An Observation About Chrome OS

There is a list of criticisms I could make about Chrome OS, but which I will simply skip for the moment.

I recently bought a new Chromebook.

I have an important piece of information – and praise – about Chrome OS. Its version of the Chrome Web browser – which is simply referred to as ‘Chrome’ – is capable of doing everything that full, desktop Web browsers can do, including, to install extensions from the Chrome Web store. This differs obviously from what the Chrome browser under Android did, which was only a small fraction of that.

Because of this, it’s unnecessary to install numerous Android apps, that just used to be front-ends of sorts, for services that were already available from Web-sites. Four apps which I did not need to install because I was just able to point Chrome to the relevant site, bookmark each site, and log in, are:

  1. Skype
  2. Netflix
  3. Amazon Prime Video
  4. Cineplex Store

And I’m writing this, even though there exist reports that the Android Netflix app runs fine under Chrome OS.

I’m sure my list will grow.

Dirk

 

About a minor (Home-Screen) nuisance I’ve experienced on Android deviceS.

I have owned several Android-based devices, and some of those were purchased from Samsung, those being:

  • A Galaxy Tab S, First Generation,
  • (An earlier Smart-Phone),
  • A Galaxy S6 Smart-Phone,
  • A Galaxy S9 Smart-Phone.

A feature which all these devices have, is the Touchwiz Home-Screen (program). This is the default of what the devices display, when not displaying a specific app, when not displaying the app drawer, and when not displaying ‘Bixby’ (most recently). An unfortunate behaviour of the devices is, that Touchwiz will sometimes crash. In my experience, when it does, this is no big deal, because it restarts automatically, and after a few minutes, even my Notification-Bar Entries will reappear. If certain apps fail to make their notifications reappear by themselves, then launching those apps from the application groups will make their notifications reappear.

I tend to rate each Android device, according to how rarely its Home-Screen will crash in this way. According to that, my Google Pixel C Tablet fared better because its home-screen has never crashed on me. My S9 Phone fared almost as well, in that Touchwiz seldom crashed. But now I think I’ve identified a situation which will frequently cause Touchwiz to crash on the S9 Phone.

Firstly, as I’m writing this, the firmware on that phone is at its latest version, that being the October 1 patch, of 2019, of Android 9.

I discovered that I can trigger this situation, as I was experimenting with the Super-Slow-Mo camera recording mode, in which the camera can record up to 0.4 seconds of video at 960FPS, at a resolution of 1280×720. When the camera does this, it generates a 20MB video, after that has been compressed via a standard H.264 CODEC into an .MP4 container-file. I have the default set, to record all camera footage to the external Micro SD Card. Having recorded the super-slow-mo video once, triggered this behaviour.

There is a simple way to interpret what has caused this, that does not seem to lay any blame on Samsung: When the camera is recording video that fast, it’s generating data faster than the external SD Card can store it. Therefore, the data takes up RAM, until some later point in time, when the O/S has transferred the data to the SD Card, by writing it out. This moment was reached several seconds later.

Here’s where the news gets a bit worse. I can download This 3rd-party app, that’s designed to test what speed of external SD Card I have. The reason I need to do this is the fact that I never seem to remember exactly what type of SD Card I purchased, for use with one specific device.

According to this app, my external SD Card can be written to sequentially at ~12MBytes/Sec. That makes it a Class 10 card. Yet, 20MB of data are to be stored in 0.4 seconds. In fact, simply running the benchmarking app caused a second Touchwiz crash, which was just as inconsequential as the first, that I was trying to investigate. What this seems to suggest is, that virtually no SD Card that I can buy, can really be fast enough to be written to at the speed with which the camera app can generate its data. The camera app will need to cache its footage in RAM, before that footage has been written to the SD Card.

Further, the footage is certainly being stored in RAM in an uncompressed form of data (384 raw frames), while what’s to be written to the SD Card is finally compressed. (:1)

And yet, either of these two apps will cause the Touchwiz crash. Hmm… I think that for the moment, I’ll just hold my horses, and record a maximum of 0.2 seconds of Super-Slow-Mo. Thankfully, this is a parameter that I can choose, with the little icon in the upper-right-hand corner of the view, before shooting.

(Updated 11/17/2019, 12h10 … )

Continue reading About a minor (Home-Screen) nuisance I’ve experienced on Android deviceS.

A behaviour of Android that should be understood.

Again, on the subject of The Linux Guest System, installed on my Google Pixel C Tablet

A standard behaviour which Android has, is to serve the request by apps to “Share” documents with other apps, but in a way that non-computing experts may not understand. When the user of an Android app taps on ‘Share’, a list of other apps normally displays, that are registered as being able to open the type of document that’s to be shared. From there, the user can select an app to share it with.

What is usually done behind the scenes is, that the app from which the document is to be shared creates a copy of the document which will be accessible to other apps, and then sends a URI to the app that the document is finally to be shared with. This URI tells the targeted app, which document is to be shared.

In certain cases, these URIs consist of URLs, but in such a way that Android can distinguish between different categories of URLs.

If what is to be shared is a VNC session, again, it’s a URI that specifies the local IP address (127.0.0.1), as well as the port number to connect to.

What I do not know is, when there is only one installed Android app, registered to be able to open a certain category of URI, whether Android nevertheless displays a list of available apps – which in this case would contain only one – so that the user can select the one available app. And this applied to VNC Viewers. What ‘UserLAnd’ was doing, was creating a VNC Session via Linux software, and then allowing a VNC Viewer to connect to that session, but not displaying the fact to me, that it was handing over the Android screen – not the VNC Session – to another app. Two possible things could have been happening:

  1. UserLAnd may just prefer the VNC Viewer that I had installed. It was the recommended viewer. Or,
  2. That VNC Viewer could simply be the only Android app I have installed, that can act as a VNC Viewer, for which reason the dialogue would be redundant, from Android, to ask me which VNC Viewer to use.

Either way, the transfer of the tablet’s screen was seamless, and led me directly into the VNC Session – that is, after I had entered my password for doing so.

Dirk

 

I now have Linux installed on my Google Pixel C tablet.

As the title of this posting suggests.

I used the Android app “UserLAnd“, which does not require root. The most recent versions of this app offer a VNC Server, which emulates an X-Server within the Linux system. And the implementation of VNC is ‘TightVNC’. Plus, the latest versions of this app offer a built-in VNC Viewer, that I find makes the most, out of the tiny icons that display on the high-res screen, as well as out of the fact that often, users will want to operate the GUI with their fingers, along with the physical keyboard that my Pixel C pairs with (:7) …

Screenshot_20190831-163643

The setup of this Linux Guest System is much easier than my earlier experience was because the basic Linux distribution, the desktop manager, and certain apps can all be installed just by tapping on a few icons. And then, using the ‘sudo apt-get’ command-line, additional Debian packages can be installed.

There is an interesting side effect to this project: When I give the command:

$ cat /etc/debian_version

I obtain the result ‘10.0‘. This would mean that the Linux version which I’m getting, is the new Debian / Buster, which none of my PCs nor my Laptop are even running. However, the repositories that I’m subscribed to are labelled ‘stable’. The CPU is an ‘arm64′. And the desktop manager I chose was ‘LXDE’. I installed a full productivity suite, including LaTeX. But, I found that three Linux applications did not run:

  • LyX – The graphical, WYSIWYM LaTeX Editor (:2).
  • Synaptic – A GUI for apt-get that makes it particularly easy to browse package-repositories, before selecting which packages to install.
  • Latexdraw‘ (:1) (:6).

Everything else I tried seems to work, including “LibreOffice”, “GIMP”, “InkScape”, “Firefox ESR”. On my own, without the aid of simple GUI-buttons, I was also able to install and run “Texmaker”, “Dia”, “Xfig”, “OpenClipArt”, “Maxima” and “wxMaxima”, the Computer Algebra System and its Graphics Front-End. Getting that last item to work properly actually required that I install the package ‘fonts-jsmath’.

The Linux Guest System is currently taking up 5.37GB of my internal storage, and I finally also found out how to share files between the Guest System and the Host System. Within the Guest System, if on the Host System the root of the user folders is ‘/root/<sdcard>’, then this Host System root is mounted at ‘/host-rootfs/<sdcard>’ (within the Guest System). This means that I can open a path directly to this folder in the file-manager ‘PCManFM’, and bookmark it. (:3)

(Updated 9/07/2019, 17h40 … )

Continue reading I now have Linux installed on my Google Pixel C tablet.