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Cover image for Development Environment: Windows or MacOS?

Development Environment: Windows or MacOS?

katieadamsdev profile image Katie Adams ใƒป1 min read

Perhaps it's just me; I have no preference at all. I can flip between Catalina and Windows 10 like a acrobat in the circus. It's as close as I will come to being an acrobat in any sense, I assure you.

However, I'm genuinely curious: which environment do you prefer as a developer?

The question truly occured to me when I was redesigning my portfolio. Using the excellent site Unsplash for a placeholder background began to show a pattern. A lot of the images that appeared for the result 'web development' contained Macbooks. It wasn't familiar to me - nor was it indicative of my development experience.

I've invested a lot into my Windows setup but that's because I also spend my time playing some big ol' games. Many of my peers, however, exclusively work on Macbooks. I oft wonder if it would be worth the investment one day.

So what made you choose one way or another? Is it the software that's available? The aesthetic and appearance? The hardware? The ease of use?

Or are you like me? Have you no preference at all? And why is that? Personally, I worked as an IT technician for 12 months; I was hands-on with the guts of both Apple devices and others. By the end of the year, I was comfortable with most Operating Systems.

I'm not necessarily looking for a definitive answer but, like mine, more anecdotal, personal experiences. So: why do you prefer your environment?

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Katie Adams

@katieadamsdev

Computing student; web developer; dog person.

Discussion

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I'm with Noman on this one. Linux is my favorite for developing.

 

I'm honestly loving the popularity of Linux in these answers. It's interesting though how it's never included in the marketing behind web development as much as Apple and Windows are... ๐Ÿค” What make Linux your favourite?

Development on Linux is smooth like MacOS however I feel more customization and power with Linux.

 

Ah, of course! The mighty Linux ๐Ÿง I only neglected it due to having quite literally 0 experience with it. Out of curiosity, what about Linux makes it your favourite? โ˜บ๏ธ

 

I personally like Linux for 3 main reasons

  1. Freedom - I have the freedom to choose almost everything, for better or worse. From the UI, window manager, browsers, software I have total freedom.
  2. Price - Open Source is free (at least to me ๐Ÿ˜‰). I don't need to pay big $$$ for an Apple product, or $ for Windows license fees. I just need the hardware.
  3. Agenda - Apple wants me to use other Apple products, Microsoft wants me to use Microsoft software, Linux doesn't care. There is a distinct lack of synergy with other products, but when it comes to a development platform, I really just need a web browser, and my development stuff and I'll be fine when it comes to "connecting" to other devices or products.

It could be said MacOS is similar to Linux, except its more like 1 very distinct flavor among many.

I currently use Manjaro as its the best balance of ease of use, stability and package support. I can install basically anything outside of some Window games with 1 line installations from Arch's massive package repos. There's tons of help for almost any problem, big or small, and it comes out of the box ready for development.

3 incredibly fair and excellent points. What hardware do you run your Linux OS on? Are you willing to spend a little more here and there because of the money you've saved using an open-source OS?

Another reason I like Linux is it runs basically on anything. From Raspberry Pi's, old computers, to newer workstations. The hardware doesn't matter.

I don't think of it as a financial thing that much, as I am one who spent some big money on a Pixelbook (Google's Chromebook)!

Rather its more of a consistency and commitment thing. I can take basically any desktop I find, and install the (almost) the exact same software on anything from a 35$ raspberry pi, to my current I7 workstation I got from a computer lab. I can also install basically any distro if I get bored and play around with different ones without much fear.

Any Windows machine I find is fair game to being converted to the same OS I use for work, or another OS for more "media" focused tasks, or just a simple machine to act as a test server, or anything in between. It doesn't matter what hardware it runs on, as the software doesn't care, and if I screw up or get board, I can just go wipe it and install something else.

I love this comment. I'd never have considered this aspect as I'm so used to people settling with whatever they first encounter.
Also, how're you finding the Pixelbook? I'm yet to play with one myself. :D

I bought the Pixelbook as my laptop to "end all laptops" as it on paper has some pretty good specs, and ChromeOS. At the time I had a 200$ chromebook I was using for non-dev stuff, and an older laptop for dev work. I thought getting a Pixelbook would give me the best of both worlds.

For the most part it does allow me to use 1 laptop for both general web tasks, and developer but the CPU ends up being a bottleneck in some cases. Anytime I open a large repo, VSCode can get pretty slow, as it takes a while for all the code to be parsed.

Other than that the Pixelbook is everything I wanted, and then some. Its small, lightweight, powerful for anything the web throws at it, allows me to run Linux, and stupidly secure. It didn't end all laptops for me, but it does its job well enough as a mobile workstation.

PS. If you need an SSH/remote workstation where your laptop just connects to a more powerful server or machine, Chromebooks are one of the best options. I was able to dev on a 200$ machine using some cloud tools and SSH here and there. The Chromebook ends up being a "dumb terminal", just like the "olden days" haha.

"a $200 dumb terminal" Amazing ๐Ÿ˜‚

 

As you wrote, there is no A or B or C only. It depends on a lot of different external factors one canโ€˜t normally control like what is the standard environment in your company, what else is required to do your work and so on and so forth. Although Iโ€˜m a Linux fan (started already back in 93) I think the best compromise is MacOS (still Unix based but with availability of MS Office) when I have the free choice. But I rarely have a free choice so I also use Windows a lot ...

 

It's interesting to hear the perspective of somebody experienced with all 3, unlike myself. ๐Ÿ˜ You also make an excellent point that perhaps people have no preference - they simply do what their current circumstances dictate. What would you have MacOS or Windows do differently to compare better with our good penguin friend? ๐Ÿง

 

macOS and Windows share a different philosophy compared to Linux. Linux was built by volunteers, it was never meant to be a commercial product. The whole ecosystem was built to share ideas, algorithms, concepts and so on and so forth with others. This means, from the early beginning you were able to inspect every bit and byte, not only to see it's working but how it's working. Program documentation wasn't complete, no problem, let's check the code to see what the program expects. A program didn't feature complete, no problem, let's fork the code and add the missing feature. To me, it was not only an operation system, but it was also an education base. Another thing is that Linux was derived from a server operating system with a desktop on top whereas macOS and Windows were built for the desktop. If your focus is on enterprise applications that's a big benefit because you can use all the respective automation you'll use on the server as well.

But Linux has some severe downsides, several important business applications are not available for Linux like MS Office which makes macOS the better choice. macOS still has a UNIX core but a more complete desktop package. The openness is not as great as in Linux but ok for daily work and development.

Long story short, macOS and Windows won't be able to compete with Linux in the area of openness because of there nature as a commercial product. On the other hand, Linux can't compete with both when it comes to commercial applications on the desktop.

Love, love, love this answer!

 

Windows, but thatโ€™s mainly an availability issue. If the school computers had MacOS, Iโ€™d learn that. Actually to me, the Mac UI looks nicer.

 

I agree with the availability point. All of the educational institutes I've studied/worked at have been primarily Windows. In fact, the one school I worked at which had a Mac suite, my first job was swapping them all out for Windows machines! ๐Ÿ˜ฎ I also don't think there's anything wrong with liking Mac's slick UI either. Have you ever considered using a VM to learn the MacOS?

 

Yes, but I still would need a licensed copy of the OS to load on my VM (I use VirtualBox)

This is true. I'm not sure if Apple make an OS installer freely available or not ๐Ÿค”.

 

neither just run vbox with an xubuntu vm