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My adventures in turning a Pixelbook into a developer machine
With the Chromebook Linux beta, web development got a whole lot easier.
Today the FedEx man delivered my brand new Pixelbook. So much fun! I got this little tool to attempt to get off of the Mac platform without going full Linux distro. For the most part, I do web development and only need (1) a terminal, (2) an editor, preferably VS Code, and (3) a browser. Since Chrome OS deployed the new Linux beta, all these things are now possible with fewer install headaches than before. These are my adventures in trying to turn it into a dev machine.
Step 1: Give it a chance to update before panicking #
Don’t fret that the Linux beta option doesn’t show up in your settings. First, check to see which Chrome OS you are on.
- Click on the clock.
- Open Settings
- Click on the hamburger menu
- Select “About Chrome OS”
You should then see your current version and whether it is checking for updates. Version 70 was the latest stable for me, though the Linux beta came out in version 69. After updating, Chrome OS will require a restart.
Step 2: Turn on Linux #
Open your Settings again. Scroll down, and you will find a setting for the Linux beta:
After you turn on the flag, it will download and open a terminal!! 🤯🤯🤯
I like tools that make me faster, so I immediately attempted to install
oh-my-zsh, and that’s when I came across my next problem…
Step 3. WTF is the password in terminal? #
It’s a little unclear, but you can update it as follows:
- Switch to root with
$ sudo su
- It will prompt you twice for a new password. To exit, type
Boom! Now you can install and update things in your terminal.
Step 4. Oh My Zsh! #
I debated on adding this section, but this article really is about my adventures in setting up my machine, so here goes. Oh My Zsh is totally an easy cop-out I’ve used for setting up my terminal on every machine:
It gives me a custom terminal prompt that I like and Git aliases. You just need to install Zsh and then Oh My Zsh:
$ apt install zsh
$ sh -c "$(curl -fsSL https://raw.githubusercontent.com/robbyrussell/oh-my-zsh/master/tools/install.sh)"
This worked like a breeze once I knew my password. 🤦
Step 5. ️VS Code #
By now you should know that I like things that make my life easy. As I type these words, I have not yet attempted to install VS Code. I hope I don’t have to delete this section. Hold on while I Google some stuff…
Success! Okay, it looks like we might not have access to the file system for files downloaded using Chrome. So instead, we need to download the .deb installer using
curl and then install it:
$ curl -L https://go.microsoft.com/fwlink/\?LinkID\=760868 > code.deb
$ sudo apt-get install ./code.deb
For the final test, see if it runs:
$ code .
Thanks to this Reddit post for the VS Code installation clues. It suggests a few other libs that they had to install because of bugs, but I have not come across any bugs yet. I’ll update this post if I come across those bugs later.
Step 6. Installing Node and NPM via NVM #
I chose to install Node and NPM via Node Version Manager. Install via
$ curl -o- https://raw.githubusercontent.com/creationix/nvm/v0.33.11/install.sh | bash
Then, add these 3 lines to your .zshrc (or .bashrc):
[ -s "$NVM_DIR/nvm.sh" ] && \. "$NVM_DIR/nvm.sh"
[ -s "$NVM_DIR/bash_completion" ] && \. "$NVM_DIR/bash_completion"
Then, restart your terminal or type
source .zshrc or
source .bashrc to have it load the updated run commands.
Check that it’s working with
nvm -v, then you can install Node with
nvm install node for the latest release of Node (and NPM).
Special thanks to Yulan Lin for all her help with setting up my Pixelbook!
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Apple fixed the keyboards; we’re back on the band wagon
Was this a pet project? Or are you using this as your full-time dev machine?
I got it as a backup machine. It's still overall easier to use a MBP, but it's great for when the keyboard breaks 😂
I don't think there was a specific issue no. Just a general query!
Apple fixed the keyboards; we’re back on the band wagon source
Was this a pet project? Or are you using this as your full-time dev machine? source
I got it as a backup machine. It's still overall easier to use a MBP, but it's great for when the keyboard breaks 😂 source
I don't think there was a specific issue no. Just a general query! source