The short answer is yes, a Chromebook can be great for coding.
I wasn’t sure how I’d get on having previously only used Windows laptops (Dell XPS 12 & 13), I didn’t know how well my favorite tools/IDE’s would run or if they would run at all.
After almost a year I’ve no regrets and love using my Chromebook to code with – it’s brilliant!
The one I picked was a Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i 13.3″ 2 in 1 Chromebook, with a 256 GB SSD and 8 GB Ram. At the time it cost £400 (early 2022).
Programming on the Chromebook
I’ve mostly been working with PHP using the following tools:
PHP Storm (IDE from Jetbrains)
PHP Storm has a bit of a reputation for being a little slow starting up especially on larger projects but on my Chromebook I’ve not had a problem and it’s always felt quick and snappy.
The apps I’ve been working on are developed (and mostly deployed) inside Docker containers. There are containers for things like a database (normally MySQL), Redis, Nginx an App container. The Chromebook has support for Linux making it easy to open up a terminal you’re good to install your favorite Linux apps.
Programming using Chrome OS
This is the thing I thought I’d struggle with the most, but everything I need to do is easy to access and quick to load. I use Google for my business emails, and calendar which works out well, I can even access my Gmail offline to check older emails.
If I don’t have WiFi it takes just a click (or maybe two) to connect to my Android phone without the need to go into the phone and turn on a hotspot manually.
I haven’t coded in many other languages on the Chromebook but for doing what I’ve described above it’s been awesome! It was a lot cheaper than my previous laptops but it’s the perfect small laptop that I love working on and can travel with. It has great battery life and while I’m away lets me watch tv/films from my Plex server too.