Earlier this year, my mother-in-law-J's hand-me-down MacBook kicked the bucket. To reduce complexity and "support" phone time, my wife convinced me to buy her a Chromebook. I still worry about not being able to help out (and I'm a sucker for gadgets), so I blew the net savings from the Chromebook gift in comparison to the potential MacBook purchase on a second Chromebook.
There are two stories here, one short and one developing.... The short story is that since for most people a Chromebook only runs a browser, there's really no support beyond figuring out web services. We've yet to receive a cry for help from J. To increase n to 2, we gave mother-in-law-L a Chromebook for Christmas 5ish years ago.... and I wouldn't know she used it ever, except that she says that she does and I occasionally see it on the kitchen island.
The longer story is what I should do with the extra Chromebook....
I dragged my feet on buying Chromebooks until BestBuy had a sale. Google had a sales rep at BestBuy, and from his enthusiasm, I think I might have been his only customer ever. I don't think he believed that I was going to buy a pair, even, as he took my photo and walked me to the cashier. In the end, I bought two Samsung Chromebook Pros.
The display is beautiful, generating guilt never to use the touch screen; there's a built in stylus that I've only used to demo Adobe Sketch; the keyboard has all the programming bracket keys, but oddly spaced; the case is a nice compromise between cheap, sturdy, and thin; the battery life lets me forget about the machine for a few days.
Google says that you can run Android apps on ChromeOS, but that might be stretching the truth a little. ChromeOS emulates Android for each app. Apps appear on a phone-sized rectangle, with a buggy option to resize to the entire screen. The file access seems to be limited to files under the app's install directory, so text-editor output might not be useful and there's no access to the SD-card from Android, presenting a hurdle for playing music stored locally.
I tried without success to get several Android music players to work. To make matters more confusing, VLC has two versions that appear identical in the application tray -- one for Android and one for ChromeOS. The former is buggy and freezes. The latter is a Chrome app.... which Google won't support outside ChromeOS, so I worry VLC's future. Google Play Music no longer lets you play music from an SD card. In the end, I found that Remo works reliably, but exposes a track ordering and song selection identical to the filesystem.
Accessing a Server
The easiest way to get my code fix via ChromeOS is just to install an ssh Chrome extension and connect to my server. There are several similar extensions. I just chose the one recommended from the crosh shell. Programming via an ssh connection reminds me of VT-100 and modem wails in college, but out of the box I got the same syntax highlighting from vim, YouCompleteMe, and npx. mdv piped into less -R pretty prints markdown well enough.
For proof of concept that one could write something using only a ChromeBook, I used Text to write a simple hello-world Chrome Extension from Google's tutorial. Presumably one could work in the emulated Android environment with Termux, suggested on Medium....