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I’m a Web Developer and I use Linux

I’m using Linux, and have been for over 4 years because well…

  1. I can run it on just about any hardware
  2. It seems to make my hardware last longer
  3. It handles intensive processing very well, even on older hardware
  4. It supports more than everything I need to be able to create web stuff
  5. It scales very well in a growing development environment
  6. I don’t have to pay silly money for licences
  7. I don’t have to pay anyone for the privilege of launching an app

For some reason, many developers use Apple stuff. I see it all the time. Developers getting their Mac’s out looking all cool and hipster-like. Then there’s me with a bulky old HP Pavillion G Series running Ubuntu. I’m sure that when I’m in groups I get looked down upon. No-one ever says ‘Oooh, you use Linux’; They just don’t say anything.

Well, they’re the fools. Not only because they’ve paid a good wedge of cash to have something that shimmers when they slide it out of their carry bags, but because I don’t really believe they have anything different to what I have except they’ve paid 4 times more than me.

Let’s look at some core things we use in Web Development

  1. A terminal CLI
  2. Command line support for things like Node.JS and Ruby
  3. A good IDE
  4. A decent web browser

… and I cant think of any more. This is pretty much it for me anyway. Don’t know what you lot are doing with your fancy Mac’s. More than me perhaps.

So let’s me talk a little bit more in depth about my really cool setup. I have a Desktop PC – it’s one of those cheap Zoostorm PC’s and I’ve had it for nearly 2 years still going strong. I bought 3 monitors. 2 cheap 21″ Samsung Monitors and I bought another monitor that pivots so I can view scripts vertically,  an LG 22″ Pivot Monitor. I also bought a keyboard, mouse and mat, and headphones. I’ve also got a HP Pavilion G Series 17″ Laptop for when I’m ‘out and about’.

I’m using Linux Ubuntu on both machines. I installed my favourite IDE (which I do pay a yearly subscription to admittedly) called Jetbrains PHPStorm. I can install all the command line tools that I need since they’re all supported on my environment – and all this for a fraction of the cost.

So, Mac users, why do you do this to yourselves? I would be really interested in hearing what makes your life as a developer easier when using Apple hardware. Maybe I am missing a trick?


10 years + experience in web development working with lots of different technology.

Published inLinuxWeb Design


  1. Stacy Vlasits Stacy Vlasits

    I like the thinking behind this post. I agree with you about the tools a web dev needs (although I just use a text editor instead of a full featured IDE, but obviously that makes it even easier to live on Linux since text editors tend to be even more platform independent than IDEs). I also share your sense of what the most important features of hardware are and your values regarding performance/dollar spent.

    Nevertheless, I use a MacBook Air because:
    1. My employer buys (and maintains) my development machine (and replaces it frequently)
    2. I am permitted to take my dev machine home with me (so it’s basically my only computer) and I like to carry it around the office with me to meetings, so I wanted a laptop.
    3. The internet told me that Apple makes the most compact, reliable, performant, long-lived laptops.
    4. The OS X experience is at least as pleasant as the [insert your favorite linux gui] that I’m aware of.

    If any of those things changed (especially the first!), I’d happily join you in developing on Linux.

    Again, thanks for the nice post.

    • Thanks for your feedback Stacy. Interesting response. I completely appreciate your reasons for using the MacBook Air.
      I do have a very low spec PC here that runs everything I need flawlessly. For example, I have the PHPStorm IDE open all the time running lots of Grunt tasks. Lots of browser windows open with developer tools running heap snapshots or whatever. It also has various workflow apps open along with streaming music from the internet constantly. My laptop would struggle a bit with all this I’m sure – but it still handles most of what I need very well.

      I think one of the great essentials in using Linux or MacOSX is the unix shell, which is pretty much exactly the same on both OS’s. Without that, I know I’d be stuck. I have no idea how those Windows users get on :/

  2. I’m a full-stack web developer and Linux user myself since more than 10 years now. I like both Linux and Mac OS’, but I think they have very different targets and capabilities.

    What I don’t undertand is all this “I use Linux, you guys suck, I’m the best” – on which I agree on, but looks to me a bit too much as you’re just using Ubuntu.. Ubuntu, mate.

    A skilled Linux user would advise against using Ubuntu (especially if, as it looks like, you are really into the *performance* and *runs on old hardware* stuff), as it is probably the worst option you can choose.

    If you need someone with basic computer knowledge to use Linux, you would obviously opt for Ubuntu or anything similar (*buntu), because it’s user-friendly and doesn’t really need you to do the “Linux things”.

    In fact I installed Ubuntu on my Mom’s, and my little cousin’s computers, in order to use free software and bla bla bla… Still, their ability in using Ubuntu doesn’t make them Linux users.

    I’m a proud Linux user, I love when I see others, but I would probably look you down upon too: Ubuntu!? So you are a skilled web developer, smart enough to know you can run Linux and do your things without spending unreasonable money – but you use Ubuntu , which is not the best Linux distribution at all. At all and I’m trying to be nice to them.

    IMHO you were better off using a Mac, seriously. I think you should try to use Debian, or its systemd-less alternative Devuan. That will give you a hint of what Linux looks like, and probably enough knowledge to switch to a real Linux distribution such as Archlinux, Gentoo, Slackware.

    If you’re amazed by Ubuntu you will be shock to discover how Linux really performs. 🙂

    “…I don’t really believe they have anything different to what I have except they’ve paid 4 times more than me.”

    Probably much more than four times, but you’re still comparing Ubuntu’s performances with Mac OS performances and that is hilarious…

    • I completely understand all of those points in the context of a Linux professional.
      I use CentOS in a server environment and pretty much exclusively use Ubuntu as a desktop environment, just to clarify.

      I spent a number of years working with OpenSUSE and then onto Fedora (where I ended up getting my RHEL experience). When I use these OS’s in a desktop environment it’s “you need to install this to do that”, “you need to configure this to get that to work” – stumbling blocks everywhere. As a bit of a geek I should normally favour this but I am older, irritable, and have work to do and I just can’t be ‘arsed’, quite frankly.

      Now, Ubuntu just works fine. It’s stable – it just works. I’ve had the same OS installed on my machine for at least 3 years (obviously updating when necessary) and I am able to do my work each day without any problem. That’s not to say that another distro configured correctly can’t do the same – but I’ve had an easy ride with Ubuntu. So I’m happy here and others might be also.

      I wasn’t intending to spark a “is Ubuntu really Linux” debate – although I am fully aware that is one by much of the community. I’m just simply saying one might be able to get the same work done in a much more cost effective and flexible environment rather than being boxed into the corporate monolith that is Apple or Windows.

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