to work let me know!]

#2 CAD it UP… NOT! I thought we were living in the age of the cloud… cloud apps, design in the cloud, cloud collaboration, and all the other buzzwords. This couldn’t be further from the truth, at least with CAD.

Autodesk is definitely the leader here. I am able to access the online-browser based tools like Autodesk 360. I was also able to add apps for

But things like Fusion 360 or Mockup 360 need locally installed components, even though the data is stored in the cloud… meaning no luck with Chromium.

There is also the TeamPlatform app which is more about project collaboration but it does allow for the upload of CAD models for viewing and to become part of the project documentation. This looks promising, I’m thinking a future D&M review.

However, none of the other major CAD “players” like PTC or Dassault have apps. There are some 3rd part viewing apps, but nothing of significance.

To compound things further many of the apps installed without issue, but didn’t work. I received an Apache Tomcat HTTP 500 error when attempting to log into Autodesk 360, and Autodesk Homestyler wouldn’t load as it said I needed Flash. But when I attempted to install Flash, Chrome told me it was already there!

I was going to include a picture of the Apache error but couldn’t figure out how to get a copy of the screenshot I took into a place where I could upload it to WordPress.

Now, I understand many of my problems lie with the fact that Chromium is out of date. However, even with the most current version of Chromium the list of available CAD specific apps would not change. This means that at this time my Google Chromium powered laptop will become nothing more than another web-browsing tool for my kids. This isn’t a bad thing, as with four girls plus my wife in the house there never seems to be enough devices around.

Next step, how to update the OS to version 29 or newer…. any help out there?