While there is the Neutron Drive IDE Web App for Programming in Chrome OS, anyone who wants to learn how to Program in any or all the Languages that come as part of Visual Studio, it’s probably best to learn how to Program using Visual Studio since it’s the Industry Standard IDE for Programming.
But Visual Studio is expensive!!!! I hear you cry, well that may be true for the Professional & Ultimate Editions of Visual Studio which have been part of the Visual Studio line since 2005. visual Studio Express 2013 is composed of 3 different Editions (Visual Studio Express Web for Developing Web Applications, Visual Studio Express Windows for Developing Windows 8+ Modern UI Apps & Visual Studio Express Windows Desktop for Developing Traditional Windows Programs that run on all versions of Windows) There is also an Express Edition of the server-side Version Control Team Foundation Server that also runs on Client Machines thanks to Windows built-in Web Server IIS. These Express Editions including Team Foundation Server are free to Download & use on as many Windows Desktops or Laptops as you like, Visual Studio 2013 only runs on Windows 8/8.1 so if you’re running Windows 7 then you will need Visual Studio 2012. Visual Studio Express takes all the complexity out of Visual Studio Professional or Ultimate.
The only way to Program using Visual Studio on Chrome OS requires a Windows Computer with Visual Studio installed along with the Chrome Web Browser & the Chrome Remote Desktop extension installed and the Chrome Remote Desktop installed on your Chrome OS computer. See my last Article for more on Chrome Remote Desktop.
Visual Studio runs just as smooth as if you were using it directly on your Windows computer over Chrome Remote Desktop when on a WiFi Network but it runs slightly slower when using a Mobile data connection, but this might show that there is some form of compression going on that’s not as noticeable when on WiFi.
Programming in Visual Studio while using Chrome OS gives you all the benefits of Chrome OS. This is true for any Programmer who wants to Program while away from home or the office, as they don’t have to take a heavy Laptop.
With Chromebooks being light and inexpensive compared to Windows Laptops, & Windows Ultrabooks of a comparable size and Wight being the same price if not more expensive than a regular Windows Laptop then a Chromebook makes the excellent companion for a programmer especially when using Chrome Remote Desktop means that a Programmer doesn’t have to take their expensive Laptop on the road with them to Program.
Visual Studio Express is the perfect IDE for any novice Programmer as it allows you to install the correct tools for what you want to create.
It’s even possible to install all three of the Visual Studio Express Editions if you require all three. If you’re a student and lucky enough to be able to get a Student MSDN Subscription then I’d suggest getting one of the none Express Editions of Visual Studio from there. (intact I’d recommend that any student that is able to get a Student MSDN Subscription gets all the downloads that they’re entitled to while they can).
I chose Microsoft Visual Studio Express Windows Desktop Edition because I’m currently interested in creating traditional Windows Desktop Programs not the Windows 8 Modern Apps or Web Apps. Once I’ve learnt how to write Programs in all the different Languages available in the Windows Desktop Edition I’ll move on to the Windows Edition before finally going on to the Web Edition.
I’ve always wanted to learn how to Program since Visual Studio Express originally came out in 2005 so learning to Program for the Windows Desktop was the obvious first step to take in the learning process for me, but for many of you that are reading this and are maybe thinking about learning to Program then the Visual Studio Web or Windows IDE’s might be more of what you’re into for your first step into Programming. (The downside to Programming for Windows & not the Windows Desktop is that you need to pay for a Developer Subscription to distribute your apps on the Windows Store, where as Windows Desktop Programs can be easily distributed through Source Forge, Dropbox, Box, OneDrive & Copy meaning that you can get your Programs out there with little or no cost involved.)
I’ll do a follow-up Article at some point in the future.
While many people call Chromebooks not real Laptops because you can’t run programs like Visual Studio or Office on them and the fact that some of the Chrome OS apps that do the same thing are a little lacking in features compared to their Windows, Mac OS X or Linux equivalents.
Google does offer a lightweight and convenient solution for anyone who needs to use Windows, Mac OS X or Linux programs in the form of Chrome Remote Desktop, Chrome Remote Desktop allows you to keep using your Chromebook, Chromebox or Chromebase while being logged into a different OS remotely. This is handy if you need to use a particular program doesn’t have a Chrome OS equivalent.
I use Chrome Remote Desktop to log into my Windows 8.1 Pro Laptop to keep it up-to-date as well as use programs like Visual Studio & PhotoShop. I can see Chrome Remote Desktop being a very useful app for College students, as they can keep their heavy Windows Laptop or MacBook Pro at home or in their dorm room and use a Chromebook at lectures and still be able to use programs like Visual Studio e.t.c. without having to worry about carrying a heavy Laptop all day along with their textbooks e.t.c.
Chrome Remote Desktop is really handy for me as I prefer the Keyboard on my Acer Chromebook to the Keyboard on my Toshiba Windows Laptop, so Chrome Remote Desktop allows me to Code in Visual Studio while still using my preferred Keyboard.
Chrome Remote Desktop has another handy little feature that is Remote Assistance that allows a Desktop can be shared to allow for someone to help with troubleshooting while not being sat in-front of the computer that needs troubleshooting, but this is beyond the scope of this Article as it’s not really a feature that many people will use compared to the Remote Desktop feature.
Since starting this experiment I’ve switched to the Google Chrome Canary channel, the builds in the Canary channel are seriously cutting edge and can be considered an Alpha build, if you want something more stable than thee Canary channel then a full list of all the channels from Canary up to Stable can be found here.
To make Windows 7 look more like Chrome OS while using a Canary build of Chrome you need to edit the hidden Chrome flags, editing the Chrome flags is as simple as enabling or disabling different options. Chrome flags enable experimental features so can break Chrome, especially when you combine them with using a Canary Build of Chrome.
The flag that needs enabling is:
Once set you’ll have a drop down menu just to the left of the Window buttons o the right hand side of the screen. Login to your Google account and your name appears in on the menu and you get a few other options when you open the menu
When you select lock it locks your open Chrome session and brings up a Chrome OS style login screen.
This is a cool feature to have especially in a Coffee shop as you can lock your browser while you go for a refill, but other than that it’s purely a cosmetic feature for anyone trying to get a Chrome OS style going on as the underlying Windows 7 Desktop is still unlocked.
If you use Windows 8/8.1 you can easily have the Chrome OS feel just by using the Google Chrome Beta Channel version of Chrome as in Modern UI mode Chrome mimics the Chrome OS Desktop.
Since my last Article in this series I’ve had to go back to using Windows since the only Windows Machine in the house has died I needed to go back to Windows 7 Ultimate for compatibility reasons with some external hardware that the wife needs to use that A) only works under Windows & B) only works with Internet Explorer for Windows 7.
I’ve enjoyed bringing you this series but for the foreseeable future I’ll be using Windows, so any Articles that I was planning that are Linux related have now been put on hold until I can ether get an OS Free Laptop to put Ubuntu back on or a Windows 8 Laptop that I can stick Ubuntu Linux on in place of Windows 8.
One month on from my migration from Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Centre to Ubuntu, and I’m really glad that I did. I’ve become far more productive thanks to the clean and tidy design of the Unity Desktop compared to when I was using Windows 8.1 Pro.
The clean and tidy Unity Desktop is a lot more productive, user friendly & professional looking than the Windows 8.1 Desktop that looks like it’s been designed for a child’s tablet. The Windows 8.1 Desktop is less user friendly than the old Windows 7 Desktop which makes it less productive as the Start Screen isn’t useful at all even on a table.
Microsoft could have quite easily made the Windows 7 UI touch friendly, just make the icons e.t.c bigger. If Canonical can make the ARM version of Ubuntu work fine on tablets then Microsoft with all their money and Developing muscle could have made Windows 8 a tablet friendly version of Windows 7 while also making it work perfectly fine on standard Computers, Laptops & Netbooks.
A Windows 8 License is expensive meaning that it’s expensive to upgrade every Computer in your home to Windows 8. Also if you want to do a full Windows Home Network it’ll set you back a small fortune for a Single Windows Server License.
The only good points to Windows 8 is that it supports Professional & Business Software from Microsoft, Adobe and others along with a vast catalogue of Commercial & Independent games.
Linux is still very much a Niche Operating System, and that is shown by the lack of the same Professional & Business Software from Microsoft & Adobe along with the slightly smaller catalogue of Commercial & Independent games.
Ubuntu is free to use on as many Computers as you like meaning that you can set-up a large Server based Network for very little in the way of financial cost, as Linux has all the same Server side tools as Windows Server like a Web Server Active Directory Server, Groupware Server, Database Server, Email Server, Print Server e.t.c, but these Server side tools are only equivalent to the tools available for Windows Server and there is a good selection of them that is free. Ubuntu Server is very light weight as it doesn’t have a Desktop Environment aout of the box and everything is done via a CLI (Command Line Interface) but it’s quite easy to Install the Enlightenment Desktop Environment, xfce Desktop Environment or even the lxde Desktop Environment onto a Ubuntu Server if you want a GUI interface. I’d recommend any of the above mentioned lightweight Desktop Environments over KDE, Gnome or Unity for a Server Desktop as it’ll mean more resources being used by the Server over the Desktop and a low end Graphics Card can be used in the Server.
There is all the Software that you need to use Ubuntu or Linux the same as what you do Windows, it’s just that you’ll have to adjust to using Gimp over PhotoShop KdenLive over Premier Pro, LibreOffice over Microsoft Office (although LibreOffice is available on Windows & Mac) and you’ll have to use Opera, Firefox, Chrome or Chromium over Internet Explorer on Windows or Safari on Mac, but the mentioned alternative browsers are all available for Windows & Mac.
LibreOffice supports both Opening & Saving to Microsoft Office file formats meaning that you still stay compatible with Windows users which is handy for students. The Gimp Image Editor supports Opening and Saving to PhotoShop format which is handy for both students & professionals that need the PhotoShop file format.
Linux is vastly more customizable than Windows and if you take the time to learn how to use the Terminal or even CLI it’s far more powerful than Windows. Also Linux doesn’t need Anti-Virus Software as it isn’t has prone to Viruses or Malware as Windows is.
Linux & Ubuntu especially is a viable alternative to Windows & Mac OSX especially if you’re looking for something that you can play around with to make it look just how you want at a price that is cheaper than Windows or Mac OSX, but has to have more flexibility than a Chromebook or Chromebox.
Mac OSX is a viable alternative if you want to & can afford to buy premium hardware combined with an OS that’s loosely based on Unix which Linux takes it’s inspiration from.
If you can afford to Mac OSX is an ideal way to get to grips with Unix based OS’s as it comes pre-installed on Apple Computers, then migrate onto installing Linux on an old PC. But if you are looking for a drop in replacement to Windows on your Desktop, Laptop or Netbook then Ubuntu is probably the best choice as it has the most simplest of Installers amongst all of the various Linux Distributions.
In this part I’m going to go into more depth the difference between the Windows 8.1 Pro Desktop and the Ubuntu 13.10 Desktop.
The Windows 8.1 Pro Desktop is mainly the touch friendly
Metro UI Modern UI with the Classic Desktop tacked on for compatibility with 99.99% of the Software out there that doesn’t use full screen like Microsoft Office.
The Modern UI is clunky and unwieldy for non touch enabled computers, even though Microsoft re-introduced the Start Button, but this is just a shortcut to the Modern UI Start Screen. Microsoft have introduced the ability to boot straight to the Classic Desktop, but with the Start Menu gone in favour of the Start Screen kind of renders the use of the Classic Desktop useless as you have to ether fill the Taskbar with shortcuts, fill the Desktop with shortcuts or use a third party Launcher such as Object Dock. Even then it’s annoying as the Charms bars pop up whenever you mouse over the left ore right side of the Screen.
The Start Screen is cluttered as it doesn’t have any kind of organisation out of the box, and Windows 8 and non windows 8 apps are all mixed up on the Start Screen and you have to spend the time sorting your Start Screen how you want it. The only way to get some organization to the Start Screen is to use the All Programs Screen as it has all the Windows 8 apps dumped at the front then all the non Windows 8 Programs grouped by name, making the All Programs Screen kind of a Windows 8 version of the Classic Start Menu.
The Ubuntu 13.10 Desktop has a slight feel of Mac OSX to it with the Dock Bar running down the left hand side of the Desktop and a menu/Taskbar running across the top.
In Ubuntu 13.10 the Dock Bar is called the Unity Launcher but does the same thing as the Mac OSX Dock Bar by letting you dock apps to it as well as show any open apps that aren’t docked, at the There is an equivalent to the Classic Start Menu that is called Dash in Ubuntu.
Dash has a Search box at the top that allows you to search Documents, files and applications as well as online. There is no real organization to the Applications part of Dash, but you can just start typing the name of the application you want and up it pops in Dash, if you don’t know the name of the application you want, just type say Music and up pops all of the Music applications you’ve got installed along with any music files that you’ve got on your HDD.
The Menu/Taskbar is about 99.99% the same idea as the Mac OSX Menu bar with the exception of the Menu only shows when you mouse over the left hand side of the Taskbar and isn’t available on just the Desktop and just says Ubuntu Desktop when all open applications are minimized or no applications are open. The right hand side of the menu/Taskbar is very clean and only shows Keyboard Language, Ubuntu 1 Cloud Service Networking, Battery/power icon a sound drop down with volume slider and mute, clock with a drop down Calendar, an Envelope icon with a drop down list that I’m not 100% sure what it’s used for any more as in the pre-Unity Desktop it was used for Email notification as well as Instant Messaging & Social Networking, a Print Que icon when Printing and a Bluetooth icon when you’ve got a Bluetooth Dongle plugged in or Bluetooth turned on if you’ve got a Netbook or Laptop with Bluetooth built in switched on.
Ubuntu can easily be installed on PC, Mac & even ARM based computers such as Android Tablets where as Windows 8.1 RT is needed to install it on ARM Based Tablets and this isn’t readily available other than to OEM’s and the Windows 8.1(Pro) isn’t as easy to install on a Mac due to having to deal with driver compatibility where as everything should just work out of the box for Ubuntu on Mac.