the secret chromebook end of life policy

My mother is a happy Chromebook user. I’m a less than a happy Chromebook purchaser at the moment. Why you ask? Here’s my history

  • 2012 – first laptop. This was a second generation model (the first ever Chromebooks were in 2011. I waited a year to see if they would have legs. It end of life’d for security updates earlier this year (or 2018; I forget). Not bad.
  • 2014 – The first Chromebooks with built in 4G were released. I thought this would be good as she’d have 4G. It was. At first. Then we realized you have to be on wifi to get updates so I gave her an AT&T wifi hotspot instead. This computer hit end of life for updates this year. Luckily, it happened after the computer was in my possession and not hers. She wanted to replace it because computers age. No problem. Five years is a good amount of time for an inexpensive device.
  • 2019 – I picked the Acer Chromebook 15 (CB3-532). It end of life’s in August 2021. That means we only have two years before that machine can no longer get updates.
  • 2021 – I get to involuntary bug a new Chromebook.

I learned today that Google has an automatic end of life policy. It says you can’t get updates after 6.5 years from when the hardware is first released. So I only get two years of updates because the model of computer has existed for four years. I didn’t know this when I bought the machine. If I did, I would have sat there looking up the end of life dates for every model at Best Buy.

Granted the computer only costs $240. But there is a cost to setting up a new computer when you don’t live near it. One that I’d like to minimize.

Oh and the reason I was looking at the in the first place? Amazon Music is no longer working properly. I can’t tell yet if it is the war Amazon and Google are having or something more mundane.

creating a chromebook recovery disk

In the past, I have used the Chromebook utility to create a recovery image USB. This time, it hung at 0% on writing to disk. I tried with two different USBs. Then I started searching for a workaround

A reddit post led me in the right direction. This URL downloads a conf file with the direct URLs to download the image for each Chromebook. I searched the file for my model (Acer Chromebook 15 (CB3-531)) and downloaded the zip file. It was about the size of a CD (655MB)

Then I chose the gear and the local image option. I picked the bin.zip file. It still wouldn’t load. I wound up just copying the zip (and the unzipped cpgz) to the USB. (still under 3GB). That way I have it in case it is needed. My mother would have to bring the ChromeBook to best buy anyway so they can make the recovery disk if needed. We’ve never needed it so I don’t expect to!

I’m now wondering why it needs a 8GB disk when the image is far smaller. i also note that in 2012, it said you needed an 8GB disk and i used a 4GB one. So inflation?

Listening to Free Music on a ChromeBook

My mother decide she’d like to listed to music on here Chromebook. Conveniently the new Chromebook has good speakers. The gotcha is that she has limited bandwidth at home.

Luckily, this is still possible via a “simple three step procedure”

Step 0 – pre-req

  • Go to Amazon Play on the Chromebook and download the Amazon music app
  • Right click the Amazon music app and pin it. That way it always shows up on the bottom
  • Login to the Amazon music app using the account with a Prime membership. Note this must be the actual account with a Prime membership. Not one you merely shared free shipping with. (Amazon allows up to 10 devices with access to the music on a single Prime account so they must be ok with families sharing)

Step 1 – pick Amazon Prime songs

  • Go to Amazon Digital Music
  • Search for what you are interested in
  • Filter by Amazon Prime on the left
  • This will give you a list of albums with at least one free prime song
  • Each one tells you how many songs are included with prime
  • Click on the albums you are interested in
  • Click “Add” and the icon turns into “Listen now”. This makes it accessible via the app

Step 2 – download to Chromebook while on free wifi

While my mother is bandwidth limited at home, she has free wifi in the lobby and at the library. So for this step:

  • Open Amazon Music on the chromebook
  • Go to My Music. I had tow wait about two minutes for the new songs to show up
  • For each song, click the three dot icon at right and choose Download

Step 3 – listen to music on Chromebook

  • Without being online, open Amazon Music
  • Choose “Offline Music”
  • Click “Shuffle all”
  • Click “play” on first song. Then they all play