Chromebit / Chromebox & alternatives


#1

Hello,

Has anyone tried the Google Chromebit or Chromeboxes, or other Chrome OS Devices?
They now support APKS which should run the Xibo For Android client.

Chrome OS offers automatic OS security updates, and a comprehensive remote management/deployment, which is nice.
Administration fee for a single app kiosk is 50€ though.

On another side, dose anyone now of a Chrome OS alternative that would allow good centralized management/deployement, preferably open source, or free/self hosted management solution, that would work on an Android fleet?
Excessive reliance on Google services is not something to be abused IMO.

Thank you,
Nicolas


#2

+1

I would like this option as well… Is this supported?


#3

It’s not officially supported, as far as I know chrome OS allows apk from the playstore and ‘some’ other, unfortunately you most likely will not be able to install Xibo for Android this way.

We’ve heard that there is a way to do that, but it’s not exactly straightforward - you need to side load the apks / use chrome ARC Welder, there are plenty of examples how to do that on the Internet, but it’s not something we support or recommend.


#4

Upon reading, it would seem that you only need ARC Welder if your app needs to rely on Google Services. I am defintely not sure it is the case of Xibo, though not tested. Also, there seems to be an easier way to download Google Services: install a regular play store ported Android app, prior to installing Xibo, which will download the needed software. You’ll still need to repackage the app for Chrome OS.

Anyone with a Chrome device and half an hour to test? :slight_smile:

Also: What other MdM/device management options would you advise for DS application?

I read about MokiMobility online, definetly not open source and no public pricing, then the fleet of generic commercial MDMs.

Then there is WSO2, but it doesn’t seem much fit.

Or you manage them all by hand under VNC, which you might eventually need to remote reconfigure XFA if needed.

Anyway, it seems that apart from ChromeOS, you can kiss operating system updates goodbye.

So… Has anyone any idea about how to best manage your Xibo player fleet?

Can you create XFA config files that you could push to your players (by uploading them to a folder), instead of having to remotely reconfigure them if needed?


#5

What issue are you trying to address specifically? The event that you need to update one of the players local settings? Very few settings are stored solely on the player, exactly for this reason. The key ones being the CMS connection details and local library storage (if you use a SD card for example).

Aside from this, if you are running on a rooted or system signed device you can already do remote updated and run remote shell commands, which usually cover any odd eventualities. I suppose you could potentially adjust the CMS connection details via this route, by editing the players locally stored config file - however it would seem better to manage this via a DNS name for the CMS, which you can then change externally.


#6

Thank you. Yes, it is about the event of updating player software or player settings, as well as network settings (eventually including changing VPN keys), and in general checking devices health , reboot them, and scheduling nightly reboot.

You could sure do some of these things remotely, especially on a rooted system. I hoped there would be a locally stored config file, so good to hear there is one, that might one day help (I didn’t search the issue previously though).

What’s really seducing in ChromeOS is that full management and monitoring through a simple web interface (though no remote desktop and access to local storage unfortunately AFAIK, needs to be completed with VNC or something alike), with OS software updates that you can block or deploy on part / all your network etc.

It’s really a different take on the android mini computer way of doing things were you pretty much consider that a running system should stay immuable - but systems do age and show security holes. Now what about the future of Chrome…

Should try to snap a used Chromebit to see how Xibo works.


#7

You are quite right that OS software updates are something we can’t address from Xibo and generally speaking can’t be addressed remotely on Android. We can address remote reboot on demand and on a schedule (in 1.8) and we do collect some metrics related to Xibo’s health - rather than the OS health (although we do collect storage / bandwidth usage).

Nothing to say we couldn’t collect more details on the device in general, although I am not sure what you’d find useful beyond what has already been mentioned above.

Changing VPN keys could be tough, but then I am surprised that you can do that through ChromeOS.

Unfortunately we’ve no immediate plans for ChromeOS based players.


#8

We will be looking at Chromebits / Chrome OS very soon and let you know if/how it works.

Also if you need VPN on Android, you’ll need a rooted device and Xposed to block the offending “trust this (openvpn) application” at startup - unless you go for Android-supported L2TP/Ipsec, which is not exactly the most flexible protocol for multi client / NAT traversal. Chrome OS supports OpenVpn, though no ovpn files, you will have to generate PKCS12.

Wether or not Xibo for Android works on Chrome I don’t know, it should now as Google touts APK compatibility without changing a line of code or changing the package, but the stuff is new.
I plan on testing but if anyone ever tried it before it might save me some time and money.

In my look towards a restricted, remotely managed OS to deploy digital signage, I stumbled upon Ubuntu Core, which would be managed through Ubuntu One. I have absolutely no experience with it, does anyone have?

Anyone tried running XfA in an Android VM?


#9

Also, I don’t know how reliable the information is, or how much worldwide applicable, but I got a quote of around 25€/year/device for the Chrome management console licence, and there seems to not be one-time-buy licences available anymore. Though I feel puzzled at Google’s low reactivity (Sure I’m not a K12 but come on…) so take these infos with a grain of salt. I share these here as they contradict what you could previously find on the subject on the internet.

You would also be required a registered domain (>40€/year), but would not need individual Google for Work accounts/licences per device (but might need several of them to have a multi-user management of the Management console should you need to).

Depending on time/availability I might come with a USB stick and try to sneak a test at Google’s booth next monday at the London Digital Signage Expo colocated with the RBTE and ask for more factual info - and maybe shoot a short video of it working, if it works. Any one else attending?


#10

If you’re just looking for managing the devices, how about using a MDM system (Mobile Device Manager).

I use a VPN in combination with an MDM and SSH/VNC (fairly simplified customization to Android), I get reporting, push/install apps and remote control the system. It’s all open source and “free” (I do have to pay for the servers in data-centers).

As far as device-specific. Look for things that don’t need too much or any “factory support” away from AOSP because they never give you updates. I haven’t had much luck with Amlogic-based devices as far as performance goes. I’m talking to Qualcomm for AOSP on their SnapDragon chipset but their performance at least seems better.


#11

Any updates on this?
Has anyone gotten a xibo player installed on a chromebox or a chromebit?