Using CloudReady Home for a week.
(Compiled from Quora Session #4)
What is CloudReady and why did you use it?
CloudReady by Neverware is essentially a slightly modified version of Chromium OS that is ready to install on any Windows or Mac device.
If you have an old computer that is really slow, and you want to resurrect it into a fast machine again, installing CloudReady is one option.
In fact, that’s exactly what I did with an old laptop that I fished out of an electronics dump. It was a Lenovo ThinkPad T410 with a dual core Intel i5 processor and 4GB of RAM, running Windows 7 Ultimate.
Not bad, right?
Except… its battery life lasted under 40 minutes even on the lowest brightness setting, and it was so slow that it took almost 20 minutes just to load the file explorer.
Not to worry, I kind of expected that — perfectly working hardware doesn’t end up at an electronics dump.
I downloaded CloudReady Home onto a USB flash drive, and did a fresh install on the ThinkPad, erasing all previous data.
Right now, it’s pretty darn quick. I’ve been using it for this past week to see if one could really use a Chromebook as their primary desktop computer.
Are there any differences between CloudReady, Flint OS and Chrome OS?
For Flint OS, hold that thought, because I will be testing Flint OS for a week later on, after I obtain another slow laptop. When that happens, I’ll do another session about Flint OS.
Now, the differences between CloudReady and Chrome OS out-of-the-box:
- CloudReady Home Edition is free to install on any Windows, Mac, or Linux device.
Chromium OS is free too, but it takes more work and you kind of need to know what you’re doing (I don’t, hence why I went with CloudReady).
Just like CloudReady, Chrome OS is based on Chromium OS, but Chrome OS officially only runs on Chromebooks. And Chromebooks aren’t free.
- As some of you may know, newer Chromebook models now support Android apps, which means that, on top of the Chrome Web Store apps and extensions, you can now install light mobile versions of Microsoft Office, Instagram, Facebook, SnapChat, etc. on those Chromebooks.
Older Chromebook models are still undergoing testing to ensure that Android apps are stable. They are on track for supporting Android apps.
CloudReady is not testing Android app support yet; they’re still early in development in that area, so it’s unsure whether or not they will officially support Android apps in the future.
- CloudReady software updates are several weeks to several months behind official Chromium OS updates.
Even the developer build on CloudReady is only at 59.2.24, compared to the developer build on Chrome OS, which is at 62.0.32+.
- CloudReady does come with Adobe Flash installed, but it must be enabled in the Settings menu under “Media Plugins”.
Same goes for what they call “proprietary media components” or “proprietary codecs”, which is essentially the ability to playback .mp3 and .mp4 files in your browser. Websites like SoundCloud and NicoNico Video may not work until those components are installed and enabled in the Settings menu under “Media Plugins”.
- CloudReady is generally slightly faster than Chrome OS, but not because of the software — most Chromebooks are very modest in hardware specs.
So, if you install CloudReady on a Lenovo ThinkPad (like I did), it’ll run faster than most Chromebooks you can buy under a few hundred bucks.
Other than those, there aren’t many differences between CloudReady and Chrome OS. For the most part, they run very similarly to each other.
How does CloudReady fare against Windows 10?
- CloudReady Home is free.
Windows 10 is not free, although you can still install it for free, but you have to deal with some minor annoyances that warn you of a missing license key.
- CloudReady Home tech support is limited to online forums, although there aren’t really any issues that require serious tech support.
Windows 10 tech support is only available if you paid for it, though it also has online tech support via online forums, much like CloudReady.
- Because CloudReady Home is pretty much Chrome OS, it can only run apps from the Chrome Web Store. The developers are working on a future update that will allow Android Apps to run as well, but current versions of CloudReady do not have that support yet. (If you want to use Android apps, you need to download the .apk file and load it manually with an experimental Chrome extension called “ARC Welder”. Not all .apk files will load.)
Windows 10 has the benefit of running third-party applications. If you do have an Office 365 account, nor do you want to pay for full Office versions, you can find light mobile versions of Office in the Windows 10 app store — which are free.
- CloudReady is lightweight, simple, and doesn’t take up much disk space.
Windows 10 is powerful, but rather complex compared to Chrome OS. It also takes up a lot more disk space.
- CloudReady is a lot faster — even on low-spec devices, and results in a longer battery life. Before, my ThinkPad had just under 40 minutes of on-screen time, even on the lowest brightness settings; after I installed CloudReady, the battery life improved to a little over an hour of constant use, even with medium brightness settings.
You’ll notice Windows 10 being a lot slower if you install it on a device with low specs, and it does take up a lot more energy and battery life.
- This is subjective, but Chrome OS looks a lot more beautiful and elegant compared to Windows 10 — especially with Google’s Material Design guidelines running throughout the UI. The entire OS feels more unified.
Windows 10 doesn’t look bad either, but its icons are inconsistent at times, and look a little bland. Some parts of its design are cluttered and hard to navigate — some parts are even hard to look at. Of course, it does come with a hell of a lot more functionality, so naturally, it’s hard to organise those buttons and sliders in a simpler way.
In addition, there are many features native to Windows 10 that either aren’t available in Chrome OS, or is tedious to do:
- You can’t directly unzip a compressed folder in Chrome OS; you have to open the compressed folder, and manually drag its contents out of the folder and into a new uncompressed one.
- You can’t install new fonts.
- Wireless printing is limited to printers with Google Cloud Print enabled.
- No screensaver options.
- Very limited wallpaper options.
- System files are not accessible.
Are you sponsored by CloudReady?
(From now on, this will be the default format of my Medium stories. The questions may or may not come from Quora, but I’ve been so used to writing content as answers to questions that this will probably be how I write for a very long time.)