How to use a Chromebook as ChomeOS / full local deskop Linux / full web desktop Linux Thingamajig?

The Problem

I want to use desktop Linux apps on my Chromebook, pick up where I left off every time I boot on campus and not bog town my hard-wired 2 GB RAM running heavyweight software.

The Solution

crouton (Chromium OS Universal Chroot Environment)

sudo sh -e ~/Downloads/crouton -t audio,xiwi,cli-extra,gtk-extra,xfce -r trusty
  • the -e makes the chroot (a Linux operating system instance within a Linux operating) encrypted
  • – t stands for “targets” and I choose:
    • audio for the chroot to use ChromeOS for audio, as I have had problem with no sound without it
    • cli-extra and gtk-exta are just some extra command line interface and GTK programs since I am using a minimal desktop environment (DE) install at ~250 MB
    • xfce is the default DE for crouton.  Very basic and not my favourite but it’s doesn’t take that much RAM and with my new xiwi and X2Go approach, I may not get to annoyed for this traditional desktop on my touch screen.
    • – r is for release, Trusty is the current Long Term Support version of Ubuntu so it’s fairly recent but not bleeding edge unsupported stuff that can ruin your day when you have something due.

xiwi (X11 in a Window) target

You used to have to run your chroots fullscreen in crouton but now you can also run the desktop in a browser window.  I prefer Firefox but found it slow in crouon GNOME 12.04 ect. and it can be redundant to have two big browser running on limited hardware.  More so in the future I imagine as Firefox is standardizing add-ons to be like Chrome extensions.

I tried xiwi when after reading a blog post about it on release but did not realize that you could just pick individual applications to run in windows and tabs!  Ooooh …ahhhh! The possibilities…

They use GIMP (Gnu Image Manipulation Program) as an example on their GitHub wiki .

You can download a picture and then fire up GIMP to edit it.

sudo enter-chroot -b xiwi gimp ~/Downloads/img.jpg

That’s cool.

I am looking forward to using it for Emacs out-and-about as well.

X2Go client install

sudo apt-get install x2goclient



  • no sound in ubuntu MATE 14.04 on DigitalOcean server
    • …. I tried adding pulseaudio daemon to startup …. no luck
    • $ sudo alsa force-reload Unloading ALSA sound driver modules: (none loaded). Loading ALSA sound driver modules: (none to reload).
    • I wonder if I could somehow visualize sound output to the X2Go client? …. yet I don’t have time for this problem at the moment





Canada government suspends scientist for folk song about prime minister

An environmental scientist working for a Canadian government agency has been suspended and will be investigated for recording a protest song about the prime minister, Stephen Harper, according to union representatives.

The song is called Harperman and was written by Tony Turner, who worked at Environment Canada and is, in his spare time, “a mainstay on the Ottawa folk music scene”, according to a biography on his website.

…First Harper cuts funding for environmental agencies and their libraries, then they are not allowed to speak publicly about their own field of expertise and now they can’t even sing a folk song that offends our Dear Leader?

I’m grateful to live in a country in which a greedy politician would still have a hard time setting up an absolute one party or one man rule but I feel that if Harper was given the chance, he would keep playing his zero sum game of power grasping at the expense of the common good.

My rule of thumb is that if politicians are trying to censor trade deals or scientists, the anonymity they seek is probably for the benefit of the few over the many they want kept in the dark.

Censoring a folk song with a sweet little old lady choir is just Harper reaching a comical new Machiavellian level.

I can’t imagine anything more important than air, water, soil, energy and biodiversity. These are the things that keep us alive. – David Suzuki




Why the Liberal Party Defence of Its Support for Bill C-51 Falls Flat – Michael Geist

Bill C-51, the anti-terrorism bill, became law yesterday as it received royal assent. As polls continue to suggest that the Liberal support for the bill is shifting potential voters to the NDP, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau has conducted several interviews defending his position as the “right move for Canadians.” Trudeau’s arguments, which have been echoed by other Liberal MPs such as Marc Garneau, boils down to three key claims: he doesn’t want to play politics with security, there are elements in Bill C-51 he likes including greater information sharing, and he will fix the problems with the bill if elected. For those Canadians looking for an alternative to the Conservative position on Bill C-51, Trudeau’s defence falls flat.

Source: Why the Liberal Party Defence of Its Support for Bill C-51 Falls Flat – Michael Geist

Top Four Things People Say When They Die: How to be mindful of them?

I was listening to the National Public Radio (the American version of CBC) TED Radio Hour episode called The Act Of Listening and one of the TED talks they reviewed was Dave Isay: Everyone around you has a story the world needs to hear. One of the examples from getting people to interview others was from a hospice worker who wrote a book on the top four phrases he heard from the dying.

  • “Please forgive me”
  • “I forgive you”
  • “Thank you,”
  • “I love you”

In Canadian society we avoid death like the plague.  We spend a lot heathcare dollars clinging on for dear life and prefer our corpses to wear makeup.

But modern positive psychology suggests we would be happier if we thought of our own death daily. This idea is not new of course. It dates back to at least the psychologist/philosopher Siddhārtha Gautama (later mythologised as “the Buddha”) and discussed in the letters of stoics such as Seneca and Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius.

If I am to die smiling, then I should probably practice these lines beforehand. That may be more productive then repeating these supposedly famous last words:

"I am about to — or I am going to — die: either expression is correct." -Dominique Bouhours, famous French grammarian
Hey, fellas! How about this for a headline for tomorrow’s paper? ‘French Fries’ - James French, a convicted murderer, was sentenced to the electric chair. He shouted these words to members of the press who were to witness his execution.
“I’ll show you that it won’t shoot.” Johnny Ace, an R&B singer, while playing with a pistol during a break in his concert set.
"No, you certainly can’t" - John F. Kennedy in reply to Nellie Connally, wife of Governor John Connelly, commenting “You certainly can’t say that the people of Dallas haven’t given you a nice welcome, Mr. President.


So how to remind myself of those four phases?  I’m thinking of putting them in on my wall and as a recurring calendar event although I am concerned with looking them over after awhile.  …Maybe as part of a GTD Weekly Review trigger list? …hmmm sounds good.  I’m open to suggestions.

[ Dave Isay opened the first StoryCorps booth in New York’s Grand Central Terminal in 2003 with the intention of creating a quiet place where a person could honor someone who mattered to them by listening to their story. Since then, StoryCorps has evolved into the single largest collection of human voices ever recorded. His TED Prize wish: to grow this digital archive of the collective wisdom of humanity. Hear his vision to take StoryCorps global — and how you can be a part of it by interviewing someone with the StoryCorps app. ]

Elon Musk’s SpaceX Plans To Launch 4,000 Satellites, Broadcasting Internet To Entire World

In effect, SpaceX would compete with Time Warner and Comcast, while granting Internet access to parts of the world now too remote to benefit.

Musk has some pretty amazing goals and ability to see them through.


Source: Elon Musk’s SpaceX Plans To Launch 4,000 Satellites, Broadcasting Internet To Entire World

Researchers Find Missing Link Between the Brain and Immune System | Neuroscience News

the brain is directly connected to the immune system by vessels previously thought not to exist. That such vessels could have escaped detection when the lymphatic system has been so thoroughly mapped throughout the body is surprising on its own, but the true significance of the discovery lies in the effects it could have on the study and treatment of neurological diseases ranging from autism to Alzheimer’s disease

Source: Researchers Find Missing Link Between the Brain and Immune System | Neuroscience News

MindMup – My New Favorite 2D mind mapping app

MindMup is a free mind mapping application written primarily in JavaScript and designed to run in HTML5 browsers. MindMup is released under the MIT License, and the source code isavailable from GitHub.[1] MindMup is also available as a free anonymous web service at

, which enables users to store maps on several cloud storage providers,including Google Drive, Amazon S3 and GitHub and collaborate in real time with other users.

Source: MindMup – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

It may not have the all the features of the big open source Java alternatives but an great fit for my Chromebook use case.


My Experiement with Mosh + ownCloud + Emacs-server as an open alternative to Dropbox + Google

Problems to solve:

  • I want to access my access my own files, work away from home own LAN, not have to wait worry about sync conflicts
  • reduce dependency on web services such as Dropbox, and Googe Drive
  • One persistent Emacs config, that I can access from any from Android and Chrome as well as desktop
  • hub for personal version control
  • WebDAV calendar


Solution being tested

  • Mosh as mobile ssh replacement
    • remote terminal application that supports intermittent connectivity, allows roaming, and provides speculative local echo and line editing of user keystrokes.
    • Mosh Chrome extension to spend less resources on ChromeOS chroot and not have to sync with laptop
    • JuiceSSH for Android.  Not open source but very good Mosh client
  • DigitalOcean (affilite link Everyone you refer gets $10 in credit. Once they’ve spent $25 with us, you’ll get $25.)
    • $5/m SSD with nice admin UI + API
  • easy ownCloud app install with a few clicks
    • open source alternative to Google Drive/Dropbox ect.
    • Emacs-server
      • With emacsclient, any changes to files in one session will instantly appear in all …see  image
      • Emacs is not so much an off-the shelf text editor but a kit to build your own text-based systems as you go
      • changed defaut editor to emacsclient
      • EDITOR=emacsclient





UPDATE:  <2015-06-08 Mon> …So this happened.  Yeah, I could and maybe should troubleshoot but I I’d rather spend time elsewhere for now.