FEATURE Five Chromebook hacks A few tweaks and additions can turn these laptops into indispensable tools. IAN PAUL reports Chromebooks may be impressively versatile, but a good Chromebook hack helps it break out of its browser-based confines and try new talents on for size. Top of the list, of course, is the ability to install a full Linux desktop operating system via the Crouton project. But there’s a lot you can tweak or add to multiply a Chromebook’s powers. Some of these features require you to install Linux, but many do not. 70 TECH ADVISOR • MAY 2018 Worldmags.net
FEATURE Here are five Chromebook hacks that will improve your user experience and make these laptops even more powerful. 1. Steam streaming Just as everyone knows you can put Linux on a Chromebook, it’s probably common knowledge that you can install Valve’s Steam to play games. The problem is only a few Chromebooks come with a GPU that can run big-time PC games. Enter Steam’s local network streaming. Using this feature, your full-time gaming PC runs the game you want to play, but you interact with it on your Chromebook. Valve gets around device limitations by recording a game’s video stream and sending it to your lowerpowered device. Then your gameplay inputs (controller or mouse and keyboard) are returned to the gaming PC over your home network. It sounds a little unreliable, but it’s amazing how well this works. Don’t be afraid to try your most resource-intensive games, either. The one wrinkle is that Steam’s fantastic feature needs a few tweaks to work correctly. That’s because Chromebooks close certain ports by default that Steam needs for streaming. Those ports remain closed even when you’ve got Linux running on your box via Crouton. Many sites around the web that can show you how to open these ports via command line magic, but these particular instructions are based on a post by developer Brian Smith. The goal is to create a Bash alias with all the instructions. Then all you have to do is type in a simple word or phrase, and the ports you need will Worldmags.net MAY 2018 • TECH ADVISOR 71
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