Chromebook for developing?

I’m wondering if anyone has experience developing on a Chromebook? My current Ubuntu box is old enough to remember Hamster Dance so I’m looking for an upgrade. Suggestions?

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I’m also interested in this, and have done some research. Basically, it comes down to four options, as far as I can tell. I don’t think any of them are any good.

  • Use crouton to install Ubuntu on the Chromebook. Gives you all the power of Ubuntu and all the disk & memory restrictions of a Chromebook. I have a friend who does this full-time as a professional Python/Django developer, so it can work.
  • Install Linux on a USB drive and boot selectively from the hard drive (Chrome OS) or the USB drive (regular Linux). Slightly better than crouton (more disk space), still probably on an under-powered netbook. Have to carry an external drive (adds bulk and is subject to being banged around). You’ll want a real drive, not a thumb drive, for performance reasons.
  • Use one of those “cloud development” systems, such as cloud9. Most of them are closed-source, and all of them require you to give an external server (usually one you don’t control) full access to your code (usually full access to your GitHub Account). From a security perspective it’s a nightmare. Do not want.
  • Use ssh on the Chromebook to connect to a machine you control and edit over vim. This requires you to be online at all times. If you already use vim (which I do), then this works, but I wouldn’t want to rely on this all the time. What if you lose Internet access temporarily, or your home’s IP address changes, or your home router goes wonky, or, or, or… The best solution here is probably to have a server on a VPS (like Digital Ocean) set up for development and use that. This is what I do (rarely).

I love the idea of being to do everything I do on easily interchangeable Chromebooks, but the very thing that makes it a Chromebook (no ability to install arbitrary software (such as your dev tools and language) is the thing that makes it wildly impractical.

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Depending on which Chromebook you pickup and whats in your old Ubuntu box you might not be gaining any speed.

I don’t know too much about chromebooks but when I was in college about a year ago working on my Computer Science degree, there were 2 students that used Chromebooks and they seemed to work just fine. There was some heavy processing taking place with Multithreading and Llambda expressions and I didn’t notice them having anymore issues compared to people in the course with new Macbooks and Windows laptops either. Again, I didn’t directly use them, but I think you could get by just fine with one. As long as it has decent memory in the machine and a quadcore processor, I think you’d be fine.

P.S. we were all running Eclipse with Java on our machines.

I see what you mean. I ran an octane test on my machine and it came in at 4500. It is surprising to see some of the brand new chromebooks are only clocking 7-8K.

I spent about half of today using an ssh plugin on my Chromebook to connect to my main machine. I was just working at home and connecting to a computer in the basement, but it should be the same experience if you connect to a Digital Ocean or Linode machine, or even back home by opening a port in your router.

One thing I highly recommend is using tmux. That way, if your connection drops you won’t lose your place.

I have spent the last three years developing on my Chromebook, the old Acer C710. I installed Ubuntu, trusty, with crouton and am amazed at how well it all just works. I have a LAMP stack set up for WordPress and Node for everything else. Now, if a had the money I wouldn’t hesitate to buy a mac, but this more than works for now.

I forgot to mention that I replaced the hard drive with a larger solid state drive and increased the ram. This helped things out a bit.

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But you can’t even run Eclipse on a chromebook, can you? Or is there a web version of Eclipse?

There is Eclipse Che

True, there are a lot of web IDEs. I was under the impression that he/she was talking about the locally installed version though.

If you expect a development environment like you’d have on windows/osx/linux, everything on a chromebook is going to feel “off”, unless you use something purely web-based like (and if you want stuff to persist, paying for it). Crouton is a thing, but I was never comfortable with an environment you can obliterate on boot by accidentally hitting the spacebar.

Look into Galium OS, Thats what I use

Id go insane if I had to use a chromebook… The screen on my macbook air is small enough.

They do have bigger ones.

Ehh, I would get a 15’’ laptop. Switching between the browser, text editor, and other apps get annoying real quick. Not saying a 15’’ laptop wont eliminate that problem, but it will make it less frustrating. If you’re just gonna code at home, then get the chromebook and an extra monitor.

I use Caret Text Editor for majority offline programming. When Im online Codepen works great. I’ve done a lot of my work on my chromebook and love it!

Also if your using chromebook or chrome web browser you should look into floating youtube extentions. When doing tutorials without a second monitor it helps from switching back and forth

@LibertyM Have you tried Cloudready? Is a OS based on Chromium OS and works very well with old laptops.