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 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).