Why a developer’s next computer should be an Apple

It is not because OS X is better

Let me start by saying that I do not fall into the “my os is better than yours” mantra. I like to talk about the right tool for the job.

  • For a home user, Windows 7 and OS X still beat Linux (yes, even Ubuntu).
  • For a geeky home user, Ubuntu or any other OS might be more fun.
  • If you want to give away your old computer but not give away your Operating System license, put Ubuntu or PC-BSD on it.
  • Similarly if you get a free computer without an OS and you don’t want to buy one, put Ubuntu or PC-BSD on it.
  • For most businesses, Windows 7 is the better solution for a lot of reasons, many of which are IT related and not even user related.
  • For an artist, OS X is the right choice. Sure Windows has caught up in graphic tools, but not in peer knowledge.
  • For a Web Server, I would never run windows or MAC, I would recommend BSD or Linux.
  • For a NAS server, I would use FreeNAS.
  • For an enterprise to sell a secure appliance I would recommend a BSD derivative.

Those are just a generalizations based on the idea of using the right tool for the job. In every case others have different opinions and there are always exceptions. The appropriate thought is that you should use the right tool for the job.
So if you are a developer, what is the right tool for the job? Here is my new generalization.

  • For a Developer, I now recommend Apple hardware.

Notice I said Apple Hardware, but I didn’t say that I recommend OS X. Run whatever OS you need.

It is not because Apple Hardware is better

Also, this has nothing to do with saying that Apple hardware is better. Dell, HP, Lenovo, Sony, and others all make some great hardware for running whatever OS you can run.

Many argue that Alienware makes the best hardware, not any of the above vendors.  It is not about the best hardware.  So if it was a hardware issue, I would be recommending Alienware. But it is not.

Let me repeat.

  • For a Developer, I now recommend Macintosh hardware.

Notice, I qualified this by saying For a developer. I am not telling everybody to get Apple hardware.

Answer #1: It is simply a licensing issue

Legally you cannot run OS X on any hardware other than Apple hardware (an no Hacintosh is not legal) . Since iOS development realistically can only happen on OS X, you cannot legally run iOS on hardware designed for windows either.

Answer #2 – The cross-platform world

You need every Operating System today.

Lets talk about where development has taken us.  We have gone from not really cross-platform (Windows only and sometimes support Macintosh too), to having to be able to code on Windows, Windows Phone 7, OS X, iOS, Android, and possibly Linux and Unix as well.

Lets list these in a table and you will see why buying an Apple Laptop frees you to develop on all those platforms.

Operating System Apple Hardware Windows Hardware
Windows Run OS and Develop for it Run OS and Develop for it
BSD/Linux Run OS and Develop for it Run OS and Develop for it
Android Emulate OS and Develop for it Emulate OS and Develop for it
OS X Run OS and Develop for it Not supported*
iOS Emulate OS and Develop for it Not supported*

* While it can be done it is illegal and breaks license agreements.

Only Apple hardware allows you to install on all the popular Operating Systems that exist today.

So Apple has put themselves in an interesting position where cross-platform development on all popular operating systems can only occur on Apple hardware. It is this position that has me making this statement.

  • For a Developer, I now recommend Macintosh hardware.

As for the operating system that I recommend, you probably have guessed from this post my recommendation: If you are a developer, run them all.


  1. Shahrier says:

    you are assuming that all developers develop software for all platforms.I believe instead of OS we developer are much more concerned about programming language of choice..we do not care what os people are in (we in some cases we do) but we really care about what language should be learned that would run on a variety of OSs.

  2. Koutheir Attouchi says:

    I can resume your post more honestly in two sentences: If you are a developer targetting "Apple Mac OS X" or "Apple iOS", then go buy Apple hardware so you don't break the "Apple restrictive licence". Otherwise, use whatever on earth you want.
    Personally, my development does not address Apple, so I am still free. Nevertheless, I actually run Windows 7, Linux Debian 6, and FreeBSD 9.

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