“It’s better to be a pirate than to join the Navy” (Steve Jobs)
This post was inspired by the last part of Jim Neath’s article on speeding up Rails development, titled “Seriously, Just Buy a Fucking Mac”. Some commenters insisted that you can do just as well on other systems (Ubuntu, in particular). In three short words, I don’t agree. In my opinion Ubuntu is a valid alternative but it comes in at second place, and the gap between the 1st and 2nd position is significant. Why?
Some people, when it comes to a good PC vs. Mac fight, start to brag about the hardware – it’s overpriced, and not that much better, and my high end PC notebook is better because … etc. Because they most probably never ever used a Mac for a longer period, they don’t know that the real speed gain/ease || joy of use comes from the software (though it doesn’t hurt that there are no hardware conflicts, evar, no matter how much do you upgrade, no messing around with wifi/mic/video cards/you name it and the quality is top-notch etc.) No. The real secret sauce is the software:
The essential stuff
I have been drooling when I was on Ubuntu and checked out screencasts like peepcode Textmate 2 for rails – fortunately I bought a Mac, watched the video and using Textmate ever since, so the drooling stopped.
uploading of images for fast and fun image sharing.”. Doesn’t sound that mind-numbing, but try it once and become addicted forever.
Once you get productive with these extremely powerful tools (and I didn’t even mention the standard built in stuff like Spotlight, iCal, iChat, Time Machine, …) your development time will be greatly reduced compared to that on an Ubuntu/Windows/… machine. For realz!
Everyone and Their Dog is on a Mac
So… why should I keep up with the Joneses – did the me-too club become popular recently? Isn’t Apple’s mantra ‘think different’? Why join the ‘cool kids’?
Valid questions – however, everyone else being on macs also means that
- you’ll have a much bigger chance of getting quick support on the Ruby/Rails forums/IRC – which is not always easy with Ubuntu (I am on Ubuntu Rusty Robot build R2-D2. Everything is fine, but MySQL driver doesn’t compile because I ran dist-upgrade yesterday, and now everything is jammed. All the tutorials are up to Humpty-dumpty Drake only…).
- Easier collaboration – sharing Dropbox folders, skitch images, iCal events etc. is very-very common – of course there are other ways of sharing data/notes/collaboratively editing documents, but these Mac tools take it to a whole new level.
- Growing Mac usage means that more goodness is on the way!
A bit of Mythbusting
- Macs are crazy expensive
- Mac software is expensive, on linux everything is free
- You are going to deploy to a linux server, so create your app on linux too
- I think you just bought a Mac because the â€œcool kidsâ€ did
You can buy a mac mini starting from $599, or a pre-owned one for $350. Doesn’t sound like bank-breaking. Good PCs are not cheap either – my last DELL was about the same price as my current (almost high-end) MBP. Of course you can buy an Acer for third of the price, but well, the drop in the quality will be proportional.
From the above list, everything essential is free, except TextMate, which is a must, no matter how much it costs. Usually free alternatives exist for almost everything, and the commercial ones are just unbelievably good.
While OS X is not linux based, the difference is minimal – Darwin is a POSIX compliant OS so from the Rails development perspective it doesn’t really matter. I do not have accurate data but I don’t think so it’s easier to migrate an app developed on gentoo/fedora/suse/… to an ubuntu box than to do the same for an OS X Rails app. And even deploying from Ubuntu to Ubuntu can be a pain unless the boxes contain the same version of everything etc.
So what? Does this alter the fact that working on a Mac makes you more productive/effective as described above? Not at all.
Use the Best Tool for the Job
Yeah… in other words, seriously, just buy a fucking mac. It’s the best tool when it comes to (not only) Ruby/Rails development.