What is ChromeOS?
ChromeOS is a web-based operating system created by Google. It is designed to work primarily with web applications and does so through the Chrome browser and it’s extensions. There are a few native applications outside of the browser (file manager, media player, calculator), but for the most part the operating system is very basic. Keeping things simple and on the web allows ChromeOS to run on lower cost hardware without taking a performance hit.
Can I do everything I need to on the web?
There is a web based application for almost all programs that require installation these days. Google Docs covers the replacement of office, Drive can store files, there are many applications for photo editing, programming, note taking, instant messaging, and gaming. There will be some programs that are not available online yet but more and more applications are created every day.
Will it integrate smoothly with my current equipment?
Chromeboxes use DVI, DisplayPort, or HDMI for video and have only USB connections for keyboard an mouse. Any printers you may have can still work as long as they have a single widows host to connect them to Google Cloud Print. New printers are coming with Cloud Print functionality built in and native printing from chrome is now an option.
Do I need a Google account to use it? Will my patrons have to sign up for one?
The Chrome devices can be set up to have a “public access account” and will log in with a single click and no password. Patrons can also choose to use their own accounts in order to get to their files and settings. Of course they can still log in to sites like Google Drive from the public access account if they want to.
If it is web-based, wont it use more bandwidth?
Yes and no. Technically things like word processing will be done on the web instead of locally so may use a fraction more bandwidth. However, ChromeOS uses compression techniques that bring the overall bandwidth use down greatly. In the end there is a negligible difference.
Are the devices capable of wireless?
Yes. Currently all Chrome devices have built in wireless.
What USB devices will it support?
The devices generally support USB flash drives, hard drives, mice, keyboards and some cameras. We have seen Chrome devices fail to recognize some scanners and external CD-ROM drives.
Will I still need to keep windows computers?
Due to the fact that some applications require a windows back-end and specific software we do suggest you keep a few windows computers around. They may be needed for special circumstances and some websites or schools may require specific software or browsers.
How will I secure/wipe the stations?
The devices completely wipe themselves at the end of every session if configured to do so.
Is anything logged?
Not unless you want it to be.
How do we update them?
They update on their own about once every 2 weeks. You can easily set them to cascade their downloading of updates (so they dont all try to download at the same time and bog down the network). You can also create an update USB drive and manually update them all.
How do we time/reserve the sessions?
LibData has created a time and print management software that works with chrome in addition to Windows, MacOS, and Linux.
What other costs are there?
There is only the cost of the unit and its one time, ~$30 administration license. We do suggest upgrading your monitors to fully digital, LED flat panels. This will help with potential compatibility problems and reduce electricity and cooling costs dramatically.
Costs and savings:
-Device and license price
Chromebox: ~$200 (depending on model)
Chromebook: ~$250 (depending on model)
Chromebox: ~10 watts at rest, ~20 watts in use
Chromebook: ~14 watts at rest, ~21 watts in use
LCD display: ~11 watts at rest, ~50 watts in use
LED display: ~5 watts at rest, ~23 watts in use
Regular PC Desktop: ~80 watts at rest, ~150 watts in use
(these numbers were recorded from a Kill A Watt power meter on early Chrome hardware, power consumption number have likely dropped even further since this data was recorded)
The power consumption is not only reduced at the unit but in the containing building as well. The Chrome devices produce much less heat when compared to a standard desktop and if you combine them with a new LED display (as opposed to a LCD or CRT display) you reduce the heat output even further. This reduces the overall cooling required in the building.
Another reduced cost is repairs and hardware troubleshooting time. When there is an issue with a Chrome device you have the option to “Power Wash” it (resetting the device to factory defaults) this is essentially a one click process. If that does not work you can RMA or replace the device at a low cost rather than waste time troubleshooting the potential hardware issues.
Today, most Chrome devices come with a range of available hardware specifications. You can find a very low cost Chrome device running on a mobile processor that will work great for things like digital signage, self checkout stains, and OPACs. Or try bumping it up to a more powerful processor to support high resolution monitors, photo and video editing, and extended multitasking!
Mobile processors, and why their specs don’t matter:
-The exynos processor was initially developed as a mobile processor (tablets and cellphones) by Samsung. It has recently been adapted for more devices including the Samsung model Chromebook. The reason its lower power specs, as well as the specs for any chrome book don’t matter as much is the operating system is so lightweight. It is literally just a browser, with options. There are also so few models of the Chromebook in existence that the support for each model is fantastic. Each update is tested on each Chromebook/Chromebox model and corrections are made so that they all functions properly and quickly. The OS also updates on a very rapid basis and bugs and issues are handled quickly.
– The hardware is “upgradeable” if you’d like (larger SSD, more memory) but unnecessary. If you do have a hardware failure most parts are replaceable. The CPU is removable as well as the PSU, memory, SSD, heatsink, motherboard, speaker and USB hub. All of these parts can be found from various vendors or recyclers on eBay/Amazon.
Info from Google:
Suggested infrastructure updates when installing Chrome Devices
**Only required for expanded capability
What training will my staff need?
Please see our Google Chrome setup page for information on setup and configuration.
Google webcast, designed specifically for Georgia libraries. In partnership with Lecia Eubanks, Director of Cherokee Regional Library System, talking about the Rossville pilot and answering questions about how to deploy the same setup in your system.
Chrome in the news
In Georgia: Rossville pilot