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Using a Chromebook for Web Development

Angela Whisnant
Former Computer Operator at SAS Institute. Budding web developer looking for small projects to gain experience.
・2 min read

As many of you know, I have been using a borrowed laptop for my coding classes and projects since May of this year and have been in search of one of my own! I wrote an article requesting expert advice on Laptop Requirements for Coding. You all did not disappoint! I had some really good suggestions about what I should look for and what everyone was using for their development setup. But, nothing intrigued me more than this comment from Matthew Clairmont:

I primarily do security tool development and contribute to a couple of open source projects. That said, I do a good amount of work on my Samsung Chromebook Plus since it has a built-in Linux distro while I'm commuting into work or sitting on the couch.

You had me at "built-in Linux." I already love the simplicity and security of Chromebook OS, but with Linux built in?! That sounded too good to be true! And so, my research began!

At first, I saw a lot of tutorials on using Crouton to essentially jailbreak the Chromebook, which did not seem appealing to me at all. But, as I researched further, I found that Google added built in functionality to run Linux on a VM using a container that lives separately from the Chrome container. Brilliant! Tyler V. wrote an excellent article about how this works here..

In this video, Google Engineers discuss the efforts they are taking to make Chromebooks secure devices for software development.

My plan is to buy a used Chromebook on the list of machines that have this feature built in. If you are interested in trying this, too, there is a reliable list here. I will enable the Linux container and let you all know how it goes in my next installment of this series. I hope to do that next week.

Has anyone else tried this setup or are you as excited by the prospect as I am? Let me know in the comments below! I can't wait to see everyone's input!

Discussion (5)

teachingtls profile image

What hardware specs are you looking for? I did a little research on this very topic last week and was left scratching my head on whether I needed more HDD space or go all in on the cloud editor approach.

angelarae63 profile image
Angela Whisnant Author • Edited

Basically, something on the list I linked to, with an Intel processor, 32g of drive space. I would love to have a 15” but may not be able to find that with my budget. Also needs 4gig of memory. 2 g won’t be enough. Haven’t looked into the cloud editor...what have you found?

jakesmith4 profile image

I've been using a chromebook for web dev for a few months now and I absolutely love it. I have vs code set up with all my extensions. I have no problem with doing anything so far. I mostly do html and css. I've done some javascript on it as well. I have npm installed on it so using it for sass or jQuery is no problem as well. It all runs very smooth and I use the linux terminal for commands, installs, and file edits. All of this being done with the linux beta feature. I use a chromebook acer 315 with a 16 inch display. Suits my needs perfectly. Fast and easy to use. I store all my files right on the hard drive with the linux folder you get when you enable the linux beta feature in settings. Super Awesome!😎 Highly Recommend!!

zaphod profile image
Ethan Anderson

Linux on Chromebooks sounds really cool to me and has me interested. Personally I would love a pixelbook but they are a bit expensive for me at the moment.πŸ˜†

angelarae63 profile image
Angela Whisnant Author • Edited

I know, right? That might be something I can look forward to for the future...but not now. That thing is super cool;)