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Windows or Mac (or Linux😁) for devs?

devlorenzo profile image DevLorenzo Updated on ・1 min read

Hello World! Just wanna do my first #healthydebate to see how it feels to have interactions with other programmers. I bought a week ago a new pc and decided to buy a window. I read some articles on it before deciding and it came out that windows will allow me to have more freedom (and to play videogames 😊). What do you think about that? Do you have a mac or a window / what pc do you have? Why?
I'm very interested in creating a conversation / a debate thinking about which one is the best, particularly for programmers. I also have in mind to write an article on that, maybe using quotes from this post.

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Remember the comment!

PS: You can also comment if you have linux

If you don't want to write a long comment, just say which OS (Windows, MAC or Linux) do you use.

Check this article, my second debate, how programmers love to code?

And this one, why programmers love to code?

Just wanted to add the Stack Overflow results:

Platform devs develop for:

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Discussion (65)

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ninofiliu profile image
Nino Filiu

Windows < Mac < Linux

Windows is the worst OS for developers and should be avoided at all cost. It was simply not made with us in mind. Scripting capabilities are limited, PowerShell is badly designed and poorly documented, and WSL2 fails with cryptic errors at any task that is remotely low-level. Windows is a bloatware: there is a huge amount of pre-installed software you don't need which slow down your PC, take a lot of memory and disk space, and that you can't uninstall...

MacOS is already a far better choice but has too many protections, so you can't configure things you'd like to change, and Docker doesn't run properly because of OS permission issues.

Linux is the best dev+gaming option. You get an even better developer experience as with a Mac, a computer with the same specs costs half the price of a Mac and lasts twice as long, and also the OS doesn't spy on you and is built with free software. It was not the case a decade ago but now there are a ton of gaming-oriented distros to chose from (beware of SteamOS which is not that great tho).

If I were you I'd dual boot your Windows PC with 25% of disk space for Windows just for games that don't run elsewhere, and 75% of disk space for Linux that you'd use for everyday computing, developing, and gaming.

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akatsukilevi profile image
Akatsuki Levi

Solo Linux user here.
I literally have a Celeron G3930 with 4GB RAM and Integrated Graphics.
It's already enough to game nicely(War Thunder mainly) and programming is smooth.
XFCE 4 with Manjaro Linux, running Linux 5.10
I've never had my computer so stable in my life before Linux. Already ran Windows on it, barely could use it properly. Tried Hackintosh, was horrible.

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ducaale profile image
Mohamed Dahir

What kind of cryptic errors did you encounter in WSL2?

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ninofiliu profile image
Nino Filiu

Plenty of them, I left Windows years ago, but on top of my head:

  • npm install of simple, front-end-only packages, that failed due to node-pre-gyp
  • Docker that crashes
  • ssh that can't connect
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sharpninja profile image
The Sharp Ninja

And none of that is an issue any longer.

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marcellothearcane profile image
marcellothearcane

Things like how you can't access network sockets low level, and you can't access USB devices properly for flashing with UF2 (i.e. STM32 devices). That's just two recent issues I've had.

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cryphrog profile image
cryphrog

^THIS

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appsecmonkey profile image
Teo Selenius

See, people say Linux even if you don’t add it as an option (:

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ninofiliu profile image
Nino Filiu

Yes, but I think it's legitimate! Hear me out:

Billions have been invested in marketing by Microsoft and Apple so that people don't even think of any other OS besides theirs. It might sound annoying to hear people bring Linux on the table even if no one asked, but I think most of these interventions come from a genuine desire to tell people about an option they've been conditioned into not even considering

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devlorenzo profile image
DevLorenzo Author

Yes, i didn't think there would be so many on linux. I changed the article title!

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michaelcurrin profile image
Michael

I'm not a Windows user but would recommend setting up the Windows Subsystem for Linux. Then you can Ubuntu and do Linux programming without a separate install + reboot.

I do find switching between mac and Linux command line generally easy. My first tech job also meant using Linux command line for the first time ever but programming on mac before that prepared me well.

The frustrating thing about mac is the price. Of the laptop and mouse, extras etc.
People who own mac's will probably say this cost is worth it for the brand performance.
People who use linux will probably say it is free and flexible.
Want to reinstall another flavor of linux on your machine? People do it all the time. There are tons of distros. There is only one mac OS and it increments.

Programming on linux and mac both mean security. By the design. And also because majority of the world uses windows so hackers write viruses for windows.

Linux programming also makes it easy for modern computing. Like running a container or a remote web server or kubernetes cluster. Free, open source and secure.

Linux is about collaboration to make and give away free software. Apple is a for-profit company so they will always do things like keep the closed so don't need know what they are doing with your data and they will have an agenda on how to sell more apple products and ship their OS. Apple has been a leader in some innovation so they are not bad. They will also just be different from open software orgs

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okikio profile image
Okiki

I actually disagree with your points on security, Windows is probably the most secure in my opinion. Microsoft just has so much more experience dealing with viruses and hackers on a large scale (multiple different types of devices) that a device will only be insecure if you disable the numerous number of protection Windows has.

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michaelcurrin profile image
Michael • Edited

I don't know.

Windows having experience with hackers doesn't alone make them better, it might just mean Windows is easy target for vulnerabilities so they get targeted easily?

I don't think I've ever heard of someone associating Windows with security. While Linux and Mac are frequently associated with security. Linux because its code can be viewed by anyone so the public finds, reports and fixes bugs potentially faster than a company with limited employees and fixed release cycles and closed source code can achieve. Macs are built on Bash and now ZSH - similar open source shells which form the base of Linux.

I worked with someone who said to a Windows colleague - don't bother installing anti virus software on your mac. Macs are built for security.

As someone else said here, mac asks for a lot of permissions for things and this assists with security. I get a pop up when a dev server tries to use a port. And get a pop up if I tried and install software that doesn't come from a signed apple provider so it asks me verify it is a trusted source.

I had a discussion yesterday where I was told that Windows is making it harder to deliberately disable updates and even then it makes security updates mandatory. Which is good. But still doesn't mean the system as a whole is more secure.

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michaelcurrin profile image
Michael • Edited

Not doing to do a deep dive, but just going to pick a few quotes from the first few articles in a search, willing to see arguments from both sides on has the reputation for being more secure. And as a bonus if this still holds.

Overall I found mac does indeed have the reputation for being more secure but this is due to windows being 90% of user and therefore targeted. And that both systems have vulnerabilities and neither is inheritantly more secure.

DuckDuckGo search "Windows vs mac security".

Results in the order found. First 4 below are first 4 in the results.

Kaspersky 2020. First result.

Apple's Mac computer line has proven itself over the last decade as a significant competitor to Microsoft's Windows platform. Alongside a powerful software and hardware ecosystem, Apple has also garnered a more "secure" reputation than Windows PCs.

Digitaltrends conclusion

As Microsoft continues to make gains in this department and user sensitivity to the issue changes, the situation will continue to evolve. For now, the assumption about the Mac’s superior security stands.

Transunion

Not on reputation but comment that they are equally resistant.

“There’s nothing inherent in how OS X is built that makes it much more resistant to viruses.” Rather, Windows are at a higher risk of hacker attack — upwards of a million new threats each day by some estimates — because malware developers are looking to target as many machines as possible.

Macs may not come with antivirus protection, but they do have another way of keeping malicious programs off your computer: Gatekeeper. This is a utility built into the operating system that automatically blocks software from being installed that does not come from an approved developer. ... Windows users have access to a similar utility, called Device Guard, however this is designed for a trained administrator on a computer network.

Mac sounds better equipped by default with regards permissions.

Tom's guide

Macs have long had a reputation of being more "secure" than Windows PCs, with users believing that Apple machines are impenetrable to cybercriminals planning to carry out malware attacks.

The bottom line: Macs and PCs both have flaws and vulnerabilities, albeit in slightly different ways. For example, cybersecurity company Kaspersky suggests that Windows requires more active security upkeep, while Apple has been less proactive with security updates and patches.

No matter which operating system you may be using, don't get lulled into a false sense of security.

Digital trends again

Though arguably safer than Windows because it’s less frequently used (a concept known as security through obscurity) it’s not inherently more secure.

They actually said Chrome OS was most secure but Mac is next best as practical choice.

Another angle:

CNET

"If you look at the number of published vulnerabilities in software and the number of users and compare Windows versus Mac OS you will discover that Mac OS has far more published vulnerabilities per user than Windows does so I think the data pretty much speaks for itself."

Mac appears to have an edge in that regard.

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okikio profile image
Okiki

I was just giving my opinion, but here we go.

Linux being open source doesn't make it more secure, open source means everyone can see the code including hackers etc...

Mac OS is seen as more secure but that doesn't mean it actually is more secure it , in truth Mac OS is just has a smaller percentage of the market that hackers don't really bother (but that means if a hacker actually tried Apple would have less experience and wouldn't have the systems in place, 9to5mac.com/2020/08/01/new-unpatch...).

Windows in my opinion has more experience dealing with hackers and viruses that it actually makes it a more secure choice.

Security is a set policies set in place to secure data and devices, and just based on the amount of experience Microsoft has I'd argue they have the better security.

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devlorenzo profile image
DevLorenzo Author

In my opinion it's always better to have a third party antivirus that secure connections and file downloading.

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devlorenzo profile image
DevLorenzo Author

Wow! Really nice research

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sharpninja profile image
The Sharp Ninja

CNET

"If you look at the number of published vulnerabilities in software and the number of users and compare Windows versus Mac OS you will discover that Mac OS has far more published vulnerabilities per user than Windows does so I think the data pretty much speaks for itself."

Mac appears to have an edge in that regard.

You interpreted that backwards. That means that MacOS has more vulnerabilities per user, thus the attack vector per user is larger. When Mac malware does come out, it usually catches a huge percentage of Mac users because of the false sense of security.

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michaelcurrin profile image
Michael

Rhe discussion was who has more experience with vulnerabilities.

The previous point was that Windows has more experience and this was too say that mac has experience in a sense too. With the big assumption in both cases that more published vulnerabilities means more vulnerabilities to solve and thus get experience.

But you can also interpret as you have done, that mac has more vulnerabilities (solved or not) and this means the software is insecurely designed.

Back to previous comment though - that I found sources saying that no OS is more inherently secure than the other. They all have weaknesses. Mac gets targeted less and like you say means mac users are less vigilant in a way.

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arto20 profile image
Arto20

Personally I use both Win and Mac, I have similar toolset on those (Pycharm and extras mostly).
My feelings: in general, I feel I'm way more productive with Windows, considering all the keyboard shortcuts and, well, years of developing my habits with it.
On the other hand, MacOS provides much more pleasant experience with much better look and the MacBook itself is just such a nice device and it's just a bit more enjoyable per se.
Both are great as long as it fits your personal workflow 🦾

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devlorenzo profile image
DevLorenzo Author

Thanks for the feedback. I think like you, you have to choose according to your habits and how you feel better. Although the two should be tried first. Windows are free and fast, but a MacBook is so beautiful, and it can be very fast when you know the cords (thanks to its nice UI).

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darkwiiplayer profile image
DarkWiiPlayer

MacBook is so beautiful, and it can be very fast when you know the cords

re beautiful: link

re fast: have a look at what some people can do with i3 or awesome. Those systems are optimized for fast user interaction with a steep and long learning curve, so you can keep improving and getting more proficient for a long time. Alternatively, something like cinnamon gives you nice defaults that let you be productive from the start while still letting you customize many aspects so they're more in line with your preferred way of interacting with your PC.

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arto20 profile image
Arto20 • Edited

Oh, don't get me wrong - I was using Arch Linux +i3wm exclusively for a few years of university and I still do use Linux at work.
I really like i3, it's a great and efficient working environment.
There are some major problems with it. It really requires a lot of setup in order to make it usable. Also you need to have quite a good knowledge about Linux in order to be able to set it up correctly.
And one thing I really don't like - UI scaling doesn't work as good as on other systems. In my case it's kind of deal breaker - I use 150% scaling on Windows, and on Linux it's always blurry, no matter if I use Wayland or Xorg. I guess there may be some solution, but I was tired of looking for solutions and just wanted a working environment so I can focus on programming instead of tweaking my OS. :P
But Linux is great, I'd never say it's worse than Win or MacOS - it's just different approach, which just doesn't fit (at this moment!) my work needs.

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darkwiiplayer profile image
DarkWiiPlayer

considering all the keyboard shortcuts

Just imagine an OS where you could set all those shortcuts up the way you want them 😝

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rvxlab profile image
RVxLab • Edited

My preference goes to Linux or MacOS. I despise Windows for programming and if I see one more error that I need admin permissions to delete my node_modules folder I'm going to scream.

WSL2 is better but still not for me.

For gaming Windows is still the best option for me so my gaming Rig runs Windows. My laptop runs Linux.

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patarapolw profile image
Pacharapol Withayasakpunt • Edited
  • What kind of software are you developing? Run on remote server? Run on web browser? Run on mobile? Run on client's PC?
  • Do you use Shell or Bash? Basically, I am not adept with Command Prompt and PowerShell. If you are well trained in Windows, you might be the opposite.

macOS is good for installing software, including proprietary ones, until your Mac become older than a few years.

  • The OS keeps updating, until your Mac cannot install anything, nor compile anything; if you don't update. And, it will always bug you to update.
  • Good thing is that, it is quite POSIX compliant. Bad thing is confusing keyboard layout; which will be prevent you from moving to other OSes.

WSL2 is not that good compared to real Linux desktop. Therefore, in the end, I use both Windows machine (which does have WSL2) and Linux machine (which has VirtualBox).

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taikedz profile image
Tai Kedzierski

Are you trying to start a bloodbath here?? 😉

As always, "It depends." I am a staunch Linux user. I would not recommend Linux if you're trying to develop Windows desktop applications though... that wouldn't make sense..!

  • What is your deployment target? Match the development environment to the target
  • If it's for browsers, you have much more freedom to choose between the three, but in most cases you're choosing between Windows and Linux for server-based projects, depending on what the production system is using
  • If you want to automate build and deployment, your ops colleagues may yet push for Linux on the server side - so your tools will need to either be cross-platform, or match that tooling's platform. They won't thank you for tying them to a full-GUI-based build toolchain (but those are thankly becoming rare)
  • If you're also responsible for testing, and you are doing client-side stuff.... mind that you will likely end up with at least two computers, if not three, for full range testing (unless you can do it on a server farm/cloud account)

This question comes up time and time again though, and is very dependent on the use-case. You might want to refine your query.

So, 100 Continue

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barelyhuman profile image
Reaper • Edited

I'd say Unix, so basically any derivative of it.
BSD, Mac
Linux

I use windows only to game, never even try to run a dev environment on it.
I've got a macOS device for most of my programming.
A linux device that I run docker and tunnel onto for heavier loading in-terms of storage.

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syedumairali2000 profile image
Syed Umair Ali • Edited

Windows just feels broken these days. I mean why do you have two different apps for one function (control panel and windows settings) so I decided to convert to linux and it's great for development and normal usage but for gaming I would always choose windows

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devlorenzo profile image
DevLorenzo Author

For gaming ou would always use Linux or Windows?

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syedumairali2000 profile image
Syed Umair Ali

It was a typo 😅

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okikio profile image
Okiki

From what I see here a lot of developers have a bad outlook on Windows and as someone who has tried all OS's, some of these complaints seem misguided or driven by inexperience.

Linux is very free, developer friendly and allows for a large set of programing to be done with ease, that is until you run into some software you need that Linux doesn't support, also from just a user experience perspective Linux straight up sucks (it is improving rapidly but it's not there yet), do note user experience is separate from user interface there are many Linux variants with good UI but that doesn't necessarily mean a good user experience.

Mac OS is basically Linux with a good user experience and a steep learning curve. The problem with Mac OS is that it's very limited by design and you are at the mercy of Apples decisions (long term with the M1 switch Apple may force apps to need to use the app store, but that is the general problem with using Apple products, you just don't know what they will do).

Windows is sort of more user experience over developer experience. Windows Security used to be a nightmare when using basically any programing language they've improved this with recent windows updates, more memory is required than their counter parts, UWP Isn't the default app install type (UWP apps are smaller and use less system resources overall), you are under the rules set by Microsoft (even though it's often too a lesser extent than Apple it's still there) and etc... The list of problems are long but the problems aren't so bad that Windows is unusable for programing tasks, and a bunch of these problems are actively being fixed, project reunion is a plan to unify Windows UI and API's so Windows is as consistent as Mac OS and system resources are better used by apps. Powershell is very powerful but Powershell Core is a tier above that. A bunch of abilities once locked become available to you the more you actively try to learn about what you can do with Windows (there reason why IT pros like it).
For a summer internship in the IT department of a company a while back I was forced to really learn how to use Windows and Windows is quite powerful and even has its own learning curve but if you learn it, it can be an awesome experience.

Do note, I have used Mac OS for 3 years, Linux in a docker environment for 2 years (I also tried using just Linux for over a month, the experience was just not good enough), I have used Windows for 2 years, and I have used Chrome OS for 4 years (don't even bother with Chrome OS, programing requires such hacky solution, it's kinda off putting).

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dimosthenis profile image
Dimosthenis • Edited

This debate goes on since the late 80's, trust me you won't figure out much but here it goes.
I've tried all 3 major platforms Win, Mac and Linux. I've sticked to Mac for the reason that it just won't crash*. Never had issues with updates nor unresponsive applications or blue screens of death. Plus if you practice safety it is almost impossible to get malicious stuff. Working happily ever since.
If you are a serious player alongside with programming go for Win.
If you are a hardcore backend dev go for Linux.
Nothing else to be said. My advice is to try them all (borrow a friend's laptop) if you can.

*except a couple of times but no damage was done

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devlorenzo profile image
DevLorenzo Author

I understand you, my windows crash all the time and I have serious problems with applications not responding / problems when not updating. But I'm also a fairly serious player who know windows shortcuts by heart.
I also personally think that mac keyboard is too tiny for gaming / writing fast (even if the absents of noise is fantastic).

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darkwiiplayer profile image
DarkWiiPlayer

I just switched from bash to zsh. Just remembering that on windows this wasn't even a question (there was cmd and powershell, and that's it) feels kinda weird to me. Other than gaming, I don't see any reason whatsoever to prefer windows over linux.

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okikio profile image
Okiki

Powershell Core is an awesome alternative on Windows.

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sharpninja profile image
The Sharp Ninja

MacOS doesn't even enter into the equation for me. Visual Studio 2019 is my primary environment and so I have no reason to even look at a Mac except to compile an iOS app from Xamarin Forms, which in 10 years of writing Xamarin apps I've never had a client demand I supply an iOS binary.

In addition to VS 2019, I also heavily use SQL Server Management Studio, which also won't run on Mac.

The cross-platform stuff I do is all easily handled with Docker + WSL2 on Windows 10 version 2004. I literally have four distros installed (Pengwin, Ubuntu 20.04, Ubuntu Common and Fedora Remix) so I can test things with different dependency chains. I use PowerShell in all of them so I can easily share scripts between Windows and Linux and the VSCode Remote WSL plugin allows me to work in Windows's GUI and Linux's command line simultaneously, giving me the best of both worlds.

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peterndomano profile image
Peter Ndomano

I use both linux (ParrotOS) and windows (win10) but most of the time I'm on linux. Windows is good for special programming tasks where tools to accomplish such tasks are only made for windows OS. For example in editing ECU map files(vehicle reprogramming) there are no reliable software packages for that task in linux but for windows you have many.

But for casual programming tasks like app development & web dev linux is the best to me coz I have amdroid studio on both OS's but Android studio on linux seems to perform better than the one on windows10 (with the same hardware and memory). Also Anaconda performs better on my linux than on windows with the same hardware and memory(NB I dualboot 'em)

Lastly I love linux coz you can easily tear it down when things go wrong. To me it's more flexible than windows

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hscoolgr8 profile image
himanshu

According me:
If new to technology and Internet=> Windows
Done some coding and programming => Switch to Linux
Now you are earning good and want to show off => buy Mac

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devlorenzo profile image
DevLorenzo Author

Why do you think that Linux is better than Windows when we start coding more?

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hscoolgr8 profile image
himanshu

reason one worst command line interface in the windows and simply making everything more closed and you are not able to see what is happening in backend. Also, the ability of bash scripting is also one of the most compelling reasons

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cipharius profile image
Valts Liepiņš

For me it's definitely linux, because I honor extremely high customizability and freedom to design my own desktop environment.

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alexgeorgiev17 profile image
Alex Georgiev

I love using Linux it's just perfect. I've started using macOS for the past few months and now after some time, I can say it is also a really nice environment for DevOps, SysOps. In my opinion, Windows needs some tweaks like enabling WSL2 in order to get a grip with other tools like using the command line.

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eric23 profile image
Eric

Cool. New hardware is always fun :)
I run Linux Mint on my PC. I also have a Mac Mini 2018 and a laptop running Windows but I really only use those for testing.

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dominikhaid profile image
dominikhaid • Edited

Linux over here. Windows wsl2 works fine and stable but it comsumes a lot of ressorces. When things like docker or something crash with wsl2 most of the time it's because the system runs out of memory. So you need a good system with a good amount of ram and then still it's kind of a waste. I really used it heavily for more then one year but. Would recommend a dual boot setup instead...

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llldar profile image
Nathaniel

Just buy a $3000 macbook and you will not have any excues when you write bad code.

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deozza profile image
Edenn Touitou

Web developper, amateur musician and gamer here. To me, the perfect OS must handle those 3 activities.

Linux is perfect for web development. Everything run smoothly and can be customized to your personal tastes. For gaming, thanks to protondb it improved a lot. But there are still games that I can't play on linux. And about music, well none of the VST I use are linux-compatible.

I only used mac for 4 months last year. No complains for coding on it. I have no experience on it for music production, but I know for a fact that it's way ahead of all its competitors. And gaming... Well apart from wow...

And now windows. Obviously the best choice for gaming. Music production could be improved, the drivers and audio routing is not as good as on Mac. And thanks to WSL2, I can code with the same workflow as if I was on Linux.

So in conclusion, windows for the win !

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devlorenzo profile image
DevLorenzo Author

Finally a windows lover! I also think that Windows is the best for gaming + development + work (combining al three), even if I never really tried linux.
I also have to notice that Mac's are incredible for their free softwares (iMovie, music Kits...)

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otumianempire profile image
Otu Michael • Edited

freedom is not decided, on playing video games. I play a game on ubuntu.

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thorstenhirsch profile image
Thorsten Hirsch

Work + games = Linux, if you don't mind using Steam. They literally have thousands of Linux games.

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chadalen profile image
Chad Alen

Personal preference but Mac. I like Linux too but all the companies I’ve worked for gave me Macs. At least for full stack web development. If you’re a game dev then definitely Windows.

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devlorenzo profile image
DevLorenzo Author

Yes, it also depends a lot if you're an android or Ios dev. You can't create ios apps on windows but you can do the opposite (even if it isn't common).
I bought a window because I'm not sure of what I will be and I prefer to don't block me any possible road.

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rrdlpl profile image
R

Even though I use MAC. I would recommend you Linux :P

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aboueleyes profile image
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linhtch90 profile image
Linh Truong Cong Hong • Edited

Windows is still the most popular OS for developers
Personally, I love Linux but it is convenient to move around with a Windows machine

insights.stackoverflow.com/survey/...

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hackhubs profile image
Abhav Thakur

I think if you choose a correct Linux like PopOS and Manjaro you don't need any other OS to think of because these are best for developers and for daily working people

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jonrandy profile image
Jon Randy

Linux or MacOS. Abandoned Windoze years ago - it's such a PITA in comparison

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devlorenzo profile image
DevLorenzo Author

Wow, there's a lot of Linux users out there!

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devlorenzo profile image
DevLorenzo Author • Edited

If you need help to find comments, they're here!

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devlorenzo profile image
DevLorenzo Author • Edited

Another question: What do you think are the requisites / features we need to care about when deciding a pc, particularly being a dev?

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woonway profile image
woonway

Endless theme

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theprogrammerop profile image
TheprogrammerOp

I really love Windows for gaming, in my opinion it's difficult to learn Mac shortcut after years of Windows.
Never tried Linux.

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mardommah profile image
mardommah

Still using linux because don't have enough money for buy windows license or buy mac devices

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brandonwallace profile image
brandon_wallace • Edited

I hear that. Lol. You can get a old computer and install Linux on it and it will be like having a new computer. You will save tons of money. The top of the line Mac Book Pro cost more than $6000 US dollars! Why would I pay that amount when all I want to do is look at pictures of my cat?

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Martin Jablečník

Linux Mint is the best choice for me.. ;)