007 : Chromebooks

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Being in-between jobs, I needed a cheap laptop to be able to work outside of my flat in my favorite South London cafes.

I could have got a nice Macbook or the Ubuntu certified Dell XPS13 (or even a Thinkpad) but these tiny machines don’t come cheap and there is a strong change that I would get a work laptop with my next job matching the same specs. So I’d rarther save a grand for a personal laptop that could get the dust in a couple of weeks.

In a nutshell I would be basically look at the following specs:

  • an ultrabook light laptop that I can travel around with in my backpack without killing my back.
  • a lightweight processor (I don’t need that much horsepower for a work station and when I do, I’d rather spin an AWS instance or a baremetal server)
  • fully functional Linux (ideally Ubuntu) I can work on my web applications (Node.js, PHP etc)
  • a Web browser
  • full HD screen (1920 x 1080) with an extra HDMI connection for dual display supported out of the box
  • Less than 300£ so I don’t feel guilty when the laptop will get the dust.

I had a look at the Chromebook line which would fit most of these criteria for about 300 GBP. I ended up getting the Chromebook 14 from Currys.

Mandatory geek setup :

  • There is a bash environment officially suported on Chrome OS which you can customize
  • Also , there is Chromebrew, a missing package manager (a la homebrew on Mac) which support a decent list of software.
  • Obviously, Crouton for a KDE based Ubuntu in chrooted environment for anything else than the limited possibilities above.
  • Installing Playstore on a Chromebook, still experimental though

That’s all for now.

I’ve been using the chromebook on a daily basis (on Ubuntu whenever I needed to do some coding work, ChromeOs otherwise) and I’m happy with it.

The only limitations I found are setting up Vagrant on Crouton. There are some workarounds but I haven’t dig into them yet.

Otherwise all good.