From Linux to Mac, My Move in Webdev Environment

⏲️ Time: 3 mins

As many of you may know, I’ve recent went and purchased a partially used late 2011 MacBook Air. I’ve had it all weekend and I’ve been getting used to how it works and how to interact with it all. The MBA is intended to be my primary work machine from here on out, even when at home.

If you’ve known me for many years, you’ll know that I’ve long been a linux user on the desktop, specifically the Fedora Linux distribution. I am a big believer in Free and Open Source Software and the open web. That hasn’t suddenly changed. Why then, did I switch operating systems? There are two primary reasons that I will discuss below.

OSX is a new experience

Growing up, I was always a Windows user. From when I was a little boy using Windows 3.x all the way up to XP. It’s just what I knew and what I stuck to. In college I encountered Apple and OSX computers but it was only in a handful of classes. In my last semester of college, I took a class that had me doing administrative tasks in both Windows and Linux environments. This is where the Linux bug bit, as it was a new and exciting experience for me to discover and learn about. In late 2007 it became my primary OS and remained so until present. Within those 5 years, Linux lost some of its original luster and was no longer providing that challenge. It was just routine.

The first inklings of wanting something to finally get a proper Apple experience came this spring when I moved from an Android to the iPhone 4S. You could easily call it a “success” as it made me long for more of the OSX/iOS experience. Not long after getting the iPhone, I started eying the MacBook Air line to fit my need for a work computer and offer me the new experiences I longed for. I eyed the MacBook Air line because it was not as expensive as the MacBook Pro line, which put it well within my budget. Add in finding someone willing to sell their used one for an even lower price, and I was sold.

Need to use what others use and cater to.

I need to be using tools and doing web development on platforms that other people use. It’s why frontend web developers everywhere keep a copy of Windows around: so that they can test their work and make sure it’s working the way they expect on an operating system that still has a high marketshare.

It’s true that OSX doesn’t have a HUGE marketshare in the overall scheme of desktop/laptop computer use. However, companies who create tools and services catered for web developers do know that we use Mac products for daily work, and create for the platform in return. I felt that this was not as true for linux and the various distributions. Linux wasn’t excluded by everyone, but catering to was a lot lower.

Lea Verou, in her own post regarding her decision to get a MacBook Air as opposed to a Retina MacBook Pro, makes a very good point regarding the laptop as a tool.

I don’t want to distance myself too much from the average web user

It happens more than we like to admit: We get cool new hardware, and eventually we’re carried away and think most web users are close to our level. We start designing for bigger and bigger resolutions, because it’s hard to imagine that some people are still on 1024×768. We code to better CPUs, because it’s hard to imagine how crappy computers many of our target users have. We don’t care about bandwidth and battery, because they aren’t a concern for most of us. Some of us will realize before launching, during a very painful testing session, some others will only realize after the complaints start pouring in. It’s the same reason a website always looks and works better in the browser its developers use, even though almost always it gets tested in many others.

I find this especially true with frontend web development where the primary window that someone sees my work is through one of a wide variety of browsers AND browser versions. I can’t afford to distance myself so much by developing from Linux and then finally testing in Windows and OSX if lucky. My move is a strategic method to remove some variables and barriers that I had to deal with.


It’s for these reasons, and surely many others that I haven’t realized yet, that I made the move. I don’t think I’m going to regret it either.


Michael is a seasoned developer who loves helping build stuff for the internet. He brings over a decade of varied experiences working with both front and back end developer stacks.

His primary focus has been WordPress and PHP and all the components that go along with them. During the day, he is a Support Engineer with Maintainn and WebDevStudios, helping clients get the best that they can out of their own websites.

Categories: Adventures

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