If you’re looking to purchase a cheap laptop this holiday season, Acer’s C720 Chromebook might not be a bad idea. Aside from being very thin, it turns out the Acer notebook is quite versatile.
Don’t let the presence of Google’s Chrome OS discourage you from grabbing one of these babies, as it turns out the machine is quite capable of sustaining other operating systems like Linux. All of this for about $200 / €145 a pop.
Michael Larabel from Phoronix was able to install Ubuntu 13.10 on the above mentioned machine and surprisingly the Chromebook managed to hold its ground and deliver flawlessly.
The Acer C720 model used in the experiment was the cheapest in the bunch, with a configuration sporting an 11.6-inch anti-glare display with a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels.
Like with most Chromebooks today, powers is drawn from a 1.4GHz dual-core Intel Celeron 2955U from the Haswell family coupled with 2GB of RAM with 16GB of storage. On top of that, the laptop has USB 2.0, USB 3.0, SD card and HDMI out.
Since this is a new device, there are some compatibility issues, for example Ubuntu doesn't support the touchpad but users can always make use of a mouse.
Larabel performed a few tests and comparisons with the Linux-enabled Acer Chromebook and found the device was able to keep up with a machine powered by an Intel Core i5 Sandy Bridge processor in some graphics benchmarks.
It offered much better performance than most computers using Intel Core 2 Duo chips in most CPU and graphics tests.
Getting Ubuntu to run on your Acer Chromebook is supposed to be easy enough, as you are required to access developer mode and enable support for legacy BIOS.
Using a pre-made tool like ChruBuntu is also a good idea. On the other hand, installing Windows on a Chromebook is not as easy, so if you’re a Microsoft fan you should probably look elsewhere.