The macbook air is wholly underpowered for development work unless your doing basic markup and styling. Anything that requires a build process or compiling and you are waiting a very... long... time...
I hate to respond with an answer outside the bounds of the original question but:
1) MacBooks are crap for the price; your paying for a glowing apple on the lid and a replace if broken warranty
2) Unless your doing Windows, Linux OS is the way to go. It is what will be running any server logic anyways.
3) For the price, you can get MUCH better hardware + warranty.
replace if broken
Checkout Dell's Latitude business offerings (do not get an inspron, those things are crap). dell.com/learn/us/en/555/campaigns...
IBM/Lenovo Thinkpad's are also very solid contenders. certification.ubuntu.com/certifica...
I would agree on some points. I personally know the desktop environment for the Macs better so changing to a better system suited for development would probably slow me down for quite a while.
That being said, I do a lot of PHP development, some front-end, and some Java. Compilation does take some time, but I’ve seen a lift with some of the newer, fancier compilers which can do partial compilation. For webpack, it’s been good, and for Scala, it’s also been decent.
One caveat to your point above that has helped Mac dudes like me is the use of virtualization. My company (and all home projects) use Docker or Vagrant to normalize our PHP and front-end environments, so mirroring the server hasn’t been a big challenge. But you’re definitely right to prefer the Linux boxes especially with Docker stuff since the Linux OS doesn’t lie to you and actually sandbox all the Docker containers and restrict memory/resources.
Honestly I wish I could have the best of both worlds (for me) and get a MacBook with 32 GB of RAM, a 3 TB hard drive, and the latest, greatest Intel chipset that would rival any other serious development machine for under $4k. Who knows, if they can’t get their shit together and build a machine specifically for devs, maybe I’ll break down and join you on the dark side! ;)
Edit: I’ve considered recently abandoning the entire Apple ecosystem since it feels like every product and OS on offer by them has gone downhill a bit in the past few years. Maybe someday I’ll become more fed up and move on.
I look forward to seeing you join the dark (console) side :).
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