⟅ About ⟆ Leon van Kammen micro devtrepeneur / tech integration ninja from Europe

Chromebook survival guide for linux nodejs developers

Hi! In this post I'm discussing my experiences with the acer chromebook 14 as a developer.

Why did i move to chromebook?

Well, basically curiosity, and my quest for:

But most importantly:

I googled/youtubed people who were running dockers and ubuntu in a chroot, so i figured there’s plenty room for desktop apps if needed.

This took me 5 mins after I got my chromebook:

Ok..it wasn’t exactly 5 minutes ;)

Boom! I was amazed to see that I could continue working on my projects already!

After some days:

What did i tweak after receiving my acer chromebook 14?

What i love so far

What I tried/used to use, but abandoned

What Why
chromebrew Eventhough it worked pretty well, I prefer crouton since it runs in it’s own directory, rather than trying to mix software into Google’s local OS.
tmux I had some copy/paste issues, so I went for a lean-and-mean crosh-approach: CTRL-ALT-T (opens terminaltab) + fullscreen-button = PERFECT. CTRL-1..9 allows me to switch terminals
linux desktop applications eventhough LXDE/XFCE/KDE etc was easy to install using crouton, i didn’t find myself needing it. In some rare cases i still can run GIMP or blender, but the usual image-editing tasks (rotate/crop/resize) can be done using imageviewer of chromeos’s filemanager. I found jwm (Joe’s windowmanager) a far better choice compared to LXDE/XFCE/KDE etc, since i don’t need a second full-fledged windowmanager next to the awesome Chromeos.

What I didn’t try yet

running docker using RKT


Im using these alias in my ~/.bashrc for crosh:

alias ubuntu="sudo enter-chroot"
alias startx="sudo enter-chroot xinit"
alias enable_playstore="sudo bash ~/Downloads/enable_playstore"
# cpu-friendly cp for big files
alias cp="bash ~/Downloads/cp.sh"

Vim tweaks

Some chrome-shortcuts (Ctrl-w) conflicted with my VIM settings. Therefore i made these changes to ~/vim/vimrc, to make things comfortable:

	" chromebook fix: crouton/ubuntu hints vim to use latin
	set encoding=utf8

	" chromebook: switch windows with alt-arrowkeys instead of ctrl-w
	nmap \ <C-w>w
	nmap \| :tabnew:<CR> 
	nmap [ :tabp<CR>
	nmap ] :tabn<CR>

	" save on ctrl-s
	noremap <silent> <C-S>          :update<CR>
	vnoremap <silent> <C-S>         <C-C>:update<CR>
	inoremap <silent> <C-S>         <C-O>:update<CR>

ctrl-w (switch buffer) became a dangerous shortcut, it abruptly closes the chrome tab including terminal and vim :D

Tweak for transferring big files (prevents cpu hogs)

Sometimes I download movies from streaming moviesites (for travelling/offline purposes etc). Somehow using cp caused cpu spikes (MMC storage related?), but i solved that with this script:

# makes transferring big files cpu-friendly on chromebook
# usage:
#   put this script into ~/Downloads/cp.sh and put this in your ~/.bashrc :
#     alias cp='bash ~/Downloads/cp.sh'
[[ ! -n $1 ]] && { /bin/cp; exit 0; } 
FILESIZE=$(( $( stat -c '%s' "$1" ) / 1024 / 1024 ))
if [[ $FILESIZE -lt 50 ]]; then 
  /bin/cp "$@"
  nice -n 20 ionice -c 3 /bin/cp "$@"

Voila, this will automatically apply nice and ionice to the cp command (when files are bigger than 50MB). You could apply the same technique to other cpu-heavy commands.

HINT: also do this in your crouton chroots

Middleclick paste for xterm on chromebook crouton X11 chroot

I rewired ‘shift-backspace’ to paste in xterm, by putting this script into middleclick.sh:

xdotool mousedown --clearmodifiers 2
xdotool mouseup 2
xdotool keyup alt
xdotool keyup ctrl
xdotool keyup shift

And invoking it using this .xbindkeysrc file in my homedir:

    Shift + BackSpace 

Running android apps

I was able to get android apps quickly up and running by putting this script in Downloads/enable_playstore.sh:

if [[ $(whoami) == "root" ]]; then 
  #echo '--enable-arc' > /usr/local/chrome_dev.conf
  echo '--arc-availability=officially-supported' > /usr/local/chrome_dev.conf
  mount -o bind /usr/local/chrome_dev.conf /etc/chrome_dev.conf
  echo now press ctrl-shift-qq and the playstore should show up
  echo "must be root"

I didn’t make this a permanent change, as i would like the OS to keep receiving its updates. Also, most applications i use on android, also have a web- or chrome app variant (skype etc).

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