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Mac or Linux for Python Development?

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I've been developing with python for a while on Ubuntu but will soon be transitioning to full-time python development. I have the option of using a Mac or Ubuntu environment and I'd like to hear any thoughts on the pros and cons of each. Specifically, how's the support for numpy and scipy? How are the IDEs?

Since I generally like working with a Mac, I'd like to hear if there are any significant downsides to python dev on OsX.

posted Feb 23, 2014 by Ahmed Patel

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I used to do core python development using debian linux (gnome). All way long work just fine. However recently I have had a chance to try MacOS X 10.8 and later 10.9. I used to setup everything I found “missing”.

Vim works fine regardless the platform… quite happy.

3 Answers

+1 vote

There have been some issues with running Python on OSX, so you'd want to make sure you're running the very latest; for instance, 3.3.4 fixed some issues with 10.9 Mavericks. Generally, I'd say you'll do reasonably well on either platform, as long as you're happy with the editor and related tools; but personally, I love my Linux for development. I use Debian (Ubuntu is closely related to Debian), with Xfce, SciTE, and roughly ten thousand terminal windows - that's my "IDE". SciTE is available for a Mac, and there are plenty of other excellent text editors as well, so you shouldn't have any trouble on that score.

Your text editor is probably more important to your productivity than your OS is. Whether you're on Windows, Mac OS, or Linux, or something more obscure like OS/2, you can run your scripts just fine (OS/2 isn't an officially supported Python platform, but I have a third-party build that works fine for me); the important part is getting code from your brain through your fingers into the computer, and a good editor can help hugely with that. You'll hear advocates for vi/vim, emacs, and myriad others, but ultimately, just grab one that looks good and get to know it :)

Personally, I'd recommend going Linux, for the openness; among other benefits, it's generally easier to build C stuff from source on Linux than on pretty much any other platform. But you should be able to use your preferred Mac just fine, and learning something new is a cost that's hard to justify.

Just do be sure (and yes, I'm reiterating this) that you're on the very latest Python you can get. At the moment, that's 3.3.4, but soon there'll be a 3.4 release.

answer Feb 23, 2014 by Amit Parthsarthi
+1 vote

I had problems trying to build my own scipy stack on Maverick, but installing Anaconda's Python distribution solved that.

Overall, Python works very well on OS X, but feels better integrated to me under Linux.

answer Feb 24, 2014 by anonymous
+1 vote

Check the following link

where there is a fairly extensive comparison chart of IDEs, features, and supported OSes.

answer Feb 24, 2014 by Sanketi Garg
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