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Why programmers think Mac OS X is the best operating system to use

Lucy Hattersley | July 14, 2016
Developers and coders love OS X, but why is Apple's operating system considered the best for coding?

"You get to learn the UNIX shell while having a computer that works. If I couldn't afford a Mac, I'd dual-boot Linux and Windows to get some of the same experience.

Why programmers & coders love Mac OS X: The combo of Unix and commercial software

Programmers prefer OS X

Christopher Reiss, a developer, agrees. "As a developer, that's your target," he says. "A Unix command line. So what machine do you use? A Mac. So you can drop to a Unix command line and closely emulate your target server. If you have an Intel box, you'll install Ubuntu and have a perfect mirror of your server (at the cost of certain business tools like GoTo meeting.)"

That combination of Unix with regular computing devices seems to be at the heart of many developers. "Why doesn't Adobe provide Creative Suite software for Linux?" asks software engineer Tharaka Manawardhana. "Almost all the commercial software vendors provide a reliable Mac version."

Why programmers & coders love Mac OS X: Mac build quality

The quality of Apple machines plays a part. Developers spend a lot of time working with their computers, and most have pretty exacting standards.

"Their build quality is very good," says software developer Christopher Miles, "and you need to use Apple hardware to construct effectively software for the iPhones and the iPad."

"Macs require less maintenance," says hacker Roy Williams. "I used to work at Microsoft, so it pains me to say this, but it is a bear to maintain a PC, even as a developer. Things like DLL Hell can lead to hours of frustration trying to figure out why the wrong library is loading."

Why programmers & coders love Mac OS X: OS X has better cross-platform compatibility

If you get a Mac, you can quickly run all the main operating systems, which is a big plus for those learning programming. It's difficult to run OS X on a Windows PC (or Linux PC), and you need to find, and install, hacked versions of OS X. Meanwhile on a Mac, you can easily install Windows or Linux using a virtual environment.

If you want to developer iOS or OS X software at any point, then you need to own a Mac. If you want to test websites in Safari for Mac, then you need a Mac. If you have a Mac, you can create and test software for Windows and Linux from inside it.

"If you're developing for anything in the Apple ecosystem, then yes, a Mac is a better (virtually required) tool," says programmer Jae Alexis Lee. Piaw Na, Author of An Engineer's Guide to Silicon Valley Startups, says: "Let's say you're building apps for iOS and Android. Well, you can't build iOS apps on any OS other than Mac OS, so you're stuck with a Mac. You can build Android apps on Mac OS, so you end up with a Mac."


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