More lessons learned working on a Chromebook

still so nice

Published November 20, 2017


The Pixelbook just feels exciting in my lap, so much lighter and zippier than my MacBookPro. The one that I can’t quite bring myself to upgrade. Lets continue down the path of setting up this machine as a dev environment and see how well we can make it work.

First I should recognize my indebtedness to Kenneth White, who wrote up a great guide to setting up a secure Chromebook environment. I’m less security focused than he is, and he goes really deep so check it out.

A quick recap

  1. Download termux from the Google Playstore
  2. apt get update
  3. pkg install termux-exec proot util-linux openssh
  4. termux-setup-storage
  5. termux-chroot
  6. mkdir -p /storage/emulated/0/Download/devbox/ssh
  7. ln -s /storage/emulated/0/Download/devbox /home/devbox

ssh-keygen -t rsa -b 4096 -C “”(Replace with your email for good sanity.) 9. cat /home/devbox/ssh/ >> /home/.ssh/authorized_keys (Use the newly created key to log in to the local termux box) 10. sshd 11. whoami to get your user name 12. ifconfig arc0 | awk '/inet /{print $2}' to get your up address 13. Install the Chrome Secure Shell chrome book app

  1. Open a new shell session. Enter in the username ip you found above. Set the port to 8022. Import the identity that you just created, the private key is in Downloads/devbox that you generated above.

Multiple windows

Having a lot of windows open is pretty key when developing. Termux’s interface is fine, but running Android apps in Chromeos isn’t totally fluid — it “works” for some definition of work, but needs a little help. Running the Secure Shell chromebook app is just a lot easier. Better copy and paste (which I do a lot) and it works with the window manager better. Once you have the app opened up, you can press cntr-alt-shift-N to get a new window. Then you can move them around to have a nice coding environment.

One nice thing about this is that Secure Shell is that it copies on select, but cntr-shift-v pastes into it.

This machine is fast

I’ve been resisting upgrading my 2015-era Macbook Pro, so I’m comparing an older top-of-the-line machine with a newer top-of-the-line machine, but this thing is a screamer. The hardware is more exciting than the new Macbooks, and being able to flip this to be a tablet, or into a tent which I’m sure will be great watching videos on an air plane. (A specific use case I know but right now I split my time on planes working or catching up on YouTube, so this is just about perfect for that.)

It requires a facility with Linux to navigate around, so the learning curve is a little funky. I’m going to keep playing around with this for a few more weeks and give you a report on how it goes overall.


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