A Developers Journey to Windows – Part 3

If you haven’t been following along, I have embarked on a perilous journey to switch to Microsoft Windows from OS X. You can read about the thought process that led me to this decision in the blog post title “Getting Productive with OpenShift on Windows”.

I quickly followed it up with some tricks for getting tab completion working for OpenShift 3 using ZSH.

Here I am in my third installment of the series and you may be disappointed with the content of this post if you are also trying to make the switch to Windows after a long hiatus. Why? Well, it’s because I failed miserably. I really wanted to like using Windows 10 and I will be the first to admit that it is a sexy looking operating system. I really enjoyed the user experience and the vast amount of applications available to help me as a developer. All of the tools I need were there.

With that being said, I have actually been using Fedora 22 the last few weeks as my personal development platform. Why did I have such a drastic change in attitude?

Freedom

If you recall from my first post in this series, one of the main reasons I switched from OS X was because of the lack of personal freedom I had in relation to hardware choices. I went full steam ahead in the windows ecosystem and even purchased a Surface Pro 3 tablet/ultrabook to use while road warrioring.

Then a few things happened. The media grabbed a hold of the privacy concerns related to the Windows 10 environment and I gotta be honest, it left me a little uneasy. I use my computer primarily for development and I felt “weird” about all the settings I had to disable to feel like my OS wasn’t spying on me. To be clear, I don’t have anything to hide in the items I work on and in fact, all of our development is done in the open source community and is freely available for anyone to see. But still, it just felt wrong. I was giving away my freedom to use a better OS that didn’t lock me in to the hardware ecosystem.

What tools do I actually use to be productive as a developer?

Not in priority, but they are as follows:

  • IDE(s) – Eclipse and IntelliJ
  • Atom editor
  • Sublime editor
  • Terminal prompt with nice SSH integration
  • Spotify
  • Clementine
  • IRC
  • Web Browser (Chrome)
  • Office document creation and editing
  • Presentation creating / editing
  • Video conferencing
  • Screenshot tools and image manipulation
  • Wunderlist
  • Email client

That’s about it.

I honestly catalogued all of the applications I use to do my job and created a spreadsheet of them. I then cross referenced them across operating systems to check compatibility to help me make my decision.

Where did I end up? Fedora 22.

Calling it as I see it

You are probably saying to yourself: “Yeah, I saw this one coming a mile away from the Red Hat guy”. To be honest though, I believe in using the best tool for the job regardless of corporate allegiance. For many years, the best tool for me was OS X. Then I tried to shoe-horn myself into the Microsoft ecosystem to address a theological OS freedom problem I was struggling with. Pretty ironic, huh? Turning to Microsoft because of freedom concerns.

At the end of the day, I would prefer to be locked in hardware wise than unknowingly have my operating system collecting usage statistics and other telemetry data on me.

This is when I basically said to myself, “Well man, Grant. You should just use Fedora and call it a day.”

Using Fedora

Fedora meets all of my requirements both in the software landscape and in the freedom landscape. It doesn’t get any more free than with Fedora.

And guess what, the world has changed over the last 5 years both from a personal freedom standpoint and from software standpoint. Today, people seem to be fine with having all of their personal information available on various internet sites including social media. In fact, when people interview at companies, the first place a hiring manager goes is to check you out on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Our lives are public and I don’t know how I feel about that. Now we even provide our GPS location via our phones and make it publicly available. I personally believe we should just all put a chip in our arm and be done with it. Then we can collect some really cool statistics on how much time we spend walking, eating at restaurants, talking to friends, and all of the other critical things we post to social media. I wanted to get back some of this freedom that has been taken away from me and see no reason why my OS wants to know my current GPS location in order to use the built in tools (Cortana, I am looking at you).

Software has changed. I give full credit to Apple for this one. We no longer live in a Windows only world. For a company to be successful, they have to offer their product on a variety of platforms (Windows and OS X) and even mobile (iOS and Android). Linux has been able to piggy back on this and benefitting from a web defined software world for most things. Not only that, but thick clients (Spotify for example) was ported to OS X which then also led to a situation where not much work would have to happen to make it available on Linux.

So, at the end of the day, the perfect OS for me is Fedora. Why not Ubuntu? Well, that is a very good question. Canonical does some things that leave me feeling uneasy as well with their history of providing Amazon search results right inside the OS. This is stuff I don’t want nor stuff I need. I just want an OS that is stable, doesn’t spy on me, doesn’t shove ads down my throat and runs the applications I need.

But but but but, what about Photoshop? Fair point. I don’t use photoshop as I am not a graphic designer. I am not going to try and tout using Gimp because I don’t have any experience with either. My photo / image requirements are: take a screenshot, annotate it, resize it, post it.

But but but but, what about Microsoft Office? Okay, this is not 1998. You don’t need office. Use google docs or libre office (or even Office365 in a browser). As a developer, if you are spending so much time working with office documents that you require some random feature that only Microsoft Office provides, I am going to argue that you are no longer a developer. :)

Conclusion

My Windows journey has come to close.

The desktop operating system is not as relevant as it was even five years ago. With most companies / projects providing their software for multiple platforms, it is easier than ever to switch among the big three (Windows, OS X, Linux).

Is this the year of Linux Desktop? No. It was never the year of the Linux Desktop nor will it ever be simply because the days of the importance of the desktop operating system is over.

What matters today is the server operating system where all of these cloud based applications live that you use in your browser.

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