Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Chromebook Pixel Follow up: Linux chroot, Steam

Since my last post I tinkered a bit with setting up Linux on this machine using Crouton. This is far better than installing a separate OS and booting into it. With Crouton all I have to do is pop open a terminal (ctrl-alt-t), type shell, then sudo startxfce4. The X display pops open in a seconds and I'm up and ready. To toggle between this environment and chrome is simple too- ctrl-alt-back is chrome, ctrl-alt-forward is developer console,  ctrl-alt-refresh is the X window. It is also easy to access ubuntu from the shell without X, this way I have access to all those great CLI software packages from the terminal just by entering the chroot.  Enter:  'enter-chroot'.  Crouton also can be configured to install more than just xfce4 environment,  however xfce happens to be my favorite of the ones included with crouton. The steps I took to get this up and running were found in this brief article at lilputing.com.  I then took the steps necessary to set up my development environment for work stuff; got my build of my software going after quickly configuring and installing its dependencies. Next I went about tweaking some of the environment configuration so the texts were more readable. I tried several DPI configurations and font sizes. It seems that not all the fonts scale according to the DPI setting, and unfortunately the containers that hold the texts don't stretch in most applications. Eventually I  just settled for something in the middle. Not scaled as nicely as in ChromeOS but not too small that I can't use it without eye strain.

After finishing with dpi tweaks I took the time to check out Steam for Linux.  I hadn't tried this yet so I didn't know how far I would get. Apparently there are very few titles ready for Linux from the games library I have. I wasn't really looking to sit down and seriously play any titles, although it would have been nice if that were an option for counter-strike source.  I ran through a bit of half-life and it was quite strange running it at 2600x1700. From far away (in game distance) the textures look intricately detailed, but moving closer they just start to blur; pixels grow. It is strange to see at the same time very detail where i can hardly see the lines of tiny pixels along side a large scaled up and stretched texture over a crate.

After all the tweaking, reconfiguring, etc- I am finally settled and I'm starting to really like the configuration I am left with. I am still not at the point where I can honestly say I wouldn't be happier with a MacBook - but at least now it is comparable.

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