Mac OS X as development platform

I've never used a Mac before, but I love Unix as a dev platform, and I'm hearing really good things about OS X as a Java dev platform.

My question is, is this true ?

If so, I'd like to buy an Apple laptop to use, and I'm looking at buying a 1Ghz G4 iBook with 512Mb memory. Is this sufficient for using IDEA on & running, say, tomcat in debug mode ?

For the same money I can get a mid range PC laptop. Is that a better bet ?

4 comments

In article <1050625.1076538481030.JavaMail.itn@is.intellij.net>,
Jon Barber <no_mail@jetbrains.com> wrote:

I've never used a Mac before, but I love Unix as a dev platform, and I'm
hearing really good things about OS X as a Java dev platform.

My question is, is this true ?


IMO, Mac OS X is a great platform to use. It also works as a Java
platform.

Apple, not Sun, is in charge of the JVM, and Apple is always behind Sun
in coming out with new versions. (Java 1.4.2 for the Mac just came out
last week or so.)

If that's not important to you, or if you aren't using Sun's VM right
now anyway, then the Mac may be good for you. I switched from Windows to
Mac OS X for my Java development about six months ago and I've been
pretty happy with it.

If so, I'd like to buy an Apple laptop to use, and I'm looking at buying a
1Ghz G4 iBook with 512Mb memory. Is this sufficient for using IDEA on &
running, say, tomcat in debug mode ?


Probably. It can't hurt to add more memory though.

If you live near an Apple store, they may let you install IDEA on one of
their display laptops and try it out. They re-install the OS and
applications on their display computers every morning, so they might not
be too worried about you messing something up. (Just go during a
non-busy time.)

For the same money I can get a mid range PC laptop. Is that a better bet ?


If you like Unix, then no. If you like Macs, then no. If you like to be
able to run a lot more programs (few of which are worth running, in my
not so humble opinion) and run into fewer IDEA bugs, then yes.

If you get a Mac laptop, I would recommend seriously considering getting
their extended warranty. It's not cheap (~$350 for 2 additional years,
IIRC), but neither are repairs on a Mac laptop if they should be needed.

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I went through the same thing just last month. I was mostly concerned with having enough juice in a Powerbook for my development. My concerns were proven unfounded. While an Apple laptop is indeed a bit slower than a comparable PC notebook, it still gets the job done running my Ant builds and deploying to Tomcat/Resin/MySql. I wouldn't go putting Weblogic or Oracle on there though.

What clinched it for me was heading to the local Apple store, downloading an EAP build and a few open source apps and compiling them. No problems.

Here are a few links that helped me and might help you:

http://apple.slashdot.org/apple/04/02/05/024208.shtml?tid=126&tid=156&tid=179&tid=185&tid=190

http://www.kernelthread.com/mac/pb17/index2.html

http://search.lists.apple.com/java-dev

I decided on a 17" PB 1.33Ghz. My advice is to get the least memory possible, and then head over to http://www.crucial.com and upgrade the memory to 1GB. Costs half as much.

And on top of everything else, it's just an aesthetically beautiful piece of machinery.

Good luck!

Jason

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In article <1050625.1076538481030.JavaMail.itn@is.intellij.net>,
Jon Barber <no_mail@jetbrains.com> wrote:

I've never used a Mac before, but I love Unix as a dev platform, and I'm
hearing really good things about OS X as a Java dev platform.


It is what I use every day.

My question is, is this true ?


In general, the hype is true. There are glaring exceptions that can
bite you in the rump, but in the main, it is the best environment I have
seen for Java development.

Positives:

1. A real unix prompt that I only rarely have to see
2. A pretty decent 1.4.2 implementation
3. A gui I can live with. (Windows XP and 2000 failed on aesthetic
grounds. Others with different aesthetics will disagree, of course.)

Many programs work wonderfully.

JProfiler runs great on MacOS X, and they have helped me work past
several nasty crashers on the platform, and IDEA works perfectly, as did
Eclipse. All of these vendors are putting serious treasure into making
this so.

Often, pure Java tools work out of the box without vendor assistance. I
used JEdit's generic jar, and it did work. Similarly, most java source
analysis tools do just fine.

Now follow the glaring exception: proprietary tools

If you use a proprietary package, make SURE that MacOS X is at least a
familiar platform, if not actually supported. A good test is to contact
their tech support team to see whether a bug report would be accepted.

JBuilder 8 was supported, 9 was not, and I believe X is. There are,
however, some very active Mac users on the JBuilder forums, and it
worked well. Further, they accepted bug reports on MacOS X even when it
was not supported.

BEA WebLogic 8.1 does not support the mac. You can run the server, but
there are problems with Workshop, which BEA is not interested in hearing
about unless you are running on a supported platform. I was able to
confirm said problems on a PC, so they may accept the bug report, but it
is very frustrating when your complaint is "your tool generates
incorrect Java." and the response is "Unless you are on a PC, we could
care less." Some employees of BEA do use Macs and try to support
them, but this desire has not reached the front lines yet.

Many profilers require a jnilib, and some do not compile on the
platform. JavaMemoryProfiler (JMP) was such - the native lib did not
compile, and my C++ was too rusty to figure out why in the time I had.

Finally, Apple writes the Mac VM, not Sun. Thus, you are always going
to lag Sun by some amount. The amount varies, but expect at least a few
months. They have lagged years in the past, but they recently finished
a program to make a VM that would not lag by nearly as much. We shall
see how well this works out.

So, look at your toolchain. If it consists of pure Java tools, or
Mac-friendly vendors, then I would agree that it is a great platform.

If so, I'd like to buy an Apple laptop to use, and I'm looking at buying a
1Ghz G4 iBook with 512Mb memory. Is this sufficient for using IDEA on &
running, say, tomcat in debug mode ?


I am running a TiBook 667/1G, and I have few complaints. I would
reccomend bumping the ram to a gig, if you can, as Java programs have
been known to drink RAM.

For the same money I can get a mid range PC laptop. Is that a better bet ?


Not in my opinion, but I am likely biased from liking the platform. I
used Windows for years at work, and a Mac at home, so I am familiar with
both and consider it important that my code work on Mac/Linux/Windows if
at all possible. I switched full time 2.5 years ago, but I do boot the
PC as needed for .NET contracts and the like.

Scott
--
scott@alodar.com
Java, Cocoa, WebObjects and Database consulting

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In article <scott-E8F0B9.09285912022004@host98.intellij.net>,
Scott Ellsworth <scott@alodar.com> wrote:

So, look at your toolchain. If it consists of pure Java tools, or
Mac-friendly vendors, then I would agree that it is a great platform.


If you have one or two tools that you use occasionally and that only
work on Windows, you can get away with using VirtualPC to run them.

I use VirtualPC to run my DB client (a few times a month) and to check
to see if some HTML looks good or if some JavaScript runs on Win IE.

If you have lots of RAM, VirtualPC is usuable, but still pretty slow.

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