I am useless without a shell. For anything from managing git repositories, editing files with vim, writing small scripts and programs in bash, python or java to controlling cloud environments I prefer a command line interface. So when I learned about GCP’s Cloud Shell I became an instant fan and it has become my go-to CLI for many things I do every day. If you haven’t heard about this, you get a small ephemeral linux VM with all kinds of developer tools pre-installed as part of Google’s “always free” tier. While the VM itself is reset after periods of inactivity, you also get a home directory with 5GB of persistent storage. No need for ssh keys or client software, you simply connect to it through your browser while logged into google.
Quickstarting Cloud Shell
But the way I learned to start it was through the Google Cloud Platform console, then starting Cloud Shell from an icon there. Then it would start in a split screen in the console window until I hit another button to detach it to it’s own window. That’s a few clicks too many for my taste. But there is a shortcut. The very simple and very quick tip I want to share today is that you can simply bookmark this URL and start Cloud Shell immediately in a new browser window or tab (and save as a bookmark):
Bonus tip: create a shelf item on Chrome OS
I recently switched most of my work to a Pixelbook Chromebook. Due to the lack of ability to run many things locally, Cloud Shell is even more valuable on this platform. And since you can’t install much extra software on it, you also end up with a rather clean quick launch bar. If you want to add your Cloud Shell bookmark as an icon to the shelf of your chromebook, hit the three dots on the right of the URL, select “more tools” and then “add to shelf”.