back to article What's a Chromebook good for? How about running PHOTOSHOP?

Chromebooks are great for browsing the web, but they're not much good for running applications like Photoshop – not yet, at any rate. But they may become much more versatile devices soon, thanks to a new experiment cooked up by Adobe and Google. On Monday, the companies jointly unveiled "Project Photoshop Streaming," an effort …

  1. Christian Berger

    You know, people have done this for decades now

    First with X11 where you were you could log into any computer on your network with your terminal, then Windows got Remote Desktop which allowed 30+ people to log into a fairly small Windows "server". Of course there were also lots of different solutions in between from VNC to Sun Rays.

    Thin Clients are nothing new, and today Internet access slowly reaches the quality of 1980s LAN installations.

    1. Anonymous Bullard

      Re: You know, people have done this for decades now

      Thin Clients are nothing new, and today Internet access slowly reaches the quality of 1980s LAN installations.

      Sure. But while we have seen all this before, the marketing teams haven't.

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: You know, people have done this for decades now

      Not to mention adding an extra layer of complication.

      For god's sake, why?!

  2. pierce

    yeah, this will be SO useful. lets see, I shot 1400 canon raw pics at a festival one 4-day weekend a couple weeks ago, about 50GB worth. If I'd had to upload the raws to the cloud, I'd just about be done by now and could start working on the pictures. oh yeah!

    1. Bucky O' Hare

      What an idiotic comment, of course your requirements mean this situation isn't ideal for you.

      But for someone who wants to use Photoshop for small-medium image editing this is absolutely do-able. is a really popular web app so it's only natural that Adobe will eventually bring it's primary products into the cloud.

      I'm a power user myself and for day-to-day work I could never use a Chromebook, but for weekend and evening *relaxed* work I may jump all over this. Chrome is my browser of choice, I use Google Drive for daily document editing, and I require the use of a good image/photo editor.

      Why do I need everything else that Windows brings? I have Chrome apps for FTP,SSH and all sorts.

      A Chromebook Pixel is close to getting on my Christmas wish list.

      1. Chemist

        "What an idiotic comment, of course your requirements mean this situation isn't ideal for you."

        Who is it ideal for ? . Most people don't edit their photos much anyway- certainly not so as to need Photoshop and its costs. On the other hand many people with a DSLR have big files in huge archives AND do develop from raw images - so an on-line editor is not ideal for them either.

        Typically on a 3 week trip I will take 200-600 photos ( ~~15GB) and 5GB of HD video clips. Even the network at home struggles a bit with that during editing.

        BTW I'd put a Linux distro on the chromebook and use Darktable for editing (if an ARM version is available)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward


          Why would you need an ARM version of Darktable? The Chromebook Pixel I think has an i5, many of the others are low power Intel.

          1. Chemist

            Re: @Chemist

            "Why would you need an ARM version of Darktable?"

            I was covering the general case - anyway someone might already have an ARM-based on

        2. Adrian 4

          The chromebook already has a linux distro (Android) on it, doesn't it ? I'm puzzled as to why it's claimed not to be supported.

      2. Mage Silver badge

        Not suitable for anyone

        Relying on Cloud (translation: Someone else's data centre over single point of failure local internet connection) for anything that can be done locally, better is stupid.

        Spending more than $200 on a terminal is stupid. Actually since the last 20 years unless the issue was central control and maintenance running a terminal app is better value (Everything from PuTTY to Firefox Web browser, inc X, RDP and VNC clients)

        I'd not use a Chromebook + Cloud for more than Instagram and I can't much see the point of instagram except for clueless mobile phone users.

        I'm not interested in buying a Notebook alike without full notebook off-line functionality, nor ever in paying for Adobe's subscription "cloud" offerings.

    2. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Agree 100

      There is a difference between you, me and the so called "creative professionals".

      If you look at the current crop of "creative professionals", they "create" by lifting something out of Shutterstock or getty. In fact, not even that - steal an image from a social site is the main means nowdays. If this is interfaced to an "search, open & pay/steal" function natively it may find some audience.

      In the meantime the dolts like you and me that are still silly enough to take pictures, work with them in raw, etc will contiue to need a local installation.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No printer and scanners support, does it support graphic tablets?

      Your expensive A3+ photo printer becomes useless... your scanner as well, no GPU support for faster operations, does it support a graphic tablet at least? Can you color-calibrate a Chromebook monitor and get that streamed Photoshop use your profile? What color space the average Chromebook monitor covers?

      Hey, but it runs from the "cloud" if - as already pointed out, remote operations were something new... even Remote Desktop has (or had) a browser plugin... (and it can remotely map your printer and USB devices)

      Sure, some school needing to teach the Photoshop basics could find it useful if cheap enough, especially if they just need a Chome browser and don't need to buy Chromebooks.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: No printer and scanners support, does it support graphic tablets?

        You're trying to suggest that because it's inadequate for the extreme use cases, it's also inadequate for everyone. Your arrogance has caused you to completely miss the point.

        For those who have an A3 printer, and even a scanner, will already be using a Mac or PC, on the desktop with a decent monitor. Google, and Abobe (in this instance) aren't chasing these people; they're a minority - not enough eye balls for advertising. This is aimed at the masses - those wanting to touch up photos taken with their phones before uploading to facebook/blogs, adding mis-spelt captions, etc.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: No printer and scanners support, does it support graphic tablets?

          Extreme use case? LOL! That's the *usual* use case for Photoshop users (but those who get a pirated copy and have no clue how to use it really). Do you believe people buy Photoshop (at that price) to use it with crappy monitors, cheap printers and a mouse only?

          To upload your photo to the Internet Lightroom is even too much powerful - Photoshop is even more. And most of the power of Photoshop can't be really unleashed without proper hardware support - calibrated monitors and printers, pressure/inclination/etc sensitive input devices. That's what Photoshop is designed for - and its steep learning curve don't make it a product for the masses at all. Was it Elements of maybe Lightroom I could understand - but a Chromebook is really the last device you would like to run Photoshop on unless you're a cash-constrained beginner.

          It's chromebooks-google fans arrogance that makes you all miss the point - you don't have a clue about how a lot of software is really used, and believe everything could be run on subpar hardware just because Google tells you so.

          1. Craigness

            Re: No printer and scanners support, does it support graphic tablets?

            Whaaaa I can't use my crayons with this! Whaaa they're forcing me to use this and automatically uninstalling the real photoshop! Whaaa I'm not allowed to attach a monitor to a chromebook! Whaaaa chromebooks don't let you install offline apps and even though they do I'll still complain they don't! Whaaa software has been done before so this is nothing new!

            Calm down, dears. I suspect this is something of an experiment to see what can be done with streamed apps and what needs to be improved in order to make the rest work. Chrome OS is improving all the time - native apps, mkv playback, MTS support, cloud storage API etc - and some day you'll all want one! Why do this with Photoshop instead of Pixlr? Heck, why not? Maybe it's another indication of what their pricing strategy will be in the future.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: No printer and scanners support, does it support graphic tablets?

              Adobe CC was not well received by many users - who prefer to have software installed without any need to be connected to be able to use it. This experiment - besides looking silly given what Photoshop users usually needs in their workflow - looks weird for how much control about data it takes away.

              And believe me, the last PC I'll ever use is a Google-controlled one. Which will never be as powerful as needed exactly because Google controlling needs.

    4. Michael Habel

      Are you really required to upload all your Files to Adobe to use Creative Cloud? Somehow to me that sounds like a lot of old tosh to me... Not to mention a huge privacy concern. I thought all you had to do was basically download the SaaS into your Workstation.... Ugh Web Browser, and just basically use that like you would a local install.

      If the 50GB's joke was about "Local Storage"... Then you should have known that much from the start to carry at least a 1TB 2.5" External HDD with you. That or a decent sized USB Stick. Cause I'm soooo sure that you be working on every One of those 50GB's of Pictures in Photoshoop AT ONCE! NOT!

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        ` Photoshop is a Swiss army knife.... not all models include a device for getting stones out of horses hooves*, because not all users need it.

        *Actually, the rounded spike is for splicing lengths of rope together, I believe. Its often seen on naval knives, and horses and stones aren't too common on boats.

    5. AceQuery

      If you have Fibre with something close to 19Mbps upload then you'd be done in 7 hours. Cloud storage at 1TB for $9.99/month.

      Would be nice if it eventually reaches Linux; an alternative to running a virtual machine.

      1. big_D Silver badge

        1TB $9.99 a month? For 3-4 months fees I can get "permanent" storage from our wholesaler (plus tax).

        Okay, "permanent" is maybe 3 to 10 years, but given the low costs of drives, I can keep multiple backups.

        Actually, I do have cloud storage, I have 5TB for around 6€ a month as part of my MS Office 365 subscription and I have "unlimited" on my Carbonite account.

        I keep a copy of everything on my PC, a backup and general access for the family on the NAS, an external drive for on-site backups and Carbonite for offsite backup. But even with my 5mbps upstream, I wouldn't want to use Creative Cloud for image processing, I'd stick with local processing and syncing it to the cloud in the background.

  3. Gene Cash Silver badge


    "You spent $1,299 on your Chromebook Pixel. You're an idiot."

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: FTFY


  4. Michael Habel

    what about the offierings from oh say... MicroSoft....

    Surly this thing could also run Office365.... If for some really sick, and demented fool still hasn't ever heard of Open / Libre Office yet?!

  5. Stuart 22

    I can't find my Instamatic ...

    Yep even my smartphone produces better picture these days even if I am not a better photographer. I do need to cover my mistakes/enhance. And I do it with my Chromebook using GIMP running in a crouton. But then its mostly cropping and adjusting for over/under exposure. Do it easier in the Chrome browser for free and I'm hooked.

    As for that 50GB worth of pajamaless MPs - my nano 64GB USB stick does it a lot more unobtrusively than his $%^& - oops I don't really want to think about that.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: I can't find my Instamatic ...

      Adobe and Free?

      Only applies to consumption tools like PDF reader (I use foxit), Flash (blocked unless wanted) etc.

    2. Tom 7

      Re: I can't find my Instamatic ...

      Wireless disk at around £100 a TB. fits in your pocket, lasts longer than you do and you can 'share' with others without the bloody cloud getting in your way.

    3. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: I can't find my Instamatic ...

      Exactly Stuart, but I don't even bother with PC photo retouching, my phone can do it with the stock apps that came with it.

      If I don't like those, I can download several free apps that have the tools I need, but crop, color and brightness levels are all I really need.

  6. GarfieldLeChat

    Only Available to those resident in North America on an indivual or educational basis...

    So useless for UK residents... or in fact still not reason for us to buy a chromebook in the UK... which is just as well as both sammy and hp have decided to stop selling them to us...

  7. Neil Lewis

    Chromebooks, but not Linux?

    I'm still trying to work this bit out, given that all Chromebooks run a Linux kernel.

    Sure, there are some bits which are specific to ChomeOS, but it's not s though there aren't already versions of ChromeOS to run on a full Linux box anyway, e.g. CR OS Linux.

    The other question is why a significant number of folks would choose to become ensnared in Adobe's bloated, resource-hogging, proprietary lock-in traps when genuinely free alternatives provide more than enough functionality for 99% of users. Must be a lot of mugs about, I suppose.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Chromebooks, but not Linux?

      "The other question is why a significant number of folks..."

      If you remove those using a pirated copy of Photoshop to post their family photos of Facebook or the like, the paying users choose Adobe product because they are an industry standard that deliver exactly what you need how you need it - and have a large support in any step of the workflow from inception to image delivery.

      Professionals needs tool to get a job done as fast as possible - and be paid for it. They have no reason to waste their time (and money) trying to assert a "free software" philosophy they couldn't care less - especially it means less hardware support, less workflow support less 3rd party and industry support etc. etc. - and thereby a lot of wasted and unpaid time to try to make it all work together to obtain the result you need.

      Think most of them also use expensive, proprietary, lock-in "traps" like Apple PCs... why? Because the cost of software and hardware becomes almost irrelevant if it helps you to deliver the right product in the right time at the right price.

      The idea that the professional needs come first, not a "philosphy" of software used, is something most Linux fans still fail to understand, and explain the Linux irrelevance on the desktop. But nerds, most people don't give a damn about the software they use, as long as it's the right choice to get their job done the way they need. And they don't care if they have to pay for it as long as the prices is perfectly acceptable and will be repaid soon by a smoother workflow and proper result reached without issues.

      Only when Linux developers will accept people choose software for what it does and how well, and not how it is developed or costs, they will get a chance for desktop software.

      1. Luna Tick

        Re: Chromebooks, but not Linux?

        I'm no longer a heavy PS user but I'd have to completely agree with this. Pro tools are for pros and the only reason the rest of us use them (or want to use them) is because they are so freaking good. Most of us don't need them and even more have no clue how to use it beyond a clone tool.

        Over the years I've invested quite heavily in many photo and video editing tools, large portion of which was Photoshop, After Effects, Premiere etc. A lot goes into the hardware itself because it helps me make my professional work better. It costs money; it's worth it to me because I charge money for the things I do as well. It's only fair and it's a non-issue.

        Technically there is nothing wrong with what Adobe is doing except that in doing so, they have to make the software work best for the environment. And the new environment is now not necessarily your environment. On one hand you don't have to maintain it, on the other you've no say on how to improve its performance or set it up to suit your needs. And by "suit your needs" I don't mean setting up the color scheme. But all is great because now Mr and Mrs Jones can shop their annoying cat pictures cheaply on a Chromebook. In Photoshop!

        Point numero due is that Adobe is not doing this to help the professionals make better use of their software, rather to find a way to generate more recurring revenue for doing absolutely nothing at all. I freak out every time I have to use RDP for simple office applications, I can't imagine using streaming Adobe's products doing intricate graphics or video work. I want my pro tools to be built and optimized to be able to take advantage of my environment and the expensive hardware I got to run it on and with. All updates and upgrades until this whole f****ing cloud business came along were aimed at just that. Now all of the sudden an "update" seems like something that will set you back in every way imaginable. But it's cool, cause dood: cloud!

        "But it's not for you doofus, it's for ordinary folk!" - no Photoshop et al was never for ordinary folk, it was very good and (because of that) quite if not very expensive. There are plenty of worthy alternatives for all those who don't need it.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's getting to the stage where computing is becoming pay-to-play

    All applications and your confidential data on the cloud. Per second billing! It's a brave new world!!!

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: It's getting to the stage where computing is becoming pay-to-play

      It's called "the renters economy" and it's the wet dream of all the banks and financiers.

  9. Amorous Cowherder

    Nice idea and quite interesting...

    ...certainly a nice little toy as a proof of concept but with today's technology and speeds, not feasible for most serious uses. Average RAW is around 30MB, average PSD after edits for me is minimum of 750MB.

    Sadly for this to be really usable we're going to need extremely fast links to maintain extremely high quality of the screen display. As camera tech improves will see RAW and PSD files increase in size over the next X number of years and so the link speeds required to make this useful will need to really get into gear.

    I use Adobe CC with no issues and I'm happy with the price and service but this is a new ballgame, the on-demand app type tech is very much just a nice POC at the moment. Interesting stuff.

  10. TeeCee Gold badge


    Adobe's flagship software running on bargain kit

    IIRC, the price of the kit required to run it has never been the showstopper cost issue with Photoshop.

  11. Gannettt

    Interesting idea, but not that useful really. I love my Chromebook, and use GIMP with a Crouton install, like other posters have mentioned. On my Chromebook 14 it runs just as smoothly for the everyday editing (cropping, levels adjustment, small touch-ups, etc) as it does on my 5-year old Mac mini. Even Sumo Paint and do a fine job for the very basic stuff. I do use PS on my Mac, for more demanding stuff, but for quick stuff, chromebook + Crouton are perfect.

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