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Nicholas Synovic
Nicholas Synovic

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Guide to replacing a laptop with Android: Part 0

My story

My laptop is dead for the most part.

The radio connections are dropping, the battery doesn't hold a charge as long as it used to, all the A/V inputs and outputs are broken, and the laptop doesn't display out. Furthermore, the device is approaching its sixth birthday. Sure, I could sit here and debug and fix most of these issues but I just don't have the time.

I also don't need the power of a laptop as often anymore. I'm not gaming on it, I don't run computationally intensive tasks on it as I have a proper desktop with some big-beefy specs to go along with it, and I never had any intention of holding onto it for this long.

But I got a lucky break over the summer.

I purchased a base model Samsung Galaxy S7 Tab, the additional keyboard, and a 1TB micro-sd card to try and replace my laptop. Also for Kindle reading. But after spending three months with the device, I've come to realize that it's just significantly better than any laptop that I would buy at the moment.

The Android OS has come a long way, and the community developing applications and tools to make it a formidable desktop replacement (for developers no less) is making strides in the right direction.

So here is the rough plan to replace my device:

  1. Get all of the "vanilla" apps. Apps that don't contribute to the developer experience, but more of the everyday use cases that I use my computers for.

  2. Install Linux on top of Android. I don't want to root my new device, but luckily the community has developed tools to run a Linux container on top of Android with a desktop environment no less.

  3. Secure that Linux container. This is currently where I am at, and will be documenting the progress in a later article. But because of the default Linux container settings, the container is dangerous to run because the only user account is root.

  4. Go to the cloud. As we all know, mobile devices are still lacking in the hardware department. They are more powerful than they were years ago, but they can't hold a candle to that of a computer with a desktop-class x64 CPU and GPU. So figuring out how to develop and run code both on my device and in the cloud is essential to truly replace my laptop.

I hope that this is useful to someone.

Signing off,

Nicholas M. Synovic

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