Google’s Chrome OS catches flak pretty often for being incapable of tasks that most other laptops can accomplish. These criticisms are not technically wrong, but that does not mean that Chromebooks are inherently useless. Anyone who expects to be able to use a Chromebook for exactly the same things they could use their other computers for is mistaken, but Chrome OS can get a lot done, especially for how inexpensive the laptops tend to be.

If all you want to do on your computer is browse the Internet, Chrome OS is the sort of thing you are probably looking for. Sure, it does not support Java plugins or complex NPAPI extensions, but both of these are being phased out anyway. A website that expects you to have either of these installed needs to step to the times. This is not the fault of Chrome OS.

Chrome OS is a very simple operating system. Its main feature is Google Chrome. It has a file browser and a command line shell called “crosh”, and then everything else is done through Chrome. If you install “apps” on your Chromebook, you are just installing Google Chrome Apps that show up on your launch bar. All of the operating system settings on the chromebook are very similar to the settings in Chrome OS.

Since Chromebooks are the modern “netbooks”, they expect to have Internet access pretty much all the time. That is why a lot of modern Chromebooks have a very small amount of storage. Once you are connected to the Internet and logged into your Google account, your Google Drive storage integrates seamlessly with the rest of the files on your Chromebook. You can log into any Chromebook with your Google account, and all of your Chrome OS settings will be synced over the Internet. This means even if you buy a new Chromebook or factory reset the Chromebook you already have, within a few minutes of logging in, you will hardly be able to tell the difference (except for the files you had downloaded to the Chromebook disk itself).

But if you do need more functionality from your Chromebook, there is a solution for you. Chromebooks can be switched to “developer mode” through either a hardware switch or a unique key combination. The main effect this has on the Chromebook is that when the computer boots, it will fail to verify that the Chromebook’s operating system is unmodified, and the user will be given access to an underlying Linux terminal for the Chromebook. Switching a Chromebook to developer mode will wipe the computer’s data completely, but this is not a huge problem when all of your data are synced between the Chromebook and the cloud.

Once you are in developer mode, you can use the Linux terminal for anything you would use a standard Linux terminal for. You will not have many applications or a package manager installed, so the only utilities you will have available are simple ones like ls and vi. The most popular solution to this is to install some other Linux distribution like Ubuntu alongside Chrome OS, which can be done with a GitHub package called “crouton”. With crouton installed, you will have access to the Ubuntu package manager and you will be able to install whatever software you would be able to install on a normal Ubuntu machine for your Chromebook’s processor architecture.

This means that if you do free cell phone spy software download any phone desperately need to run a Java applet or some sort of software on a Chromebook, you can. Keep in mind that the Chromebook’s processor might be a little too weak to handle it, though.

Consider getting a Chromebook if you need a cheap laptop. These days, the Internet contains many of the same applications you previously needed to download software for, so you might be surprised at how much you can get done with nothing but Chrome installed.