Will switching to a mac make developing awesome?
November 20, 2006 7:33 PM   Subscribe

Would an iMac 20-inch 2GHz Intel Core Duo meet my needs?

I've found a good price for one. I do development, mostly webapps in Java and Ruby/Rails. I'm looking for a desktop replacement, which is currently a Thinkpad X31 running Ubuntu. The specific machine I'm looking at only has 512 ram (I would probably upgrade to two gigs) and an ATI X1600 with 128 megs of ram. Will that keep me satisfied for the next two or three years? How well does Eclipse run in OSX? What about IntelliJ IDEA? Are there other IDEs that are more Mac oriented that I should know about?

I've got a separate box that runs my raid so the single 250gb drive on the iMac Duo isn't a big issue. I am worried that the 20inch screen might be (currently using a 19inch CRT).
posted by Null Pointer and the Exceptions to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
That iMac should suit you fine. If after using it for a while you find that the 20" screen is limiting, the iMac has a DVI-out port (you'll need an adapter) and supports up to a 24-inch second display.
posted by pmbuko at 7:42 PM on November 20, 2006

Best answer: To answer your title question, IMO, using a mac will not make developing awesome. Are you coming from Windows or Linux?

When I do development, I try to get the most real estate I can. I use three 21's in portrait. 20" seems rather limiting.
posted by mphuie at 8:17 PM on November 20, 2006

I have been coding on my Mac for about a month now. It's a macbook pro, with specs very similar to what you have. I've been doing ruby mostly, with C and C++ as well. I haven't used eclipse yet, but it's a java app itself, and I imagine it runs equivalently to on windows.

Plus, osx is just awesome.
posted by cschneid at 9:03 PM on November 20, 2006

Best answer: Personally, I'm biased against Eclipse since I'm used to using IntelliJ, but Intellij on OSX is actually pretty sweet. Works great, and the dual monitor setup is key, even if it's a CRT.

Eclipse runs ok on my Core Duo MacBoook with 1 GB ram--if I had the funds right now, I would definitely upgrade to 2 GB (or more if possible).
posted by scalespace at 9:44 PM on November 20, 2006

Best answer: no complaints with Eclipse performance on a 2.16GHz MacBook Pro w/ 2GB, or on a 1.5GHz PowerBook G4 with 1GB for that matter. for me, the awesome of using a Mac for development is being able to run Word but still drop to a terminal that has lotsa Unixy goodness without having to screw with stuff and being able to run Windows/other stuff in virtualization to test things. to be a bit cliched it's all the convenience of Windows with all the niftyness of Unix, plus not having to worry (for now) about viruses/spyware/etc. (though you're an idiot if you believe OS X is impenetrable). plus, I have a web server with PHP right there. (I do PHP development, though OS X comes with Ruby and good support for Java as well. I do have to install stuff - namely, PHP 5 so I can have a real object model - but that only takes like 5 minutes.) I don't know that it'll really make development more awesome per se; I do find that OS X is less of a pain in the ass than other environments, though.
posted by mrg at 10:24 PM on November 20, 2006

I use Eclipse on a 1.6 GHz dual core Mini Mac Intel with 1 GB RAM. Runs very well for Java development.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:59 PM on November 20, 2006

Best answer: "You will need to either dual boot your mac or have a separate windows box for testing."

Not true.
posted by malevolent at 1:27 AM on November 21, 2006

I use an almost year-old G4 iBook for development, primarily using a tricked out Eclipse IDE. Mostly Java though I also do a fair bit of Python, PHP, and HTML/CSS/JavaScript. Eclipse is a bit slower on the Mac than WinXP. It can also present a few problems w/r/t some extensions as Eclipse is SWT and this seems to pose a few problems with Apple's Java implementation. For example, there are UML tools that cannot be used because of this SWT conflict. There is also some problem w/r/t Apple's Java implementation which handles all graphical operations in thread0 which means one cannot truly multi-thread the interface though this seems to have more of an effect with some of the application projects I've worked on than with Eclipse itself.

I'd say the iMac isn't going to be a godsend in terms of a development platform if the sole consideration is how it runs Eclipse and the like. OTOH, it does offer a lot of *nix-y goodness and a wicked useful UI. I should also reiterate my experience is with the last of the G4PPC chips—the Intel platform may negate all my concerns about performance and they may have even fixed some of the SWT / thread0 cruft that makes Java apps bite on OSX when they re-wrote their Java implementation. You'll have to research that yourself, though...
posted by Fezboy! at 7:14 AM on November 21, 2006

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