On 19 Mar 2006, at 19:15, Dan W. wrote:
I’ve finally got fed up of struggling with Windows and am on the verge
of splashing out on a Macbook for Ruby/Rails development. I’ve seen
DHH’s post about it on loudthinking but I wondered if anyone else has
any more wisdom…
Well, for what it’s worth, I posted this to the FreeBSD mailing list:
about 30 days before ordering myself a 12" iBook which has been my
only machine for about a year now. So don’t trust any of my opinions,
as they change rapidly.
When I have more money, I need to upgrade to get more RAM and
something lighter, and yeah, I’ll probably go with Apple hardware,
probably a Macbook Pro.
If you’re a Unix guy (which I am), the advantage I suppose is that
under the Terminal it’s FreeBSD userland. I’m a BSD guy, so for me,
this is great.
If you’re a pure Windows guy, I have no idea how difficult or
otherwise it’ll be to transform your working style. I use my iBook as
a kind of a Unix box with a better GUI than KDE or Gnome and with
some commercially available software that is quite nice (like
Textmate), so my working style is likely to be different to yours.
For what it’s worth, I did do some work in Radrails on XP last year,
and personally I found it to be OK, but just a little unfamiliar. Do
not invest heavily in another architecture and OS and development
environment just because you like the sound of Textmate - do so
because you think you’ll become more productive in ALL your tasks or
do what I did and get fed up building X and windows managers and just
want something that you take out of the box, turn on, and you’re
running, but it’s still Unix under the hood.
Your choice of Internet bank, accounting package, games and other
software will all be dictated from that switch point on, so be sure
you mean it.
Is it worth it over a powerbook? Any tips on good OSX apps for Rails
dev (textmate, i know already)? Anything not working well on it?
In Ruby/Rails terms? Well, depends on how you’re handing your package
management with fink or darwin ports, but MySQL can be a bit weird
getting running first time, but is now a well-documented process. In
general, everything is pretty straight forward.
For some reason, if you’re using the ajax_scaffold generator, and
you’re generating on OS X, the resulting code is riddled with bugs,
but I know that is getting eyeballed as I type and should be fixed in
a few weeks.
As Rails core are all OS X guys, chances are for Rails dev, you’re
actually going to be better supported in some respects on OS X than
you are on Windows.
When you’re developing in a team, if the rest of the team aren’t on
OS X, things like the socket line in database.yml can throw you, as
can the shebang line in the public/dispatch.* files. You can work
around those. Also, if you’re using any UML tools, or your team is,
or your clients are, realise you are probably not going to be able to
play along easily. Ditto if they insist on MS Project or other
You should also know if a lot of your clients/customers/colleagues
work with you via MSN or Skype, the Mac clients for both suck. Skype
is passable (unless, like me, you use Virtual Desktops, in which case
it is just plain stupid), but the MSN client is like going into the
dark ages. The jabber clients out there are a bit rubbish as well.
Colloquy is OK for IRC.
Oh, and of course you aren’t testing code in IE any more (IE for Mac
really isn’t IE. No, really…), so be careful about playing with too
much CSS that is on the edge, and be wary of IE-specific bugs you
might not catch.
As far as Unixes go though, it’s OK. Some guys dual-boot Linux but
they tend to be the militant GPL types IME. Compared to Windows?
Well, apart from online banking I don’t boot Windows any more. I hope
that will change this year too.
P.S. - if you work in a Uni/school or know somebody who does, order
via the Education site. Discounts on Apple hardware used to be 20%+
from list when I was working at a University (last year), yet you’re
still buying direct from Apple.