I recently went on a trip and realized I needed to take all 3 of my laptops with me. Each one runs a different operating system. Over time, I have moved away from dual-boot and virtualization in favor of One System per Laptop. I am contributing to some desktop applications that need to run on both MacOS and Windows 10.
Fine. Why not just do most of it on a MacBook and then pull out the Windows machine when it's time to build and test it on that system?
That would make sense, I suppose. Except that I've never quite gotten cozy with development on a Mac. I quite prefer to develop software on Linux. I will save my praise for my favorite Linux distributions for another post, but I will generalize my preference here. It is not due to ideology or politics. It is due to speed, versatility, and my own creature comforts.
Thus, I choose to do most of my development on a Linux machine, and to employ the Mac and Windows ones as needed. I also use a handful of proprietary applications on those systems, such as Adobe Creative Cloud and Ableton Live.
These are my laptops:
Lenovo ThinkPad W540
- Windows 10 Pro
- Intel i7-4800MQ 3.7 GHz
- 15.5" IPS display (2880x1620)
- NVIDIA Quadro K1100M GPU
- 16 GB RAM
- USB 2.0, USB 3.0, Thunderbolt, Mini Display Port
- 256 GB SSD + 512 GB SSD
this one is a big clunky powerhouse
great for multimedia production
Dell XPS 13
- OpenSuse Linux tumbleweed
- Intel i7-6560U 2.2 GHz
- 13.3" IPS touchscreen (3200x1800)
- Intel Iris 540 GPU
- 16 GB RAM
- USB 3.0, USB Type-C
- 1 TB SSD
the best combination of power and beauty
runs linux like a champion
- MacOS Sierra
- Intel core m5 1.2 GHz
- 12" IPS display (2304x1440)
- Intel HD Graphics 515
- 8 GB RAM
- USB Type-C
- 512 GB SSD
very cute but not very powerful
lightness and long battery make it great for travel
Nothing in Apple's line-up can really compete with my Dell or Lenovo in terms of price & punch. Apple hardware is also notoriously iffy when it comes to Linux support. That Dell XPS 13 finds itself in the sweet spot of power and portability. The Lenovo is more capable for really big tasks, such as high-end multimedia applications. The MacBook does the least to justify itself, but I need something with MacOS so that I can support that platform. Thankfully it is so tiny that I barely notice it in my travel bag.
A specced-out MacBook Pro would run Adobe and Ableton projects as good as that ThinkPad, but I just can't justify it. I paid about $1500 for that ThinkPad brand new in 2014. It still bests new MacBooks Pro which cost twice as much. It supports up to 32GB of RAM, and two 2.5" SSDs which are easily replaceable. It has a retina screen, a professional graphics card, and Thunderbolt. If you can look past its rugged, clunky exterior, it remains a MacBook Pro killer almost 3 years later.