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Ask HN: Are Chromebooks ready for serious development?
93 points by cesidio on May 12, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 185 comments
The question if we can comfortably do development without a MacBook has surfaced (unintended pun) many times here. Do you think that a Pixelbook (or any Chromebook) is finally ready for that? Google claims so:


I don't understand the authors choice to limit himself to Apple or Google. You've been able to do development on Linux notebooks (and Windows notebooks, of course) since decades. I can absolutely recommend Dell (and ThinkPad, though not from personal experience) notebooks with Ubuntu preinstalled/officially supported. Or is the question if a Chromebook is en vogue to use this season at Starbucks?

I use my Arch Linux T450 Lenovo laptopand it's a beast. $500 on eBay + $180 for SSD + $150 for RAM.

My laptop has 20Gb of RAM, 2x 1Tb SSDs, and 10 hours battery life, with 1 hot swap batteries pushing me to 18 hours battery life if I want it. Total cost: ~$900 with tax and shipping

IMO best track pad outside of Apple + best laptop keyboard

I love my x220 came with an i7 upgraded the RAM to 16GB, slapped in a 256GB SSD. The last modification I have to complete is the Full HD screen conversion, I am really excited about this. I have a few of the extended and regular batteries. I tend to just use the extended battery. I daily carry my x220 and I am not sure what I'll replace it with. I also have a mid 2014 MacBook air but the specs are mediocre. The only real benefit the air has is it's slimmer and lighter.

The x220 is too heavy for daily carry in my opinion, plus the screen can be pretty bad if you don't get the IPS one.

I'd have trouble recommending it to anyone these days unless they were looking for something really cheap.

I wouldn't really describe it as heavy, but that's right about the screen

Interesting. Do you know if T450 Lenovo supports the hack I use with https://github.com/avibrazil/RDM? I use my 13" macbook pro with a 2560x1600 resolution because I enjoy the larger screen space. IMO this the killer feature.

this looks like my dream machine. Two questions: how is the fan noise, and where did you find 1tb ssd drives so cheap?

I'm also running a t450, albeit w/ only 16gb ram and a 500gb ssd. Fan noise is not bad, certainly not loud enough to be distracting. I purchased mine refurb through Amazon for the 6 month warranty, but didn't need to use it. Wifi works great under Debian, but I could not get the Bluetooth card to work reliably. I replaced it with a card designed for the t430, but it wasn't all that easy. I would advise just using a USB Bluetooth adapter.

The only other complaint I have is that palm rejection for the track pad is poor, I eventually disabled the track pad entirely. I prefer the track point anyway, but I know a lot of people hate using them. Keyboard is excellent, IMO better than a MacBook. I would be curious, perhaps the OP used 2 500gb SSDs, you can get drive caddys to replace the DVD drive (I kept it, as I still need to read disks relatively often).

On my T430:

    synclient TouchpadOff=1
There's supposed to be a better alternative to the Synaptics stuff, now, so I read a few months ago, but I forgot to note it and haven't actively searched it out, yet.

So they often come with 1SSD drive, then eBay the other drives or in my case, student discount Western digital is 30% off + other promo.

No fan noise

Good specs, but that sounds really heavy.

Weighs less than my Mac for work - it's 14" vs the 15" Mac

There's one Dell model that all of the hardcore Linux devs in the office use that I've heard called the rough equivalent of the MacBook Pro. XPS 15, I believe.

The Dell XPS 9560 is a 7700hq + NVIDIA 1050. I had it, it was great. Just was forced to upgrade to a XPS 9570 that has a 8750H + NVIDIA 1050 Ti.

It is a great laptop and cost effective for the 9570 right now, $1699 CAD right now with the coupon code: http://www.dell.com/en-ca/shop/dell-laptops-netbooks-and-tab... I have a larger SSD and memory sitting around the office, so I don't count that in the cost.

Look up Dell Developer Edition to see the lineup options. I went with a beefed up Precision 7710 that can handle 3 hard drives (2 NVMe and 1 2.5) and 64 GB of RAM personally. Started with just 16gb and 1 drive but I like the room to upgrade over time. :)

XPS 13 user here, big fan

Counterpoint here, XPS 13 user, hate it. Worst coil whine I've heard on anything, fan sounds like it's catching, WiFi on Ubuntu very unreliable. Trackpad is atrocious.

I think it varies a lot between models.

Same. XPS 13 with Ubuntu. It's not the worst laptop experience I've had but it's close.

The trackpad is a nightmare. The bluetooth adapter randomly dies and I'm forced to restart. About 10% of the time when I close the lid the laptop doesn't actually go to sleep, but instead gets extremely hot, which is worrying when I take it out of my bag only to realize the thing has run down the battery and nearly melted. The list of issues goes on and on.

I can't help with the coil whine, but replacing the Wifi card is cheap and easy. I bought this on, albeit for the 9550: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B0167N9R8E/ref=oh_aui_se... which is currently showing as $25.

Yeah, we can blame Dell a bit for this, but Wifi drivers are a problem for a lot of systems.

Replacing the fan may be worth a try, too. Google for the service manual for your system which will give you a step-by-step instruction guide with pictures, and the parts are easy to come by.

Still can't help with the coil whine or the trackpad, though. (Though generally I've heard people say it's the best trackpad outside of Apple. I can't speak to that, my standards for trackpads seem to be relatively low compared to a lot of people's, because I've been content with a lot of trackpads that the consensus says are bad.)

XPS 13 owner. Had none of those issues, but the keyboard was 100% unusable for me (no hyperbole). Caused so much pain in my fingers I could only use it with an external keyboard attached, defeating the point of it being a laptop.

Do you get coil whine when you plug in a wired mouse and move it around? My office just got a few Latitude ultrabooks and they all make weird sounds when we use an external mouse.

It's down to the graphics I think. Video playing, some pictures and any scrolling are pretty bad.

Have he new 9370 with NixOS, no cool whine. Although I had it on the one I had 2 models ago. WiFi and Bluetooth work fine for me. So maybe they’ve worked the kinks out?

Seconding how horrible the trackpad is.

The noise complaints is why I'm not getting it.

It's not XPS 15, It's called Precision. Basically, it's a business version of XPS 15 with slightly different hardware and similar appearance.

Purism and a few other privacy focused laptops are more "chic" if that's the goal.

Does chromebook support virtual machines well (never used it)? If it doesn't I would call that a deal breaker for myself at least.

I've generally found most generic laptops super loud when they heat up. Or they have poor fit and finish or ugly screens.

Dell XPS series looks fantastic from the outside, but there are a few things that stop me from wanting one, that I've mostly observed from other owners of XPS laptops, having not owned one myself.

1. The keyboard. It's apparently not so bad once you get used to it, but compared to typing on my Thinkpad I find myself unhappy with it; it feels spongier in comparison, and the key travel is pretty short (though not nearly as bad as the Apple butterfly switches.)

2. The docking situation. Thunderbolt 3 docks are not really that appealing to me because it becomes difficult to drive many displays at 60 FPS with them. In all fairness, the Thinkpad workstation dock can also only drive 2 displays 60hz 1080p OR 30hz 4k, but at least it's reliable, and my Thunderbolt port is still free if I want more displays at the cost of convenience.

3. Linux support is actually really awful. The XPS 13 developer edition is supposedly an exception, but I have heard that it's really only well supported with the exact version of Ubuntu it ships with, and that updates have occasionally broke the system. Admittedly, the same can be said for some Lenovo laptops. My P51 is pretty bad under Linux (though it's gotten to the point of being usable, thankfully.)

4. Reliability. A coworker has replaced his XPS like 2 or 3 times now, and one of the chargers also died. I hope that's the exception. Obviously even Thinkpads are not as rock solid as they used to be, but even though I found this level of failure to be pretty extreme, it lines up with what I've witnessed with other Dell laptops and is one of the primary reasons I've never owned one.

Honestly, the choice of laptop comes down a lot to priority, but I feel like XPS exceeds mostly in the categories of portability and style, two things that I do not value nearly as much as robustness and performance.

More than anything, the most important thing you can do is research the crap out of any option you're considering buying. I've found that Arch Linux wiki pages about laptops are quite useful, with the caveat that you have to be careful to not assume two similar models will perform similarly since that is often not the case.

I can't really agree.

Having worked on an original IBM Model M keyboard in the 90s and as touch typist, I'm as much as a keyboard snob as could be, and I think the keyboard on the XPS 13 is excellent for what it is. I had the opportunity to compare an X1 Carbon keyboard (or was it another high end Lenovo?) against the XPS 13 in a shop where they had both on display, and preferred the XPS 13 subjectively. The Lenovo, certainly a high end part, had more key travel, and was also quite a bit wider; both facts combined made the outer left and outer right keys "block"/"skew" because they weren't hit straight from the top. Also, the keys were a bit too loose/clacky and felt more like a cheap desktop keyboard. I can't imagine typing on that thing as fast as I can on the Dell. The Lenovo also was quite a bit more expensive than the Dell, but had an atrocious 14" TN display (manufactured to 10+ year old standards) next to the Dell's.

> Linux support is actually really awful ... [XPS] only well supported with the exact version of Ubuntu it ships with

That's not been my experience at all. I'm running the XPS 13 for over two years now and everything works out of the box on my non-Developer Edition model (with the occasional glitch, like once every other month, of WLAN reconnect failure and power management switching into a really slow mode when waking up/opening the lid).

Fully agree with Arch Linux wiki pages; used them as resource to get Ubuntu running on the Dell XPS when this wasn't yet possible out of the box.

> 1. The keyboard. It's apparently not so bad once you get used to it, but compared to typing on my Thinkpad I find myself unhappy with it; it feels spongier in comparison, and the key travel is pretty short (though not nearly as bad as the Apple butterfly switches.)

I think I may be more sensitive to this than most, but the keyboard is absolutely not okay. I had the Dell XPS 13 for over a year, and I could not actually use it as a laptop because the keys brought my fingers such excruciating pain. I could only use it with an external keyboard attached. Previously I had the old generation Macbook air which caused me pain in only one finger (pinky, I think from hitting Ctrl too much), and currently I have a Razer Blade which is a bit uncomfortable on all of my fingers, but not even CLOSE to how bad the XPS 13 was.

I also own a Dell Chromebook 13 and have zero finger pain when using it, the keyboard is a dream. Had some coworkers with Thinkpads, and their keyboards also felt fine to type on (better than the Air, worse than the chromebook)

How has your experience been with battery and portability? I'm leaning towards buying a new laptop that I can carry around comfortably. I'm comfortable with remotely working on a more powerful PC if needed. Any models you'd recommend? I much rather would pick anything else over a MacBook.

I've got a Dell XPS 13", and I'm absoluting loving it; especially the keyboard works great for me as a touch typist/vi user, which I didn't expect since the keyboard is what ThinkPads are acclaimed for. That said, battery mileage is no match to Apple notebooks in my experience. I can get 3 to 4 hours max, though I'm occasionally doing CPU-intense stuff which will reduce this to 1-2 hours. If Apple actually would produce a "Pro" notebook with a usable keyboard and without the TouchBar thingy, and with actual "Pro" port options and replaceable parts, I'd be considering Apple again since I had a good experience with my PowerBook back in the day.

> I've got a Dell XPS 13", and I'm absoluting loving it; especially the keyboard works great for me as a touch typist/vi user

This is insane to me. My XPS 13 caused me excruciating pain to type on. I try to warn people every chance I get. Hurt my fingers more than any laptop I've ever used, to the point where I could not even use the laptop keyboard, I would only use it with an external keyboard.

Best keyboards I've used was my Dell Chromebook 13, followed by coworkers thinkpads.

That's strange indeed, and goes to show that keyboard preferences are highly subjective. I guess its best if the buyer checks out for his/herself in a shop.

My XPS 13 (second gen) had much better battery life with (what sounds) similar usage.

- you have a recent kernel? Also, 4.17 should bring battery-related improvements

- did you install TLP[0]?

[0] http://linrunner.de/en/tlp/docs/tlp-linux-advanced-power-man...

Thanks, I'll be checking it out. I've bought my XPS early in 2016 when the Skylake CPUs were new and kernel support/power management was flaky, so I had to install custom kernels and do BIOS patching, etc. I've upgraded to 16.10 since but I guess I need to check out if my kernel is up to date.

Does it have a replacable battery? I'd be less annoyed about 4 hours of battery if I could swap.

(Also if anyone knows of a model that's got more of a focus on battery life for someone who is SSHing into external machines for most CPU intensive tasks I'd be all ears)

No, the XPSs don't have replaceable batteries either. The XPS 13 is a very tiny notebook/subnotebook, yet with full-size keyboard and all the performance of a larger notebook (it's very noticeably faster than my 2012 MacMini which also has an i7).

I guess battery mileage is mostly a function of the O/S and drivers, and your power settings and what you actually do on the notebook.

I have the Dell XPS 13 9350, bought used. When doing standard programming stuff (firefox + sublime + spotify, no CPU intensive tasks), I usually get around 8 hours of battery, so in practice it's never a problem.

Maybe try to replace the battery with a new one. My previous one's capacity dropped to ~40%, which would be ~4 hours max under light use, but after I installed a new battery it bounced back to 8~9 hours.

I use a x230 with the biggest battery. It's decently thick/heavy compared to the modern ultra-slim laptops, but it's compact, fast enough and it set me back barely over 300€ total and the battery lasts 9+ hours.

It sounds like budget is not your problem, but I thought I'd just mention this for any students etc. passing by.

I use a x220 because it has a better keyboard. I'm limited to USB2 but honestly I never use them except for my mouse and iOS devices, which are limited to USB2 speeds anyway. But I'm able to hook it up to dual external 1080p monitors. Cost me less than US$100.

note that you can also use the x220 keyboard in the x230.

x220 keyboards are a bit hard to source for a good price, though.

If you get the x220 with an i7 it comes with a single USB 3, in case anyone is looking to purchase one.

I've got an X270 with the extended battery. Running Linux, it lasts over 20 hours with light use. It weighs less than the 15" MBP I had previously.

The xps 15 is quite good in terms or performance and battery life. I have the 1080p model and it usually lasts around 9 hours with light usage on battery.

ChromeOS is very nice for non-development browsing/writing/music listening which we all do, the 12-13" models are a good form factor and have good battery life. Not to mention they're usually <$300 for the lower-end models.

The only advantage that the chromebook is going to have is being optimized to run on arm. Otherwise switching to any standard flavor of Linux would be a much better bet for a dev.

Ad an XPS owner (9350), I will never own a dell again.

Could you provide more information why?

The experience I had with its touchpad and screen. The screen is mitigated by buying the FHD version. But the touchpad never works right. Basically two finger scrolling has never worked right. It’s almost like lag in that it’ll keep scrolling after I lift my fingers. Only the actual experience is worse than that. Issue persists past firmware and driver updates/changes.

I recently bought the latest 9370 and touch pad feels very close to what you have on apple.

Try 7-series

It's also worth noting that Windows 10 now has a native Linux subsystem, allowing you to run Windows and your choice of Linux distribution in parallel. This makes Windows a very compelling alternative to Mac OS if you prefer to develop in a *nix environment but also need to run proprietary software.


Privacy + telemetry concerns were ultimately a deal breaker for me, but hyper-v plus mobixterm’s x11 server also make for a nice setup.

Or you can do what I've done for years and just run VirtualBox/VMware with port forwarding. A bit harder to set up, but gets the job done.

I've been using my Samsung Chromebook Plus for about a year now, and the answer is a fairly clear: no.

Everything about it is just sluggish and laggy. The opposite of snappy. This is compounded by the fact that the AWS and GCP web interfaces I spend a lot of time in aren't exactly lightweight, but that's the work. The SSH client is similarly just ever so slightly off.

In terms of just compatibility pains, don't even think about trying to print from the thing. Also, the copy/paste mechanics are probably not wrong per-se but just odd enough that I'm constantly frustrated by getting it wrong. Lastly, tons of basic stuff is just a hoop to jump through now, like setting up an adblocker or using a basic text editor. I can't even imagine how hard a full IDE would drag.

Bear in mind this is the "plus" (arm) not the "pro" (x86). So maybe a Pixelbook with its full-i5 would get over the hurdle, but I guess my overall takeaway would be if your'e going to try a Chromebook make it an $800 one not a $450 one.

That's not a fault of Chromebooks themselves but the ARM CPU. Except for Apple, no one can pull off desktop class ARM right now.

The Pixelbook and the Chromebook Pixels before that have excellent performance for developers.

I'm sure a Chromebook Pro would have been a good choice for a workhorse as well.

I'd wait until they release a MacBook running on ARM to declare Apples chips as desktop class.

> The SSH client is similarly just ever so slightly off.

The Google Chrome SSH app is an abomination. If you have Dev mode enabled, OpenSSH is in the shell (open the crosh cli and type 'shell'). The Termius Chrome app is also decent but they're no longer developing it.

> Everything about it is just sluggish and laggy > So maybe a Pixelbook with its full-i5 would get over the hurdle

I'm very pleased with the performance of my Acer R 13, which is fairly comparable to the CB Plus. I'm mostly using it as a 'dumb' terminal (ssh, RDP, Citrix Receiver) and not doing anything terribly taxing in the browser or Crouton. I suspect Crostini will push me towards a higher spec ChromeBook but for my current workflows it's more than sufficient.

I’m happy with my Acer 11” cloud book. It was under $200, is fanless, and the keyboard/ trackpad are best-in-class (usable), and so is the build quality.

Linux battery life is something like 8 hours. A year or so ago it almost ran freebsd and openbsd. Haven’t checked since.

I played with an Asus 302 flip for about a month, which convinced me to by an i5 Pixelbook last December. Both showed no signs of being sluggish or laggy while having as many tabs as I can throw at it open, xfce running in a crouton chroot, and a shell open with ssh into a remote box. That includes having a number of Google Sheets open at once, as well as two email tabs, and general browsing in addition to the Linux GUI app I run and ssh sessions.

So maybe its the processor,not the OS?

To make a comparison, my 2016 15" Touchbar Macbook Pro is a constantly, spinning beachball machine above all else. It gathers dust in the corner while these machines that are 1/5 and 1/3 the price are an actual joy to use.

I've played with the Linux install on the Pixelbook, but haven't yet taken the time to move over completely from Crouton, which works fine for me.

There's a few funky things. For example, it becomes easiest just to store all your files in the Downloads folder as that's the only folder the chroot can access. But it seems like they're ironing those things out.

I've been a happy Mac user since 2006. I'm suddenly a huge Chromebook advocate. Both of these machines are the best experience I've gotten from a new machine since I got my first Macbook Air.

A few months ago my Macbook Pro screen cracked while I was on a road trip. I thought I was screwed, but decided to try development on a Chromebook I had lying around.

That was when I discovered AWS Cloud 9. After getting back my repaired fully maxed out latest model Macbook Pro, I have not even bothered to restore the hard drive. Developing on Cloud 9 has been wonderful. Having everything already in the cloud in a production-like environment has enormous advantages. Sure there are things I occasionally may miss or be unable to do on a Chromebook, though this has surprisingly not been an issue yet. The only Mac app I've wanted to use is Sketch.

I have since upgraded to a Pixelbook, which has a gorgeous screen and a superior keyboard to a Macbook Pro. Touch screens with tablet mode make a computer enormously more versatile, serving as a tablet and media platform. If I lose or damage my Chromebook, I can continue development seemlessly on any computer, and log in to any Chromebook to recover my environment. Not having a $3000 laptop that I need to protect with my life, knowing that if I lose everything nothing is lost, is very liberating.

I'm now transitioning off of iOS because of the lack of iMessage and the general pointlessness of using an iPhone with a Chromebook. Perhaps the biggest annoyance with iOS devices now is the disastrous Lightning connector, which adds so much complication to my cable environment. With a Pixel 2, I basically just need a few similar wall chargers and USB-C cables rather than a tangle of converters and cables.

Surprising myself, I am now basically committed to a future on Chrome OS and Google's ecosystem. My only regret is not supporting Apple's respect for privacy, which is a substantial regret. I can only hope our Google and perhaps government some day will adopt Apple's ethical standards around privacy.

Anyone want to buy a Macbook Pro? It really is a beautiful machine. I just don't seem to need it anymore.

I love coding on dual 4K screens powered by my laptop. How does a web-based Cloud 9 work on dual 4K screens? Can a Chromebook power dual 4K screens that are external?

I currently run an XPS 9560 but am waiting now for a 9570. Laptops are definitely replacing desktops even for high powered tasks, but I am not sure Chromebooks have the horsepower yet.

The other place that Chromebook's fall down is when traveling. Lots of places like airplains, trains have spotting wifi/cell coverage. With a Chromebook you are dead in the water. If you spent a lot of time traveling, not being able to work is sort of a bummer.

I use a single 4k screen. Most Chromebooks have no problem with this. I have not tried dual 4k screens, however I think a Pixelbook is capable of this.

One thing I've discovered is that much screen real estate is overkill for me, and I'm more productive with less.

> Having everything already in the cloud in a production-like environment has enormous advantages.

Could you talk about this a little more? I have never used C9. I use git and an IDE on multiple devices (Linux on home desktop, Windows on old ass laptop, macOS at work) so I can work in basically the same environment on any of those devices any time. Granted, I can’t just pull up a browser on any device, but that seems like it would be a rare use case (for me, anyway).

Sounds like you don’t need that MacBook anymore, wanna sell it to me cheap? (:

In reality those environments are not "the same". You have all sorts of libraries that are compiled and set up specifically for your system, and those differences add up.

With Cloud 9 everything is on an EC2 instance with Linux, exactly the same platform as I will deploy in production.

True. My environments are not the same. Most will call that a disadvantage. I rather like knowing about environments on various platforms and how my applications support them. Of course there are other, probably better, ways to approach that (:

It sounds like C9 can be really useful for AWS deployment specifically, but beyond that I don’t see much value over git+IDE.

The value is that it is online on an ec2 instance on the Aws network , which may or may not be something you want.

Also git+IDE is exactly what I use with Cloud 9. C9 is the IDE.

But why not just use VMWare with Linux locally?

In context of this thread, because aws works with Chromebooks and VMware doesn't.

Funny enough, with Google releasing Debian on Chrome OS, this may actually become an option soon.

We're way past the point where you need to guard your laptop with your life because you'll lose everything, as he puts it. Anyone who isn't already backed up to at least 1 cloud service is stuck in the last decade.

Replacing the hardware and restoring your environment is expensive and time consuming, sometimes prohibitively so. Let's say you're on a road trip through Mexico...

Also backing up a Macbook to the cloud is a lot of data, and Apple doesn't have an adequate solution for this. I was using Backblaze. Their restore method is mailing a USB drive.

Unless you have a local backup, which is not practical while traveling, restoring from backup is non-trivial.

> Anyone who isn't already backed up to at least 1 cloud service is stuck in the last decade.

Are finances not a concern here, or am I missing something else with this suggestion? I don't backup _anything_ to a cloud provider because my last-decades solutions (automation + home network NAS or SAN at work) _just works_, and I, and my company, don't need the recurring costs hit from a cloud provider.

> Are finances not a concern here, or am I missing something else with this suggestion?

Sounds like a little of both to me.

At home I keep my backups on a NAS with RAID 1 redundancy so I'm tolerant to most things. That entire 4TB array is backed up to the cloud through BackBlaze B2 because it's affordable and grants me peace-of-mind for scenarios where both disks fail. I don't use nearly the entire 4TB, so it's about $10/mo for my B2 usage.

So far in life, I've never had to use my cloud backups. Which is great, they'd be slow as can be to download. But the insurance of knowing they're there is completely worth it to me.

For many people here the finances of their tech are not a concern. It’s the source of our income so minor efficiencies can have a big impact on productivity and income. For me any reasonable expense that I will gain value from is worthwhile.

If you are a software engineer and you are concerned about $100/year in cost for your backup system, you might want to consider your priorities.

I guess... I make considerably more than that and my wife makes even more than I do (both of us are Software Engineers, no kids yet) and I have way more important and interesting shit to spend my money (and time) on than cloud provider backups. We also both grew up relatively poor, her from an immigrant family and myself from hillbillies in the Appalachians. Maybe that has something to do with it.

A lot of people who grow up poor have a hard time adjusting their spending habits to optimize their life when they become well off.

I've known such people who will go through great aggravation, follow on sunk costs no good reason, and waste a lot of time - just to save a few dollars or feel they didn't waste money.

I waste probably a few thousand dollars a year on expenditures I never utilize. If the dollar amount is below the cost of the aggravation, I generally won't bother.

If you're working as a software engineer, I assume you are making at least $100,000. A $100 annual cost to ensure your data is saved, and the time savings from maintaining a local backup, seems well worth it and it doesn't make sense to me for that cost to weigh into the decision.

How can you assume someone is making at least $100k if he is working as a software engineer? There's more to the world than the Bay Area.

At Italy maybe 30% of that is the average.

Even in the US this is not the average salary for software engineers if you look outside of the Bay Area and Seattle.

"if we can comfortably do development without a MacBook"?

What kind of premise is that for a question? You think this forum consists only of devs using Macbooks?

In OPs defence: if they work in one of the main tech hubs then pretty much all they will likely see people using is MacBooks. I guess a better way to have phrased the question is “do development on a laptop with a cloud based operating system rather than a traditional OS”

Last time I attended a developer meetup here in Berlin I saw more ThinkPads than Macbooks...

Yeah, I think in Germany it's more like 50/50 for small companies with a big trend to 90% Apple with freelancers and 90% Thinkpad/Dell for bigger companies.

> if they work in one of the main tech hubs...

In Silicon Valley. Everyone else uses Windows.

You should pop to London sometime

And you should look at market share numbers and maybe visit every other place in the world sometime.

Thinkpads are very popular

I'm so deeply confused right now that I thought this thread was a joke but now I'm thinking its not.

I'm in the state that shall not be named on the other side of the world from California but when I go to tech meet ups, 90% of the room is running Ubuntu/Linux Mint or some other variety with a sprinkling of Macbooks.

Is it seriously that different? What do the Starbucks around that area look like?

edit I should point out I'm only going to web development meet ups.

Companies think devs want macbooks. I see it advertised in job posts all the time, "New Mac books." Most devs I know either hate them (myself included) or don't really care. Most of the ones that hate them are running Ubuntu/Arch in Parallels or some other VM. I do most of my stuff in Docker containers.

I would love to be running Linux on it but the IT department in most places I've heard of won't let you replace OSX. Places that also offer Windows laptops for devs won't let you put Ubuntu on it either.

So I use my MBP with it's stupid emoji bar and an escape button that can crash at work and my System76 laptop at home/everywhere else.

Pretty much all MacBook Pros. Maybe 15-20:1 these days over devs on Linux machines from what I've seen.

It's funny because growing up as an Apple user in the mid 90s it was reversed. And we didn't have a package manager like Homebrew on OS 9. It's so much easier to be a Mac dev today than historically.

My MBP runs linux, as does the MBP of every other developer at my office (there are also 2 dells running linux).

Based on my business trips to the SF Bay area, it's seriously Apple land over there.

I'm so conflicted about my favorite development machine. I use Windows/HP laptop at work, but I own a Mac at home. I love them both equally it feels like. Windows seems to have universally more tooling available for download, while the Mac just feels smoother and has nice tooling built-in (such as access to a decent terminal from the start).

Windows is out of the question for a lot of devs that live in the Unix shell. Sure, I could run a Linux VM or dual boot, but those aren't very pleasant experience.

Strange. I’ve never noticed that.

It's fine for casual use and CPU- or network-bound tasks. But anything involving lots of filesystem operations (like, heh, building software) is just a mess. The project I'm working on right now is a biggish C tree using cmake/ninja that still builds in 3-20 seconds (depending on configuration) on my dual core laptop but takes 90+ on a quad core skylake under WSL.

But for the simple case of "I need to ssh around or pull some files with curl or check something out from github or whatever and I don't have my linux box" it works great.

I use MacBook at work and Windows at home.

> Unix Shell

Cmder[0] is what I use, it supports all commands that I use on my work MacBook. If I need something Linux-specific like imagemagick, I just use WSL[1]. Some say it's slow but it runs fine. Maybe it's the fact that my PC is like 10x more powerful than my MacBook Pro because it's standard desktop computer with water cooling.

Bottom line, as someone who is using both every day - Windows is fine, it's not 2010 anymore.

[0] http://cmder.net/

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_Subsystem_for_Linux

In my experience it's fine if you're using the stock terminal app on macOS and then go back to windows, but if you use anything like iTerm then cmder will drive you mad.

Yeah but the rest of the Mac will drive me crazy so it’s a good trade off IMO.

If I had to use a Mac all day I would miss all of the simplicity of using Windows for things like browsing files, managing application windows, having buttons with actual labels, etc. I would miss being able to operate the entire OS with just the keyboard, which is impossible on a Mac.

Just full-screening a VMware or Virtual box with your favorite Linux distro is a much better experience than what else has been mentioned so far, and I still hate it. I wish stable Linux laptops were a thing. Currently I have to use a bash script to detect headphones, turn brightness up/down, and my suspend/lock has inconsistent and strange behavior. On the other hand, it's still a whole world better than the shitware and random unannounced update restarts windows 10 forces you though.

WSL + Git Bash on Windows works wonderfully.

I decided to dual boot my WSL Windows install with Arch, now I never go back to Windows. Arch is 100% what I need in a developer machine, and 70% of a decent recreation machine, while Windows is the other way around. Turns out I care more about my dev experience than gaming.

I'd give it a qualified yes. Actually, I don't think "Chromebooks" is the right thing to ask about, that sounds like the physical hardware. That varies widely and can mostly run Linux, but that's not particularly special. We should ask if ChromeOS is ready for serious development.

There's definitely some types of development work that just won't ever be practical in any way on a ChromeOS device. Developing iOS apps, Windows GUI apps, etc. Sure you can remote into a MacOS or Windows machine, but I don't think that counts. Anything requiring massive CPU power or RAM probably won't work too well either.

There's also definitely plenty of ways of working productively that are very practical. Being remoted into a cloud IDE or SSH works fine. Not sure if that counts, but cloud work is the main idea of ChromeOS. You can install Linux side by side with Crouton, but going outside of ChromeOS seems beside the point. You can install something like Termux to get a pretty normal Linux interface without breaking ChromeOS security, but it does seem to have a couple of quirks.

I've been using the Termux method for a while for side projects, and I've mostly been pleasantly surprised. Ruby, Python, C, Go, and Rust all run just fine, as does Vim, Tmux, SSH, Git, etc. Even installing local DB servers for web apps to test against seems to work fine. I have run into a couple of snags with various Ruby gems that I haven't gotten around to sorting out yet. The community around the setup is decent, but maybe not as big as you'd really want for something you "seriously develop" on. You can certainly get most types of development work done on it though.

I couldn't stand anymore the stream of mistakes that macOS had become so I had installed ChromeOS as main OS on MacBook Pro.

This is excellent combination. Mac is still superior hardware wise and ChromeOS is really nice graphical environment for web browsing, HBO Go, Spotify, YouTube, Google Play Music, Google Photos, Google Drive, Inbox etc. Anyway most of the time I spent inside terminal - crouton - Debian stretch - Vim - gcloud.

I am enjoying the screen real estate of Mac's Retina display, touchpad, keyboard, battery life etc. On the other hand I am free from half-baked Apple software...

I have a backup ChromeOS install on at least 6 years old x230. I have also wiped out Windows and installed ChromeOS on my Mom's i3 Lenovo laptop.

So far so good..

How'd you do this? Couldn't you just use Chrome on OS X as a ChromeOS of sorts?

I had used Neverware build of ChromeOS[1] - no dual-boot anymore so I had to make a choice.

Well, it had been a process - I had been growing dissapointed with lack of quality of Apple software, each iteration beeing of lower quality and plain dumber then competition (iCloud, Siri, Apple Music etc.) High Sierra had been the final straw.

Over time I have stopped using iCloud, Apple Photos, Mail, Safari and replaced them with Google Photos, Google Drive, mutt in Terminal, Chrome etc.

At some point I have realized that I have only single app comming from AppStore on my computer. The rest is either free software (paid for but dowloaded from the web not from Apple's walled garden) or from Homebrew.

At that stage jumping out of Apple's garden had been quite painless for me. I am not missing iMessage even. And I have started using Sony XZ Premium instead of iPhone at more or less the same time (better screen resolution, better bluetooth music quality with Sony MDR-1RBT headphones and at quarter of the price of iPhone 8).

Some time ago when still on macOS I have started using dnscrypt-proxy 2.0 on my router which disables most of call home capabilities of Google, Apple, Facebook etc. And also I have my own extension for Chrome which keeps my Google Search and Youtube activity transparent to Google. Not industry-grade but I am enjoying enough privacy on ChromeOS.

[1]: https://www.neverware.com/freedownload

Support for Linux will enable you to create, test and run Android and web app for phones, tablets and laptops all on one Chromebook. Run popular editors, code in your favorite language and launch projects to Google Cloud with the command-line. Everything works directly on a Chromebook.

Linux runs inside a virtual machine that was designed from scratch for Chromebooks. That means it starts in seconds and integrates completely with Chromebook features. Linux apps can start with a click of an icon, windows can be moved around, and files can be opened directly from apps

I use a 12” MacBook and find it almost fully suitable for all development. Even with VMs and Docker containers, it’s great, but if anything misbehaves and gets it running too hot it can get sluggish. It’s unable to recover on its own because it has no fan.

MacBook Pros can keep going even with CPU-abusive software. I don’t want to carry the extra weight so I choose the trade-off.

But a Chromebook? I don’t understand the fascination with trying to develop on a more challenging dev platform that offers seemingly no advantage in terms of performance, mobility, price, or ergonomics.

Escape key, siri button, densed keyboard keys, and unreasonably huge trackpad are the things that made me switch. I am in a meeting or listen to a youtube video... I press backspace ... Oh my bad I pressed siri button - everything goes silent for 30 seconds.

I disabled siri button... a few weeks later apple released an update and siri is back ... just before my important call. My anxienty level is to the roof.

If you don't use capslock you can set the keyboard to map that to escape.

I think that's the de facto control key on Macbooks since they aren't in the bottom left corner. It'd be cool if we could configure a single caps lock keypress to Esc and holding it down to Control.

That is possible using Karabiner/Karabiner-Elements. I currently have Caps Lock mapped to Escape and Hyper (for vi like arrows)

I use mine for escape and hadn’t considered using it for control. Is it more comfortable?

It's indispensable because OS X has Emacs bindings in all standard controls. Control A, E, K, P, N, C, D.

These keybindings are one of the only reasons I have stayed with OS X. I'm surprised that others use Cmd-arrow combinations instead.

Since I'm just using it for ctrl+c in a terminal, it's much more comfortable.

Anyone sane has already remapped it to control.

How about you just disable Siri like everyone else? :-) I work with my macbook 12+ hours a day and this never, ever, happened to me.

Yes, read the last sentence of my comment. Updates might re enable it. If your battery runs out, the same happens.

I've removed the Siri button from the touchbar the day I got my MacBook, more than a year ago, and it never appeared again. Might be a problem on your system? Usually resetting the NVRAM/PRAM solves this kind of problems, but it's basically black magic.

Did you remove the Siri button from the touch bar, or disable Siri altogether? Maybe try doing both.

I removed it once. I may be mistaken here, but if I recall, removing it slightly shifted the layout of the other keys throwing off my muscle memory for the f keys.

I'm interested in a solution. I probably hit that key unintentionally 10 times a day.

Check out this post about customizing the touchbar that was on HN a little while ago: http://vas3k.com/blog/touchbar/

Perhaps you could replace the Siri button with a similar sized button if one is available, in order to keep the spacing. (I don't have a touchbar Macbook, so I don't really know what's available.)

Counter-anecdote to OSX Docker: My OSX Docker experience was nothing short of painful. Anything CPU intensive brought the entire laptop to a crawl. When I went down to metal noticed at least a 10-15x performance improvement, due to the way XHyve does things with the disk (I think?). This may have changed recently, but I won't run Docker on OSX anymore unless I have to.

I’m not sure how long ago that was but there has been at least one update over the last few months that change how they use storage. It had to wipe the VM (subsequently deleting containers) so warned me about it first.

It's been a while. Good to hear that's improved. If I need to retool local again, I'll give it another shot.

ChromeOS is actually well designed and secure, has pen & touch support for 2-in-1s, and is going in the right direction. https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16813796

It's a challenge to understand what information is leaking to Google when using ChromeOS and its cloud-first, always-logged-in design. As developers, we have a responsibility to our clients to keep their secrets.

Many clients may not care -- imagine how much sensitive business data Slack has! But I'd want to make sure that my usage of ChromeOS was compatible with the client's policies, compared with a laptop running one of the more traditional self-contained operating systems.

Are you talking about the threat of Google getting hacked? Because otherwise ChromeOS seems considerably more secure than OS X or Windows

ChromeOS encourages you to store files using Google Drive. There is the threat of Google being compromised, yes, even though they take security much more seriously than the average company. More likely, your own account can be hacked, since it's out there on the web and not all developers are security-minded, sadly. But there's also the concern that you can have your Google account shut down and it may be difficult to get it restored.

I would also like to better understand what profiling data Google collects during ordinary usage of ChromeOS. I'm not an expert on that subject and don't want to spread FUD, but when you're logged into the Chrome browser, Google finds out an awful lot about you through your web habits.

Assuming you install updates from your OS vendor regularly, than Microsoft or Apple getting hacked is game over anyway. Google has some if the best tools available for securing your account (very solid 2fa if you set it up right)

It's been perfectly possible to do real work on a Chromebook using web IDEs, Crouton or tools like Termux for some time now. Similarly, Linux on laptops has been perfectly viable for many many years. I ditched my MacOS experiment around a decade ago after getting fed up of the terrible package management story. Fink and macports were trying their best fair play. Better with brew these days but still not in the same realm as the native Linux package tools and repositories. Similarly if you're using containers the native story is just smoother.

Hypervisor layer aside, I'm not so sure this is the case anymore. Homebrew is pretty good these days. Even running a setup like dozens of Docker containers with a local k8s cluster in Docker for Mac works pretty well. I feel like any friction in between Linux vs Mac dev has become negligible.

The only day to say exception to this is Docker for Mac's power usage.

The pixelbook is rather expensive for what it is.

I have a secondhand hp z620 (32 cores, 64 gigs of ram) and a 4k screen. Total cost < £700

Whilst being about 4 years old, its still much much faster than a top end macbook. Yes its not portable. However I don't move around that much at work (If I do, everything is in git, or one can ssh in from another machine.)

if I need to work from home, I have any old laptop to ssh in and work.

being able to make -j 30 on a large project, is worth every penny, or not being able to move it about.

I have the same setup and it's great for some development tasks, but its single-core speed can't match the latest processors. I actually installed Linux on my company-issued MBP and I run a bunch of dev tools on it via Xwin from my z620.

I've been doing that for years: http://kmkeen.com/c100p-tweaks/

Development doesn't require any more CPU than word processing. You're type stuff up, and there is a pretty strict grammar check. I don't get why people why people want to run huge things on a laptop. It is way more economical to shell into a beefy server when you need big iron instead of carrying it with you.

Some people still write code that is compiled.

And the people who do that tend to use super bloated Dev environments.

I've had the opposite experience so far. Eclipse IDE that uses 1GB+ of RAM? Compiles java code to bytecode instantly everytime you save. Sublime Text + gcc for a C++ project? Well, you have to live with the fact that sometimes a rebuild is going to take more than 5 minutes.

In other words it has nothing to do with how bloated the dev environment is and more with the fact that some programming languages have features that can cause excessive build time.

> super bloated dev environments

Care to give some examples of this? I've been using compiled languages for a while now and I've never felt my environment had been "bloated".

That's a pretty massive assumption.

and even if you don't, using a slow machine is still not a great experience.

Opening a shell, reloading a page, switching tabs, running git pull, decompressing an archive, linting, building etc.

All these things will take noticably longer to the point of being frustrating on a low-end machine.

I'm one of those people.

> Development doesn't require any more CPU than word processing

Please tell that to my local k8s cluster.

And how much horsepower do you need to shell into that cluster?

I'm not totally sure how to answer the question you're asking. The local dev cycle is much faster than deploying and running remotely.

Locally the cluster runs two main projects, both systems that handle user-defined tasks. One is a Kafka-based clickstream event processor, the other is an Airflow-based workflow ETL system built on Celery. Exact resource requirements depend on the requirements of the task of the moment and how fast you want it to run. Of course there is the related tooling and services as well such as ZooKeeper, Celery, Redis, Postgres, Grafana, Prometheus, etc.

I haven't tried this on a tmux type setup on a remote box for my "local" dev before. The cost to run it on a cloud deploy is non-trivial.

There's no general answer for this question.

I cannot develop on web IDEs or on a box with only 16G RAM. Some others can. I need to be able to run many containerised service locally, others might only need a node.js instance.

Depends on what you do. It's like asking whether a motorbike is suitable for your daily work. If you're a pizza delivery boy then yes. If you are transporting heavy machinery, then no.

If you don't want to buy a MacBook (nor, I presume, a laptop with Windows preinstalled), do yourself a favor and get an Ubuntu machine from Dell or System76.

I second this recommendation. I have been dual booting Ubuntu for many years on my gaming PC's and recently bought a pre made Ubuntu machine from Dell. The least fun I ever have when installing a new machine is trying to get my fucking three monitors working the way they should.

The Dell laptop plug and played into my (not thunderbolt, wd15 or something dock) and all three monitors were literally plug and play. It felt like Windows again and blew me away.

I also recommend Thinkpads T series or X1. Mine works great with Fedora (and formerly Ubuntu). Awesome keyboards

Love System76, my favorite laptop is light little Lemur.

The XPS 13 with the i7 and Max ram is a great machine. I liked it so much I made it the standard equipment for my ops team.

That link just says you can run Linux in a VM on a chromebook for development.

You can also run Linux on any other laptop in the World. Natively, or in a VM.

@cesidio that greatly depends what 'development' means for you. I mean, if it means developing iOS apps then you probably still have all the trouble which you have when you are trying to develop anything for the Apple ecosystem without being part of it. For the Microsoft ecosystem it looks the same.

But if development means to do web development you are just fine, as Linux is the best platform for that anyway. Other things, like resource intensive stuff (e.g. C compiling) might still be too much to do it comfortably on a Chromebook.

Yes. Most of the time, all you need is a basic computer and internet to SSH into a more powerful VM in the cloud. I don't host my dev stack on my computer so local computing power is mute. It's strange but a celeron chromebook is all I need.

When I travel, I don't take my heavy Macbook Pro. I take my old Acer C720 because it has Bash, a Cloud IDE, and everything I need to code. Just in case I need to do more, I have KDE on chroot for when I need more tools.

I'm doing all my development on a HP Chromebook 13 G1. While the CPU is low-powered, and I since ditched the ChromeOS for a custom Linux, it's a fairly capable machine, and very cheap for what it offers.

My recent 1-year review is on https://llogiq.github.io/2018/03/02/chromebook.html

>The downside is that I still have to press Ctrl + L at bootup and avoid pressing SPACE before the machine boots, otherwise the machine might try to overwrite my system with a clean ChromeOS install

You can use flashrom to flash the UEFI firmware from MrChromebox. It will get rid of the ChromeOS recovery stuff and makes it a proper laptop. Remember to backup your data, as always.

Any chance you've considered getting a Chromebook Pro or Pixelbook? I've been eyeballing one to give Chromebooks for dev another shot as an alternate machine. I'm currently trying to determine between the two if the Pixelbook is worth the ~2x price tag.

I am typing this on a Chromebook that will soon get the ax. It is a Lenovo Thinkpad X131E. It came with a 16GB eMMC solid storage and a free SATA port. I had to open the computer and disassemble it down to the board (thankfully the documentation is very extensive) to flip the switch that allows me to install a real BIOS (or the coreboot EFI, that thing with the rabbit logo). I installed Fedora on it and now I can do everything on a Chromebook. I added a 500GB hard disk I had lying around but with SSD prices no longer climbing up, I am thinking about getting a 500GB SSD for this computer. Maybe I could even keep using the SSD after this chromebook dies.

So in this sense, yes I am comfortable doing development on a chromebook but it really isn't chromebook anymore. It is a Linux machine at this point. The keyboard is a close approximation of a real Thinkpad and the computer was cheap enough that I don't mind throwing it in my backpack and using it on the train.

Two months with the Pixelbook i7, don't regret investing that much on a Chromebook, which was my main concern. Kept the old MBP just in case and it's been just sitting there, even through tax season.

Pretty happy with performance, Linux apps work well but still "feel" a little out of place. Very like how it runs Android apps, so much works but it's just the issues that DO come up that can be frustrating. If you're not ready for that experience then it might not make sense to switch your main dev machine.

Doubt I'll ever buy a laptop bigger than this one ever again, but it is a little harder to dev directly on this, mainly bc of that MBP trackpad, but this keyboard is MUCH better.

I have a $300 (plus SSD price) Dell Chromebook 13 from a few years ago which I use https://github.com/dnschneid/crouton on to run Ubuntu with i3. It's a wonderful machine for light web dev (I've never tried any really stressful development, I use my fuller spec'ed laptop for that). Great battery life, light, best keyboard I've used. I don't know how well it would work for 'serious' development depending on your field, but it's probably the best starter laptop for programming I could possibly imagine.

https://usesthis.com/interviews/junio.c.hamano/ works for this guy but I guess he uses the terminal :)

There's a few options already, I've written about this exact question:


This doesn't take in Crostini, which I'll be following up on - and I intend to rework the VS Code builds and scripts for ARM to use Crostini instead of Crouton, but everything discussed is still pretty much the state of play.

I still think it's worth the extra couple of steps by far, but that's because I just don't have time in my life anymore for all the hassle Chrome OS saves me from.

Personally I've done development work on a Pixelbook for a while now (Using a cloud IDE), and I've enjoyed it greatly.

If being able to run a Linux VM is what it takes for others to do the same, great.

I use a 2015 Chromebook Pixel.

- Stand up an Amazon WorkSpace and RDP to it for Windows work - Use Android apps - Install Ubuntu using crouton

That's pretty much it. Use it all day every day.

You can use Termux on a Chromebook to run Linux already and develop. See termux.com and https://medium.com/digitalcrafts/exiting-vim-on-a-touch-scre...

This is without going into dev too. You just need to enable android on your chromebook.

Prefer GNUroot over Termux.

That is a funny question, I've been writing code for 10 years and have used a variety of hardware. At no point has the host OS limited my productivity. I even used an old ThinkPad with a broken trackpad for a while during a particularly poor period of my life. Once you learn to use the terminal and stop being a GUIwarrior, you will have an easier life.

Once you know how to use both GUIs and the terminal you will have an easier life. They both have their place. If you're developing a Windows app, you should probably use visual studio. If you're doing basic web development then the terminal makes more sense.

I do 'serious' development on a Chromebook, and a very low-spec one at that (Acer Chromebook 11, with an 11" screen and 2GB of ram). What's more, I do development in user mode rather than developer mode, without using Crostini. The thing is, very little of what I'm doing actually runs on the Chromebook itself. I use Codepen.io (which is awesome) for a lot of front-end dev work, which does SASS, Babel, etc on a remote server for me. I use Codenvy to do more complex things, again on a remote server. I do some Node and Python on the machine itself (using Termux), but that's very light-weight in terms of resources. It's still proper development though. The things I make end up on servers being used by thousands of people.

I'd do frontend things on the machine itself if Chrome let me access localhost, but it doesn't. (Weirdly, Firefox for Android does, but that doesn't have any dev tools).

The problem with asking whether Chromebooks are ready for 'serious' development is that development is a huge topic that covers everything from editing a config file in VIM to building a UI in XCode. You can't answer a yes or no to a question like that.

tl;dr It's great but I wouldn't want to run Android Studio on it? My iMac struggles with that...

Can anyone recommend a cheap used Chromebook to check out how development would be on it?

Slightly OT but which development laptop has best keyboard? I can't stand my circa 2012 rMBP keyboard (and the newer ones are even worse). I'm guessing a Thinkpad?? But I can't find one with good battery, screen and weight.

Only a Mac allows to compile for iOS plus MacOS. So there is little choice if you want to keep all options open.

Chromebooks have been ready for serious development for a while now, provided the limited hardware can suffice. The last release of this was a year ago, so perhaps there are better options now? https://galliumos.org/

That's still just another Linux distribution with a few improvements to Chromebook-compatibility. I'm still hoping for a team to form around Chromium OS to better integrate open source into it, so that people can run something like Chrome OS without having to have a Google account. I'm disappointed that there isn't something like a new approach to Firefox OS using Chromium OS from Mozilla. In a couple of years, Google will move everything to Fuchsia and away from Linux and then everyone who doesn't want to run Windows/macOS/Fuchsia for privacy or "openness" reasons will still be stuck with the classic desktop Linux without the improvements of storing userdata in some kind of personal cloud per default.

With crouton, and now native linux support, absolutely

Have a Pixel book and been using the new GNU/Linux support and supported everything thrown at it. Supports Docker, Wine, Eclipse, AS, and Steam.

The hardware of every chromebook I know is enough to run a terminal emulator and a browser. You can install a gnu/linux distribution on most x86 based chromebooks. Gnu/linux is arguably better suited for "serious" development, so I don't understand the premise in the question.

I have the latest MacBook pro and the latest Pixel book. They keyboard on the MacBook is passable. The keyboard on the Pixel book is garbage. That the Pixel book can fold into a tablet is pretty nice.

For me, the lackluster keyboard puts paid to the idea of developing on the Pixel book. However - as an interface to Google online services, it's great.

Interesting observation. Everyone who touched my Pixelbook had nothing but praise for keyboard. Especially those coming from a touchbar Macbook Pro. Most reviews I've liked the keyboard very much. The only weakness of the keyboard is the uneven backlight.

Judging by your questions it sounds like you want an adventure and excitement in your life. You will get it all with the chromebook. You will be able to do everything with it. At the same time you will encounter issues that others havent yet. You will be on your own to solve them due to the low popularity of Chromebooks.

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