Moving web development from Windows to Linux: Key tips?

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I've been a Windows user for as long as I've used computers. I've also been a Windows hater for that amount of time. I'm no stranger to Linux and always have a linux machine to hand for various tasks and tinkering but I've never actually moved my workload over to it.

Well, I've decided it's time to give the big W a big fat L and go full-time with Linux. I'm using a soft distro called Elementary OS which is based on Ubuntu 18.04. I've been tinkering away all day and I'm very happy so far. Now it's time to dive into my web development setup. I've install my usual suspects like node, Atom, a Markdown editor and such, but I'm wondering: How do I take my Linux webdev station to the next level?

What are some of the key packages, software and tweaks that will send my web development into orbit?

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Quick list of things that come to mind include:

  • ZSH: Bash is nice, ZSH is better in most respects if you're looking at doing interactive work from the console. Webdev on Linux will result in you using the console a whole lot more than you probably did on Windows, so having a good shell is a must.
  • A real webserver: such as nginx or h20. This is a lot easier to work with on Linux than it is on Windows, and gives you a better idea of how your app will behave than just serving it via Node's http-server module will.
  • elinks: This is a really advanced text-mode web browser. It's helpful to have one to test accessibility, and they're a lot nicer to use on Linux than Windows. Alternatives include Lynx (the most popular, but somewhat hard to learn to use) and w3m.
  • Inkscape: One of the most powerful SVG editors out there. If you do anything with vector graphics as part of your web development, Inkscape is a wonderful tool to have around. Also works on Windows too.
  • imagemagick: A CLI image editor, great for batch-processing images of all types. A lot of sites like to use it for server-side image conversion and similar, so you might already be a bit familiar with it. It's quite literally one of the most powerful general purpose image processing tools out there, and it's great for cases when you need to process a dozen images in exactly the same way.

Also if a11y testing for Windows users is something you have to do, setting up a windows VM with JAWS and NVDA (most used screen readers on Windows, JAWS is really present on mostly enterprise computers since NVDA is largely better) is the way to go.


Did you think this through? You'll not be able to test in IE during development. :-)


And ironically Microsoft comes to the rescue with VM images to test different IE and Edge versions, so it is a non-issue :)

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