Laptop suggestions for coders?

Hi all,

Just wanted to say I’ve been working through the curriculum in my spare time over the past 3 months and although I’m finding the Rails section very frustrating to get down, I am immensely grateful for the work that’s gone into this project and the community on the Discord.

I am currently looking at going digital nomad, and since I normally code on my Windows/Linux dual-boot desktop, I am trying to find a good laptop that I can use for coding. I think my budget is between $500-$1,000, but I can be flexible. I am open to trying Mac if it is worth the price tag, but I was planning on just installing Linux on a Windows laptop.

One question though. The lessons make it sound like you can only code on Linux or Mac OS, but this TechRadar list features an Asus Chromebook as #8 for best coding laptops. This is the laptop I currently have, but I’m not sure how you could do any back-end coding considering Chrome OS’s functionality. Could anyone explain this to me?

Anyway, looking forward to suggestions. Would be great if any experienced coders who work remotely can weigh in on how they do their setup. Thanks

N.B. - I saw this was posted before, but the last detailed post was in 2018, so I wanted to see what new options are out there.

Really the main issue with Chromebooks is whether or not they have access to a terminal and UNIX-like OS. I’m not sure how dual-booting would work on a Chromebook as I’ve never looked at it, but that’s one thing you should consider.

There are some languages you could use to code on a chromebook but ruby and rails just don’t play nice with it in my experience.

If you’re looking for a laptop then for $1,000 max you could get a decent unit. The key consideration will be how much you plan to travel with it. If you are going to be on the move a lot then you won’t want a bulky laptop with poor battery life. For me personally I wouldn’t consider anything larger than a 14" screen if I planned to carry it around.

The Dell XPS or HP Spectre x360 are really nice but I’m not sure what the price range is in the states.

Definitely try and get to a store to view them though so you can see how you get on with the screen size and keyboard.

Yeah that’s what it seems to me. From what I can gather the assumption is you would exclusively use cloud IDEs with Chrome OS which I’m not sure about. Also traveling internationally, Wi-Fi isn’t completely reliable too.

I’ll potentially be moving somewhere once in the summer then again for the fall. Just a matter of bringing it from my apartment to a workspace/library/coffeeshop.

I’ll check out those laptops, thanks. Do you dual-boot with those or is it more common to code with Windows than the Ruby curriculum lets on?

No, I dual boot.

Windows does now have wsl which lets you use a linux like environment to code but I wouldn’t recommend it because you can’t run any graphical applications from the linux environment which will cause some headaches.

wsl2 is coming out this year which is meant to be much improved which may finally make windows a viable option. You can get it now by enrolling in the developer program for windows but that means installing all of their latest updates before they’ve been properly tested so I wouldn’t recommend that unless it isn’t your main laptop.

So for now I’d go with a dual boot option and assess again when wsl2 is out.

I’d recommend a Macbook. I made the change when I went back to school for computer science and I never looked back. When I started looking into Rails, I tried to get it working on a Windows at one point but the process was just so frustrating, even with wsl.

As a beginner, I wanted to minimize any blockers that would have otherwise discouraged me from learning. This is critical. There’s a larger community out there for troubleshooting issues with your Rails-related code if you’re on a unix-like system. Things just “work” overall. It’s a much more pleasant experience when you’re learning, which will drive your momentum to keep on learning!