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back to article Asus unveils dirt-cheap Chromebox desktops with Haswell chips

Plenty of vendors offer Chromebooks, but if mobility isn't your bag, Asus has announced a compact Chrome OS desktop at a price that's hard to beat. Asus isn't the first company to offer Chrome OS in a desktop form factor. That would be Samsung, which launched the original Chromebox in 2012. But vendors have shied away from the …

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Yes, but...

...will it run Linux?

Or what's the i7 price like for a dual boot .net/LAMP dev box?

(if, of course, you could get a later version of Windows onto a 16gb ssd with any space to spare...)

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Re: Yes, but...

Who cares if it runs Linux ?

Thats not what 99.99999% of those who would buy it care about, if you want Linux on something buy a desktop or laptop on stick your niche product on there.

This is what people like me want to see, stick these in instead of a windows job and most of my family tech support is gone. So much better for use than a windows box for the majority of the population as well....

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Re: Yes, but...

ChromeOS is a version of Linux, so the answer is yes it will be running Linux. So long as the thing isn't shipped totally locked down at the UEFI level (i.e. using secure boot incapable of being switched off by the user) it should also be easy to install other versions, as the hardware will all be optimised to have good Linux driver support.

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Re: Yes, but...

>Implying these things can not be a Headache, or any less of a security threat either. Besides isn't this thing already running some *nix already, just like with Android? If your "Tech Support" is such a PITA, then make sure you have Auto Updates turned on before you leave. Most likely they'd wouldn't know the difference anyway....

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Re: Yes, but...

You are joking right? You know Chrome OS is Linux?

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Re: Yes, but...Chrome OS is Linux?

All right then. but will it run Linux MINT.

I.e can we load a generic Linux OS on it that isn't tied to what google decides we should have?

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Coat

Re: Never mind that

Can I put Windows 8 on it? What about XP?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yes, but...Chrome OS is Linux?

Crouton...nuff said.

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Bye ChromeOS

For several years now I've had HTPCs of various ilks hooked up to my TV. A shuttle box for a long time and currently an ageing mini-ITX Atom (Zotac nVidia ION) which has done a sterling job. These were usually on 24-7 as an all round home server web browsing kiosk Skype music YouTube etc. Early last year I bought a RaspberryPi and stuck OpenELEC on there and that's sorted all of the media playback stuff. The problem is I still end up with the HTPC on probably most days because of two annoying proprietary MS technologies, Silverlight and Skype. I would have switched it over to Linux years ago had it not been for Eurosport Player being Silverlight only.

A cheap, small, fanless x86 box would make an ideal replacement for the old HTPC and this looks pretty good. That's if I can kill the ChromeOS.

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Re: Bye ChromeOS

Is it fanless? From the small vents it looks like it's fan cooled.

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Ohhh... I just had an idea!

(Waits in amusement for the screams of terror to die down.)

Given their sizes, imagine a ChromeBox, an Intel NUC, and a Raspberry Pi in a side-by-side-by-side configuration, VESA mounted to the back of a monitor.

A KVM switcher box, all the other periph's on a USB hub, and you could have some serious fun.

It would be like running a triple-boot box, triple VM server, all from the same space as your monitor!

*Happy geek drooling*

Damn it, now I crave Pi.

But what would you call such a rig?

ChromeNucPi? PiNucChrome? PiNuChrome? ChromePi? ChromeNuc? NucPi?

Frankenstein? Cerberus? Bob?

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Re: Bye ChromeOS

If it's like the Gigabyte and Intel NUCs I have - it has a small laptop fan but you have to run even the i5 variant pretty hard to get it to turn on and you can hardly hear it.

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Re: Bye ChromeOS

For several years now I've had HTPCs of various ilks hooked up to my TV. A shuttle box for a long time and currently an ageing mini-ITX Atom (Zotac nVidia ION) which has done a sterling job. These were usually on 24-7 as an all round home server web browsing kiosk Skype music YouTube etc. Early last year I bought a RaspberryPi and stuck OpenELEC on there and that's sorted all of the media playback stuff. The problem is I still end up with the HTPC on probably most days because of two annoying proprietary MS technologies, Silverlight and Skype. I would have switched it over to Linux years ago had it not been for Eurosport Player being Silverlight only.

A cheap, small, fanless x86 box would make an ideal replacement for the old HTPC and this looks pretty good. That's if I can kill the ChromeOS.

Wait... You just "discovered" OpenELEC, and yet you never used either MythTV, or VDR?! WHATS WRONG WITH YOU?! I mean really I tried Windows Media Center Once.... It was terrible. For starters, it never had support for DVB-C (Cable), or DVB-S2 (Satellite). Ok the later was eventually addressed back in Vista with a Hack-Pack Update, that was only officially released to just a few OEMs. AFAIK Windows 7 was the first "Official" WMC to have DVB-S2 as standard.

To put a line on this I got into the whole HTPC, back in 2005, and I wasn't prepared to either pay for a buggy copy of DVBViewer, or take a Chill Pill, and wait for Ballmer to discover DVB-C either... MythTV was interesting, but broken. At the time VDR, needed a Hardware MPEG2 Decoder. Thankfully now, thanks to VDPAU, pretty much any decent nVidia Card can take care of all that now.

I would not touch WMC at this point now!

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Re: Ohhh... I just had an idea!

But what would you call such a rig?

How about EPIC WIN!?

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Re: Ohhh... I just had an idea!

Nice idea. I already have an almost completely neglected Pi, yet still find myself lusting after this little beastie.

> "But what would you call such a rig?"

> "ChromeNucPi? PiNucChrome? PiNuChrome? ChromePi? ChromeNuc? NucPi?"

Perhaps "PiChNUC" (pronounced "picnic") ?

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Re: Ohhh... I just had an idea!

"But what would you call such a rig?"

The 3 headed giant...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4SJ0xR2_bQ

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WTF?

16GB, really?

"16GB of onboard SSD storage"

Seriously???

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Re: 16GB, really?

It would be nice to know what kind of flash too, with that piddling size I would hope for SLC to cope with the ever changing web cache contents.

Still, with the SD card option and USB 3 ports that you could put a reasonably cheap 64GB stick into you could probably get by for backing storage if you have a use for it.

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Re: 16GB, really?

Hell, with USB 3.0 you could sit an external HDD on top of it and have as much storage as you like.

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JDX
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Re: 16GB, really?

What part of ChromeOS do you not understand Ketlan? If you want to store all your files locally, buy something else.

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Re: 16GB, really?

@Ketlan

You still haven't worked out the usage model for a Chrome PC yet have you?

ChromeOS isn't about local storage. Do keep up!

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Re: 16GB, really?

Belts and braces?

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OK for web browsing

Graphics performance will be the weak spot for anything serious.

Another tight-arse, performance-sapping unified memory mess.

Show me one solution that has ever come close to the performance of a reasonably current system with separate memories, the current consoles underwhelm compared to a decent PC.

A pity, otherwise it would be a nice SteamBox contender.

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Re: OK for web browsing

Somehow I don't think computational fluid dynamics is the intended market.

Still it's tricky to see what the market is. For Google-Docs and Web browsing the Chromebooks are better. The only use for this is for content consumption - but it doesn't work with Netflix/Hulu etc - so unless Google are going to offer pay-per-view on You Tube (and fix the HTML5 viewer) - this is a bit pointless

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JDX
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Re: OK for web browsing

No Netflix? How come - ChromeCast supports NetFlix after all.

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Re: OK for web browsing

Somehow I don't think computational fluid dynamics is the intended market.

Still it's tricky to see what the market is. For Google-Docs and Web browsing the Chromebooks are better. The only use for this is for content consumption - but it doesn't work with Netflix/Hulu etc - so unless Google are going to offer pay-per-view on You Tube (and fix the HTML5 viewer) - this is a bit pointless

>Implying that Google don't want to start a Pay-per-View, or subscription Service on YouTube.

http://www.engadget.com/2013/05/09/youtube-launches-paid-subscription-channels/

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Re: OK for web browsing

Because Netflix uses Silverlight. Yes they say they support HTML5 but have you actually watched any content in HTML5? Its always Silverlight in my experience, on UK Netflix anyway.

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Re: OK for web browsing

>No Netflix? How come - ChromeCast supports NetFlix after all.

But chromecast requires you to have another computer sending the data. I can't see people buying this box as a replacement for the $25 chromestick thingy if they still need a windows PC to send the video,

Netflix does work (sort of) on the Samsung Arm Chromebook so perhaps they are working on a port for this.

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Re: OK for web browsing

"But chromecast requires you to have another computer sending the data."

It most certainly doesn't. The computer, phone or whatever just tells the Chromecast what to go and get.

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Re: OK for web browsing

Sorry I was thinking of the mode where it just replays a chrome browser tab,

I have to watch netflix through a VPN due to being geographically challenged - ie living 20km the "wrong" side of the border

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Because Netflix uses Silverlight

Netflix works wonderfully on my TV, iPad and on the wife's Nook (Android) tablet. Surely they don't all use SilverLight. EVERY new TV and gadget has a Netflix app, maybe some bespoke version but why can't Chrome have one of those two?

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Re: OK for web browsing

Netflix runs fine on both Intel and ARM-based Chromeboxes and Chromebooks (I have one of each, both from Samsung). Neflix ported it to the platform so that it doesn't require Silverlight.

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Unhappy

Complete

with Google DataSlurp (Not TM) tech.

Is this Googles version of "Windows everywhere?"

That was s**t too.

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Re: Googlehatefest!

Shame on you!

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Anonymous Coward

We can safely assume

it will be DRM-ed up to the eyebrows. This is the price you pay for having your personal info slurped.

Remember, a free user can't be properly monetized.

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Re: We can safely assume

It'll get up in the night and go upstairs to smother your children.

Remember, anonymous bullshit is anonymous, and bullhsit.

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Re: We can safely assume

Quite the opposite! It will look after your children collecting info so you all can enjoy targeted advertising. However, you don't seem to understand or care about end-user digital freedoms so your comment can safely be discarded.

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Looks interesting. If it's fanless and can run debian then colour me interested! If not, I'll stick with my Shuttle XS35GT.

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I'd be interested in the I7...

...but it depends on the max RAM I could install & if it accepts a user-replaceable HDD/SSD.

Sure it may be less expensive than the NUC, but if the user can't upgrade their own RAM nor the HDD/SSD, then it's not really comparing apples to apples.

I can stuff 16Gb of RAM in the NUC, and either the largest M-SATA (for one of the original variants) or a full sized 2.5" SATA (for the newest variant).

Either way, it's a simple matter to open the NUC & fiddle with it's guts, thus making it infinitely more valuable than the ChromeBox.

But if I can get my hands on the I7 model (not bloody likely in North America), then I'd be willing to buy one just for the sake of giving one a spin.

I'd have to figure out some way of installing a Screen Reader Environment on it so I could use it, but otherwise I can envision having a lot of fun with one.

VESA mount a NUC and a CB to the back of a monitor, use a KVM switch to swap back & forth between them, and plug everything else into a USB hub for ease of access.

Need Windows for something? *Click* Ok.

Want Chrome for something? *Click* Done.

All from a combined box footprint that fits side-by-side on the back of the monitor?

Of course, as a Blind guy, I wouldn't need to spend the money on a monitor, so Neener Neener.

=-)p

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Re: I'd be interested in the I7...

What are you wanting to do on a low-power system that needs 16Gb? PCs have pretty much stopped shipping with increased RAM since 4-6Gb became standard 5 years ago.

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Anonymous Coward

Can I wipe it and put a proper Linux OS on there?

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Since ASUS is a hardware company, I would assume they are more interested in sales of this box than in Google ads being served. My bet is "yes, you can".

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If you can stick XBMC on it I'm getting one to replace the old C2D HTPC.

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XBMC runs fine on a Pi. No need for hot and hungry Intel hardware.

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Does the Pi do MPEG4? What about Hi10p?! I think my HTPC isn't quite as dead as that just yet... But, with the spat of USB DVB-S2 & DVB-C Tuners hitting the Market, and in the quest of a cheaper Electric Bill these things do seem to be the shape of things to come...

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RaspBMC

supports most things (everything I have thrown at it) and you can buy licences for other stuff from the Raspberry Pi Foundation for a couple of quid.

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Anonymous Coward

@Michael Habel

Apparently it does MPEG4 out of the box but you need to buy the codec for MPEG2.The XBMC wiki says Hi10p is a no-no on ARM :

http://wiki.xbmc.org/index.php?title=Hi10P

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Freedom isn't free

Hasn't anybody learnt? Linux. That's all. Nothing else. Thank you. Actually, forget that. Just let me install what I want. Because whatever you think I need is wrong.

That said, it's a pretty decent little box. Just please tell me the Linux drivers support the HD graphics. Effing AMD. Effing Fedora. Effing Catalyst.

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Re: Hasn't anybody learnt?

I'm sure Google will stop with this silly ChromeOS nonsense now you've cleared that up.

Thanks. No really, well done.

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Re: silly ChromeOS nonsense

Why should Google stop doing something profitable and legal (but very close to creepy)? No doubt they will continue, and I will continue with Debian and Startpage and NoScript, just for the fun of it.

Oh dear, I sound like Jake - help, downvote me in massive numbers.

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