New look for Chromebox, linux-based mini-desktop

The Chromebox, a tiny Chrome OS desktop computer from Samsung, is getting a new look. The new model is white and blobby instead of silver, black and squarey, but otherwise much the same as the current model. [Chrome Story / Ars Technica]


  1. A few years ago, I understood the point of things like the Chromebook and the various netbooks on the market.  Let’s create a cheap alternative to the computer good for basic stuff like email, web browsing, etc., that can also handle some slightly more serious tasks via web-based applications (word processing, spreadsheets, etc.)  But honestly, at $300 + monitor + keyboard, etc. you’re getting to a price point where many of those tasks can be done by a tablet, be it the iPad or something like the Surface that can become a bit more laptop-like if you want it to.  Yes, there may be some disadvantages, but there are also advantages (increased portability, doubles as an e-reader, etc.) that I think outweigh it.

    The geek in me thinks this is kind of neat, but, in truth, I’m still going to need a “real” computer to do the tasks I need to do for work, and for the light stuff, I’m more than happy with the iPad I can take with me anywhere I go.  I don’t see how a Chromebook, either notebook or desktop fits in, no matter how cheap the price point goes.  It can’t replace my real computer or my iPad and doesn’t offer anything I can’t get from either.
    One thing I really do want is a cheap desktop to use as a media server in my house.  I currently use an old laptop for that and I’m thinking about getting a Mac Mini as a replacement. If someone could make a little $300 box that worked well for that, I’d be all over it.I see a potential market in the “one laptop” of a cheap computer for educational purposes in poor areas, but not as a mass market product.

    1. Exactly. The price point of $300+ is way to high. I don’t see any reason this can’t be a $50 dongle computer. And why would you need all those USB ports just to run a browser based OS? Weird.

      1.  Four is a lot of USB ports? We must use our PCs differently. :)

         Mouse, keyboard, camera, usb stick, full.

        1. Mouse and keyboard are one port for a wireless dongle on mine. Since the OS is a browser, not sure why you’d need a USB stick with cloud storage and all. My everyday camera is my phone that never gets plugged in except to charge. One USB should be plenty really since it’s not exactly a workstation. If it had bluetooth you wouldn’t even need one.

          1. I like my wired units, the camera is a dSLR, and the upload here is horribly slow. ;)

            I see your point, sure – but USB ports are cheap and useful, and 4 really isn’t a high number.

      1. Synology makes some good stuff; but ‘low cost’ isn’t generally the word I would choose(at least on the low end, their higher tier stuff at least has enterprise SAN vendors to provide context).

        $150 for a single-bay NAS based on a fairly feeble Marvell SoC is definitely not cheap.

        1. Maybe you’re right, I really don’t know the NAS market. But, I got the cheapest system (DS110j) a few years ago and it replaced a retired desktop which I was using as a home server. I use it for NAS, local web services (for javascript development) and for serving media to the PS3 and TV. For all those things, it works just fine. (Of course my home network rarely has more than a few users, so it’s not exactly a high stress environment) But, the up front cost isn’t the biggest deal (for me) I like the OS, I don’t have to do much to make it work (configuring linux isn’t as much fun as it used to be.) and it only burns 12 watts Vs. 450 (peak) for the machine it replaced. Like I said, though, I don’t know the NAS market at all, and I’m starting to think about an upgrade. Are other vendors with devices that have similar features but with better price and performance?

  2. There is the possibility of putting linux on it but there is not a robust install path that I’m aware of.(after a 5 minute web search)

    It does have a celeron processor approx 1.8ghz, DDR3 1333mhz memory and has the HM65 Intel chipset.

    With more memory, ubuntu and an external media drive I see this box as a very useful quiet media player.

     edit: also with MAME it would make a nice video game box.

    1. For whatever reason, it hasn’t had the same “Installing Linux on a Chromebox” article rush that “Installing Linux on a Chromebook” received; but it shouldn’t be terribly complex.

      All the ChromeOS-native systems have the same boot behavior(so you will have to kick it into ‘dev mode’; but that’s a supported feature, not a jailbreak, to get it to boot a 3rd party payload); but it is otherwise a dead-stock Intel box. Aside from the atypical boot behavior(which should be identical to the behavior documented in the guides for the Acer C7 or Samsung 550, possibly different from the ARM-based ‘Samsung Chromebook’) installation should be pretty trivial. Stock Intel, except occasionally the very bleeding edge, is usually a cakewalk of a linux install.

    2. For media/emulation I think the upcoming Ouya sounds like a better bet. There’s finally a workaround for Netflix on Ubuntu, but it doesn’t do well on low powered systems, at least not mine. The Ouya should do all of the streaming apps available on Android (Hulu+, Netflix, HBO Go, XBMC, UPnP, etc), it comes with a controller, and it’s a lot cheaper.

      Of course Ubuntu will do a lot more, but if the goal is a quiet media/emulation box in the living room those advantages are less necessary.

      1. OUYA honestly appeals to me more now that I know it isn’t vaporware. $100 for something that is geared from the ground up to be tinkerable… and already has wifi, bluetooth, and all so unlike rapsberry pi no need to buy (the downside is power draw is a bit more, so for portable/low power applications raspi still wins.)

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