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Ask HN: Google Chromebook - anybody using it for web development?
32 points by rtdp on June 8, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 24 comments
I would like to know the experience if anybody has started using google chromebook for web development full time(as primary development machine not just while mobile).

It might be with online IDEs or a rented EC2 instance and chrombook as terminal to access it. Please share your configuration for such.

Thanks !

I am doing web development mostly from a chromebook.

How: Previously I used the ssh found in crosh (ALT+SHIFT+T > ssh ...) but the crosh ssh freezes if you lose your connection. The crosh will freeze for ~5 minutes before you can close your now worthless terminal tab. This happens a lot if you are on 3G and makes ssh impossible to use. My wireless cuts out enough to make this too frustrating to use.

Now I use secure shell from Google (https://chrome.google.com/webstore/search/secure%20shell). This app is fantastic. It is very fast and you can kill it whenever you please.

I have a rented linode which I ssh into and hack away in vim. Best development experience I have had.

I mostly use my chromebook at home not mobile. My experience is that since I am happy in the terminal I don't need a full powered PC for development. The chromebook is perfect for snatching an hour here and an hour there for development, since I have a day job and a family. My 17" quad-core laptop gets very little use these days.

I love the keyboard on my chromebook, although I miss the 'end' key almost every day.

Problems: I only test my web-app regularly in chrome. So I tend to build up safari and firefox css bugs over time and have to fix them in lumps.

Have you tried using Browserstack (http://browserstack.com) to test different browsers directly from a browser tab? It's been very helpful to me, and the range of the browsers that they offer is breathtaking (they offer IE, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, iOS, Android, Opera Mini, pretty much almost everything in both mobile and desktop platform.)

Thanks for the tip. I'll be trying that out tonight.

As an honourable mention, while trying out various ssh terminals for my chromebook I did try this


That is a nifty and fun ssh client, but my poor chromebook struggled to render fast enough. Quite cool for a slightly more powerful PC though.

Can you feel the ssh key press delay? It should be noticable on 3G. Or is there something between you and vim that makes it asynchronous? That's my biggest question mark since I don't have super-fast WiFi everywhere I go, and you mention 3G too.

The majority of the time I use wifi. I haven't used 3G for a while. I found it to be flaky and stop/start all the time. It was the freezing of crosh ssh that was my biggest problem.

If I was expecting to be away from wifi I would probably not use a chromebook for development. The pain is too high, but with a good internet connection it is great.

thanks for reply and excited to know !!

So, development works pretty well if you have a good wifi connection.

Its just matter that we need to have good ssh client, where vim will work asyn and will push only for saves. I guess this way, development will be good in bit bad net-connections as well.

A better ssh client could do wonders. This little thing could be just what the doctor ordered.


Unfortunately for a mobile ssh client it doesn't appear to be available for any mobile OSes (yet). I would be delighted to see a nacl version of this turn up for chrome. An android client is on the horizon.

I don't have a chromebook but on my chromeos I can press ctrl-alt<F1> to get to a command line. From this I can use the normal ssh. To get back I can press ctrl-altF7. Using this I can use several different TTY to get a couple different ssh connections going. You could also install screen on the remote host so that the session stays live even if the connect drops.

My chromebook doesn't have an F1 key (although I read somewhere that the F* keys are the special function keys aross the top of the keyboard). I will see if I can reproduce that behaviour tonight.

Confirmed. I can access the terminals via the F* keys, which are just the fancy keys across the top of the keyboard. Cheers.

and yes, I hope chromebook wont have a problem working with external mechanical keyboards, right?

I asked friend who bought Chromebook same question. He is also a web developer (Mainly frontend). He said it definitely isn't like normal PC but there are still good alternatives. He mentioned http://shiftedit.net/. I would paste all e-mails but unfortunately they are slovenian. If you have any specific question just ask.

Does chromebook have a shell where i can ssh to my servers ? I mean, i have seen ssh apps for chorme browser and those work with chromebook, but its still browser.

I just need a browser- which chromebook has and a shell - just two things i need for everyday development.

Pressing Ctrl-Alt-T drops you into a limited shell called Crosh, which supports SSH connections. Google also has a native client SSH implementation available here, the advantage being you can load many of them into different tabs: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/pnhechapfaindjhomp...

crosh is what i was looking for.. awesome !! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Chrome_OS#Shell_access

Yes. I'm not sure about normal mode but in developer mode there's a shell with SSH you can use. The shell can also run in a browser tab, so you can switch between tabs. In the new window manager you could even have different terminals open side-by-side.

this one was posted on HN https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/pnhechapfaindjhomp...

I also found this two things that might be useful to you: http://ssh-chrome.sourceforge.net/ http://shiftedit.net/

Not specifically a Chromebook thing but I've also used ShiftEdit quite happily for a few web projects. There's also Cloud9 which looks good.

Check out Ymacs[1], which is an Emacs clone written in JavaScript. If you're already familiar with Emacs, it could be a decent substitute. If you're not familiar with Emacs, now is a good time to learn and Ymacs is also good because (I think) it's easy to customize in JavaScript.

[1]: http://www.ymacs.org/

Just something to consider as far as editors go.

I just use the new "Secure Shell Dev-channel" linked here: https://groups.google.com/a/chromium.org/forum/?fromgroups#!...

From there I can ssh out to one of my dev servers and hack away. It is fast, has 256 color support, and ssh key support. Everything I need.

I have one and sometimes I program personal projects on it in Cloud9. (c9.io) I think it's pretty cool, but my actual work requires me to run eclipse and photoshop. Plus it isn't as powerful as I'd like for full-time use. But I'm excited to see where they go.

You should also check out Cloud IDE (http://cloud-ide.com). It supports a few different languages, integrates with Git, and lets you deploy to different PaaS.

Development Tools category in the Chrome store: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/category/app/11-web-devel...

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