What OS do you use and why?

As anyone who has followed Red Badger’s progress over the last 3 years will no doubt know, we’ve changed a fair bit from when we started out. Undoubtedly a good thing - being adaptable is what we’re all about and the only way to survive.

At the end of last year I wrote about my recent experiences at having switched from using Windows on a daily basis since it’s very first incarnation to using Ubuntu instead. It was a rewarding experience; I was, and still am, really rather impressed with Ubuntu. But as I noted at the time there were downsides (most notably the battery life) and in the end I decided to get a Mac. (I got a 15” MacBook Pro with Retina display, 16GB RAM and a 512GB SSD since you asked).

I’m only really a month into ownership and not quite ready to fully asses life on a Mac as I’ve been mostly writing stuff since I got it and haven’t had much time for any hardcore dev work yet. That said, what I have experienced of it so far I am loving, but my true assessment will have to wait for a future blog.

When you join Red Badger, we let you choose what hardware you want. You can pretty much have whatever you want so long as it gives you the best opportunity to get your job done. When we started Red Badger we were predominantly Windows, with some UI Devs and Designers preferencing Mac. Over the last 3 years that’s shifted significantly to the point where come the beginning of the year, Windows is almost in the minority. I recently carried out a little impromptu survey as to what OS each team member was using, how long they’d used it, why and whether they had any intention of switching in the near future.

Here are the headline stats:

  • Overall we’re currently 60% Mac, 20% Ubuntu and 20% Windows.
  • Developers, taken on their own, are 66% Mac and 33% Ubuntu.
  • 50% of our Mac users have had a Mac for 3 months or less, having switched from Windows.
  • 100% of Ubuntu users have been using it for 6 months or less having switched from Windows.

Mac users gave some of the following reasons for their choice of OS:

  • “Because it's the best of both worlds, awesome dev using darwin and awesome GUI on top.”
  • “The Mac is a much more pleasant experience than Windows”
  • “Tech we're now using works better on a *nix system and I really don't want to move to Windows 8”
  • “I'm not that fanatic of Apple products, it just happens to be Mac OSX that is my favourite...”
  • “Familiarity, ease of use, well suited to web development, tied to preferred hardware design / form factor”

Windows users had the following to say:

  • “The main reason is because this is the operating system that came with the laptop”
  • “I have always used windows and find it easy to use.”
  • “Have tried used Mac's in the past but found them difficult but this is probably due to the fact that “I have been a windows user as far back as I can remember”

And the Ubuntu folk:

  • “apt-get! Every tool easily accessible”
  • “Fast and pretty reliable, has developed a LOT in a few years”
  • “Same environment on deployed servers we work on which helps to do general CLI tasks”
  • “Mainly due to the lightweight nature and the fact it lends itself perfectly for the technologies currently being used at Red Badger.”

80% the team said they had no intention to change their OS in the near future and the rest were fairly non committal about the prospect. There were a few rumblings about OSX becoming a bit to iOS like and various other annoyances with Apple but no real threats to switch.

As our recent Tech Round Table demonstrated, the last 12 months have shown a real flux in the tech we’ve found to best solve the problems at hand and it appears as our choice of OS has, perhaps unsurprisingly, largely followed suit. It really has been a fascinating and exciting few years; I personally love the speed at which we adapt, change and almost unceremoniously replace that which we feel can be improved.

In our case it appears as though Windows has been a casualty of that mentality of late. To my mind, that doesn’t mean Windows is dead to me - it could just as easily be my next OS if it can provide a reason to be so; but Windows 8 certainly isn’t it.

David Wynne
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