Minecraft and Chromebooks?

minecraft pic map

The question was asked this week about Chromebooks and running Minecraft. My initial and limited knowledge of Chromebooks and also limited knowledge of the technical side of minecraft resulted in an immediate response of this wouldn’t work. A few days after the question was asked my mind wandered back to the question, as I was curious and did want to know. What was driving my need to know is that many schools here in the USA are fitting themselves, or their students, out with Chromebooks. Chromebooks are being seen as an affordable option, which they are, but with that affordability come some limitations. Educators need to be aware of the limitations so that they can make informed decisions.

My quick hunt around the internet gave me the following information:

https://help.mojang.com/customer/portal/articles/920822-minecraft-on-chromebooks accessed 21 Nov 2014

Further investigation led to YouTube videos to help you ‘make’ Minecraft work on your Chromebook such as:

which is found at http://itechtriad.com/articles/2014/7/21/how-to-install-minecraft-on-a-chromebook accessed 21 Nov 2014

Things to be aware of if choosing to go down this path, according to the link above include:

TIPS

These are few things you may want to remember when using this method.

  • Your Downloads folder syncs between Chrome OS and Linux
  • Your machine is in developer mode. 30 seconds will be added to the boot time if you don’t hit CTRL + D upon start up.
  • Switching from Chrome OS to Linux (after starting the Crouton command) uses the shortcut CTRL + ALT + Right Arrow (F2) followed by CTRL + ALT + Refresh (F3)
  • Switching from Linux to Chrome OS uses the shortcut CTRL + ALT + Left Arrow (F1)
  • The battery life of your machine is half of what it is normally when running Crouton
  • You need to power off the machine when in Chrome OS
  • Sounds from Chrome OS will still play even when in Linux during a Crouton session

Other YouTube videos talked about using different Linux versions.

There are questions to consider in a school environment. Does this fit with the user agreement students accept if the chromebooks are owned by the school. What is the advice of the IT techies/department? Are you prepared to deal with troubleshooting? Do the benefits outweigh the potential issues that may arise, such as some time investment to start with and troubleshooting (be aware that some comments on the forums related to the videos highlight not all is smooth sailing)?

6 Comments

  1. natbott says:

    I think that the lack of power on Chromebooks would cause a massive break in the immersion which is key in the continued focus of students in the classroom. There is nothing more annoying, aggravating and upsetting to a gamer than a laggy game that limits their abilities. Some people would persevere but so many would become disinterested.

    Also, the only way to get this working on a Chromebook is a work around which is complex and basically completely changes the laptop into a light weight linux machine, which breaks the user experience on the computer itself. Making it work at all would likely require quite a bit of effort (depending on your technical skill) but bringing it into a school is a whole other level. Without serious programming the process it’s unlikely it would ever be smooth enough for a class room environment and that’s not even considering the ethical concerns this sort of work around brings up.

  2. Hi Donelle,

    I’ve been looking into ways of making Chromebooks more awesome!

    By default Chromebooks are limited to extensions available in the Chrome Web Store. With some tinkering you’re able to run other applications like Minecraft. This is good but there’s a few problems. The battery life is reduced, the game is probably going to perform poorly and the Chromebook user experience is broken. Natbott summed it up perfectly.

    The idea of using computers remotely has been popular lately. Have you ever used an application like Teamviewer to give or receive help? In the Chrome Web Store there is an extension that allows you to connect to computers running a virtual network computing server (VNC). This extension pretty much much lets you take control of another computer. At my school we’ve got a bunch of old computers that are ready to be taken away and recycled. These computers aren’t bad. I think they’ve got maybe 2GB of RAM and a dual core processor. They’d probably run desktop applications like Google SketchUp and Photoshop decently. The Chromebooks can’t run these applications without lots of tinkering.

    A great idea would be to take these old computers and load a very lightweight image onto them containing the desktop applications you want the Chromebook to run. You’d also need to install a VNC server or better yet setup Remote Desktop. Remote Desktop would probably be better as end users could use their regular accounts they use to login to the Windows desktops. These computers would only need a power cable and Ethernet connection. You could place them out of sight. You wouldn’t need a monitor or anything else because these computers would only be connected to remotely by the Chromebooks.

    This would probably work very well for desktop applications. Games might work but the performance would probably be worse than if it were running natively on the Chromebook. This is where I want to bring up a new Steam feature called In Home Streaming. It’s a little like Remote Desktop but it uses much less compression and therefore takes up a lot of local bandwidth. I’ve tested this at my house and I could comfortably play very demanding games remotely. Desktop applications were also a breeze to use. There’s a bunch of reasons why this wouldn’t work well today with Chromebooks and the setup I mentioned before. This is new technology and it’s possible that developments made in the future might help with using games and applications remotely on the Chromebook. It’s something that I’m quite interested in. It looks like a great project. There’s some more info here. http://store.steampowered.com/streaming/

  3. dbatty1 says:

    Thanks so much Nick 🙂

  4. Doug says:

    Here is a guide on setting it up on a Chromebook.

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/12Ji6bkQ0-uohYH66xuQk0sGAluF-fjUTJ-_08KROPE8/edit?usp=sharing

    As mentioned above it does transform the Chromebook into a Linux machine. The method I describe makes the Chromebook a traditional Dual Boot and provides the option to boot into ChromeOS or Ubuntu/Linux. The major issue is that the Chromebook has to be kept in Developer mode and all the work taken to get Minecraft to work can be wiped out by pressing the SPACE key during the boot up process. This would create a management issue for teaching as you would have to boot all the machines up first to make sure your work does not get wiped.

    I have found that the performance of the Chromebook is just fine however I would recomend a USB keyboard and mouse. It does drain the battery quickly in full screen mode, but the game already does that on regular laptops.

    Android Apps are being ported over to Chromebooks so maybe we will see MinecraftPE on Chromebooks in the future.

    Good luck.

  5. dbatty1 says:

    Thanks for sharing Doug 🙂

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