Development Tools

Mitchell Fargher
Mitchell Fargher
11,634 Points

Chromebook for development

I've read some posts around the internet about using a chromebook for development purposes and it seems really split. Some people say it's reasonable and some say it's nearly impossible.

I really love the idea of a chromebook and I love the price even more. I've read that the cheap Windows systems (HP Stream) just can't compete with the chromebook for what it is.

They said, I am going to be managing a Squarespace site soon for a client and I figure the chromebook will be awesome for that (making edits, content management, blogging, etc...), but what about some real dirty coding? I've seen cloud 9, carrot, and shiftEdit as a few options for coding that seem decent.

Any experience or insight? I still have an older laptop that works and a powerhouse desktop.

4 Answers

Kevin Korte
MOD
Kevin Korte
Treehouse Moderator 28,037 Points

We have a chromebook, it's not my dev center, it's really just the laptop we keep out on the couch for general purpose since it was so inexpensive, fast, and has a long batter life. Something easy to catch up on some emails, or watch cat videos while Netflix plays on the TV.

From my experience, it's not a great native dev tool, because so many tools I use don't port over to the Chrome OS. IMO, nothing beats a Linux environment, and than Mac OSX, than Windows, and last Chromebook.

However, because the chromebook is cheap, light, and has great battery life, I use cloud9 as a browser based "virtual environment" to do any coding on it, and it honestly works just fine with that. C9 allows you to install just about anything you need if it can be installed through the command line. Just know that constraint going into it, and it should be a-ok. The one thing you can't do on C9 is send emails, so if your web service relies on sending emails, you'll have to use a 3rd party service like sendgrid to make an api call to actually send the email, or use a different machine if you want your own server to send the email. I personally just have a sendgrid account I use to play around with when I'm in a C9 environment.

Mitchell Fargher
Mitchell Fargher
11,634 Points

Ah ok, thanks for the info.

So would you say it would be a decent addition to have for on the go, updating posts, and managing a CMS site and then leave the heavy stuff to my other systems?

Jacob Mishkin
Jacob Mishkin
Treehouse Moderator 23,065 Points

I would say if all your doing is writing posts and updating a CMS like plugins, and not writing really any code, then yeah, a chrome book is fine for that, but if you're writing JS or Python, or make even Sass, probably not the best choice. I think the Chrome book is really meant for people to read/write email, and to watch youtube, not really a platform for heavy programming. It doesn't seem like you're doing any hardcore stuff, so maybe chrome book is the way to go.

Kevin Korte
Kevin Korte
Treehouse Moderator 28,037 Points

Yeah, if you're writing or updating content, through a web interface, it's great! Chromebooks are really just internet browser machines. Even chromebooks "word" and "excel" programs are really just hotlinks to launch google docs in a chrome browser.

You can't really install software...so it does one thing good, it browses the internet. Which is why C9 becomes such an attractable solution on a chromebook.

But if you're deciding between a $300 chromebook and a $500 pc for your ONLY workstatation, go with the pc. The chromebook should be a bonus, not a go-to. That's why our chromebook is just our "leave it on the couch" laptop. Neither my wife or I use it heavily, it's just convenient.

If you want to get really fancy, and I've thought about trying this for fun, is to buy a chromebook, wipe the chrome OS off of it, and install linux on it. Can't say I recommend it, but it would be a fun project.

Jacob Mishkin
MOD
Jacob Mishkin
Treehouse Moderator 23,065 Points

I'm not a chrome book guy, but I would take a look at this blog post and maybe it fits with what you want to do:

Chrome Book Dev

Mitchell Fargher
Mitchell Fargher
11,634 Points

If anyone has any comparable systems (price wise), I would be interested in hearing about them. I was really tempted by the Stream, but saw so many reviews of how slow it is and how after a while it gets even worse. I've never read that about chromebook a since they are so simply put together

Gregory Dillon
Gregory Dillon
9,671 Points

Chromebooks do work for development, but seems like 80% of the web based development tutorials are described for Macs, then Linux, then Windows, and very little for Chromebooks. And if you are learning, its a substantial hurdle to translate the tutorial instructions to Chromebook, or to Chromebook with access to VPS or Raspi server. The CDE works well for cloning from Github repositories, and Caret is a nice text editor. And while there is a Chromebook server in the app store that work fine for simple things, for larger project that need access to a NGINX, LAMP, or rails backend, your going to want to also buy at minimum a Raspberry Pi 3, or pay for a cloud server, because you can't host them on a Chromebook without going the crouton route.

The Chromebook has a decent ssh application, but you may have to search a bit to get the public / private keys correctly installed. (Tip : don't use pem files, import both the pub and private file into secure shell)