My Development Setup

I think I may have a pretty non-standard development setup (even for a Java-and-Scala developer). I use Windows, which I guess almost no “real” developer does. I’ve tried Linux (Ubuntu) a couple of times, but it ruins my productivity (or what’s left of it after checking all social networks).

But how do I manage to get anything done? How do I write scripts that I deploy on servers, how do I run non-Windows software, how do I manage to work on a project where all other developers use either Linux or Mac?

It’s actually quite simple. It’s Windows + Cygwin + VirtualBox with a Linux distro. For most of the things that a Java developer needs, Windows is just fine. IDEs and servlet containers run well, so no issue there. Some project automation is done with shell scripts, but whenever I need to execute them, Cygwin works pretty well. Same goes for project deployment scripts and the likes (and I generally prefer using a class with a main method rather than sed, awk, curl, etc, to test stuff). As for software that doesn’t run on Windows (e.g. Riak doesn’t have a Windows distribution), that goes on the VirtualBox. I always have a virtual machine running with the appropriate software installed and listening on some port, so that I can run any application locally.

No need to mention Git, as there is a git console for Windows, but also there’s SourceTree, which is a pretty neat UI for the day-to-day tasks. Newlines are automatically handled by git, and even when that’s not enough (or is not working, as cygwin needs the Linux endings), Notepad++ has a pretty easy EOL conversion.

What about viruses? Using Firefox with NoScript, combined with good internet habits, means I haven’t had a single virus, ever. Well, maybe I’ve had some very secret one that never manifested itself, who knows.

That may sound like an unnecessary complication – so many components just to achieve what a Linux installation would give out-of-the-box. Well, no. First, it takes 30 minutes to setup, and second, I wouldn’t go for Linux on a desktop. It’s just too unfriendly and you waste so much time fixing little things that usually go wrong. Like when intensive I/O gets your UI completely stuck, or when the wifi doesn’t work because of those-three-commands-you-have-to-execute-to-add-this-to-the-proper-config. In other words, I get the end-user robustness of Windows (and no, it doesn’t give BSOD anymore, that was true 10 years ago) combined with the tools of Linux.

With that I’m not saying that everyone should migrate to my setup tomorrow. I’m just pointing to a good alternative.