OS Talk: Why Web Developers should use Linux

There are many reasons why working on Linux has advantages, but for web developers, it should be a no-brainer, but just in case you really need reasons here are just a few of the main ones.
The main feature Linux boasts that makes it better suited for web development over any other Operating System is the fact your local apache server has the same setup as your live hosting. Even without this, the benefits of using Linux over Windows or Mac OS are massive. I’ll go through the main advantages with you in this article.

Spending less time worrying about problems

Once you have your computer setup to use Linux you can spend less time worrying about viruses and other security problems, and more time working on what really matters, your job.

As Web Developers spend a lot of time on the Internet, whether its checking emails, working on twitter or downloading the latest patches for software you use. It’s nice to know your pc, and all the important work on it is save. When using Windows and even a Mac to an extent you can install Antivirus, anti-spyware and anti adware on your computer to have any chance of making sure its safe from the threats that come with using the internet these days. And even then, that is a lot of trust to be putting in the hands of a 3rd party company.

A real life, proper server to test on

When working on a site, many web developers work on a local development server before transferring it over to their live site. This enables them to test everything before it goes live. Any computer with a browser can view locally stored html files, although if you work with php in any form, you’ll need a server with php supported (guess what you can do that locally on the Linux box as well!).

Both Windows and Mac can be setup to run as a local server, although these have totally different setups from over 70% of all online servers, which run on Linux Machines.

When running Linux on your PC you can have a fully functioning web server on your computer with the exact same setup as your live site.
How to install Lamp on Ubuntu

Save Money

You don’t need to spend big bucks to have the latest and best Linux running on your computer. Licencing is non-existent as Linux is Open Source.You’ll be able to easily find a linux distro that will run on nearly any PC made within the last 10 years, possibly more if you really want to.

Instead of spending money on the applications you use, you can get something suitable for free, which can be installed in minutes without any hassle once you get past the relatively easy learning curve. And as Linux is open source it means that anyone who is interested can help out with the code, just like what happens with WordPress!

It’s Yours: Web Developers love Open Source Software

It’s a fact that a majority of our community love Open Source software. Most of US believe that software should not be under proprietary license. So why use a software which is not open source. Linux is open source and you are free to do anything with the code. Change it, rip it, sell it whatever you want to do with it. Just keep it open source. :)

5 great free Linux Web Development Applications


Comes as default with most Linux distributions, is a great simple no frills text editor which its quite popular for coding. Has syntax and tab support.

Another text editor, though more advanced. This truly is a programmers text editors.

Kompozer is a great free wysiwyg web editor. Another similar software is Amaya which is a great free Web editor started by the WC3.


Offers a full web development environment producing html, css and JavaScript.

Despite what some people believe browsing on the web using Linux is the exact same (apart from being allot safer). You can use all the big browsers apart from Safari, and I’ll also point out that all the addons work as they should no matter what Operating system you are running.

Lamp (Linux, Apache, MySql & PHP )

One I’ve already mentioned: The package LAMP, an anagram of Linux, Apache, MySql and PHP provides a fully working server which is the same package 90% of all websites run on. Great for offline development too!

Note: I haven’t linked to the above few programmes a I recommend you download them with your system installer.

For a great sized list showing some brilliant Linux Applications head over to Top 100 OpenSource Applications

Designing on Linux

Designing on Linux is also a lot better than what people seem to think. By default many distributions include the programme Gimp, which although not exactly as detailed as Photoshop, it defiantly does pack a punch.

Other programmes that are great for designing are:


An Open Source vector graphics editor, with capabilities similar to Illustrator, CorelDraw, or Xara X, using the W3C standard Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) file format.

OpenOffice Draw
From the OpenOffice package offers the ability to draw anything from a quick simple design to detailed complex designs

It’s also possible if you don’t want to use any of the great Linux alternatives  to get Photoshop working on Linux using Wine.

Photoshop CS2 on Linux with Wine

And if there is a Windows programme that you can find for Linux then you can more than likely get it installed on Linux using Wine (Free) or Crossover (from €37.00 ) though crossover is more aimed at playing Windows games on Linux.

As an alternative if you do have a reasonably fast PC with sufficient ram you could use a virtual machine  (VIRTUAL BOX) and have a couple of flavours of Windows on it (licensing is the issue here, but you are just testing) and then check if IE7 and 8 (and IE6 for about 20% of the web users) can access your site. More importantly you can then see how badly these will mangle your code and what fixes you have to make.

Linux is suitable for everyone

A common misconception is that you need to be a big tech person or geek to use Linux, although this is true with some distributions such as Arch Linux, with the dawn of new distro’s like Ubuntu, you can have a fully working Computer with a few clicks and 15 – 20 mins of your time.

You can even use Wubi: the Ubuntu installer to install Ubuntu with a single click from Windows.

Helpful Readings:

Some other great Linux distributions

So there probably isn’t any single reason why you should move to Linux for your Web Development work, though it can drastically make life a lot easier for you. I really recommend you at least give Linux a try, it really is worth the effort.

What’s your opinion on which operating system, web developers should use?


I'm Darren ,A teenager living in Ireland.I run a few different sites around the web, zomghow.com being my newest addition Connect with me on twitter. Look forward to hearing form you!

15 Smart Tools To Help You Build Your Freelance Business

Discover the awesome tools we use in making our clients comfortable and happy in learning new things every day.

Download Now


  1. Yanike Mann says

    Nice Article! I’ve been building websites on Ubuntu Linux 11.10 (www.ubuntu.com) for a while now. My MUST have tools are Geany IDE, GIMP, Inkscape, and Adobe Photoshop CS5 (Photoshop through WINE). From time to time I do check them on IE9. Developers really don’t need to have a native install of Windows anymore. You can simply run it through VirtualBox and check your sites on IE there.

    Also, Internet Explorer is not the most used browser anyway. Google Chrome now owns the title. One thing that I found is that if I coded to Opera and checked my sites with Firefox and Chrome on Linux. IE9 would always show my sites correctly. Microsoft has done a good job at fixing IE to read more like Firefox and the others.

    Bottom-line, Linux (I speak as an Ubuntu user) is a lot more powerful, has A LOT more features for developers (client and/or desktop), is way easier to setup now, and doesn’t require the user troubleshooting like Windows. LibreOffice is amazing and has great features that will suit any word documenting needs and more.

    The need for Microsoft Windows isn’t necessary anymore. Unless, you go to college and need Word or work for an company that is dependent on Microsoft. I’m not saying all things Microsoft are bad, because they do have great technologies, I’m just saying you don’t need to only use their OS anymore.

    • Yanike Mann says

      Just remember as a web developer, you can use any OS to code from to start to finish. The OS is just by preference. We aren’t limited like other developers. If you do develop for desktop, check out Qt. It will make all your apps cross-platform.

  2. Abishek says

    Thanks Darren!
    one of the best article i ever read. It helped me a lot.
    Thanks again……

  3. jd says

    Back again…

    As many have said, and I said originally… and this is also a good point

    “But as a professional engineer I don’t have *time* to get it up and running.

    This is something many Linux fanboys don’t quite understand. Time spent finding work-arounds for Linux is time lost. I use both systems at work. Linux is an excellent server side platform but for dev I prefer to use Windows because I never have to question whether anything will run on it or not. IE runs natively and software that normal people actually use can be tested without using a VM or WINE.”

    TIME TIME TIME…saving 100 bucks is a non issue, why is this even mentioned…

    Face it, if you are prof web developer, i.e. you make several thousand dollars a year, having STABLE Adobe CS5 and MS Office is a MUST. I repeat, a MUST. Virtually every client’s wireframes, graphics, etc are going to come with this. Both Mac and Windows both run good dev environments for eclipse. They are all just tools, linux is great for a web server with no gui, of course it is… but as a Desktop client it is still far behind.

    Some linux geeks act like we are newbs b/c we are using windows and mac…Are you joking? We use Win/Mac b/c it saves a lot of time, linux is not exactly difficult to use. But time is money. I’d rather be developing/designing than troubleshooting.

    • Mike says

      Hi, I’d like to second jd’s post.
      I have had my experiences over the years with windows 3, 95, 98, ME, and XP. and not one single one of them ran perfectly all the time, maybe except for windows 3. I had to put up with random blue screens of death, I even had to deal with viruses, I even had to download a dos virus scanner to clean the windows viruses, etc. Come XP, and its no different. in fact, the newer versions are SLOWER. they put in more eye candy to make the end user think that he or she is having the greatest system ever. Then when windows starts to fail, they make their error boxes more fancy by giving you the opportunity to send an error report… for what?
      Another problem with windows for me is that alot of times, a restart was necessary to make the system work and to even make certain changes effective like swap file size, etc.

      Now on to linux….
      I installed it only once, made minor configuration changes (since im a slackware user), and now it is working flawlessly on the exact same computer that I ran all of the windows versions on. On top of that, I was able to create a custom config script to make linux work as fast as windows 95 or even faster. Funny thing is that this linux is newer than windows 98!
      On top of that, linux is much more secure. not only do you have your read-write-execute permissions (in windows is archive, read-only, hidden and system), in linux, the permissions are categorized by groups that certain users can access as defined by the administrator, and you don’t even need a GUI to configure anything in linux. In windows, you’ll be lucky if the files are bound to permissions and to certain groups and to certain users. I dare someone to access windows remotely from a low level.
      On top of this, I got a lamp stack included in my distro and it was pretty much ready to go.

      Bottom line…. even tho some linux distros show a bunch of text at the start, linux is NOT slower. It’s all about how the OS’s are configured. The best part is that the odds of a lockup and/or a required restart in linux are like 1 in 1,000,000,000 where as in windows, its more like 1 in 100.

  4. Karl says

    We’re a small web design and development company who use mainly open source software. However, as part of our job is cross-browser support, we need IE.
    Windows licensing means in order to run IE you need a Windows OS. To check all browsers properly, the best OS is W7 Ultimate with XP mode.
    I love Linux, and all the software we run as a company is cross-platform so we can use portableapps and Linux Live if anything goes down.
    We run XAMPP for development, use Inkscape, GIMP and Scribus, so there would be no difference to any aspect of our business except browser checking if we switched.
    If we did just GD or dev it would be Linux, but since the browser thing is important to us, we’ll develop on and for all major browsers, and W7 is the best solution

  5. says

    I use Windows 7 as desktop. I cannot use a lot of programs in any other OS than Windows plus a lot of my hardware won’t work. If you use Ubuntu or Linux Mint which seem like good end-user distributions, you could be using Windows 95 as well, given the features and all. I agree that Vista has a lot of bugs but Windows 7 is just the best OS at the moment imo. Add all the programs available for Windows and it’s a winner.
    I use Linux for servers and test environments, since it is very easy to configure with scripts and it is performs well and is secure.
    I can see how OS X can be the OS of choice for design and development since it does a good job at that as well. I never used OS X much myself since the programs are available for Windows as well.

  6. Cycron says

    I’m a Linux using web designer/developer. However, I don’t think this post was well put together (typos everywhere).

    I currently use Ubuntu 11.04 with Gnome, but I’m planning on switching back to Debian.
    Currently, for my development and design needs I use Gimp and Gedit.

  7. Tea says

    Great post, I believe website owners should acquire a lot from this site its real user genial .

  8. ajayahmed says

    None of the comments above are from actual web developers. You do not need to do cross browser checks when you follow web standards (try w3school). Linux users need to stop expressiong opinions as facts and misleading the less informed. Commercial operating systems are always more stable and superior as the developers are paid to work and non commercial are worked on as a hobby – who would you trust? I use Windows for odd games, mac for movies, music production and now learning video editing and ubuntu for web development and my employers use rhel. At the end of the day it’s like the infamous saying; “it’s not the car it’s the driver”. The best tools are what you find most comfortable, there’s nothing else to. Nonetheless, article was great, thank you.

    • Mike says

      I am a web developer. It is a good idea to have your code checked by multiple browsers and definitely the HTML validator at http://validator.w3.org/

      While the HTML is important, some browsers cannot comply with the standards and do what they think is best. If you test with just a few browsers, like the latest versions of IE and Firefox, and the tests pass with them and the html validator then your website should be good.

  9. Marcelo says

    Hallo. i tried to use.. many web dev tools. like bluefish,geany and other but. … i dont like it. now i use komodo edit for linux. is no under gpl licence but its free :) and work good for me. other good web dev IDE .. i think. and i use it to is Netbeans. for php exactly.. code completetion and more .. :) to create images… inskape and gimp.. and i use web developer tools. (u can download it from ubuntu repositories. or from launchapd…) bye :)

  10. jd_ says


    Decent article with breadth but not much insight or depth. Regardless… I suppose it is useful.

    Don’t get me wrong, in an ideal world, linux would be king. However this is not an actual ideal world.

    I am a web developer, and my servers use well… a paid version of linux (gasp) Redhat Enterprise …Because I actually have to work with other people, who know Redhat, and rely on real world stability. If I have an issue, I know I can get an answer for it.

    At home however… I still run Windows, even though I know bash in linux, every thing you mention in your article, are actually done better in Windows.

    Not because Windows is inherently better, it isn’t. It is because Windows supports the applications I need to succeed with professional tools.

    These would be, Microsoft Office. Complex Excel sheets with VBA, general word docs, just are not reliable in OpenOffice…There are too many quirks to even attempt it. Plus the giant mass of consumers use Mac/Windows which both run Office.

    2nd, Adobe Suite… there is simply no substitute that runs natively (or correctly) in Linux such as InDesign, Photoshop and Illustrator

    Windows is great because I build my own hardware, and it works. I have triple screens at home, dual 24″, and a 46″ Plasma. All connected to my box for monitoring purposes. This simply would NOT work under linux.

    My audio software will not run favorably with linux either.

    My Wacom tabs do not function correctly in linux, nor do my custom keyboards.

    So … basically for a Pro desktop, I would stay linux is still far behind, though I think it makes the best web server, and I use it and I’m sure I am much better at the command line and as a sysadmin than all these newb linux fanboys… I’ve been using unix for almost 20 years now.



  11. Bas Schouten says

    Are you serious? ‘incredible cost savings’? Windows 7 Ultimate is $220 .. that’s a whole 2 hours of work if you’re a fairly cheap contractor. OS pricing is really not an issue in a commercial environment.

    As for a live server, it’s quite easy to setup a Linux VM host or another sort of setup where you can easily test without having to run a (security sensitive ;)) thing like a web server on your day-to-day computer which may contain security sensitive information.

    As for the Virus thing, it’s nice, and it’s true, until everyone starts using Linux and viruses start being made for it. So for now that argument will hold, but it’s mainly a merit of using a fairly uncommon OS.

    No, the good reasons to use Linux for these sort of things are idealistic, not practical. Not that there’s anything wrong with idealistic reasons, they just should be confused with practical ones.

  12. H. says

    Regardless of being a fan of open source and Linux, however EVEN Linux isn’t a trouble-free system, in fact, I can feel that working on a Linux system gets your hand more “dirtyer” in things you shouldn’t have wasted your time with in the first place. For example, why till now I have to fedle around to get x3100 VGA running smoothly in Ubuntu, for example ??

    Linux may be better in lots of aspects than either Windows or Mac, but it isn’t superior in every aspect, nor offer a trouble-free computing out-of-the-box.

  13. Someone says

    “Up to par with Windows and Mac”
    This wasn’t the impression I got from the introduction.

  14. says

    I only use Windows on my other machine for testing IE.

    Been using Ubuntu exclusively for about 6 months and I love it.

    I’ve tried Aptana, Bluefish and some other code editors, but Geany is my favorite so far. I use FileZilla for my FTP and Dropbox to sync any files I need on my other computers.

    I’ve been running PS CS5 under Wine and it works great. Never could get the hang of GIMP.

    I do love me some Inkscape. I usually send files in EPS to sign and print companies that use Illustrator.

    I don’t use Windows anymore because of the amount of virus/spyware/malware software I needed have just to feel safe turning on my computer.

    But that said, you won’t make the transition from Windows to Linux overnight unless you’re already comfortable with it. However, I don’t intend to go back to Windows as my main system.

  15. says

    Nice article!

    …but a recommendation: I prefer using bluefish as my editor.
    It’s pretty perfect – supports gvfs (which means you can open and save files that are mounted via ssh or ftp).

    You can click on the nautilus bookmark, open your “external hosted” website ftp directory and edit the files with double-clicking them. Pretty cool and much time-saving!

    Also there is something like “macros” where you can set templates using variables (which are requested when you click on ‘em).

    Many, many features.

    Have a look at the screenshots:


  16. Marijus says

    Actually I would use Linux (and I have tried to do for about half a year) for WEB development. But the problem is a compatibility of windows-based programs, which are wide used by clients, colleges – IE, Photoshop, MS Office. Gimp and OpenOffice could not substitute them. Using VM could be a solution if not a high resource consuming and delay of loading…

    Actually I thing Linux developers should invest on Windows-based programs running solutions, such as Wine. Otherwise Linux always would be NR 2.

  17. Otto Rask says

    A no-brainer for a web developer to use Linux? I’d say a no-brainer for me is to get work done in Windows and leave playing around in a new OS for the free time when I can be arsed to learn a whole new set of varying workflows, quirks and problems.

    Not saying Linux is worse or better than Windows, but if Windows works as well for a web developer, why waste (paid) time and learn Linux? I’d rather use Linux to learn how to set up an actual server environment, used and offered by web hosting companies. :)

  18. Hellboy1994 says

    I hate Linux ,its a stupid OS.U may say its developed , Open source or whatever that doesn’t change the fact that the regular person finds difficulty in using it.And in what concern design , i give him 0/20 and this is why :
    -Most powerful design softwares are built for Mac or Windows.
    -Unstable system.
    -The system can crash anytime.
    -You fell like you are handling with a rock ,not a pc.

    • Darren says

      Are you sure it wasn’t a rock you tried Linux on? As everything you mentioned is complete and utter BS

    • Qchmqs says

      U think LInux Is UNstable ????
      I worked With Linux My Whole LIfe (i am currently running a Mandriva )and never saw A BSOD
      do u call windows stable ???
      do u like to have to do a fresh install and loss all your data for one single bad mouse click(virus spyware spamware damnwares)
      linux never crashes for me and it is not rocket science it is just a bit complicated and if u handle it well u’ll find that it does the job well
      (the more u love him the more he loves you)

  19. Christopher Anderton says

    I don’t get it. I can run every app mentioned on OS X (including the KDE/Gnome apps) + all the non open source apps like the Adobe apps, MS Office and so on.

    Browser testing? You could go with a Virtual Windows or Linux installation. Or you can go with setting up different Windows IE versions stand alone with Wine.

    Server. MAMP (up and running in 1 minute) instead of LAMP. I never had a single problem to develop a complex site on MAMP and then move it to a Linux server. It’s Apache, PHP and MySQL. It’s not different on OS X.

    However. I don’t want to bash someone that using Linux. It does not mather what you are using. As long you get the job done. The only thing is that the arguments of why choose Linux is pretty flawed in many ways.

    • DarrenM says

      Thanks for the comment Christopher,
      This wasn’t just a post on why the choose Linux, its aim was to show people Linux was up to par with Windows and Mac.

  20. ertan says

    I’m using ubuntu linux. I turned from vista 6 months ago. LAMP and php are best for me. If I need .net, I can use it in Virtualbox for a litte time.
    I am write web application in 10 years.
    Darren, you are exactly right :)
    Linux is best for web developers.
    thanks for article.

  21. tobias says

    I tried Ubuntu and quite liked it also it has a few quirks.
    It’s a show-stopper that I cant use the Adobe suite on Ubuntu (To the geeks: No, Illustrator 10 on Wine and/or Gimp is not enough).
    Having a real server and the apt-get package management is “nice-to-have” but not really something essential.
    I switched back to Windows and I feel its much more reliable and it “just works”, what’s kind of most important for professional work. For that reason I would also like to switch to MacOS at some point.

    • says

      Actually, you can run the Adobe CS4 Suite on Linux, it just takes time and energy to get it up and running. The arguments listed in this article are specifically for web developers, and Linux isn’t specifically designed for us. Linux is simply wonderful, for hundreds of different use-case scenarios.

      • Daniel Hooker says

        But as a professional engineer I don’t have *time* to get it up and running.

        This is something many Linux fanboys don’t quite understand. Time spent finding work-arounds for Linux is time lost. I use both systems at work. Linux is an excellent server side platform but for dev I prefer to use Windows because I never have to question whether anything will run on it or not. IE runs natively and software that normal people actually use can be tested without using a VM or WINE.

        Sure some software tools don’t run quite as smoothly as on Linux, but I seem to have fewer problems than colleagues who run Linux as their main client side dev box. They spend their time messing around with drivers and working out why things are broken and I spent my time doing development. I once ran XP for months without requiring a single reboot.

        Having programmed computers for over 24 years I can tell you that they are a tool and nothing more. The differences between operating systems is really not worth spending so much time and energy debating about. You find your prefered tool and stick with it.

  22. says

    Never heard such a load of old ****

    In the order you have them:
    1) Spending less time worrying about problems – I don’t know how badly your PC is set up but it takes 5 minutes to install antivirus and firewall on any computer (PC, Mac, etc…) and it’s done. I can’t remember the last time I had any form of trojan or virus, certainly not one that wasn’t found with the daily scan and easily dealt with. As for anything else with PC, no problems what-so-ever.

    2) A real-life server to test on – I’m .net so this one is sort of void as Linux wouldn’t help anyway.

    3) Save money – Unless you’re having a computer ONLY for carrying out web design I don’t see how this point stands. I, like I’m sure many others, use my PC for numerous functionalities: watching films, playing games, etc, etc, etc… And you can’t say software is necessarily cheaper as you’d still be installing third party software (Visual Studio, Dreamweaver, etc) or finding something open source which is just as available on other OS’.

    4) Open source – I’m not really sure what this ones about. As a web developer I don’t really understand why an open source OS is important to you… Unless you’re talking about php as open source again well in which case not my area anyway so irrelevant.

    So Linux for web-developers “a no brainer”, I think you need to rethink your case.

    • DarrenM says

      “I’m not really sure what this ones about” you should have used that to start of all your points tbh… bar number 2, thats a valid reason, though doesn’t apply to the wider majority of users.

    • says

      You don’t need to install an anti-virus, let alone scan daily. A real-life server to test on? Not everyone uses .NET. (Obviously)
      Saving money? There are incredible cost savings with open-source software, particularly the cost of Windows. Open-source? Software missing a feature? YOU can add it. Extensively customizable software solutions.

    • says

      Actually I believe the open source portion has to do with portability and maintainability of an application. If a particular plug-in doesn’t work for you, then you can modify it as necessary.
      As far as not being able to anything other than web development, I think you might want take a look at the latest installations of Ubuntu or Fedora. You can do more on one of these installations than you can with a fresh install of XP, Vista, or Windows7. Try playing a DVD on a fresh install. You can do that right out of the box on FC or Ubuntu. Granted you can install virus or protection software in a quick amount of time on Windows…Then you’d have to wait the minute or two to reboot the system, then another minute or two to load up your services, and couple more minutes for your system to check for updates and be ready for you to play away. So it’ll take you at the minimum ten minutes to install any given complex application, whereas in linux, you load, fire, and forget any app you want from a trusted repo.
      Expensive third-party software? It’s all open source or compiled on a repo. Do I want an IDE?, I have my pick of many choices from netbeans to emacs, to a simple text editor. It’s the same for any piece of software for any function.
      I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be able to switch betweeen OSs, I myself develop on Linux, Windows (XP, Vista, and 7), and a mac, but the point is, that Linux gives you the choice to decide how you want to use your computer for a minimal cost and effort, and with the modern distros of Linux, you can get started, with full functionality in less than 20 minutes.
      btw, what type of mobile phone do you own? Is it Android or WebOS? You’re running Linux.

  23. Danny says

    linux is a much advanced technology and really useful for everyone but unfortunately i am still using windows xp and facing some problems ;( after having a look on this article i think i desperately needed linux, thanks for share this great information with us

  24. ed says

    I think if you’re a kid and don’t want to pay for the photoshop suite and have lots and lots of time to dink around with using Linux as a desktop environment, than more power to you.

    Eventually, you get old and grumpy (34) and just want the damn thing to work. So you have your own dedicated box(s), you buy your software (or charge it to a client), and you install Avast (see: that’s free) and go.

    I’m not sure that web developers (should) use Linux exclusively, but all in all, you tried to make a decent case. It’s not going to work for a lot of folks though. Keep writing.

    • says

      If you use Linux, you don’t have to buy software, and you don’t have to install an antivirus. It’s trouble-free computing, out-of-the-box.

  25. says

    Package Manager, Package Manager, Package Manager!

    The advantage is this. When you need to install a php extension, or other program, you open up your package manager (synaptic for me), check the little box for php-imagemagik, postgres, or whatever and click apply. The closest thing to that is mac ports, and it is far from that of synaptic. You don’t need to open up php.ini or anything, it handles it for you. And thats not just php extensions, its any program or plugin you can think of.

    Designers, you’re right, gimp is not photoshop or fireworks, and inkscape is not Illustrator. But for the programmers its everything you will ever need and more.

    • Dave says

      “inkscape is not Illustrator”, it’s true, inkscape is better ^^

      I use mac os to develop web apps and it’s a great, but MAMP is not the best tool, just try to send email from MAMP …… you can’t

  26. Rob says

    Sorry, I disagree — Perfectly happy running my nice little MacBookPro with MAMP installed – Have never had a problem being compatible with my various LAMP hosts (none). And I don’t worry about security at all – Until something hits in the wild verses theory or lab rat experiments I won’t worry about it either.
    The advantage the Mac has is I can run any unix variant I want and any version of Windows I need also. No fuss, no muss and whatever native apps I need/want for any of the three platforms.

    • DarrenM says

      No sweat! alot of it is personal choice / needs anyway. Though don’t forget Linux is up to par if you ever need to change :P

  27. says

    if i’m are develop using cross platform language like ruby, php, java, etc, i’m certainly will using linux, but I have a day job that the project using .net so hiks … hiks still using windows, btw maybe you forgot netbeans run in linux too

  28. Ross says

    A lot of these are complete straw-man arguments and the entire article is dishonest. Sorry.

    • Saad Bassi says

      Rather than just raising a use less shout, it would be awesome if you give your points on why u didn’t like the article.

  29. Ricardo Graça says

    I have been using linux based operating systems for the last 4 years. First started with Ubuntu, then Fedora and now I’ve switched my work pc to openSUSE, and I have to say that KDE is superior to Gnome for web development, at least for me. Opensuse includes a fantastic tool (YaST) that makes development work easier, like setting up apache, mysql, etc. Also, opensuse is much prettier than most gnome based distros (ubuntu 10.04 looks really nice though), and stuff usually just works. It seems to be more productive and well organized, and it also feels more professional.
    The comments on proprietary files compatibility also aren’t exactly true. I can open office 2007 files fine with openoffice 3.2. AI files also open just fine with inkscape, as do PSD files with GIMP. I tend to find that most things just work, and those that don’t can usually be made to work. Of course, like all OSes linux has it’s quirks, but I can work around them most of the time.

  30. Matthew says

    I’m a budding web developer and I use a combination of Ubuntu and OS X, but Ubuntu definitely has its advantages for what I do. I’m purely a coder, I don’t do Photoshop or WYSIWYG editors so Ubuntu does everything I need. I use Vim as my text editor of choice, and rely on online utilities for the most part if I need to create or edit images, and it’s nice to be able to install the full LAMP stack on my computer quickly and easily. OS X may be Unix, but it’s not quite as good for getting a development server set up, while with Ubuntu it’s just one command to install it, and maybe editing a few files to change the root directory of the web server.

  31. wong says

    I did use ubuntu to develop before, install only LAMP, the rest, use the default apps :) Much stable and faster than I use a Mac or PC… Anyway, I turned back to Windows 7 as I design too.

    By the way, CS2 in Wine is NOT stable, at least for me, Photoshop 7.0 is way stable…

  32. says

    Although I agree that Linux is equal (if not better) than Windows and MacOS there’s one major problem: compatibility with clients…

    Most clients will send you Word documents, .psd and .ai files, etc which ain’t supported by Linux out-of-the-box.
    Ok, it’s possible to emulate most apps with WINE, but this requires some extra knowledge about the distro you’re working with.

    • DarrenM says

      Hey Johan,

      Thanks for commenting Though I don’t know about .ai files it is possible to work with .psd files with Gimp. In the same way Open Office, or indeed Google Docs if you wish can open .doc files. All of which are usually installed out of the box.

      • Masternetra says

        Yea inkscape can open .ai files or at least i remember it doing so. The problem with psd files can be with the layer effects… simply put most of photoshop’s layer effects just not supported in GIMP (at least not yet.) A simple psd with no layer effects should open without any real trouble.

    • Chris Pratt says

      Microsoft Office documents aren’t supported by any OS right out of the box, including Windows. You have to have a copy of Microsoft Office. There’s versions for both Windows and Mac, but Linux users can use OpenOffice, which is actually completely cross-platform. This alone is no reason to choose an OS.

      • Masternetra says

        Actually Windows 7 supports .doc out of the box via word pad. But as for the new .docx, yea you will need the new MS Word app.

  33. Mladen Panic says

    A more suitable title for this article would be “Why Web Developers should use Linux over Windows”. OSX is insecure? It ain’t 100% secure (nothing is for that matter…), but how many OSX users do you know that ever once had a virus or something of that sort? And also, a whole load of free software is available for OSX.

  34. says

    I booted up for about 6 years on Ubuntu, and then launched a VM for Windows for testing via Oracle Virtualbox. But then I had to get a faster laptop eventually. While Mac aficionados purchased $2500 laptops, I picked my super fast, quiet, really well made eMachines E525 (actually made by Gateway, owned by Acer) for a mere $298. It came with Windows 7. It’s a fantastic buy and I recommend it to everyone. Just ignore the fact it says eMachines on it.

    Some other funny things about the eMachines E525 — people were discouraged from buying it because it said the processor was a 900, and they assumed 900 Mhz. No! It’s a 2.7Ghz dual core. It’s a Celeron 900 chipset. Also, they thought the DVD drive was read-only. No! It’s read-write. Also, it never mentioned the battery life on the box, and I found out it’s a decent 4 hours. And the laptop runs cool to the touch — much cooler than other laptops I have used. The video chipset is fantastic and supports 3D effects both in Ubuntu and Windows. But I digress…

    I had a choice here — format and boot with the latest Ubuntu, or boot Windows 7 and launch Oracle Virtualbox to load Ubuntu in a VM. I decided to boot Win 7 and then do the Oracle VB + Ubuntu VM thing. The reason? Better support on wireless networks when in hotels while traveling. I mean, sometimes Ubuntu wireless just can’t connect and only a Win or Mac PC can connect — I’ve seen it before. As well, Skype screensharing and other advanced Skype features don’t work inside Ubuntu yet or don’t work well (without crashes). So, I use Skype in Windows and it lets me Skype screenshare not only my browser testing environment but also my Ubuntu VM screen for discussions with my clients. The other reason is better power management. So far, I have seen Win 7 handle power management and fan spin down (or up) far better than Ubuntu still, and so the laptop runs cooler.

    As for performance, it’s actually fairly okay. I give 1GB RAM to Windows, and 1GB RAM to Linux. I then divide the hard drive into 2 equal parts.

    • jas says

      Use the iwconfig, iwlist and wpa_supplicant tools in Linux for greater control in regards to wireless connections. The Wicd connection manager is far superior to the default NetworkManager application in Ubuntu. If you wish to go back to linux that is.

      I have been developing (started as a designer) since 1997. At first I thought I needed windows but as time progressed I found myself using linux more and more.

      Wine+Photoshop CS2 for any design elements (since I have been using Photochop since version 3), and using the Komodo IDE (not free but great WYSIWYG editor) as well as vmware-server for my various LAMP server needs.

      Since Mac OSX Apple went ahead and skinned & customized the Unix FreeBSD operating system so who am I to argue on your choice?

      The only drawback I have found using Linux is that I no longer develop any of my web applications for IE

      • Masternetra says

        Not too big of a lose as IE is the weakest link…its a shame it has so many users. (mostly people who don’t know any better and just use what came with the computer.)

  35. Jorgen says

    Having worked professionally on both Windows and Linux as a web developer I can say both have their (dis)advantages over the other.

    There simply is no alternative for Photoshop. Gimp’s support for .psd files is bad, very bad. The same goes with Open Office and Ms Office.
    Photoshop, Illustrator and others on Wine isn’t always a viable solution. Ever tried CS3 or CS4 on Wine? Doesn’t play well.

    I still prefer doing most my development work my Linux machine. It just works easier, the command line allows me to perform certain tasks quicker and my workspace is completely tailored to my taste and of course my development environment is almost identical to the production environment of my webhost. I can do pretty much the same under Windows as well since the same tools are available and commandline tools can be used with something like GNUWin32. The thing I would really miss are symlinks.

    And then there web developers don’t develop in Ruby, PHP, Pyhton, etc. but .NET in that case you’re almost certainly stuck on Windows using Ms tools for your work. In the end it comes down to personal preference and what makes you work most efficient.

  36. says

    Don’t forget winetricks, for easy installing of ie6 or ie7, and virtualbox for running a windows install. It’s hard to get past the fact that most of your users will be on IE6/7/8 on Windows XP/Vista/7.

  37. says

    There is one reason not to use Linux (or Mac ) for website development is hands-on testing with IE . Yeah, you can launch IE in a VM box, or test on some websites, but it is not the same. And yes, I have tried. Also, testing in VM box makes you vulnerable to some infections.
    Speaking about infections, Neiter Linux nor Macos are immune to them. The difference is that both markets are so small not many viruses exist. But much less user care about antivirus protection of their Mac or Linux either. A properly configured Linux server is secure, though.
    Thirdly, I find it the best to have a linux box as development server environment, but I access it through sftp/ssh/ftp. You could even use windows shared folders.

  38. Sergio says

    hey good article agree with all your points, I am web developer and happy Fedora-Debian user, to start I would recommend ubuntu or kubuntu, Mint is a good choice also, later you can to jump to Debian many web server running on it

  39. says

    Two more things:

    1) If a given web developer is also a designer (like myself) they care about how things look. Windows is ugly, no doubt about that, but Linix is not much better. Mac OS is a treat for the eyes. If you don’t care, that’s fine. If you do, then you have a little problem.

    2) Most of us need systems which are ready to go from the very first moment you turned them on. I don’t want to spend time playing with setting, customizing and trying to get things I use on daily basis working. Turn it on and use it. With Linux, there’s almost always some compiling, some drivers and components that need to be added or installed. That’s just frustrating. Well, maybe Ubunti is the exepction :).

      • says

        “And its extremely easy to add more eye candy to Linux” – but I don’t want to spend any extra time tweaking it till I finally like it.

        Like I said, it should be working from the moment I turn it on for the very first time, and it should be working exactly how I need it right from the start, and it should look so good I won’t want to change it.

        Still, like I said at the end of the comment from our previous little discussion – different people have different tastes and needs, so they choose the system that suits them the most and they are happy with.

        • Chris Johnson says

          Do you even recognize the contradiction of saying that an OS should look so good you won’t want to modify it, then later commenting how different people have different tastes and needs?

    • Chris Johnson says

      To hear people like you talk you’d think everyone using Linux has to spend 8 hours compiling the kernel to get a command line only server and another 3 days getting X to work. Sure, you could still do that if you’re a masochist or something, but most people would probably prefer putting in the install disk, answering a few questions and having a working OS with GUI (roundy corners and everything!) in less than a half hour.

      It’s frustrating because I think the general tone toward operating systems drives people away from Linux unfairly. The one area where Microsoft and Apple far exceed Linux is their brainwashing departments.

      • says

        I guess that’s because I remember the times when there were no great or no distributions like that at all (talking about this easy to instal and use distributions).

        Despite that, what I said is still true. In terms of ease of use, usability, functionality and productivity Linux is still not close to other systems, and that’s what counts. The truth is, we as developers or designers or other creatives – we’re in the minority. Majority of poeple is just light, simple users with basic needs and basic technical knowledge and understanding of this stuff.

        They need to things:

        1) a system that they don’t need to tweak in any way to use it
        2) a systemm that can easily, out of the box run their favourite programs, whether it’s something they use for fun or for work. You know what I mean, no additional time or knowledge required.

        And that’s I guess the biggest issue with Linux based systems.

        So if I can’t at all run software I need, especially profesionally for work, or if it requires some additional time or knowledge to set it up – I just won’t use that systems.

        And one more thing – there are apps that people use for many years. There not only used to these apps – many times these apps are state of the art (they boost their productivity and are the part of their work) and sadly you won’t find any substitutions that will fill their shoes for them.

        Unless someone port them to other platforms + make them work out of the box – people won’t switch.

        • Andrew says

          You are really clueless.

          1) Pop in live cd. From here you can boot in to the OS without even installing. To install you click the install icon on the desktop.

          2) After install, I can have php mysql apache (with whatever mods I want), my IDE of choice with whatever plugins, gimp, inkscape, my office suite, and whatever app I need with one simple command.

          #yum install php mysql apache geane eclipse gimp inkscape

          Still too much work, you can use this instead.

          #yum groupinstall graphics ‘Web Server’

          And you are all set to go..

          Sounds like right out of the box to me. There is zero need to compile most applications unless you are trying to build some special custom mod in to a web server (which would require extensive work on any amp setup). You are complaining about linux, while praising a *nix distro with the apple skin….

        • Chris Johnson says

          First, Linux already has both of those two things for many basic home users (sans gaming). The perfect example is my girlfriend’s mom. She decided she wanted a computer to use at home for just web browsing, playing some games, IM, finding recipese, etc. So, we took an old laptop and put Mint on it for her. It does everything she needs. I’d happily put Gnome/Nautilus, Firefox, Sudoku and gEdit up against Explorer, IE, Solitaire and Notepad for the average basic user any day of the week.

          With the exceptions of gaming, gaps in interoperability between OpenOffice and MS Office, and apps or devices that will only work on a single platform, the basic user has everything they need in a Linux system and it’s as easy for them to use as Windows or OS X. I understand that there are users who that isn’t true for, but when you say the platform itself is lacking it implies that it’s lacking for all users, when in fact it’s only a subset.

          Second, for those issues I listed (and that you’ve also already outlined) there’s nothing that can be done from the Linux side but to continue with efforts to hack in support for things while trying to convince everyone to use standards for document formatting, release their applications for multiple platforms and build games with OpenGL rather than DirectX.

          We may already be in agreement and I’m just misreading it, but your posts sound to me as if you’re blaming Linux’s shortcomings on the platform itself when the problem really is a social issue between the developers and the end users, or really the market on the whole, not a technical one. What I mean by that is that every company or individual who creates an application or game for Windows/Mac only, or uses proprietary formats for their documents, is saying to every potential customer or partner: I choose this set of expensive, proprietary platforms to work on; if you want to work with me or be my costumer, you have to do so as well. And everyone who then uses that software or works with that document is agreeing to those terms. It’s a social contract between the two that has an impact not just on both sides but on the entire industry.

          When you’re just deciding “does this work?” that distinction may not seem important, but it really is. Unless you understand the reason there’s a gap in functionality you can’t close it. Pointing at Linux and going “Not good enough” is great if you’re Apple or Microsoft. However, for the rest of the user and development communities it’s important to know why, so that we can fix it. Linux isn’t perfect, which is why people continue to develop it, but in this case the problem is on the other end. As long as we’re blaming Linux for not meeting impossible demands then the situation will never get better. We have to point the blame where it belongs, which is the proprietary platforms, as well as those who build for and use them, for shunning standards and trying to impose their platform decisions on everyone else.

  40. says

    I’m WebDeveloper and I use Linux for 6 years, and ’till now I’m very satisfied.

    Instead of the IDE’s you came across, I use geany, it’s light but has all the features needed and very customizable through plug-ins. Give it a try ;)


    • DarrenM says

      Glad to hear you’ve used Linux successfully for 6 years. I’ll definably give Geany a try.

  41. says

    Hey Darren :).

    Some great points here, although I can’t agree with two of them.

    1) Spending less time worrying about problems

    Viruses and security problems – that’s the Windows domain. Don’t indluce Mac OS here.

    2) Proper server to test on

    First of all, you have to remember one thing: Mac OS is a UNIX based system. And second of all: it has built-in Apache and PHP.

    Other than that, I agree with the rest of the points you highlighted in the article.

    • DarrenM says

      Hey Michal,
      Thanks for reading, though I don’t think Windows alone is endanger from virus’s and malware, I think Macs are too, at least somewhat. Apple hasn’t included a lot of protection to their os that Microsoft has. I think you should give the following a quick read:

      Though I’m not putting Mac OS down, I do think its users need to be aware their systems aren’t as safe as they might think.

      • says

        Oh I’ve read many things about three systems. I have also used each of them :). In fact, I’ve been using Windows for 10 years, and Linux for over a year. I’m not anymore.

        See, that’s the thing. It really DOESN’T matter how great security you have or how many protective “shields” you’ve enabled or installed. What matters is – how many times you experience problems, attacks, viruses, system crashes, data losses etc.

        Now how many viruses and bugs are there for Windows? How many attacks (and their consequences) Windows useres face every year? Now, compare it to Mac OS.

        That’s the thing. You can be happy that you have better security and more protective stuff running on and…? And that’s it, because even though, viruses, bugs and hackers always get you and always will.

        I can have smaller security or even no security at all – and how come I’ve never facet anything like that on Mac OS?

        So, we can talk and talk, but what matters is the number of viruses, bugs, attacks and the consequences of all these – and you can’t change these numbers and these facts.

        So yeah, I’m pretty happy with my less security, and no, I won’t come back to Windows ever again. It’s been 10 years, bye bye :).

        • DarrenM says

          The thing is how can you know there’s someone is tracking your password input? They certainly don’t pop you an email letting you know. Usually the first sign of this is on your bank statement if you handle any sort of money on your computer. Or is that built into OSX? ;)

          • says

            And that doesn’t happen on Windows :) ? Like I said, compare the number of the incidents I listed before. You can neither change it nor deny.

            Darren, understand one thing please: I’m not Mac fanboy, I’m also not Windows fanboy and I’m not Linux fanboy.

            Like I said befire, I’ve been using all three systems and I finally settled on Mac.

            Truth is – there is no way ANYONE can say that this or that system is better. That’s not even comparable.

            Everyone chooses the system that suits them the most. Everyone has different needs and tastes.

          • Tiliche says

            How do you know it running linux? Just because people say is most secure?…. Is the same thing =P!

          • Victor Hugo says

            Totally agree with Michal Kozak, I also have use the 3 most popular OS, and with linux a few bugs make me go for better productivity, and worried less about OS stuff now, I`m running a osx86 (hackintosh) into 640m dell inspiron, and it runs smooth, also running Virtualbox for explorer testing.

            In windows the story is about windows Xp and 7 and the virus, also the license system stuff.

            I`m not saying linux is bad, but had some weird behavior I cant work with 2 monitors, the resolution got broken, and a couple more stuff, Apps productivity, I just don’t like to complain a the moment of work, I Like something that make me do the thing and that`s it.

            Also good post keep reading and testing.