My goal was to find a lightweight laptop for communication, written content creation, and web development. The promise of installing Android Apps, access to Linux, and the fun of trying something new was too much to pass up on. I ended up with a Google Pixelbook; it’s gorgeous and it’s living up to the hype, albeit after some bumps and bruises. I wanted to share my experiences and hopefully you can avoid some of the tribulations I endured.

In this entry I go through the setup for Android apps and Linux support. The Pixelbook comes ready to support both; however, as I found out there are some potholes that you may not have realized.

Enabling Android Apps

The initial setup is a super simple process that begins with connecting to WiFi and has me inside a Chrome browser three minutes later. I pressed the Pixelbook’s search key—I don’t miss Caps Lock at all—and tried to bring up the Play Store, but it was nowhere to be found.

Unbeknownst to me, despite a month of research, G Suite accounts and Google accounts are two very different things, the former not having access to the Play Store and Google Assistant right out of the box. What’s worse, when I went to the Settings app the Google Play Store setting was staring right at me with the ‘Turn On’ button greyed out. Clicking on the Learn More link basically told me that it should work and if it doesn’t it won’t.

Turns out I had to allow Android applications to be installed on Chrome devices as well as whitelist the apps I wanted to install. If you setup your Pixelbook with a G Suite account like I did, follow Alex Bass’s tutorial on enabling both the Play Store and Google Assistant.

Linux Setup

This was the exciting one for me. Linux support meant I could develop locally without having to SSH into my Digital Ocean droplets or use a cloud-based IDE like Cloud9. Honestly this process was a breeze, but there’s still a few small lessons learned to share.

To start things off all you need to do is go to the Settings app, scroll down and enable Linux apps which will open an install window. The installation does take a few minutes, I’m kind of used to things like this zipping by in a flash. Once the install finishes a terminal window will automatically open. That’s it!

It may not be necessary but I did a quick update and upgrade with the following commands

sudo apt update -y
sudo apt upgrade -y

I found myself preferring apt over apt-get simply for the progress bar. The Pixelbook isn’t slow by any means but things do take a few seconds and I’ve found the aesthetic of apt to be soothing.

The next lesson learned is that nano, a simple text editor, is not installed by default so let’s install it.

sudo apt install nano -y

For all you vim supporters out there be cool we can coexist. Also rejoice because it’s readily available and doesn’t need an installation.

If you’re planning on doing any local development with a Chromebook then you’ll need a good editor. I took the opportunity to try out Microsoft’s Visual Studio Code, but mainstays Atom and SublimeText are able to be installed as well.

To start, go to the VS Code download page and choose the .deb download. Once downloaded, open the Files app and move it from the Downloads to Linux Files folder. Take the opportunity to copy the file’s name because you’ll need to paste it soon.

Next, in the Terminal window, type the below command and replace <filename> with your copied text.

sudo dpkg -i <filename>.deb

Don’t worry about the warnings and error messages, that’s what the next command is for.

sudo apt install -f

After the install is complete you’ll be able to open VS Code through the search button or by typing code in Terminal. If you haven’t already, let’s clean up and delete the .deb file from both the Downloads and Linux Files folders.

I went ahead and installed the following VS Code extensions—this should give you a taste of what’s to come in my upcoming diary entries.

  • One Dark Pro
  • Beautify
  • Debugger for Chrome
  • Vetur

What are your favorite VS Code extensions? How were the first 24 hours on your Pixelbook? I’m loving the ecosystem and now I’ve finished my first blog post from it. I’m out!