back to article People hate hot-desking. Google thinks they’ll love hot-Chromebooking

Google thinks the time has come for widespread adoption of PCs-as-a-service, so has offered up its own experience as an exemplar how to get it done. The company’s explained that it operates a “Grab and Go program” that sees it offer racks full of Chromebooks. If a worker’s machine breaks, they just grab a new one from those …

  1. Updraft102 Silver badge

    I don't see where it suggested anyone would love it

    Google says it imposes this upon its employees, and that you, as a PHB, can impose it on yours too. Doesn't suggest that they will like it (as with hot desking), just that you can make them do it.

    1. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: I don't see where it suggested anyone would love it

      It's a Chrome book. By definition that means no real work is done on it, just lightweight web/java app type stuff. No heavy lifting like simulation tools, etc.

      It's a standard MBA-like mindset to think that your workforce can grow flowers when given shit for tools.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I don't see where it suggested anyone would love it

        It's a Chrome book. By definition that means no real work is done on it, just lightweight web/java app type stuff. No heavy lifting like simulation tools, etc.

        In the wide range of businesses I've worked for, the overwhelming use for computers has been "light" office productivity work that a Chromebook would be entirely adequate for. There's a tiny handful of power users who need more grunt, but these people will in any event be seeking a power notebook or a proper workstation.

        From a support perspective, I suspect that a decent Chromebook would be more reliable, easier to support, more secure, and more popular with most users. For the few who want/need heavy i7 laptops, or a desktop that'll cause the streetlights to go dim, then let them have them.

      2. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: I don't see where it suggested anyone would love it

        Bull shit is fertilizer, right? So it stands that MBA's have a point. It's just not valid in this context. Send all the MBA's back to hoeing the fields please.

      3. LucreLout Silver badge

        Re: I don't see where it suggested anyone would love it

        It's a standard MBA-like mindset to think that your workforce can grow flowers when given shit for tools.

        LOL!!!

        I love that expression. Yours or someone elses please? I'd like to give a correct citation when using it.

      4. jelabarre59 Silver badge

        Re: I don't see where it suggested anyone would love it

        It's a standard MBA-like mindset to think that your workforce can grow flowers when given shit for tools.

        You mean like this?

      5. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: I don't see where it suggested anyone would love it

        " By definition that means no real work is done on it, just lightweight web/java app type stuff.

        So, normal for the typical office drone.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I don't see where it suggested anyone would love it

      "The company’s explained that it operates a “Grab and Go program” that sees it offer racks full of Chromebooks."

      We have a similar concept with locked down Surface Pros / Dell XPSs, which at least can run proper local business applications, and will work without an internet connection.

      "does, however, point out that Citrix and VMware are Chromebook-friendly, so can deliver such apps"

      To deliver that we use Dell Wyse terminals with 2-3 screens a desk and a proper keyboard / mouse. Anyone can sit down and login with no need for a crapbook, and with a far better user experience.

  2. Waseem Alkurdi

    Pointless?

    Doesn't every sysadmin have a rack full of dust-covered, corporate-issue ThinkPads that he hands out to whomever comes "wining"* for help?

    * "Wine? Isn't that something users do?" - BOFH

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Pointless?

      Yes, he does. The issue is the user finding all of his stuff where he expects and using the machine straight away by just opening it and logging in. No Windows sysadmin is capable of delivering that experience because the OS does not provide for it.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Pointless?

        "No Windows sysadmin is capable of delivering that experience because the OS does not provide for it."

        Windows has provided for that for well over a decade if not two. From XP onwards it was pretty easy too. If you can't do it personally that's a training and skills issue but don't try to pretend the system can't. Windows can even push apps with policy alongside your data, so the "grab and go" experience actually allows you to leave the building and carry on working on the train. This Google version will fail as soon as you lose network connectivity.

        FWIW Windows also allows users to rebuild/upgrade their device by themselves if you care to set up the infrtastructure, so when their device fails they can try that while using a spare from the shelf.

        The main issue is that Windows devices are worth money so you don't generally leave a rack full lying about in the office. Chromebooks, on the other hand, are essentially worthless so no point stealing them - even the staff don't want to use them let alone selling them on!

        1. SecretSonOfHG

          Re: Pointless?

          @ac: oh, for God's sake, don't try to sell us on that wet fantasy of Windows "grab and go" because most of use aroung here have suffered from some attempt at implementing that fantasy. In the best case "grab and go" is just a reimaging of a OS installation, followed by AD policy updates, with the associated application installs. If all goes well, after a couple of hours your "grab and go" machine will be ready to work. That is, of course, if the only local app is just a Citrix client that you use to connect to a remote desktop.

          Note that having a build ready in a few hours without human intervention is still way ahead of the old days. So this is not an attack on the whole concept, but really a warning: those Windows tools don't provide for the "grab and go" experience that Google describes, where a user picks a machine and is able to get back to work in a matter of minutes, not hours or days.

          1. DAHISTRIMUS

            Re: Pointless?

            im a sysadmin for a large network, we have no issues here, if a computer fails, we bring along another which has our current image on it, pushed out with WDS and deployment workbench, the user logs on with their roaming profile and continues where they left off. apps and programs are pushed out via group policy.

            1. Terry 6 Silver badge

              Re: Pointless?

              The point is that if you can hotdesk (like it or not), with the available PC and roaming profile then you have the fundamentals of Grab and Go. And school laptops use this principle anyway. A kid gets given a laptop from the pile and logs in.

              Adding connection to a remote data store ( i.e. "The Cloud") is no great earth shattering innovation. However providing a working device without access to the internet in some dead spot is a whole nother boiling vessel of aquatic sustenance.

              1. J. Cook Silver badge
                FAIL

                Re: Pointless?

                Yep. You'll lose most (if not all) of the audience when you state "roaming profiles", because the way MS implemented it (and still has implemented it) is a bandwidth sucking dire pig trying to pull a ~200 litre drum of molasses through a very small straw.

                The primary around that tar pit is VDI, in which case you are using the chromebooks as nothing more than RDP clients to a giant bestial cluster of server nodes with fusionI/O cards (or other such on-node storage accelleration) or running vSAN (or are nutanix boxen)

                in which case you are still a prisoner and beholden to the Dreaded Backhoe of Doom in case the network connection gets whacked.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Windows roaming profiles

                  Yes, just exactly what sort of bloated crap does Windows store in its roaming profile?

                  On my Linux box, login, my filespace gets mounted from the server, job done.

                  On my Windows box, login, anything from 1 - 5 minutes passes while who knows what junk gets downloaded, and only then can I access my desktop (and my filespace on the server).

                  And ever more cruft decides to add itself to my profile, so that every so often I have to ask for it to be nuked (so it can’t have been important cruft anyway) as it apparently becomes too big to “sync” itself to the profile server. Just what is the point of all this?

                  1. Sandtitz Silver badge
                    Holmes

                    Re: Windows roaming profiles

                    "Yes, just exactly what sort of bloated crap does Windows store in its roaming profile?"

                    Anything ranging from app/user settings to email, files, temp files etc. I'm pretty sure you can calculate your user profile size via explorer and track what exactly is taking the space.

                    "On my Windows box, login, anything from 1 - 5 minutes passes while who knows what junk gets downloaded"

                    Ask your admin why it's taking so long. Perhaps your infrastructure has a bottleneck or the admin is incompetent?

                    Are your roaming profiles set to save everything or are the documents and such redirected to a server location?

                    Could even be some stupid misconfiguration of antivirus checking all the stuff that gets loaded and slowing everything down.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: Windows roaming profiles

                      Thanks for the explanation, it still sounds idiotic, however. Rather than tediously downloading all of the crap in advance, why doesn't Windows just look for it in a known location in my home folder (which is on the network file server), and only fetch/save any of it as and when a particular file is actually needed?

                      It seems to be the equivalent of checking out every book in the library "just in case", instead of only taking the one that you actually want at any given moment.

                      (And since we don't generally use Outlook or IE, at least there's hopefully not much of that crap being stored in the profile, anyway.)

            2. JimC Silver badge

              Re: No issues

              Well exactly. I forget when my team got interchangeable PCs working for the majority of users in the organisation, but it was possibly twenty years ago. Maybe more now I think of it because it was always an aim, even pre Windows. Standard PCs without specialist apps were interchangeable in the 90s. Standard desktop, network delivered apps, data on the server. We were a Novell shop so it was a dozen times easier than a pure MS network.

            3. SecretSonOfHG

              Re: Pointless?

              " the user logs on with their roaming profile and continues where they left off. apps and programs are pushed out via group policy."

              That's pretty close to "grab and go", but not quite. For a start, you have your machines pre-imaged, which means someone is taking time (and money) to put your image there. Also, everyone in your environment has exactly the same client software built into the image and already installed (otherwise group policy updates will kick a series of installers) so your licensing is quite simple, and no one uses any kind of specialist software.

              Your environment is likely some kind of call centre, one with very little software diversity, these kind of environment are the exception, rather than the norm.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Pointless?

            "In the best case "grab and go" is just a reimaging of a OS installation, followed by AD policy updates, with the associated application installs"

            Not if you do it right. We just install all apps on the image and hide the ones not wanted for specific users via Group Policy. It's just grab and go for anyone and about 30 seconds for first logon.

            Re-imaging is a once every 6-18 months process for new Windows build releases and takes about 30 minutes a Surface Pro.

          3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Pointless?

            "Note that having a build ready in a few hours without human intervention is still way ahead of the old days."

            I think the point is that in a large organisation, particularly admin type departments, which are often he majority, they all have the same build. We do hardware support for a number of large orgs, and that's what we see every day. Having pre-imaged hard disks for desktops (or a whole PC) and pre-imaged laptops means a swap out is an almost instantaneous fix from the users point of view leaving the actual fix to happen without a user breathing down your neck.

            1. Hstubbe

              Re: Pointless?

              "I think the point is that in a large organisation, particularly admin type departments, which are often he majority, they all have the same build.".

              I remember working for such a shop once. They treated the sw dev department the same. "Hey, if any can run outlook on it surely you can develop your highly specialized embedded software on it". The machine was good enough for (barely, when the anti-virus, policy enforcing crap and surveillance software wasn't maxing out the cpu) writing my resignation letter.

        2. Hstubbe

          Re: Pointless?

          "so the "grab and go" experience actually allows you to leave the building and carry on working on the train. This Google version will fail as soon as you lose network connectivity."

          Why would you lose network connectivity if you go on a train? This is not the 90's anymore...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Pointless?

        "No Windows sysadmin is capable of delivering that experience because the OS does not provide for it."

        Welcome to the 21st Century. Windows desktop management capabilities have improved rather a lot since your time. You can get back in your Delorian now.

      3. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: Pointless?

        Voland, it's called "roaming profile" and "data stored of assigned network drive" and "standardized image with AD controlled access".

        And it's been around for yonks.

        1. nijam

          Re: Pointless?

          > And it's been around for yonks.

          And it doesn't work except for the most trivial configurations. Much like Windows itself, obviously.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Pointless?

            "And it doesn't work except for the most trivial configurations."

            Works just fine here across tens of thousands of users.

    2. Vulch

      Re: Pointless?

      "Wine? Isn't that something users do?" - BOFH

      Wine is what they drink, whine is what they do.

      1. Waseem Alkurdi

        Re: Pointless?

        Wine is what they drink, whine is what they do.

        https://www.theregister.co.uk/2001/07/28/bofh_and_the_linux_evangelist/

        You seriously failed to understand Simon Travaglia's pun.

        "But wait a minute, you could run a Windows EMULATOR on your Linux box!! Something like Wine."

        "Wine? What is it?"

        "Something that users do."

        "Pardon?!"

        "Wine? It makes your Linux box pretend to be a Windows box again. Say, how much memory has your machine got?"

  3. Voland's right hand Silver badge

    Nothing new here

    As any Unix sysadmin of old can tell you, in a correctly set up environment with $HOME on NFS, NIS/LDAP and $HOME and /usr/local/??? mapped via autofs any PC is 100% interchangeable. In the days when I ran sysadmin in a development shop we operated full grab-n-go on all Linux workstations. It took less than 3 minutes to swap one as there was nothing to do software-wise. It just worked. In fact, even that was unnecessary - people could just grab the hot-desk while their machine was being services. Windows however... you were looking at a couple of hours time for each swap.

    So back to Chrome. If your data is on the network, if your authentication is from the network and you cannot swap a machine by simply logging in on a new one - you are doing it wrong. Google are demonstrating that they are doing it right. Sure, it is an achievement, but only people with windows background need to sing hallelujah. If you have run a properly setup Unix network it is a "Meh, nothing new".

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: Nothing new here

      I think that Google is saying they have a "properly setup Unix network" only with Linux.

      The comment about Windows and XP reminds me of people coming into work, plugging in, going off to get the coffee and coming back fifteen minutes later in the hope of having a domain login prompt. In the case of one company I visited, more like 45 minutes.

      That may not be the case nowadays but I think that experience put an awful lot of people off the idea of shared drives.

      1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        Re: Nothing new here

        I used to drop an RL02 disk into the drive, hit the load switch and once the READY light was on, log in - no big deal - and that was nearly 40 years ago.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Nothing new here

        "The comment about Windows and XP reminds me of people coming into work, plugging in, going off to get the coffee and coming back fifteen minutes later in the hope of having a domain login prompt. In the case of one company I visited, more like 45 minutes.

        That may not be the case nowadays but I think that experience put an awful lot of people off the idea of shared drives."

        That sounds like the days of old when some admins didn't understand roaming profiles very well and allowed users unlimited profile space and filled up the desktop with folders full of huge files which had to be populated to the local copy of the profile instead of saving their files to the "network drive" or properly maping "My Documents" to the network storage. And huge outlook mailboxes full of PDFs and image file attachments going back years.

    2. Tim99 Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Nothing new here

      No, if it was “correctly set up” it ran on a single large box. If the lusers terminal screen or keyboard broke, they logged in at another seat...

  4. Blockchain commentard Silver badge

    Minor problem here. If your network switches are MAC-address locked, pulling a PC (or Chromebook) and plugging in a new one would (in a security conscious setup anyway) would then lock out that port. So now the end user has to tell the network guys which port he's removed the device from and what the new device's MAC address is. An everyday thing for the computer department, not so for Fred in Accounts !

    1. Lusty Silver badge

      @Blockchain Commentard you make a good point in a legacy network. In cloud world though, ports don't need to be locked down since they only access a public network anyway. Services are secured at the service so all this cloak and dagger security becomes unnecessary. If your main security requires keeping people off of the subnet you're probably already compromised. Proper authentication, encryption etc. is more than enough for normal use-cases, and for abnormal use-cases port locking is laughably innefective so doesn't really contribute. Most devices have their MAC printed on them, and most NICs can spoof a MAC address - can you see the problem here? Even if the MAC isn't printed on, all you'd need to do would be to power up the device and plug it into your own switch - you're on the network with a spoofed MAC in seconds!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > If your network switches are MAC-address locked

      ... then you value obscurity over security.

      If you *must* do port authentication, then use 802.1x (i.e. user has credentials to access the network)

      But better to go the BeyondCorp route, and not trust the network at all. All app communication is either over HTTPS or VPN.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "If your network switches are MAC-address locked, pulling a PC (or Chromebook) and plugging in a new one would (in a security conscious setup anyway) would then lock out that port"

      Places that are security conscious would generally use NAC as locking by MAC address is a close to useless approach as it takes a matter of seconds to spoof a MAC on most devices.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If a worker’s machine breaks, they just grab a new one

    So when google cloud breaks, we'll just grab another popcorn.

    /devil

  6. pleb

    Mainframe?

    Is this sort of a return to the mainframe and dumb terminals setup of old, except that now the terminals pack their own horsepower?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Mainframe?

      Yeah, though now of course the 'terminals' can be used almost anywhere. It's not that new a return, either - laptops running a locked-down Linux for accessing an organisations network (the sensitive bits) have been around for years for much the same reasons; no data is stored on a laptop that might be lost or stolen.

    2. jmch Silver badge

      Re: Mainframe?

      Sort of, except that you don't use any of the local storage at all except for user profile files that have to be on C:\. Grab a laptop, log in to domain, it downloads your user profile and voila' . In my experience the biggest problem for software in this scenario isn't the software itself but the licensing, which is still in most cases sold on a per-installed-desktop basis. So this software either has to be network-installed after user logon, or else you need to go full Citrix (but this would then negate the value of having local processing power and memory and reduce it to a true dumb terminal)

    3. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Mainframe?

      Which, funnily enough, in another thread

      https://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/1/2018/07/16it_walks_it_talks_it_falls_over_a_bit_windows_10_is_3/

      I wondered if this was Microsoft's cunning plan too. Computing as a service...

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Mainframe?

        "I wondered if this was Microsoft's cunning plan too. Computing as a service."

        Than somebody'll reinvent the PC to be disruptive.

        1. Updraft102 Silver badge

          Re: Mainframe?

          Than somebody'll reinvent the PC to be disruptive.

          Indeed.

          Sales and marketing guys love to have something new and awesome to sell and promote. It doesn't matter what we have now... it's never as good as what the sales guys want us to buy today. If it was, why would anyone spend all kinds of money on it? Sell, sell, sell! It doesn't matter that the new thing we're supposed to buy now is the same thing that we abandoned when whatever it is we have now came along. That was ages ago, and most people have forgotten. What's old is new again, and what used to be new has gotten old. Just give it a shiny new name, like "cloud" or "thin client", and go out there and sell it!

      2. nijam

        Re: Mainframe?

        > ...Microsoft's cunning plan too. Computing as a service...

        Computing as an obstruction, more like.

    4. steelpillow Silver badge

      Re: Mainframe?

      This kind of horses-of-my-own client was/is known as a "smart terminal".

      Make it mobile and swap "mainframe" for "cloud" and yes, that's about it.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mainframe?

      Yeup, every 20 years, regular as clockwork...

      In the '70's we had V100's, in the '90's we had X Terminals, and now we have Chromebooks and dumb Win32 clients.

      As for supposed added horse power I had a Mac in 1984 with a VT100 window sitting beside my actual VT100 where the backend VAX 11/750's were main storage. No Mac hardrive in 1984. That came in 1985.

      Oh, yeah. And all PC's/terminals in the building were fully networked. Mixed bag of VT100's and graphic terminals, a whole bunch of Victor / Apricot / DEC PC's , a few Macs' and even a Lisa or two.

      So what is it that's new again?

      1. stephanh Silver badge

        Re: Mainframe?

        "So what is it that's new again?"

        Well the *claim* is that, unlike a VT100, the chromebook is still somewhat useful when the network goes down, because stuff is cached locally.

        How well this works out in practice, I have no idea, having managed to avoid Chromebooks so far.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Mainframe?

        Main difference with old mainframe-type approaches?

        - Chroembooks are based on loosely coupled web-tech so if the connection is wonky you hardly notice it.

        - Cheap as chips.

        - Uptake in schools is tremendous. So the kids are learning that all that manual technical management is not necessary.

        I like chromebooks for their secure local storage and web-oriented approach with synchronization.

  7. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    In the sight of other men, return your Chromebook.

    But, when alone, grabbeth it when you can.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    lowest common denominator

    "We've stripped so much functionality out of your laptop it no longer matters which device you have or who you log in as. You can't save work or run apps anyway. In fact, you'd be just as productive picking up a Linux or Windows device - they have browsers too!"

    No thanks, I'll keep apps, data, and personalisation. If I wanted a dumb terminal I'd go to the '80s.

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: lowest common denominator

      Actually on this Chromebook I have local versions of some files, and a number of Android apps installed. And when I log into a different one I keep my personalisation.

      We're normally talking about the corporate or education world here. Back in the days of paper and filing cabinets, it wasn't "your" data it was the company's data. That hasn't changed. What has changed is the problem of ensuring that you don't go off with or restrict access to company data. What you do outside work on your private computer is up to you.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: lowest common denominator

        "Actually on this Chromebook I have local versions of some files, and a number of Android apps installed. And when I log into a different one I keep my personalisation."

        It's still crapware mostly written for a mobile phone though. In the enterprise people generally want proper computers, not close to useless toys.

        1. Macka

          Re: lowest common denominator

          "It's still crapware mostly written for a mobile phone though. In the enterprise people generally want proper computers, not close to useless toys."

          An ignorant comment from someone who's obviously never used one. But if you really have to have native apps then you won't have to wait long:

          https://www.theverge.com/circuitbreaker/2018/5/8/17318340/chrome-os-update-new-features-linux-apps-google-io-2018

          Besides, if your workflow isn't mostly browser based (+extensions) then you're still stuck in the 90's and I feel sorry for you.

          1. mr_souter_Working

            Re: lowest common denominator

            @Macka

            Besides, if your workflow isn't mostly browser based (+extensions) then you're still stuck in the 90's and I feel sorry for you.

            some of us need locally installed apps that require some much more serious grunt than offered in a browser

            if your work is mostly browser based, then you're well on your way to becoming a PHB - congrats.

            for those of use doing real work, local VM's, Visual Studio, to name just two of them - leave us alone with our workstations

            and some of us are also in environments where we cannot use cloud based services, and often cannot access the internet at all.

            thin clients are suitable for some users. Chromebooks are suitable for some users. Heavy duty workstations are suitable for some users. there really is no "one size fits all"

        2. LucreLout Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: lowest common denominator

          It's still crapware mostly written for a mobile phone though. In the enterprise people generally want proper computers, not close to useless toys.

          And yet I can still see three mac's within line of sight. --->

          1. TheVogon Silver badge

            Re: lowest common denominator

            "And yet I can still see three mac's within line of sight. --->"

            They were probably bought under the aesthetic furniture budget.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: lowest common denominator

          I prefer Google Apps to MS-Office. I prefer fullly backed up, limited features, works on all devices, powerful without too much features.

          I'd greatly prefer if my kids' school swithced to G-Suite. Much less work and hassle.

          I may be a minority, but I am lazy and have much less support-demands.

          1. TheVogon Silver badge

            Re: lowest common denominator

            "I prefer Google Apps to MS-Office"

            If your requirements are so limited that you can use Google Apps then Microsoft do free Web Craps too: https://products.office.com/en-gb/office-online/documents-spreadsheets-presentations-office-online

            "I'd greatly prefer if my kids' school switched to G-Suite"

            Yes but most parents want their kids to have skills they are actually likely to use in the workplace.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: lowest common denominator

              MS's free web-craps is too limited. You cannot do a TOC, equation etc.. I see it as web-based software for those who do not want to go pure-play-web and want to keep full MSO on the clients. G-Suite is viabkle for a bussiness.

              I'd prefer if my kids were not taught MSO, by the time they seek employmnent it will have changed a lot anyway. KISS is always better. :-)

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: lowest common denominator

              "Yes but most parents want their kids to have skills they are actually likely to use in the workplace."

              So teach concepts, not products. Office is not the only way to use a computer, nor should it ever be.

              Many new grads coming into our workplace have not been big Office users but they figure out what they need to quickly. They also introduce some pretty interesting new ways of doing things efficiently that don't involve Office. That stuff scares the old farts in IT as they haven't ever popped their heads outside of the comfortable old cave they live in.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: lowest common denominator

          "It's still crapware mostly written for a mobile phone though. In the enterprise people generally want proper computers, not close to useless toys."

          Legacy think - still stuck in the '00s. Word is one of the biggest productivity destroyers I've ever seen.

  9. Mike Lewis

    Multiple screens?

    If you need two screens, can you grab two Chromebooks? I've found it useful to have one screen for email and documentation and another for editing, compiling and testing.

    1. lybad

      Re: Multiple screens?

      Why - just like most laptops, Chromebooks work quite happily with an external monitor as well.

    2. Stubbly Dude

      Re: Multiple screens?

      Only two screens? Amateur.. ┐( ̄~ ̄)┌

      1. DuncanLarge Bronze badge

        Re: Multiple screens?

        Multiple screens? :D

        I have one screen. Only really need one. But I have since the early 2000's gotten used to using virtual desktops.

        Two screens is more than enough when you have 4 or more virtual desktops, plus all the tabbed terminal emulators and even the ability to switch directly to one of 8 virtual consoles in addition to the window manager.

        If I learned emacs correctly, I'd never need more than 1 screen or 1 desktop ;)

        At work I'm using 3 screens but thats mostly due to the fact I work in IT and it looks impressive to the users and also to counter some limitations of windows 10's attempt to do virtual desktops.

    3. The Eee 701 Paddock

      Re: Multiple screens?

      In the case of my Asus Chromebook Flip, it can not only drive an external HDMI display, but the default in Chrome OS is to treat it as a separate "screen". When I have worked from home, I link the Chromebook to a 1080p display and run Citrix Receiver on that, with the Flip's own screen (1280x800) kept for anything running locally.

      (On a side-note: Chromebooks have come on a long way in the last couple of years, but from the kind of criticisms that keep being raised about CBs - "they can't run multiple displays"*, "they can't print locally"**, "where are the apps?"***, etc. - you'd think Google had frozen development some time in 2013...)

      * - They can (see above)

      ** - Local printing support was added in 2016

      *** - Android support in COS is now pretty good, and Linux "container" support is on the way

    4. Geoff May (no relation)

      Re: editing, compiling and testing

      You are making the unnatural assumption that editing, compiling and testing is considered work.

      Real work consists of having an Excel spread sheet with hundreds and thousands of =VLOOKUP() formulae and several pivot tables. Each spread sheet takes 6 hours to update each day so that it is properly configured for the boss to see project status. The other 2 hours is for the sales staff to discuss handicaps and cycling performance results.

  10. Paul Mitchell 1

    MTBF

    "If a worker’s machine breaks, they just grab a new one"

    "30,000 unique users rack up more than 100,000 loans in the last year"

    So users are having to replace their Chromebooks over three times a year due to failure?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: MTBF

      Anecdotally, I heard some people just leave their laptop home or at their desk, and grab a lighter loaner to go to meetings.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: MTBF

      "So users are having to replace their Chromebooks over three times a year due to failure?"

      Or more likely they moved offices 3 times and needed a new door stop.

    3. DougMac

      Re: MTBF

      "So users are having to replace their Chromebooks over three times a year due to failure?"

      Lets do the math. Lets settle on the $300 chromebook. 3.3 chromebooks per user per year.

      At 3 years out, the company has spent $2970 for chromebooks vs. an assigned laptop.

      Wow, what a cost savings.

  11. Milton Silver badge

    CME Holiday?

    I'm being a bit tongue in cheek, but given it's only a matter of time before a really spectacular Coronal Mass Ejection crisps the grid and leaves large parts of the industrialised world with serial, rolling blackouts for months as a new generation of transformers is built, and 100 million black boxes devoted to shovelling TCP packets are replaced, how long will a "CME Holiday" be, I wonder? By making one's company, livelihood, salary, all entirely dependent on a low-latency high-bandwidth internet, one must ask: how many businesses and jobs will be lost when the lights go out?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Crisping the Grid

      don't forget the Powergeddon that will come when all those silly electric Car owners plug them in to charge at the same time.

      Ducks to avoid incoming in 3...2...1...0

      1. DCFusor Silver badge

        Re: Crisping the Grid

        Ok, I'll bite. So you bought into the power co 'turfing that says "our company, guaranteed a profit by the state, needs more capex to handle anticipated non uniform increasing demand that if this happens, and then that happens in the way we project to make a case, we'll need, or you'll be sorry".

        My electric has 30k miles on it now, never once charged off anything but my own solar array. If I'd put it on grid, there's a "feature" put in by the manufacturer that lets the power co disable charging selectively car by car (via that satellite/cell radio it has) to handle the case you mention. Mine's a hybrid (Chevy Volt) so that wouldn't mess me up - the engine needs to run once in a great while anyway to keep itself oiled.

        My concern, being off the grid and all - is that this might trip when it's none of their business!

        1. LucreLout Silver badge

          Re: Crisping the Grid

          My electric has 30k miles on it now, never once charged off anything but my own solar array. If I'd put it on grid, there's a "feature" put in by the manufacturer that lets the power co disable charging selectively car by car (via that satellite/cell radio it has)

          I don't want to piss on your chips here chap, and I'll readily admit that I might have this wrong, but won't your car simply refuse to charge from the solar array once the local power corp decides its your turn for the automotive equivalent of a hosepipe ban? The power company will probably just ahve a database of postcodes, customers, and leccy motors and simply rotate through those?

    2. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: CME Holiday?

      By making one's company, livelihood, salary, all entirely dependent on a low-latency high-bandwidth internet, one must ask: how many businesses and jobs will be lost when the lights go out?

      Good news: I selfishly only care about one company, because it pays my wages.

      Bad news: It'll be one of the dead.

      I should have thought this through......

  12. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    If this becomes widespread

    I think I'll buy shares in producers of hygienic laptop wipes.

    1. LenG

      Re: If this becomes widespread

      That was my first thought. Studies have shown that a worrying number of keyboards in offices exhibit fecal contamination.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If this becomes widespread

      If you have to hot desk then why not have a cheap thin client setup on the desk. That's what most hot deksing companies do rather than have a hot desk and a hot laptop/chromebook.

      I work at a company that enforces hot desking to save on building costs (effectively pushing part of the cost onto the employee who is asked to work from home at least one day a week). The keyboards and mice are horrible after a year with so much food spilled, and I can guess what else, over them. The promised cleansing wipes disappeared after a week and never reappeared. Several PC's or phones don't work and no-one reports them because no-one owns the desk. They just move to the next desk until they find a working one.

      Personally I keep my own keyboard, mouse and headset in a locker at work and use those on the hot desking machine.

    3. Tigra 07 Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Aladdin Sane

      Want to buy a laptop splashguard for... erm... personal use?

    4. LucreLout Silver badge

      Re: If this becomes widespread

      I think I'll buy shares in producers of hygienic laptop wipes.

      Or penicillen?

  13. Tigra 07 Silver badge
    Trollface

    Basically the Boris Bike option for laptops... Will we start to see Chromebooks floating in canals and strewn from trees and road signs by people who can't be arsed to put them back in the "racks" where they came from?

  14. NanoMeter

    Portable client machine

    Chromebook is like a portable client machine - almost.

  15. Uberior

    Ah hot-desking, sounds so good on paper.

    Just add a couple of people into the mix who won't sit near a window in a tall building, those who don't like sitting underneath the air-con vents, the people who have a chair set for their back issues, or tall colleagues with a desk adjusted for height (which might just be four bricks under the legs). The member of staff who is so obese she needs to sit on a wooden bench (trust me, I've worked with one) or the rampant football supporter who wheels the red, blue, green, yellow chair from the other side of the colour co-ordinated office because they won't sit on a red, blue, green, yellow chair.

    After all that a rack of Chromebooks sounds easy.

    1. onefang Silver badge

      But then your rampant football supporter is stuck when they are all out of red, blue, green, or yellow Chromebooks.

  16. saif

    Live USB sticks did it first and still does it better

    Hot-desking without residue, access local and cloud data storage, can work without internet, faster, (potentially) more secure, and more versatile...I never leave home without my Puppy on a stick

    1. mr_souter_Working

      Re: Live USB sticks did it first and still does it better

      @saif

      "Puppy on a stick

      thanks for that mental image....................

  17. Christian Berger Silver badge

    Now if we had propper terminal standards...

    ... this could be done trivially inhouse. Just look at what ssh with tmux can do for the console. I mean if my computer at work exploded, I'd just go to the next computer, log in and can continue from there.

    It's just that the "web" never was intended to be a terminal standard, so it sucks at being one, making it extremely hard to offer any service over it... which leads to concentration.

  18. Bavaria Blu
    Go

    hostile to the future

    I know this is a forum inhabited by IT support folk, but why all the hostility to the cloud? Surely the boring parts of your job will go to the cloud, but the more interesting bits will stay?

    Also user expectations have moved on. Unless a document they are working on is available anywhere and from any device, they'll just create their own shadow IT on dropbox or OneDrive and you will then have zero control.

    Roll out the chromebooks / boxes and migrate legacy apps to the browser and cloud where they belong.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: hostile to the future

      We aren't anti cloud. Some people might be, but most of us are realists about what it can do well and what it can't.

      Cloud has good use cases. Using a cloud for some systems makes a lot of sense. For example, cloud can allow you to deal with things that could take out your systems. A few cloud images, properly balanced, across different geographic regions and perhaps different providers, can give you a lot of certainty that your system will stay up virtually forever from an infrastructure standpoint. It allows things to continue working if something has gone wrong with your in house equipment, and it gives you an online backup that is fast to recover.

      There are also some people that I, at least, would prefer to be on cloud. For businesses that don't have IT employees and have a few systems or even just one, there are great advantages to it being in the cloud. The responsibility of managing a system that they don't understand and keeping it secure and functioning can be helped by having a more experienced cloud provider manage some of that, assuming they're not going to hire an IT person.

      However, there are major problems with the cloud:

      Cloud is slow. Any data that you need to send back and forth is going to be slower when dealing with a cloud provider. That can really mess up some things by making people irritated. If you need a file of any size, it can be really annoying to have it sent to you each time, and the delay while it's saved can be equally disruptive.

      Cloud is expensive. When you are dealing with cloud, you pay by the month (usually), for each gigabyte of disk and bandwidth and in some cases for cputime. That can be fine if you want to use something small, but if, for example, you want to have all your company's network disk in the cloud, rest assured that you'll pay for all those files as well as each time a user opens or saves one. A physical disk may cost a bit at the beginning, but really not that much and you can do plenty of things with it.

      Cloud is dependent. If some guy with construction equipment wasn't careful, or if the telco didn't properly advise them, your internet line could be damaged. For a business with modern computing and in house tech, many things could be disrupted. Any internet communication systems wouldn't work, which probably includes the phones as well, and people who need to access the internet for their jobs couldn't be particularly productive. However, people who don't need to access the internet as much would be able to continue working. The files they need and many of the systems they use are still in the building, so they work. With cloud, that cut cable has paralyzed the company until it comes back. The files are gone for now. Communication is down, but no systems in house means there is no intracompany system that's still up. Many people will have been disrupted.

      Some things could benefit with the cloud. However, taking that fact and using that as a reason for everything to be moved is pointless. Servers sitting in a server room will work just as well as servers sitting in amazon's room, but you have more freedom with the local servers, and more of their activity helps you. Decide what cloud things you want, without buying into a one size fits all myth.

    2. DuncanLarge Bronze badge

      Re: hostile to the future

      "they'll just create their own shadow IT on dropbox or OneDrive and you will then have zero control."

      We have control. It's called a IT usage policy that each and every employee must read and sign. We block access to cloud storage beyond anything we have set up, even webmail is blocked.

      Anyone discovered getting around this (like when we jump on their machine to fix something we can see everything they can) will have a good long disciplinary with HR. Some people have been fired for breaking the usage policy numerous times.

      With GDPR having come in and with every employee having had the same GDPR training then anyone copying company data into the public cloud knows just how risky it is. Unless they love the feeling of getting away with it. Might give a few peeps a rush I suppose.

  19. WallMeerkat Bronze badge

    Without sounding like an Apple fanboy (in fact, how I came across this was because the screen broke on my machine), one of the most straightforward corporate "grab and go" experiences I had was with using macbooks and time machine.

    New machine, restore backup, and it was like using the same machine I had.

    The only glitch was that some old corporate entity had logged into app store to download an app, and the update for that wouldn't work as it needed that account.

  20. JohnFen Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Good lord

    I hate Chromebooks so much.

  21. martinusher Silver badge

    What's so unusual about this?

    A decade or two ago I found myself as an accidental Intel employee for a couple of years. (The company I was working for got bought and it took Intel a couple of years to close it down, hence 'accidental'.) During that time I had to go to Israel for a week to help with testing something. There were a few spare cubes and machines there; I go to one, login with my credentials and everything comes up as if I were back in California. There were a few subtle differences -- printing got sent to a local device and I couldn't directly access my local hard drive but otherwise the experience was seamless. Just as it should be.

    I'm a developer so I'm not a great fan of working out the cloud -- too slow -- but Rule #1 is that you never leave critical files on your local machine. Anything could happen. So moving from machine to machine shouldn't be an issue, especially if you are cloud/server based.

  22. bobajob12

    Those who don't remember history are doomed to repeat it

    1960s: Mainframe. Access the applications from anywhere! So long as there's a bigass 3270 terminal on your desk and you can live with JCL. Score: 10/10 for badass virtualization trickery (still not bested). 2/10 for user experience.

    1970s: Mini. Visual terminals allow you to access the applications from anywhere! So long as your sysadmin can find the uniquely weird RJ connector that your VT220 keyboard needs, and you dream in amber screen. Score: 10/10 for the lovely bouncy rubbery keyboard, 11/10 for indestructible fault tolerance in VMS, 1/10 for SHOUTY /VERBOSE USER:INTERFACE

    1980s: Unix. What's in your /usr/bin? So long as the application is ed. Well, it is the standard text editor. And there's always Kermit for those home workers. Score: 9/10 for elegance. 1/10 for lovably insane hacks to get it to hang together (termcap I'm looking at you). 11/10 for the beards.

    1990s: Sun. The Network Is the Computer! NIS, autofs, NFS. The golden age imho. Graphical applications from anywhere. You'll prise my X-terminal out of my cold, dead hands. We'll give some points to Sun for the SunRay...and immediately take them away for NIS+.

    2000s: Windows. Roaming profiles baby! The less said about this the better. Oh, and netbooks, cos who needs full Windows right? And dynamic on-demand installation of parts of Office, to reduce the bloat. Because what is more joy for an IT manager than a thousand desktops where Office is broken in subtly different ways?

    2010s: Chromebooks. Access the applications from anywhere! So long as you don't need anything fat like Office, and are the 0.001% of the population that have a web app that runs well offline, and use files that sync cleanly when you do reconnect and find that Pam in Marketing was working on the same file you were while you were out getting hipster massages. Score: TBD.

    I love new tech, but this is a haaaarrrrrd problem.

  23. 0laf Silver badge

    I feel I've missed the point somewhere in this 'invention' of Google's. For 90% of our employees they can sit down at any domain joined computer, laptop or thin client login and get their email, network shares and everything they need to work.Every laptop has remote access capability as well. And we've had most of this for 15+ years

    It's only those who have specialised software needs that can't do this.

    What does this google thing do that's new?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      What Google has done that is new is a. focus on pure-play web with Gsuite. b. With integrated encryption and cloud-storage of configuration info it is easy to swap machines. No extra licenses or configuration needed. Works at home with the kids, and works at work if the employer supports it.

      Schools have started using it on a large scale.

  24. mike_ackee

    Ergonomics

    What about the awful ergonomics of using a laptop vs desktop computer, and indeed the Health and Safety implications of encouraging employees to use laptops?

    Are Chromebook docks a thing?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Remember Thin Clients?

    Yea, what ever happened to the Thin Client craze that was going to take over the enterprise?

    Isn't this just re-labeled thin client?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Remember Thin Clients?

      "Yea, what ever happened to the Thin Client craze that was going to take over the enterprise?"

      It already happened here - we have zero desktops. Invoking DR = walking to another location, logging in and continuing where you left off.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Remember Thin Clients?

      I think virtualization and Thin Client concepts can complement cloud-based strategies.

      The difference with a lossely coupled, web-based client that is encrypted and can synchronize docs/sheets/presentations is that the web-based software can work well under most connectivity and be mobile. Virtualized and thin-client environments will just disconnect and later reconnect, they cannot synchronize data and work loosely coupled.

      I like chroembooks a lot. And the few things I cannot do on them I can do thin-client. I think MS-Access is the only thing that could lock me into windows.

  26. Bavaria Blu
    Go

    bandwidth is bigger than it has ever been

    I started using Google Drive ten years ago. In that time connectivity has been tranformed. You can now get more bandwidth over 4G than you could over ADSL back then.

    I would have thought medium sized buisnesses with a small IT team of say four staff could benefit enormously from cloud. Office or Google Docs and then some kind of Citrix or RDP Windows terminal server for legacy apps.

    I business I saw recently had 40 Mbit VDSL and then a bank of 4G modems (across 3 providers) as a backup. They were moving everything that they could into the cloud.

  27. jamm13dodger

    100,000 machines swaps in one year?

    So 30,000 unique users used 100,000 machines in a year - that's some very unreliable hardware. Its not a statistic I would be proud of if I were google.

    1. fattybacon

      Re: 100,000 machines swaps in one year?

      Where did anyone mention them breaking down? Have you ever been in a local council library? They used to have lots of books, often in multiple copies and in multiple locations, and they also had lots of members who could also go to any location and loan one. That's what Google have done. Lots of sites with the potential for an unknown number of staff visiting. You don't want to run out, the hardware is cheap, so you stock lots of them.

      In my University, we have secure laptop loan dispenser cabinets at multiple sites, students and staff bonk their cards and get a laptop. Sadly, they are all Toshiba PoSs, and by the time your Windows roaming profile has loaded you'd wish you' hadn't bothered. It's a shame we are moving from the G-Suite because Chromebooks would have been so much better.

  28. Whitter
    Paris Hilton

    Elf and safety

    Do the staff all keep their own keyboard which they can plug into one of the generic chromebooks, or is there massive cold/flu/sweaty-euggh transference going on?

  29. oldfartuk

    Deja Vu ?

    So as I understand it, what we're talking about is a standard build machine, loaded with standard software, data held on a cloud and roaming profiles? Like wot we used to do with Win 98 workstaions and Novell netware 5 back in 1998?

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Javastation/javacard

    re Thin clients

    Sun did this years ago only all you needed was a card that you plugged into Java stations and your environment was just there. Killed by Oracle I suppose.

    Great technology you could set up a presentation or similar pull the card out move to another room/office and plug the card in and there it all was.

    And before that there were diskless clients (Sun 2/50's).

    1. onefang Silver badge

      Re: Javastation/javacard

      "Sun did this years ago only all you needed was a card that you plugged into Java stations"

      I vaguely recall a Java ring as well, not sure off the top of my head what exactly it was, and I need sleep now.

  31. Col_Panek

    Big step up

    ... from a VT100 piped to "the computer", because it uses a flat screen.

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