Macbook for Rails Development


#1

Hi All,

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…

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?

Thanks,


Dan W.
http://www.danwebb.net


#2

I’m thinking about getting a 14" iBook, since I can live with a 14"
screen (as opposed to 17", which is more money, of course, and a bit
bigger than I want to be lugging around; besides, I have a 20" monitor
at home.). I think it will be powerful enough for my needs.

Joe


#3

Hey Dan, it should be an excellent RoR development once you get things
installed and configured. Yes, it’s well worth the cost being that
Apple doesn’t really raise prices all that much between the older and
newer hardware. However, the later models have the most “bang for the
buck”. For example, the MacBook Pro has definitely much faster than
its predecessor (i.e. PowerBook) because I was simply clicking on the
iLife 06 apps and they were starting within one bounce and this isn’t
the case with the PowerBook. Also, you’re getting an internal iSight
camera that the PowerBook doesn’t have and will not have being that
it’s the last model that will be released by Apple. BTW, I have been
doing some in store testing and I truly like what I see and my
purchase is eminent and I’m currently doing my RoR development on a G5
2.5 GHz Quad with 2 GB Ram and 2 23" Cinema HD displays. This machine
is used for all my development and animation activities. Thus, my
recommendation would be to go with the MacBook Pro. Next, if you need
more screen space while working from home, I would recommend adding a
monitor. Finally, I like both radrails and textmate for actual
development but you need to find what works the best for you. Well, I
wish that the info helps and good luck in your purchasing decisions.

Peace,

-Conrad


#4

Definitely worth it. I love mine. Haven’t really had any problems
with compatibility. Everything rails-related runs smoothly.
Installation was a breeze, etc… And yes, I’ve put my macbook next
to a powerbook - the speed is noticable. Worth the money.

Oh, and contrary to Joe’s post, the Macbook Pro has a 15" screen.

-Derrick


#5

Conrad T. wrote:

I’m currently doing my RoR development on a G5
2.5 GHz Quad with 2 GB Ram and 2 23" Cinema HD displays.

Wow. You’re rich!

Finally, I like both radrails and textmate

How do they compare? Isn’t radrails lacking a lot of stuff?

Oh, and contrary to Derrick’s post, I never said the Macbook Pro doesn’t
have a 15" screen. But it is rather wide for a laptop that I want to be
lugging around (and a bit more expensive).

Joe


#6

Paul R. wrote:

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.

Can you elaborate? I don’t see how choice of Internet bank would be
affected, since it’s accessed via a browser. Checking out the software
at the Apple store the other day, I saw a lot of familiar packages:
TurboTax, Doom 3, etc. There’s also that virtual PC package, but I hear
it’s slow.

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.

I’ve heard that fink and darwin ports leave a lot to be desired, and
many prefer to only use dmg files.

Joe


#7

On 19 Mar 2006, at 20:49, Joe wrote:

Can you elaborate? I don’t see how choice of Internet bank would be
affected, since it’s accessed via a browser.

A lot of Internet banks require ActiveX controls. Dumb, yes. But
quite common, particularly for business accounts in the UK. In fact,
I don’t know of a UK business bank account that works in anything
outside of IE + Windows.

Trust me, this bothers me. A lot. I expect it will change in a couple
of years though. If it doesn’t, I’ll move my business account off-
shore if I have to. That’ll make the customs and excise people
happy. :slight_smile:

Checking out the software
at the Apple store the other day, I saw a lot of familiar packages:
TurboTax, Doom 3, etc. There’s also that virtual PC package, but I
hear
it’s slow.

Virtual PC isn’t just slow, it’s painful. I imagine if you’re buying
Intel hardware though, a newer version will be released which will be
a bit fruitier.

There are apps out there, sure, just be aware that there aren’t as
many as there are for Windows. Nearly all my applications are Unix
based, so for me it’s a problem. If after research you think it’s not
a problem for you, cool. If it is, well, try and switch apps. :slight_smile:

I’ve heard that fink and darwin ports leave a lot to be desired, and
many prefer to only use dmg files.

Well, being a BSD user, I’m used to /usr/ports but DarwinPorts isn’t
up to that standard yet. I tend to stick with .dmg files myself quite
often, but occasionally you’re going to have to get down and dirty
with the command line.


Paul R.


#8

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:

http://lists.freebsd.org/pipermail/freebsd-chat/2004-October/002684.html

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. :smiley:

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
Windows-only tools.

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.


#9

On Mar 19, 2006, at 3:29 PM, Paul R. wrote:

On 19 Mar 2006, at 20:49, Joe wrote:

Can you elaborate? I don’t see how choice of Internet bank would be
affected, since it’s accessed via a browser.

A lot of Internet banks require ActiveX controls. Dumb, yes. But
quite common, particularly for business accounts in the UK. In
fact, I don’t know of a UK business bank account that works in
anything outside of IE + Windows.

FWIW, I’ve never had any problems using one of the larger banks here
in the US online via Safari.

I’ve heard that fink and darwin ports leave a lot to be desired, and
many prefer to only use dmg files.

Well, being a BSD user, I’m used to /usr/ports but DarwinPorts
isn’t up to that standard yet. I tend to stick with .dmg files
myself quite often, but occasionally you’re going to have to get
down and dirty with the command line.

I used DarwinPorts to install subversion, ruby, rubygems, fcgi and
lighty on my MacBook Pro with no problems. Once those were installed
I went to town with gem to install rails, capistrano, feedtools,
flexmock, rake, etc. I did have to build DarwinPorts from source, but
that was trivial and painlessly fast on the MBP.


Jason P.
removed_email_address@domain.invalid

“The computer allows you to make mistakes
faster than any other invention, with the
possible exception of handguns and tequila.”


#10

Hi,

On 19 Mar 2006, at 20:49, Joe wrote:

Paul R. wrote:

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.

Can you elaborate? I don’t see how choice of Internet bank would be
affected, since it’s accessed via a browser.

Well, that’s quite a reasonable statement. But you might well find
(as I did initially) that your bank is merely omitting the word
“Explorer”, and their product should more properly be called
“Internet Explorer Banking”.

I bank with First Direct. It was quite a while before their core
internet banking product was supported in any browser except IE, but
I’ve been using it fine in Firefox & Safari for a few years now. A
year or so ago they brought out an advanced internet banking product,
which (last time I checked) is only accessible with IE running on a PC.

Anyway, I’m typing this on a 15" PowerBook, my first Mac, which I
bought a couple of years ago. Last weekend I bought an Intel iMac,
and it’s fantastic for Rails development. Really fast. I have to
admit though, it used to swap a fair bit before I put in an extra 1GB
RAM. It runs really smooth now. A new MacBook is definitely on the
cards, once my finances have recovered from buying the iMac. :slight_smile:

Jon


#11

Yeah, I’ve heard of ActiveX sites persisting, but I can’t think of any
offhand that I regularly visit. I do run into sites that use Java
applets once in a while. I don’t think I’ve ever used an Internet bank
that required ActiveX (I use - via Firefox - Paypal, Bank of the West,
and Netbank (long time ago)), but I’m not saying they don’t exist :wink: (I
wouldn’t use one anyway).

Joe


#12

For typical rails development I think the MacBook may be overkill, or
at least more than you really need. I can develop adequately on my Mac
Mini with only 512MB ram although it could really use 1.25GB like my
12" PowerBook has.

I was able to justify the 12" powerbook because I use it in so many
casual ways around the house, its a coffee table computer and its also
my primary development environment for Rails. I dont have much use for
a large MacBook, but obviously others have different working needs.

I have to say as someone who switched about a year ago that its not
totally painless, joyous and free. I’ve used Linux and Unix for years
but never as my primary computer - I’m just nowhere near as
comfortable with those systems as I am with Windows and many basic
tasks are done differently in Mac from Linux anyway - either way it
takes getting used to.

Also there are some frustrating things, it took hours to figure out
how to print to a shared LaserJet 1012 (hint, you can’t use HP’s
driver use GIMP instead). I’d have to shell out extra money to sync my
windows smartphone with the Mac. I can’t run RealRhapsody or
PokerStars.

I’d almost recommend you get a small PB or iBook and just try it out
for awhile. Actually I don’t have a rave review of the 12" powerbook
either its too hot and the fan is too noisy and now the battery won’t
sit flush so it wobbles a little on a table sometimes.

Still I am quite fond of OS X in general, apps like QuickSilver and
TextMate in particular and I do like have the UNIX subsystem while my
wife and I can both use Safari for browsing in the living room etc.

On 3/19/06, Dan W. removed_email_address@domain.invalid wrote:

Thanks,


Dan W.
http://www.danwebb.net


Rails mailing list
removed_email_address@domain.invalid
http://lists.rubyonrails.org/mailman/listinfo/rails


Jeremy H.
http://www.jeremyhuffman.com


#13

Dan W. wrote:

Thanks for all the feedback everyone. The reason Im getting a mac is
because I need a *nix environment but linux seems to just eat time
while you continually try to make it work in one way or another.
Plus, it shows that the core team all work on macs, Ive lost count of
the amount of times Ive ended up hacking rails scripts to get them to
work on Windows and then deploy well on our debian servers without
loads of fooling around.

I don’t even bother setting up Rails on my Windows machines - I just
edit stuff remotely. Pretty easy with netdrive or any editor that
supports FTP (like Editplus or I think Ultraedit).

As for Linux desktops, I have very unfond memories of spending copious
amounts of time getting ridiculous stuff like mice, video cards, etc. to
work. I recently tried out Ubuntu, spent half an hour trying to get my
wifi card to work (unsuccessfully), then said “f that” and went back to
Windows. But, yeah, OS X seems to be the best package out there.

Joe


#14

Thanks for all the feedback everyone. The reason Im getting a mac is
because I need a *nix environment but linux seems to just eat time
while you continually try to make it work in one way or another.
Plus, it shows that the core team all work on macs, Ive lost count of
the amount of times Ive ended up hacking rails scripts to get them to
work on Windows and then deploy well on our debian servers without
loads of fooling around. It sounds like the mac book is good for
rails development by your comments so im sold.

Cheers,

Dan

On 3/19/06, Jeremy H. removed_email_address@domain.invalid wrote:

I have to say as someone who switched about a year ago that its not
PokerStars.
On 3/19/06, Dan W. removed_email_address@domain.invalid wrote:

Thanks,


Jeremy H.
http://www.jeremyhuffman.com


Rails mailing list
removed_email_address@domain.invalid
http://lists.rubyonrails.org/mailman/listinfo/rails


Dan W.
http://www.danwebb.net


#15

On Sun, 19 Mar 2006, Jeremy H. wrote:

I’d almost recommend you get a small PB or iBook and just try it out
for awhile. Actually I don’t have a rave review of the 12" powerbook
either its too hot and the fan is too noisy and now the battery won’t
sit flush so it wobbles a little on a table sometimes.

Having worked with both the PB12 and the iBook, I would recommend you
look
closely to see if the iBook can do everything you have in mind. The
PB12
is not, IMHO, good enough to justify the price difference.

–Jim


#16

I’m going on day 3 on my new MacBook. I left Windows for it, and so
far it just rocks. I keep laughing like a fool when I discover new
things about how smooth the OSX experience is. I’ve had some trouble
getting the rails stack up and running, but I’ve chalked that up to my
own cluelessness. I’ve been able to use Locomotive and SVN for
Capistrano deployment without problems. I’m still having problems
getting my apps to connect to mysql, though, which is making me think
I need to suck it up and install the whole stack without Locomotive.
(which sucks, because Locomotive is cool). Overall, the MacBookPro
experience itself has been very rewarding so far.

Matt


#17

Jim Zajkowski wrote:

On Sun, 19 Mar 2006, Jeremy H. wrote:

I’d almost recommend you get a small PB or iBook and just try it out
for awhile. Actually I don’t have a rave review of the 12" powerbook
either its too hot and the fan is too noisy and now the battery won’t
sit flush so it wobbles a little on a table sometimes.

Having worked with both the PB12 and the iBook, I would recommend you
look closely to see if the iBook can do everything you have in mind.
The PB12 is not, IMHO, good enough to justify the price difference.

I bought the entry-level iBook just after it was upgraded to Tiger +
512MB. I added another 1GB of third-party RAM, and I am very happy with
it. I confess I dithered for a while between iBook and 12" powerbook,
but now I’m glad I took the cheaper option.

UK prices: 699 pounds for the 12" iBook, 1099 pounds for the 12"
powerbook… and now 1429 pounds (1.83GHz/512MB) or 1779 pounds
(2GHZ/1GB) for the MacBook Pro - price ratios 1 : 1.57 : 2.04 : 2.55

Justin


#18

On 19 Mar 2006, at 23:56, Jim Zajkowski wrote:

Having worked with both the PB12 and the iBook, I would recommend
you look closely to see if the iBook can do everything you have in
mind. The PB12 is not, IMHO, good enough to justify the price
difference.

I went for an iBook as well, because at the time the internals of the
PB12 and a 12" iBook were effectively identical - one was in a white
chunky case, the other was in a slightly smaller silver case, that
was it.

In addition, because I was at a Uni, for less than a grand (GBP) I
could get in the form of the iBook a 12" laptop with integrated WiFi,
bluetooth, 512Mb RAM, 60Gb disk and DVD drive, and in November 2004
that was a very good deal indeed.

My reason for switching was not being able to stomach the fight to
get all the weird hardware on a laptop working smoothly with FreeBSD
as well. I do miss the Thinkpad package - the hardware is much, much,
much better*, IMHO - but OS X isn’t a half-bad OS on the whole.

    • better keyboard, lighter, smaller, better screen, Ultrabay slots,
      etc., etc… it’s just that at the time I was buying with edu
      discount, Apple hardware was cheaper(!!)


Paul R.


#19

Well, I made the plunge. Got Rails and all other bits going really
easily. It’s already loads better than Windows. Looking very good.

Just got to get used to that Apple key business…

On 3/20/06, Casey C. removed_email_address@domain.invalid wrote:

–Casey

I need to suck it up and install the whole stack without Locomotive.

either its too hot and the fan is too noisy and now the battery


Rails mailing list
removed_email_address@domain.invalid
http://lists.rubyonrails.org/mailman/listinfo/rails


Dan W.
http://www.danwebb.net


#20

Dan W. wrote:

Just got to get used to that Apple key business…

What’s that? SSH keys or something?

Joe