I first announced that I have been working on a port of ChromiumOS for the GPD Pocket 1 ultra-portable computer back on March 9th. Unfortunately I have done a poor job with posting updates on the status of the build, that ends today with the first Public Tech Preview of ChromiumOS for the GPD Pocket 1.Technically this may be the worlds smallest Chromebook.
This operating system is far from perfect but I want to share a list of some of the high level features. This dedicated build sports several selling features that make it a very capable operating system for the GPD Pocket 1 including:
- Buttery Smooth Performance – This thing is FAST. The GPD Pocket with ChromiumOS easily allows you to juggle several demanding tasks such as watching high definition video, running desktop Linux applications and browsing demanding web pages. While the GPD Pocket is powered by an Atom Processor, it sure wont feel like it.
- Lean – Lets face it, Windows is bloated and consumes a large portion of your GPD Pocket that can be better suited for applications and other important data. A full install of Windows with all Windows Updates will consume around 26 GB of total space while a full build of my ChromiumOS for the GPD Pocket consumes around 8.5 GB – that includes Crostini.
- All Day Battery – Battery Life on the GPD Pocket has always been fairly impressive however ChromiumOS for the GPD Pocket takes things to the next level with battery life that should get most people through an entire 10-14 hours depending on use. If you are going to be putting an exceptionally heavy workload on your device, you can easily expect to get 6 hours of heavy use. Of course, you can always connect a USB Battery Pack.
- Security First – ChromiumOS is an incredibly secure operating system that is resilient to most malicious attacks. All browser processes are run in a jail to make it nearly impossible for a malicious website to compromise your computer or harvest data from other web pages.
- Linux Application Support – Easily run one of the millions of Linux Desktop Applications in Crostini such as GIMP, LibreOffice and Blender. You can even run Android Studio, Visual Studio Code, Wine and other development applications. If you are really wanting to push the hardware, it is even technically possible to do some lightweight gaming in steam if frame-rates are not too important – GPU Acceleration can be enabled for the virtual machine!
- Rolling Updates – One of the best features enjoyed by Chromebook owners has been carried over to ChromiumOS for the GPD Pocket, rolling updates. You can rest assured knowing that your ChromiumOS instance for the GPD Pocket is always up to date with the latest bug fixes, features and security patches offered by ChromiumOS with weekly updates.
- Dedicated Build and Test Infrastructure – OSLab, our dedicated build infrastructure automatically performs periodic builds of our custom ChromiumOS build for the GPD Pocket. This build process includes several automated comprehensive tests to ensure stability and reduce regressions. Only if a build passes all tests is it promoted to production. When a build has been scheduled for release, it will automatically be rolled out to all GPD Pocket Units.
- You are always in control – You will always have root access to your device to allow you to hold all of the keys. The custom build of ChromiumOS is very friendly to those who wish to modify the base OS and add whatever features you wish (note, some modifications may break the OTA upgrades)
- Try It Before You Buy It – Don’t worry, the operating system is free, this statement simply means that you can Live Boot into ChromiumOS for the GPD Pocket and test the build before you install it. If you do not like it, simply remove the flash drive and reboot your GPD Pocket to go back to Windows. Of course, if you do like it, simply complete the steps to install the operating system to replace Windows.
- Free Software/Open Source – Your operating system is the most powerful piece of software on your computer and you should be able to trust that it has not been tampered with in any way. The only way this can be done is to ensure that the Operating System is fully Open Source to give users the freedom to read, modify and even fork or re-distribute the operating system without permission from me. All custom code is on GitHub and the instructions to build the OS from source will be provided. The way I see it is that if you cannot see the source code, how can you trust the product.
I have personally been running these builds on my GPD Pocket as my daily driver and am really happy with the overall performance of the distribution. There are a few bugs that may be a deal breaker to users, please read the product page for a list of bugs and instructions to test it on your GPD Pocket. I would love to hear your feedback.
Also published on Medium.