Chromebook experience in China

I recently purchased a HP Chromebook to replace my personal travel computer. In the US it’s been excellent for light casual browsing, email, youtube, etc use. The weight (< 3 lbs) and battery life (4-5 hrs avg) make it super portable. Well, I'm taking it to China today and I'm not overly optimistic about how it will perform there. Having lived in China for 2 years I quickly realized that the great firewall of China degrades google's services. At one time, they outright blocked it, but eventually (I believe around 2009 or 2010) changed their internal policy to instead just cripple it. It effectively makes the Google services unreliable and therefore frustrating to use. Very clever approach to deter people from using Google and to instead use Baidu and other cloned business of successful western companies. While living there, I setup a personal VPN running from a server in the US. It worked wonderfully for the time we lived in China. I still use it when I travel to harden the security for my network connections overseas. The day before my trip, I tried setting up my Chromebook with OPenVPN. To be fair, I only spent about a half an hour trying to figure out how to make it work and was ultimately unsuccessful. I've had little trouble getting various clients on just about every other OS (Windows, Linux, OSX) to work. I just couldn't get it to connect properly so here I am headed to China without a VPN for my chromebook. I'll have more information on the experience over the next few days after I reach the mainland which I'll post below soon. If you have suggestions on how to get OpenVPN working on a chromebook please post a commment below.

2 thoughts on “Chromebook experience in China”

  1. Hi, I want a chromebook for my new laptop. I have decided this knowing all the supposed drawbacks. BUT, I am going to be in China for the next month or two. Is it worth getting or just wait until I am back outside the GFW.

    1. Mark,

      I have since sold my chromebook. It just wasn’t what I hoped it would be. Windows, or Linux notebooks are so inexpensive now that I really wouldn’t waste my time on a chromebook. They are thin, light and good for just browsing the web, but you are locked in with Google’s system and China tends to degrade Google’s services in order to push people towards the Chinese equivalents where they have more control and visibility into the data.

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