My life as a developer, on ChromeOS

ChromeOS, not very popular Operating System, except for the education field. There are many false myths about this operating system, but the main question remains: can you work with ChromeOS? Yes, in my opinion, and in this article I will explain why I use ChromeOS and how I am “surviving” with this operating system.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Why someone should like ChromeOS? It’s a closed OS and all of its apps are browser-based, right? Veeeery wrong.

ChromeOS is indeed based on the Chrome browser and it’s a very fast operating system mainly because of this. Yes, it’s very fast when doing web browsing and, let’s be honest, our entertainment is 90% based on web browsing. I don’t use ChromeOS just for its velocity, I could have used a lot of Linux distros. And in fact, I did, since I tried Ubuntu, Debian, Arch, Fedora, EndeavourOS, but the comfort of use of ChromeOS is still unmatched in my opinion, for three main reasons.

Design

ChromeOS has a great design, out of the box. I just love the design of ChromeOS, minimal and material. And it’s ready as soon as you turn on your computer! No Polybar, no i3wm, no Desktop Environment to change. It’s already set up, and it’s beautiful.

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My ChromeOS desktop

Integration with the Google Environment

I’m a Google enthusiast. I have a Google Pixel, I have a WearOS smartwatch, I have Google Home, and ChromeOS is just the cherry on the cake. It’s great that I can simply have, for example, all my Google Drive files directly synchronized in the file explorer, or I can just call Google Assistant,
whatever I’m doing, by saying “Ok, Google!”. There is the Phone Hub also, and the Ambient Display, all great features for a PC Operating System.

Linux and Android support

Yes! I can run Android apps, downloading them directly from the Play Store or installing an APK, and Linux apps, with a subsystem based on Debian. So I can use apt, install deb files without any problem, and do whatever you can do with Debian (unfortunately Snap still doesn’t work). I can run without any problem Visual Studio Code, JetBrains IDEs, Discord, Slack, Telegram and so on.

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Programs in my computer

What do I do with my ChromeOS

Assuming that I currently use an i7, 8GB Thinkpad X1 Carbon and I’ve installed ChromeOS with Project Brunch, With ChromeOS I can do everything I need. Visual Studio Code works almost flawlessly, I can program in Golang, C/C++, React, Python (Tensorflow works without much problems), and I think that pretty much everything you can do with Debian is feasible with ChromeOS.

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Visual Studio Code with a Golang project

I can also play Android Games, with keyboard or even with a Bluetooth controller, and use Android Apps (for example, my Discord and Slack are Android apps because I found that the Android version was faster). I can even test APKs directly on my computer.

WARNING: Not all Android Apps works, they need to match your CPU architecture. For example, on my computer, some ARM only Android apps don’t works, since I have an i7. The same applies to Linux, but I think it’s obvious. You can’t make an x64 program work on a device with an ARM architecture (fortunately, Visual Studio Code is available for ARM devices now).

Tested Stadia too on ChromeOS, with my keyboard. Sometimes the lag was unsustainable, but I think it was because of my network, but most of time the gaming was sufficiently enjoyable (if you have a good internet connection, surely your experience with Stadia will be better than mine).

So, I’ve explained what was my experience with this Operating System.
I hope I’ve debunked some myths about ChromeOS and clarified the ideas of someone who was considering purchasing a device with ChromeOS.

This is one of my first articles, for any question or advice, just contact me at gianlutara@gmail.com!

Written by

17 years old, Italian Fullstack Developer and Maker. Google and Nintendo enthusiast.

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