Rails Development: Mac vs Linux

My employer recently upgraded my work laptop to a late-model Macbook Pro. I maintain an internal Rails application with a colleague, and we needed to setup our development environments on the new machines. We went through the process of installing RVM, Ruby, Postgres, and supporting software. Building the environment took us more than a day after all was said and done. We ran into one issue after another – nothing we couldn’t solve with a little Googling – but it was still a lot of incremental steps.

At the same time, I am working on a small hobby project and needed to build a from-scratch Rails 4 application. I was going to install the server on my personal Windows computer. At the same time, I’ve been working on a separate Raspberry Pi project. The Raspberry Pi sits on my network, so I decided to install the rails server on the RasPi instead of my Windows machine. The Linux installation was easy, and almost everything worked on the first try.

The Macbook Pro is ubiquitous in Rails development circles, and I’ve been developing Rails on my Mac for a couple of years. I always assumed the ubiquity of Macs was due to the ease of environmental management on the Mac compared to Linux. I’m starting to believe the opposite. The installation on Linux was painless compared to the Mac install. I haven’t used much linux in a number of years, and I was barely proficient when I was a regular user. I am shocked by how easy package management has become. I installed RVM, Ruby 2.1, and Rails without any hassle. The installation was not fast, but I believe this is because I was compiling source on my wimpy RaspberryPi. As RVM said:

this may take a while depending on your cpu(s)...

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