Why do web developers use OS X instead of Linux?
Apple's OS X operating system for the Mac seems to be a very popular choice among web developers. But why have so many of them forsaken Linux in favor of OS X? A Linux redditor asked about this and got some interesting answers from fellow redditors.
Michaelpb asks about web developers and OS X:
Why do so many web devs (rails, django, php, etc), who spend a lot of their time SSH'd into Linux servers and develop software stacks ported from Linux, use OS X? Answers I often hear are things like "it just works", "I was used to it", and "I like the hardware". But honestly, I've seen OS X co-workers struggle against their OS enough by now that "it just works" reeks of confirmation bias, especially in the context of web development, when the OS X solutions (homebrew, macports) are complete crap compared to a real package manager.
For hardware, things like Dell's high end Linux laptops definitely give MBP a run for their money, but even that shouldn't matter, Linux runs fine on Apple hardware. More puzzling, I've witnessed some Linux users switch to OS X. This may sound narrowminded, but from my perspective Linux is such a logical choice for web development that my brain honestly can't wrap around why it remains as only a (sizable) minority for web devs.
But I'm curious, what do you think it would take to see an exodus from OS X (back?) to Linux? OS X users who lurk here, what would it take for you to make the plunge to desktop Linux?
Fellow Linux redditors chimed in with their thoughts:
Valadil: "I'm one of the only linux users in a mostly mac web dev shop. The sense I get from everyone else is they don't want to play sysadmin or tweak all the things. They put 100% of their brain cycles into getting shit done. Taking a half hour here or there to google for better xbm icons for their tiling WM's bar is not part of their day."
Lsteph: "This is pretty much my reason. I play in Linux and work on a Mac (or work on Linux servers through the terminal). Just because I have the knowledge doesn't mean I want to put in the effort when there are other things I'd rather be doing."
Notunlikethewaves: A few reasons, in no particular order:
Seriously long battery life
Predictable and consistent multi-monitor support.
Access to commercial apps like Excel and Photoshop (and no, LibreOffice and Gimp don't cut it)
OSX is a passable Unix
Dev tools are widely available through Homebrew
Access to world-class creative programs, like Ableton Live and MaxMSP (and no, PureData and LMMS don't cut it)
The desktop looks OK, not spectacular, but it generally stays out of the way and lets us get on with the work.
I spent probably 5 years with various Linux flavours for dev work. Now I use OSX with Linux servers. I'm not in any way a fanatic about OSX, and it pained me to admit it, but OSX has any Linux distro beat cold in terms of day-to-day conveniences and usability.
Sure, I'd prefer to have a pure linux working environment, but it's not worth the heartache of figuring out why last weeks update broke my multi-monitor, again. I've got stuff to do, and OSX is good at allowing me to get that stuff done.
Tamrix: "Don't forget iOS development. If anyone does that on the side."
PSkeptic: "OS X is better than "passable" for UNIX: It is a certified UNIX OS."
Theferrit32: "Except for they don't implement the full POSIX specification, namely the semaphore and monitor interfaces. They only got the certification because apparently it doesn't require them to implement the whole interface, just allow code be compiled on the platform, even if that code doesn't work.
This is honestly astonishing to me. They have empty function calls in order to get the certification, yet if you compile your code against those functions on MacOS, no compiler errors will be thrown, your code will just quietly not work. That is the worst kind of error in my opinion."
Kn45h3r: "Your millage can vary with OS X also. I've used Linux on my desktop for a long time, but I used to run OS X on my work laptop. The main reason I switched it to Linux is because after an OS upgrade it became pretty obvious that they don't test it on anything but the newest hardware. The switch to Linux meant it went from being a buggy heap that would crash more than once a day, to something that is actually reliable.
Plus homebrew (and macports and fink) are all really poor. I've never understood why Apple didn't step in and do these things right. I'd have no misgivings about buying mac hardware again, I do think is is very nicely put together. But I really do have doubts about OS X.
LphtashuFitz: "When working in a corporate environment it may also be a case of not being able to even use linux. I work for a public company, and employees here have a chance of either Windows or a Mac."
Qudat: "Can confirm, we were not officially allowed to run linux. Ofc we could use virtualbox but that was it."