Coding with a Chromebook

Coding with a Chromebook
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I am a total noob(I don’t know a dam thing) when it comes to programming but I would really like to learn. I have a chromebook and have been reading that it can be somewhat of a headache to learn on. Should I invest in a PC? Thanks.



It is possible but it’s going hinder you and greatly reduce your options often. You can often find a good used/refurbished windows laptop for less than many chromebooks.


ThanKs texxs. Thats what I was thinking after reading around.


You can keep ChromeOS, especially because you’re already familiar with it. For the beginning where you start learning it should be fine.

But when you need some advanced software, you can read this post


You’re fine. You may have to get a little inventive, but there are cloud based solutions for any software that you can’t install locally. Honestly, the size of the screen would be the part that bugs me the most.


A chromebook enthusiast here (I’m on my chromebook right now going thru the FCC ES6 section :smile: )
I also wanted to be clear I provide this with focus on web development if you wanted to go learn C or java development, id recommend getting a real machine or be prepare to “hack” your chromebook (Ill go into that option for web development too)

So there’s a few things, chromebooks are fine for learning but you might have to take a few different approaches depending on what your learning. If your just starting out learning web development and using FCC or something similar (where you do most of your code in FCC, or a place like codepen) you’ll be fine.
But if you wanted to move out of this realm, into a more realistic development environment you will have three options.

  1. Use a cloud IDE, like Cloud 9, code anywhere, or stackblitz (amazing for those react/angular developers out there :wink:) These all provide an ability for you to work on projects, by providing an interface similar to the one you would have if you were using something like VSCode, Atom, or webstorm.
    I personally recommend this option since it allows you to carry over your work to a new PC/ other PC’s, or heck your friend’s PC fromwhere ever you left off, its pretty freaken cool no doubt haha. It also wont require you to do anything to your chrome book per say.

  2. “Dual boot” your chromebook with crouton which allows you to install a linux distro “next-to” your chrome OS one. This will require you to turn on developer mode on your chromebook, but provides the a true development environment with a real linux OS. The coolest part is being able to switch between ChromeOS and your linux VM with a click of a button (!).
    If dual booting your chromebook sounds scary don’t worry about it to much. Almost everything important on a chromebook should be in the cloud, thus you can wipe/reset/redo your chromebook as much as you want without any major repercussions.
    Obviously this takes a little techie knowledge, but you can get the most out of your machine with a real OS. You will run into some performance issues due to the fact most chromebooks aren’t very powerful and running two OS side by side isn’t the most optimal situation, but for most basic web development work you should be ok.

  3. Use chromebrew to “package” your way to a development environment.
    This is probably the most interesting option, where you put your chromebook into developer mode, but install this to get access to common packages that run allow your chromebook like any linux distro. You can easily get npm, node, and git to get a basic setup going.
    This option is really situational, I had a couple of issues with getting node and npm to work, and running a web-server is a pain. But it might work better depending on how hard you try, but I wouldn’t recommend it for a beginner unless your ambitious.

notable mentions
Chromebooks can act as a dumb terminal for any web server. If you want to be a pro hacker and use Vim as your editor you can easily find yourself at home SSHing into a remote dev sever and doing all your work there. Again this is pretty advanced, but worth a mention of an “optimal” chromebook development environment.

Final words
Using online editors you can get pretty far when learning, but your mileage will vary depending on what approach you pick. I did an entire project on cloud 9 from my chromebook + random computers I had access to at the time. So yes its possible but it isn’t straight forward or common. The main thing is, a lot is possible, but you might have to work for it with a custom environment, or settle for an online IDE.

Hopefully that sheds just a little light on getting going with a chromebook :laughing:

PS. Cloud 9 used to be free, now you have to pay for the sever time you use, since it was bought out by AWS. I heard Code anywhere is good, but I haven’t used it to much so I cant recommended it beyond what I heard. Stackblitz is awesome as hell, but defiantly oriented toward quick mockups, demos. It also primarily is used for React and Angular frameworks, but should work fine for general JS projects.


You could use AWS’s Cloud9 (free but requires a credit card), another option would be coding on Google App Engine (not sure if it also requires a credit card off top of my head) and using Google’s in browser IDE. You could configure Crouton on your Chromebook and run Linux apps on it. You can also use or if you’re more focused on front end development.


Thank you for the info.