Usually, programmers have a doubt regarding which OS is best for programming. The answer to this question is not general, it is derivative. For figuring out the most suitable operating system for a programmer we need to take several factors into consideration including the features of the OS.
The computing of its central processing unit (CPU), its random access memory (RAM), the project on which you are working, the software that you require, and of course, the personal preference of the programmer.
Introduction to OS Programming
An operating system is formally defined as a program used for managing a computer’s hardware and software applications. The operating system is activated as soon as you turn on the target device. It includes all the processes that assist us in accessing the system and its controls.
After the desktop has been successfully loaded on your device, the operating system allows you to interact with the software components, and the hardware components allow the operating system to process this information. The operating system also comes with a memory manager, such as Google Chrome. This helps us in entering and exiting programs.
The Operating System is designed to make computation easy, by enabling multitasking. For instance, when you maximise a video for watching a video or playing a game, all the background applications are kept running by the operating system.
Operating System also maintains and controls the antivirus, therefore, if any threat is detected all the processes are halted and the antivirus pop-up dialog is given the highest priority.
Finding difficulty in programming, here are the roadmap for non-engineer students.
Best OS For Programming In Various Career Domains
The most intrinsic factor for deciding on the best operating system for programming depends on the career domain of the programmer. We have mentioned the most important factors according to the distinct career domains.
1. Software Developer
Software developers have to build the source code of a project from start to end. The process of Software Development includes the entire process of creating prototypes, designing user interfaces, programming, fixing bugs, testing, and maintaining applications.
Even though personal preference is a major factor, software developers prefer macOS, Windows as well as Linux systems for building software. Some of the developers even maintain two systems or have dual-booting. They might use Ubuntu or macOS for development and Windows for their personal tasks such as media or gaming. Further, a large number of Software Developers prefer Linux (Unix) for work purposes.
2. Web Developer
In contrast to software developers who focus on creating digital software, web developers deal with creating websites and web apps that are run on the computer’s Internet browser such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, etc, or on any other digital device.
Linux, macOS, and Windows are highly preferred operating systems for web developers. Although, Windows has an additional advantage as it allows to work simultaneously with Windows and Linux. Using these two Operating Systems allows web developers to use the necessary apps including Node JS, Ubuntu, and GIT.
3. Software Engineer
Software engineering is analogous to software development. The prime difference between them is that a software engineer collaborates between the server, apps, and websites for dialog exchange. They make sure that all the components are working effectively if they are working individually or collectively.
The most suited operating system for a software engineer also depends on the engineer’s preference. The feedback from various software engineers suggests that Mac is better suited for Software Engineers, as the terminal offers more in comparison to the Windows terminal.
Windows Operating System uses a Command Prompt, a.k.a the newer “PowerShell” terminal, that comes with a programming language that is not commonly used. You can use Windows 10 effectively if it is coupled with Linux.
4. Competitive Coder
A competitive programmer is the starting point for all the above-mentioned career paths. Which is the best operating system for programmers? There is no specific operating system that is considered to be perfect for programmers. It mainly depends on the career domain, software used specification of your device, and your workplace culture.
Each Operating System comes with a handful of advantages and disadvantages. You can read below to get a proper understanding of the popularly used operating systems and then make a final call.
Popular Types of OS Programming in 2021
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1. Linux Kernel, Linux Mint, and Ubuntu
For beginners Linux Mint is a better option, after you have used Linux Mint for a while you can switch to Ubuntu. Linux is considered to be the most efficient and remarkable operating system for software development.
Advantages of using Linux:
- Open-source. The prime advantage of using Linux is that beginners can test it out for free as it is open-source.
- Reliable. Linux is highly reliable, the updates will never interrupt your work tree.
- Highly secure. Linux and Ubuntu allow you to encrypt your drive. It is highly efficient with network security as well.
- High Performance. Linux is a fast, efficient, and lightweight OS. Source codes and scripts run faster in Linux, that’s why it is the best operating system for programmers.
- Easy Installation of Modules. Installing complicated modules and packages is very elementary in Linux. In comparison to most programming languages, it’s faster and easier to use.
Limitations of Linux OS:
- Errors. As it comes for free, there are few standing unresolved errors that are being ignored, in contrast to Windows and Mac. Even though it is reliable, a few cases of system crashes, failed installation of accessories such as a keyboard have been reported.
- Unsupported Softwares. For a naive user, this OS lacks software support. For example, Microsoft Word and other similar utility software are not supported by Linux. Linux has an in-built word processor, but it is not as advanced as Microsoft Word.
- Limited Tech Support. While Mac and Windows users can reach out to tech support whenever they have an issue, Linux users can’t. This is because it is a free operating system, funds are limited so tech support can’t be afforded.
2. Mac OS
Mac OS comes from the tech giant Apple, it is the second most used operating system in the world.
Advantages of using macOS:
- Easy Installation. Installing packages, development tools, and apps is easy.
- High-tech Features. The Mac OS comes with a handful of unique features like Siri, DaVinci Resolve (a visual studio for film editing), and a highly intuitive navigation system.
- Facilitates Multitasking. Mac is programmed for multitasking. Running multiple tasks together and easily transitioning among them is an intrinsic feature of this OS.
- iOS Development. For developers who are working on software for Apple products, Mac is the best choice. Devices, files, and data are readily synchronised with Apple cloud servers for easy sharing and storage.
- Efficient Tech Support. Apple offers prompt tech support with diverse options if you face any issues.
Limitations of mac OS:
- Unaffordable. The most recently released iMac Pro comes for $4,999, it is unaffordable for more than half of the population.
- Not recommended for Gamers. Apple computers are easily surpassed by the Windows system when it comes to gaming capabilities. If you are working on Game development or you are Gamer then this will be the wrong choice.
- Inflexible Upgrades. You can add additional RAM or memory to your mac system after making the purchase. These amendments are possible only on Windows systems.
3. Windows 10
Windows is the most user-friendly OS that comes with a wide range of utility software. The earlier versions of Windows have now been replaced by Windows 10, therefore, we are going to discuss it.
Advantages of using Windows 10:
- Antivirus. It is a severe misconception that Windows operating systems are vulnerable to viruses. In the actual scenario, their built-in antivirus protection is robust and defensive.
- Affordable. Windows 10 is much cheaper in comparison to the new Mac. Linux is the cheapest, actually free. Windows is considered to be the best value for money.
- Software Support. Windows support a very wide range of hardware and software components for development.
- Extended Battery Life. In comparison to Mac, Windows has longer battery life.
- Easy Upgrades. For programmers who customize and upgrade their systems on a regular basis, Windows is a better choice.
Limitations of Windows 10:
- Mixed Drivers. Although customisability is its top advantage, it is considered to be a weakness. Allowing numerous drivers to work together may lead to severe system crashes sometimes.
- Forces Updates. Many a time, the Windows operating system will stop working if you don’t update it. This might interfere with any of your necessary tasks. Many users have reported this issue with Windows.
- Speed Limitations. In comparison to Mac and Linux, Windows is slow in terms of running scripts, the transition between tasks, and compiling codes.
Frequently Asked Questions
There is no specific operating system that is considered to be perfect for programmers. It mainly depends on the career domain, software used specification of your device, and your workplace culture. Still, programmers usually prefer Linux because of its versatility.
Yes, Linux is the best for programming as it compiles many programming languages significantly faster than windows. C++ and C codes will actually compile faster on a virtual machine running Linux on top of a computer running Windows rather than directly on Windows.
Apple is better for programming as it comes with a UNIX based command line. Programming becomes easier as you are allowed to run programs in almost any language. UNIX is also more secure by default as compared to Windows. Mac has proved itself to be safer against hacker tools such as malware, trojan horses, and viruses.
Yes, Ubuntu is really good for programming. Ubuntu’s Snap feature makes it the best Linux operating system for programmers as it also finds wide applications in coordinating web-based services. Most importantly, Ubuntu is considered to be the best OS for programming because it comes with an in-built Snap Store.
There are hundreds of operating systems out there, you must take out time and take efforts to use at least a few of them so that you can analyze your exact requirement. If you find an operating system that fits your criteria, you can finally navigate to it and host all your content on it.
It is ultimately the developer’s requirement and budget that decides on the operating system he uses. We have brought up a clear picture of the limitations and advantages of popular operating systems. You can decide and select the most suitable one for you according to your criteria and work domain.
By Vanshika Singolia