Tuesday, May 14, 2013

ChromeOS Obsession

Despite being the very opposite of a fan, I find myself factoring in ChromeOS into a lot of the things I'm doing. My wanting to create an online application for managing Chrome Browser on other devices other than ChromeOS for example.

Or my TED video downloader which sets up web individual pages for each video (though it'd be kind of cool to have it just apply a template and generate the page when requested). Early days yet though I think I could have something pretty functional within a weekend.

And my latest little irritation, Cloud Print. It irritates me that they refer to anything not "Cloud Ready" as "Classic". Don't they just mean, a printer? Should your choice of printer be restricted by whether it's "Cloud Ready" or not? In which case, you're pretty much limited to 6 brands (with "FedEx Office" strangely being listed as a brand - will we see more of this sort of bollocks for what is essentially an online fax machine?).

So the temptation would be to use some old power hungry desktop as a server for getting a printer to talk Google... Failing hardware and power costs (how hot does that old desktop run?) are the reasons for not doing this straight off the top of my head (I'm sure there are a host of other reasons - space...).

A few years ago I was looking for a small little printer server and the damn things cost $100 or more - and you needed one for each printer.

Things have changed somewhat. There are now low cost computers - dare I say it, the Raspberry Pi. Around $50NZD, you'd also have to factor in $10 for an SD card, about the same for a power supply (though I'm thinking it'd be cheaper to take that old power supply from that old desktop so that it could also turn a cheap usb hub into a powered usb hub). And, if you're running something that needs a parallel port (heaven forbid), an adapter on ebay will run you around a whooping $3.

So we're not that far away from it costing about the same as a dedicated printer server except... that it could also share those printers on Cloud Print - EXCEPT that cloud print needs Chrome Browser to share it.... it turns out the functionality is in Chromium browser but is disabled by default. The instructions for enabling it take you on a trip through the interface (which, if you're setting this up as a headless unit, you really don't want to be doing this)... But then... there's a pretty good chance that those settings are stored within the preferences file in which case, refer to the first paragraph of this post...

I'm excited to note that there's a build of tinycore for Raspberry pi in which case, a bit of work around compiling Chromium browser and you'd have yourself one hellishly capable print server (you could even go as far as to share a scanner over the network with it).

Making something suck just a little less is kind of fun...

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