I live on a Windows campus. I came from a Mac campus, and I really wanted a Mac, but I was unable to get one. Rather than get a Windows machine, I opted for a Linux machine. I am not really a member of the Linux community (I don’t have the skills to belong), but I have been really happy with my machine. The main drawback is that it is not portable; there are many times that I wish I had a laptop.

In fact, portability actually makes me more productive. I work at a very social campus (both students and faculty), which is nice exactly up until the point where you need to get a lot of work done. If I had a laptop, I could leave my office to work at a place where no one can find me.

I briefly considered last year switching from my Linux machine to a Windows laptop. This would be portable, and it would also make it easier to create screencasts. However, I am loathe to give up the dual monitors that come with my Linux machine, which seem to triple my production.

I would consider buying a MacBook, but I do not have a lot of money available to me. So, instead, I bought a Chromebook. It was used, it was $160, and does 95% of what I want a computer to do (even though it is basically just a web browser). In order to save money, I opted for an old Samsung from Amazon Marketplace, rather than the newest version.

I am very happy with my purchase so far. The reason for this—and I wouldn’t have bought a Chromebook if this hadn’t happened—is that William Stein and friend created a ridiculously useful service that allows me to create \LaTeX documents online, do all of my calculations online, and gives me a fully functional shell with which I can ssh into my work computer. Without Sage Math Cloud, I would not have gotten a Chromebook. With it, I get all of the benefits of dual monitors and portability for only $160.

(I have received nothing from Google, Samsung, or the Sage Project for writing this post).

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5 Responses to “Chromebook!”

  1. wstein389 Says:

    Thanks for the post! – please let me know if you have an issues with, or anything in particular that you want to me to bump in priority to optimize (

    • bretbenesh Says:

      Hi William,

      Any time you create something as cool as Sage Math Cloud, you can expect a post from me in return. It is almost literally the least I can do.

      And thanks for the offer to help—you have already been ridiculously responsive to my requests. Thanks for that, too!

  2. Maurice Says:

    It’s actually pretty easy to get a linux laptop: you can either
    purchase one (with some mark-up) from a company like
    Emperor Linux. (I’ve purchased two and have been quite
    happy with their installations of linux.)

    Alternatively, you could
    just install linux on almost any laptop you can buy! You can
    either get a friend to help you, or just do it yourself: typically,
    older laptops have all the necessary drivers available via
    google and things are easy. For super-new laptops, things
    get more complicated.

    Either way, you should assume that you can install linux
    on most any laptop.

    • bretbenesh Says:

      Hi Maurice,

      Thanks for the tip. You have forced my hand in admitting this, but: the reason why I did not go for a Linux laptop was cost and my lack of knowledge about Linux. I only have limited funds, and I don’t want to spend much on a computer. I also have limited knowledge of Linux, and it seems like it would be at least a little time-consuming to learn to install Linux on an old laptop. I would absolutely love to take the time to learn how to do this, but I am going to have to wait until my kids get older before I will have enough time to do this.

      But I think that you have the better solution for someone who has more money/is less lazy than I am.


  3. Chromebooks, Videos, and Group Quizzes | Solvable by Radicals Says:

    […] recently got a Chromebook. This has saved me a ton of time already. I bring it to my classes that feature student […]

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