A new Chromebook saved my bacon when my old one died midway through a business trip

So there I was in Austin, Texas, and I covered The Linux Foundation’s Open Source Conference a few weeks ago when — pop! — an electrical surge blew mine . from Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5, a great two-in-one Chromebook/tablet.


I had a deadline – when not? — but I didn’t have a backup machine with me. I was in deep trouble. But I was already ready for this disaster. Indeed, one of the reasons why I Chromebook fan since they first came out of the factory is that if a Chromebook dies on you, you can replace it and be back to work in no time.

Also: 5 reasons Chromebooks are the perfect laptop (for most users)

You see, if, as unlikely as it seems to me, I have a Windows laptop, a MacBook, or even one of my favorite Dell XPS 13 laptops with Ubuntu Linux 20.04I would be in deep, deep trouble. That’s because I not only have to buy a replacement laptop, but also reinstall my applications and recover all my documents.

If I was home, it wouldn’t be such a problem. In addition to having nearly two dozen PCs in my combined office and lab, my most important backups are live on a QNAP TS-453BT3 Network Attached Storage (NAS) disk. But while it’s available in my home office on a Virtual Local Area Network (VLAN), I keep that machine aware of the Internet. I don’t want my backups to be blocked by a ransomware attack.

But I was far from home, my spare PCs and my backups. But then again, I had just lost a Chromebook. That meant most of my work and applications were still alive, well, and on the web. I just needed another Chromebook to get back to work.

So then I grabbed a Lyft and went to the nearest Best Buy. There I found about a dozen different machines. I checked them out and picked the best of the bunch.

It was the newest HP x360 2-in-1 14-inch FHD Chromebook with Touchscreen† I will give this device a full review soon. Suffice it to say for now that this was exactly what this writer needed at the time. Good keyboard, excellent screen, and plenty of power with its 3GHz i3 processor for my Chrome OS and Linux workloads.

So about an hour later, I was back in the press room unpacking my new Chromebook. When I was done, it took me less than five minutes to plug it in, update to the latest version of Chrome OS, install Debian Linux Bullseye and my indispensable local Linux program, the GIMP Image Editorand go back to work.

My total downtime from the time my old Chromebook broke down and went back to work on the exact same line I left on my new machine was just over an hour. Most of that time was spent driving to and from the store.

That was it. No hassle, no hassle. Good luck trying that on the go with a new machine with a different OS.

For me, Chromebooks have long been my go-to laptop choice. Yes, I still love my Linux laptops, but since I also use Linux on my Chromebooks, that’s not a drawback.

The bottom line is that if you use a Chromebook, you don’t have to worry about backups or leaving your Chromebook in the back of a cab. As long as you can grab another Chromebook and get an internet connection, you’re just minutes away from getting back to work.

To me, this alone is the real killer feature of Chromebook.

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