Chromebook – ACER C720

The wife and I have had a couple windows netbooks for a few years.

They’ve been functional enough but never been speed demons and they’ve gotten slower over time. Web sites require more overhead and bandwidth demands not to mention the normal layer of bloat associated with Microsoft Windows and antivirus etc.. 
Every evening the woman came home and would surf her favorite web sites like TMZ, news sites, etc. etc.. But the netbook frustrated her with it’s lethargic performance. 
So, I took a gamble and picked up the very inexpensive Acer Chromebook C 720. 
Funny conundrum I found: I found the most current model being sold by WalMart as opposed to the largest electronics suppliers or big box stores. Huh?
First observations: It’s light, very light. it has a comparable display to any equivalent laptop screen. It’s easy to log in so long as you have a Google account. It streams like a champ with no issues, even with the HDMI port connected to a large TV. Battery life is between 8 and 6 hours of continuous use. And no fear of viruses. Plus it is shared between five grown ups with no concern that tech support (me) has to get involved.
Unique observations: We discovered it doesn’t have a delete key so you rely on the backspace key. You have to work something out for printing using Google Cloud print, whether a server or special printer function. Using the touchpad, it’s functions are slightly different. You have to use the alt key held down while tapping the touchpad to get the equivalent right click function. Your only choice for a browser is Google Chrome and (if signed in) your Chrome browser favorites and other functions are synchronized. 
Overall Observations: Its not for a hardcore windows user that collects gobs of files and likes them on a local hard drive but if the majority of what you need is browsing and your’re okay with using Google user ID’s then you’ll love this. Power up is faster than any laptop I’ve ever used. Browsing is as good or better than any other. And no one can complain about the price.
My only complaint, the only chance I have at it is when no one else is around.

Google Cloud Print Server Install

4 Feb 2016

When I first got my ACER C720 chromebook, at the time it was a secondary pc used primarily for entertainment, general surfing and basic social media.

As time has passed, my Windows based machines seemed to have aged poorly with the windows operating system. Neither of them, in spite of valiant efforts are nearly as zippy as they used to be.

So, I finally put it on my list to attempt to use the chromebook as my primary system.

Key to doing that is providing a means to print directly from the chromebook. It doesn’t have drivers for directly passing your print jobs to a network printer. In order to make it happen, I have to pursue getting Google Cloud Print setup permanently.

A little background, I’ve used Google Cloud Print (GCP) in the past, only it was through Windows or Linux machines using the Chrome or Chromium extensions. The shortcoming to this? Power down a machine and no connection. Then the GCP Chromium extension support ended.

So I turned to Raspberry PI with a version of Debian called Raspbian. If you don’t know what one is, check this link out. They aren’t hugely expensive, they are very low energy and they can run linux. And I happened to free up an old one.  The goal was to set it up as a headless device (no dedicated display, keyboard or mouse).

Now it required two key parts to be installed correctly: CUPS and GCP connector.

CUPS (Common Unix Print System) is used in linux machines as a print server. I already had a working version of CUPS on the Raspberry PI with Raspbian OS thanks to this link.

Fortunately Google came up with a different answer to support all those linux machines scattered the world over. It’s called a Google Cloud Print Connector for CUPS. The downside is that it’s not a simple point and click and you’re done.

Here is the link that I used.

Of the options, this was the simplest and most elegant. I had challenges with keystroke errors in files and ensuring that I moved files to the directories they needed to be for the GCP CUPS Connector files to kick off at start up. You have to read through the files you create to make sure files are in the correct directories. A little trial and error with stare and compare and I had it worked out.

As the instructions said it will “will result in sharing all printers on your CUPS server with Chrome, on the local subnet (mDNS broadcast domain) only.Don’t expect to see the printer to appear in the Google Cloud Print available printers and the print jobs won’t be logged or copied either. The only way I was able to confirm the CUPS printer was actually available was by attempting to go through the print function and clicking ‘change’ to see what other printer options were available.

There is the added option to configure using GCP from any location anywhere at this link, but I ruled it out for myself. I see it’s purpose. It would be especially handy if you could use it with a vpn connected pc, but it’s more than I need at this time.