June 20, 2011

Switching back to Linux as my development host

June 20, 2011 - Categories: development, geek, work

I switched back to using my Ubuntu partition as my primary development environment instead of using Windows 7. I still use a virtual machine to isolate development-related configuration from the rest of my system.

Linux makes better use of my computer memory. I have 4 GB of RAM on this laptop. My 32-bit Windows 7 can only access 3 GB of it, a limit I regularly run into. The resulting swapping slows down my development enough to be noticeable. I could switch to 64-bit Windows, but reinstalling is a disruption I don’t want to deal with right now. On Linux, my processes can access up to 4GB of memory each, which means there’s even room for future expansion. I’m at just the right level now – using 3.9 GB, but not swapping out.

Using Linux also means that it’s easy for me to edit files in my virtual machine. Instead of setting up Samba + Eclipse, I can use ssh -X to connect to my virtual machine and run Emacs graphically. If I want to use Eclipse for step-by-step debugging, I can use sshfs, smbfs, or NFS to mount the files.

The key things I liked about Microsoft Windows 7 were Autodesk Sketchbook Pro and Microsoft Onenote. I can draw a bit using the GIMP or Inkscape, although I really need to figure out my smoothing settings or whatever it is that would make drawing as fun as it is in those other programs. I don’t need those programs when I’m focused on development, though, and it’s easy enough to reboot if I want to switch.

Hibernate doesn’t quite work, but I’ve been suspending the computer or shutting it down, and that works fine. Pretty cool!