Is Pure OS worth it for a web developer? Using Google Chrome defeats the purpose?

I have to use google chrome sometimes to see how a website I’m coding looks in that browser. I’m using firefox most of the time for Web Dev. Is their anyway around using chrome as a web developer. I’m also wondering if their are enough open source software for web devs with this debian based distro? Does using Pure OS slow development down at all? I own a Librem mini but I’m using Ubuntu right now.

That’s a good question, no doubt with no simple answer.

It may depend on at least two things

  • how smart (evil) Google is
  • how much separation you can get between your use of Google Chrome and your normal use of the web

Examples for the second item: separate VM, separate computer, separate WAN IP address

If this is paid website development then some of the proceeds can be put towards, for example, a dedicated entry level x86 computer that you specifically and exclusively use for testing how the web site looks in Google Chrome.


Why not chromium? Or a qtwebengine browser (personally, I use falkon). As they share the core rendering code with chrome, unless you are using chrome-specific extensions, there’s really no reason to ever use Chrome itself.


Sure there is, when your employment mandates it.

“Muaaaah, ha, ha, ha, haaaaah.”

[Snidely Whiplash quote above.]

if it’s just SOMETIMES then ok … go for a VM
if you decide to go for a PureOS 9 (last-stable-codename-Amber) bare-metal-install you will find out

that the installation is just as great an experience as ubuntu (assuming you were referring to 20.04 LTS)
the difference between GNOME 3.30 and 3.36 is largely unnoticed unless you are after some very specific tasks …
on the other hand you CAN upgrade to PureOS 10 (testing-codename-Byzantium) if you want a 1-to-1 experience.
do that in a VM first to make sure there is nothing going on that will bog your workflow.

Librem-Mini here too …

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If you must use a Chrome/Chromium-based browser, I’d recommend one of these alternatives in descending order of my preference:

  1. ungoogled-chromium is Google Chromium, sans dependency on Google web services.
  2. ungoogled-chromium retains the default Chromium experience as closely as possible. Unlike other Chromium forks that have their own visions of a web browser, ungoogled-chromium is essentially a drop-in replacement for Chromium.
  3. ungoogled-chromium features tweaks to enhance privacy, control, and transparency. However, almost all of these features must be manually activated or enabled. For more details, see Feature Overview.
  • GNOME Web (Available through Flatpak)
    • Simple and quick for basic browsing. It lacks in customizability for me but I still have it handy.

Bonus alternative:
If you use VSCode, VSCodium is the same editor but with Microsoft functionality (such as telemetry) removed.


+1 for GNOME Web as that might be the default L5 mobile specific browser instead of FF-ESR for desktop mode … in the future

if you want your web-sites to look good on mobile and especially on the L5/PureOS then all the more reason to test that as well … it’s tightly integrated with the GNOME environment and except some speed issues and for minimal (non-java-script ridden web-sites) it’s MY preferred browser …

Before using Vivaldi, I suggest one read the terms of its privacy policy carefully.

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I was hesitant to suggest it but to be on the safe side, I’ve removed it from my post.

I would be happy if PureOS worked at all for web development.

After a few months so many tools stop working (if they ever worked in the first place) that I give up and move to another OS. See this thread for details: Long Term use of PureOS where I ask how many people are using PureOS long term?

My gut says the answer to the OP is “if you only want to use PureOS tools for developing only open source web applications that you will run on your own systems without any 3rd party platforms or tools then PureOS might work for you.”

I’ve been using PureOS on my librem 15 since I got it, almost two years ago now I think. I use it primarily for software development and most of that is web development (JS/React) with a fair amount of backend work. (go and clojure) I’ve found it to be an ideal platform for web development.

I primarily use firefox for day to day web development, but when I need to test something on Chrome I can run chromium. As I don’t use chromium for any personal web browsing, I’m not concerned about the degoogling, though maybe I should be. I’ve even had to debug an edge issue or two, and I’ve had no problems running edge in a windows VM on PureOS in those cases. It’s not something I like doing, but when you want to, there’s nothing stopping you.

The closest thing I had to an issue was when I switched to amber and found that the nodesource nodejs install script didn’t know about that version of PureOS. They quickly fixed that (a one line change) and I was easily able to workaround while waiting. I suppose that’s really the primary risk of PureOS - that the userbase isn’t as big as something like Ubuntu. A problem like that would have been noticed and fixed in seconds on Ubuntu whereas on PureOS I appear to have been the first person to report the issue. (or at least to open a github issue)

TL;DR - PureOS has been a great platform for web development for me


I am 100% a minority, but I have a bunch of devices (some are just past devices, some were purchased for testing on a specific target as per a client’s request) that I use for physical device testing. I keep on-hand an iPhone, Android phone, chromebook, a windows laptop, a old macbook, and a 2 laptops running linux (Debian and Arch).

That pretty much covers anything a client could want, and most user cases. On each device I keep a copy of each popular browser (usually just the pre-installed browser, chrome, and firefox) so I can test. It is also really helpful in replicating device-specific issues and issues with heavy sites on low-end deices.

Having to use your website for an extended period of time on a $100 black-friday chromebook is one of the easiest ways to force yourself to make the JavaScript far more efficient, and to completely give up on any hope of using React, Vue, or similar, so I use one regularly as part of the development cycle. Also, you don’t need a google account to use it, you can always just go into guest mode with your Ngrok (or similar) link.


For web dev testing check out browserstack:

Web-based and supports local tunnel back to your dev instance. Proprietary and not free as in $ and has free limited-time trial.

I have no affiliation with browserstack other than satisfied user.

Not a fan of browserstack, their emulation is designed more for unit testing in the sense of “yeah there aren’t any rendering bugs on safari”, but they aren’t great for testing usability. Using your site on the actual target device will get you more insight on how it works for the customer (speed, lag, etc.), and will force you to make optimizations.

If you test using browserstack, you won’t get this experience…

Honestly, that $100 black-friday impulse buy was probably one of the best decisions I made as part of my development pipeline. It really surprises users and makes them very happy when they don’t see any long “Loading…” bits or heavy react pages, and I work on a project where the primary competitor is a js-filled heavy mess of a webapp that runs poorly on chromebooks, phones, and other low-end hardware.

If you can advertise that your product lets customers save (literally) thousands of dollars because you can outfit them with a cheap POC chromebook instead of a reasonably powerful laptop (that is only powerful because one internal tool needs a powerful device because it is so bloated), they will thank you and will even happily pay more because it is justified in the hardware savings.

I used to be big in doing stuff in JS and client-side, but a simple bootstrap site with a decent-looking and fast-loading interface really goes a long way to make your customers happy.

If you ever have an extra $100 lying around and are a web developer, buy a cheap laptop and make it a part of your development pipeline. I personally have it in my desk drawer, and I take it out while the build and unit tests are running after (or even while) I build a new feature, I run ngrok from my development computer and connect to it from the chromebook. If there are any client-side slowdowns I work on improving speed (usually by removing js).


(note: emphasis is mine)

Technically, (depending on the age of your Android device) you will need a Google account to operate your Android device - short of any rooting or other hacks…

OP is testing the look, not the usability:

And, to be clear: the post from @privacy238437 presents the useful point that testing on real devices while also using the site interactively (say, driving the site through a user story) definitely providers additional useful information about the site performance. Browserstack’s hosted devices may not provide a direct experience regarding performance and or what it is like to experience the site at the actual speed when not using Browsertack as an intermediary.

From BrowserStack website (

Millions of QA testers & developers use Live to instantly access 2000+ real browsers & devices and deliver great user experiences.*

I am not claiming that BrowserStack is the best and only solution for @everett - they will have to take a look and decide for themselves.

I have no affiliation with BrowserStack, other than user.

No, you can skip adding a Google account when setting up the device (I think they hide it on newer android devices and “confirm” your decision a couple of times). You won’t be able to download apps from the play store or use any google services, but it is an option and I download everything from f-droid anyways, but regardless I run lineage or /e/ (if available) on all my android devices, including the ones I use for testing.

In that quote, I was actually referring to Chromebooks, not the android devices (the last paragraph is particularly about a cheap Chromebook, and at the end I mention that you don’t need a google account).

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Thank you for educating me, I was clearly wrong and I appreciate you taking the time to set the record straight so that others will not be mislead by my misinterpretation of your post.