Introduction

Google Chromebooks are becoming more and more common. The devices are simple and relatively cheap.  The Chrome OS on which it is running is based on the equivalent browser and the Linux kernel.

The Chrome browser is the key component within the OS.  Applications in Chrome OS run using the Chrome browser, sometimes with their own GUI. In fact, the apps are extensions of Chrome.

Because of these specifications (cheap, simple, basic OS) the device might seem suitable as “thin laptop”. We try to find out if this is true.

We installed the latest available Citrix Receiver and VMware View client from the Google store and started testing with it.

Citrix Receiver

At first launch the Citrix Receiver asks to configure a Storefront URL and remembers this the consecutive times. Because this is a browser plugin, rather than a client the detection through the browser does not work. To proceed you have to click “Log on”. This settings is not retained when Chromebook restarts.

citrix-receiver_configuration

After being connected to the Published Desktop we found out the keyboard layout within our sessions was QWERTY, while we had an AZERTY layout within ChromeOS. This could be solved by navigating to the settings of Chrome/Keyboard settings:

  • Removing all unneeded languages (English United Kingdom could not be removed as it is the display language)
  • Unticking Input Methods for all languages except “Belgian keyboard”

citrix-receiver_configuration_step2

citrix-receiver_configuration_step3

As the Chromebook lacks a “delete” button, the popular CTRL+ALT+DEL combination isn’t possible. Therefore, Citrix Receiver for Chromebook has a built-in button which can emulate this behavior.

citrix-receiver_configuration_step4

When a published desktop or application is launched, it is in windowed mode. You can go to full screen by using the Chromebook’s equivalent of F4, the session will be resized to the correct resolution.

citrix-receiver_configuration_step5_maximize-your-window

However you can connect an external monitor to a Chromebook using HDMI, we’ve not found the possibility to span/extend the published desktop to 2 monitors.

Redirection of USB devices is very limited.  Mass storage devices (USB disks or sticks cannot be redirected) and the list of verified peripherals only contains 2 items. When trying to connect a USB flash drive, the following error is thrown within the session:

citrix-receiver_configuration_step6_usbdevices

Receiver for Chromebook does not support Secure ICA, when trying to connect to a published resource with Secure ICA, the following message is displayed and the sessions aborts:

citrix-receiver_configuration_step7_launchsessionerror

VMware View client

After launching the View client and entering the URL to our View infrastructure we tried to logon.

This sometimes failed because of a faulty password. Our password, also containing numbers, was not accepted. After entering the password in the username field we noticed the keyboard layout was faulty: it was AZERTY but the digits were activated without shift button. Belgian keyboard was the only selected Input Method. After switching to other applications the keyboard layout often corrected. This issue is intermittent and totally random. No settings within the View client could be found to explain/set this behavior.

citrix-receiver_configuration_step8_vmwareview

We did not find a way to set the VMware View desktop to full screen, the F4 button did not work for this. Spanning/extending the desktop towards an external monitor was also not possible.

Redirection of USB drives/devices is not supported.

The workaround of the missing “delete” button on the Chromebook on this View client is a complete soft-keyboard for all special and function buttons. This can be activated by clicking the keyboard button in the top right corner.

citrix-receiver_configuration_step9_tab

Conclusion

The Chromebook is an interesting device with a lot of potential. However the use of it as a thin laptop is limited by a number of different factors.

Test setup

We tested using the following components:

Chromebook:

Hardware HP Chromebook 14 G3
OS Google Chrome OS 41.0.2272.102
Citrix Receiver 1.6.0.17
VMware View 1.7.0.1

Citrix setup:

Citrix XenDesktop 7.1

VMware Horizon setup:

VMware Horizon 6.1