Notebook to learn Elixir/Phoenix?

Hello,

Moderators: Didn’t find any category that fits, so please change if you like.

I am looking for recommendations for the following situation:
I already have a notebook (windows), but it’s more a replacement for a personal computer. When the weather is warm enough, I rather want to sit in the garden learning Elixir and Phoenix. But my notebook is cumbersome to carry it outside and I think it would be better to use linux for development.

Can you recommend a laptop that run linux for my purpose? The cheaper, the better. (I am not sure if I could code in Elixir on a Chromebook).

2 Likes

With WSL you get a Linux-like environment in Windows, so if you don’t mind carrying it around that would be viable. My main workstation runs Windows where I spend 99% of my time in WSL.

You could also get a Chromebook and make minor modifications to it so that you can run native Linux on it. That’s what I did with a $300 Chromebook a few years ago. It runs GalliumOS which is a Chromebook optimized version of xubuntu.

It’s like getting a 13" laptop with a 1080p IPS panel, 4GB of a RAM and an SSD for a reasonable price. It weighs under 3 pounds too and has a very good keyboard. I use it often for development and writing on the go. I wrote a step by step guide on how to do it at: https://nickjanetakis.com/blog/transform-a-toshiba-chromebook-cb35-into-a-linux-development-environment-with-galliumos

1 Like

This is very interesting to me since you’re a big Docker user. I’ve found Docker to be a major pain to get running on Windows (or at least Home version since their app only supports Pro/Enterprise/Edu versions with Hyper-V).

Have you found a way to get it work from WSL or are you doing something like running a whole separate VM for docker?

Yes and no.

I do run Windows 10 Pro which makes installing and using Docker great on Windows with Docker for Windows. Everything is really fast and quite stable.

I then configured WSL to connect to Docker for Windows, so from my point of view in WSL I’m just running normal docker and docker-compose commands and they work as you would expect. Volumes included.

I wrote about that experience at: https://nickjanetakis.com/blog/setting-up-docker-for-windows-and-wsl-to-work-flawlessly

Now, if you don’t have Windows 10 Pro, you can still pull it off if you roll your own VM (I recommend vmware over virtualbox because the folder syncing is much faster and less buggy).

You would roll your own VM and then make sure drive sharing is set up, etc… And then configuring WSL to connect to that is pretty much the same as connecting to Docker for Windows. I did drop a link in the above post to another post that goes over some of that (not in full detail, but it shows how to configure a VM to allow remote Docker connections to it).

Also as a side note, I have a bunch of assorted “development environment” posts that are focused on using and configuring WSL. Includes a bunch of posts / videos on Vim, tmux, getting clipboard sharing to work and even running graphical apps in WSL using an x-server in Windows. Those are all at: https://nickjanetakis.com/blog/tag/dev-environment-tips-tricks-and-tutorials

In the future WSL v2 might also be a good solution for Windows Home, since apparently you can run Docker through it without needing the full Hyper-V environment. It still uses Hyper-V but I think it only uses a sub-set of functionality that runs on Windows Home. I don’t know all of the details, since it’s not all officially released yet.

1 Like

In addition to what @nickjanetakis wrote…

… the Elixir wiki has a page dedicated to Windows, in which a lot of details about installing WSL can be found.

3 Likes

I still love my 11" MacBook Air - it’s tiny and highly portable, and I use it as my main computer (just plug it into a monitor with bluetooth keyboard and trackpad when at my desk).

You might also find this poll interesting:

:003:

1 Like

Thanks to all so far.

I definitely want to learn a new OS. I know Windows and MacOS, I seldom used Linux and never chromeOS. So I will not be a MacBook or a windows machine.

I got a second hand Thinkpad X220 a year or so ago. Cheap as chips and easily the best keyboard on any laptop I’ve used. I put an SSD in and it runs latest Ubuntu and the full Elixir / Phoenix stack just fine. The only downer is battery life isn’t great. I do most of my paid work on either MacBook Air or Windoze laptop. The X220 is for tinkering. The excuse is making sure code builds cross platform, but really I just love the keyboard and the general feel of something built in the days where robustness trumped thinness.

Thinkpads can usually be obtained used for cheap (e.g. when companies renew their fleet and sell the old ones) and typically have excellent Linux support. If that’s something you’d consider doing, take a look at https://www.truefla.me/free-stuff/used-thinkpad-buyers-guide (although note that price in EU tend to be higher than the US ones in the guide).

1 Like