Every laptop, phone, and video game console has an OS (operating system). You might be familiar with the two most popular: macOS and Windows. But what is the best OS for programming, and how do they differ from one another?
We’ll walk you through three of the best OS for programming and help you understand each one’s unique features.
Keep reading to learn about the best operating system for programming.
What is an Operating System? [Definition]
An operating system is a software program that manages computer memory and processes. It serves as a conduit between the computer’s hardware and software programs. You’ll find operating systems on devices like laptops, mobile phones, and desktops.
Every computer device needs an operating system to run — from laptops and mobiles to desktops and PlayStations. Some operating system examples include Windows, macOS, Linux, Unix, Kali, and Chrome OS.
Features and Functions of Operating System
So we know operating systems manage computer programs, but what exactly does that entail? Let’s take a look at the functions that operating system coding accomplishes:
- Booting: This means turning on the computer and preparing it for use.
- Memory management: Managing memory entailsallocating memory blocks to software programs and applications, ensuring the main memory has sufficient space to keep programs running, and tracking used-up memory space.
- Loading and execution: This means loading up programs to the system memory before executing, or running them.
- Data security: The operating system protects computer data from unwanted access, modification, and destruction.
- Disk space management: An OS effectively maintains directories and files saved on the disk.
- Process management: Operating systems prioritize, schedule, and track processes for execution.
- Device management: This entails managing system-connected devices through respective drivers.
- Interface: An operating system offers users an interface to navigate and communicate with computer components. The Graphical-line interface is for visual components (icons, menus, etc.), while the command-line interface enables users to type commands into the computer to interact with it.
Best OS for Programming
Today’s tech professional has a few operating systems to choose from. Here’s our OS roundup to help you determine the best os for programmers:
Linux is a kernel that serves as the foundation for many other operating systems. Because the Linux kernel is open-source, anybody can use or modify it.
The Linux kernel serves as the foundation even for the Android operating system. Some of the Linux OS common tasks include file sharing, online browsing, office work, printing, and video editing.
Distributions of Linux
A Linux distribution also referred to as a distro, is a type of operating system with a package management system and a software collection built on the Linux kernel. Linux users usually download one of the Linux distributions, such as CentOS, Ubuntu, or Debian, to install their operating system. Ubuntu, CentOS, and Debian are the three Linux distributions most often used.
Advantages of Linux
- Multitasking: The Linux CPU can multitask without going into standby mode, managing several tasks at once. When interrupted, the OS merely switches between activities, which can include sending fresh information to the GPU or refreshing graphics. Even if a process isn't complete, the CPU can pause and return to it later.
- Open source: Anyone can use Linux OS and leverage its source code to modify specifications. Additionally, an open-source OS promotes quicker solutions to problems and ensures everyone has an equal chance to contribute to a project.
- Supports desktop environments: Linux OS supports Gnome, Mate, Cinnamon, and KDE Plasma, among other desktop environments.
- Secure and high performance: Linux is a quick and secure operating system, allowing you to encrypt your drive and quickly run source codes and scripts. Many believe these features make Linux the best operating system for coding.
- Ideal for businesses: Linux allows several users to collaborate on its OS without interfering with one another. Of course, they cannot view or rewrite other users’ data.
Disadvantages of Linux
- Not user-friendly: Linux is for the experienced programmer, as common tasks are performed at the command line.
- Long installation: Most PCs don’t include a pre-installed Linux operating system.
- Poor graphics: Linux is not suitable for games with excellent graphics and AAA titles.
Windows is an operating system with a graphical user interface (GUI). Microsoft released the first version in 1983 — Windows 1.0. The OS continues to receive updates and improvements, as seen by today’s 11.0 version.
The Windows operating system gives users an interface to play games, store files, access databases, create desktop applications, and run a wide range of various application packages. Users can create, upload, download, edit, update, or delete any type of file on the Internet. Its versatility leads many professionals to deem it the best OS for developers.
Advantages of Windows
- Security: Windows has a new security feature — the "Secure Boot" functionality on UEFI systems, which prevents malware from infecting the boot process. The system also enables PINs and image passwords as secure touch screen-optimized authentication techniques.
- Support for commercial software: If you have the money, you can run expensive commercial software on Windows. This isn’t a common capability for other operating systems.
- Affordable: Windows is a cheaper operating system with great value, especially when compared to macOS.
- Easy upgrades: Windows receives major updates every six months, making the system more robust, fast, and secure.
- Battery life: The Windows OS has longer battery life than macOS.
Disadvantages of Windows
- Crashing: Corrupt files make it common for Windows OS to crash frequently.
- Costs: Windows users must pay an annual license fee to use the OS, and Microsoft continues to raise the subscription price.
- Mystery features: Microsoft has been known to add and remove features without notice.
macOS is an OS that allows you to play video games, check emails, edit photos, browse the web, and much more. It presently supports 39 languages, made up of C, Objective-C, C++, and Swift.
The macOS platform employs the Aqua user interface, built around a hybrid core. The system is compatible with workstations, computers, and embedded devices.
Advantages of macOS
- File system types: macOS supports both NTFS and FAT file system types, like Windows.
- Fast: macOS includes strong applications in its installation that don't impede system performance, unlike Windows.
- Instant support: Compared to other operating systems, macOS has a responsive technical support team of knowledgeable engineers that help users with any issues.
- Security: The macOS system has great security and a low virus rate of virus attacks. This is likely because it’s a member of the UNIX family of operating systems.
- Multi-user: Multiple users can collaborate on macOS without affecting each other's resources.
- Easy installation: You can effortlessly install any packages, modules, and applications on macOS.
Disadvantages of MacOS
- Limited game creation: Due to the higher user percentage of Windows OS, game creators gravitate more toward Windows than macOS.
- Expensive: Today’s MacBook costs almost $2,000.
- Limited modifications: Most macOS machines don’t allow you to modify hardware components, such as their processor or graphics card.
The Best OS for Programming
A programmer’s career specialty should inform your choice of OS.
Here are some common programming-related careers and our top OS picks for each one.
1. Software Developer
Software developers are in charge of writing source code from the ground up. Only writing code is not sufficient to develop applications. Along with it, they need to test, fix bugs, deploy, and maintain the written source code. All these activities fall under the software development process.
Software developers favor macOS, Windows, and Linux platforms for creating software, while personal choice is a significant influence. Some developers even run dual-booting or manage two systems. They mostly prefer Windows for personal use, like video or gaming, while using Ubuntu or macOS for development. Furthermore, a significant portion of software developers favor Linux (Unix) for professional use.
2. Website Developers
Web developers specialize in creating digital software that runs in modern browsers, such as Google Chrome, Safari, Firefox, etc. Again the choice of an operating system ultimately depends on personal preference.
However, Windows has the added benefit of enabling simultaneous use of Windows and Linux. Web designers may utilize the required applications, such as Node JS, Ubuntu, and GIT, by using these two Operating Systems.
3. Software Engineer
Software engineers are the professionals responsible for taking part in the entire software development process, from the concept initiation to the deployment and maintenance of software products.
The Mac operating system is preferable for software engineers since its terminal provides more features than Windows' terminal does. Another choice for software engineers is to use Windows 10 coupled with Linux.
4. Machine Learning
Machine learning, a subset of artificial intelligence, deals with providing machines with the ability to think on their own from experiences and make predictions. For ML, the choice between OS depends on the requirements.
In general, use Windows if you plan to use industry-standard software programs like JMP and RapidMiner for fundamental tasks like analysis and model construction. But the top three machine learning programming languages - Python, R, and Octave - perform best on Linux-based operating systems.
5. Data Science
Data science is an increasingly relevant career field today. Analysts, programmers, and engineers usually prefer Linux for its computing speed and compatibility with Docker containers.
The best OS for programming depends on your preferences and goals, through Windows is a popular choice. Overall, macOS, Windows, and Linux are the three most popular operating systems for programming.
Apple is well-known for its macOS, but the company also created iOS — an increasingly popular operating system for today’s programming jobs.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Which OS is Better for Programming?
Programmers often favor the Linux OS for programming for its strong community and technical support for development.
2. Which OS is Used for Coding?
Operating Systems, like Windows, Linux, and macOS, are used for coding.
3. Which OS is Best for Python?
Linux and macOS have good support for Python programming.
4. Which Windows OS is best for programming?
Windows 10 is the most stable and widely used OS version for programming.
5. Which OS is Best for AI?
Unlike any other OS, Ubuntu's characteristics, like reliability, speed, security, and open-source nature, greatly aid AI, ML, and deep learning. Additionally, Ubuntu offers respectable support for the most recent releases of platforms and free open-source applications. As a result, several well-known frameworks, like Keras, OpenCV, PyTorch, TensorFlow, and Theano, choose Ubuntu.
6. Why Do Programmers Prefer Linux?
Programmers prefer Linux for its open-source nature, large community, privacy, and rich features aimed at programmers.
7. Is Mac Good for Coding?
Yes, macOS belongs to the UNIX family of Operating Systems and provides rich coding features.
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