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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Using Windows 7 for Ruby and Java development

As I mentioned in my last blog, I surprised my friends and family by buying a Windows 7 laptop. The combination of Windows 7 and Ubuntu is not quite as good as OS X and Ubuntu dual boot, but try buying a Mac laptop with 4 CPU cores.

Of course, the first thing to do to a Windows 7 system is to install cygwin. I installed just about everything available. To avoid confusion, I always run bash in command windows and I set up my .bashrc file for cygwin to mimic my .profile file for OS X and my .bashrc file for Ubuntu. With cygwin installed, life is good.

For basic Ruby and Java development, Rubymine and IntelliJ work identically under OS X, Windows 7, and Ubuntu Linux. I needed a plain text editor: I use TextMate on OS X and GEdit on Ubuntu. I tried, then bought a copy of E TextEditor that works with TextMate plugins. Recommended! I also installed XEmacs.

For writing I installed and Latex (I used the MikTex distribution). Both E TextEditor and XEmacs are fine for editing Latex "source code."

This was some trouble to set up, but my Toshiba laptop is very well constructed, has 4 CPU cores, 4GB of memory, and 500GB of disk. And, it was very inexpensive.

I have not totally made up my mind how I will use Ubuntu on my new laptop. Windows 7 has a nice utility to split the c: disk partition so I did this when I first started the laptop. I have Ubuntu installed twice: on a new partition and also on the Windows 7 file system using Sun's very good VirtualBox. Ubuntu is a little more responsive when I use grub to boot it directly, but it is very convenient running it under VirtualBox because of file system sharing, not having to install everything - just what Linux is best for. Since I use a remote git repository for virtually everything that I work on, it is easy dealing with two Ubuntu installations - I think that I will continue to use both for a few months, then decide which to keep and which to delete. Also: VirtualBox supports all 4 cores with 64 bit Ubuntu running as a guest operating system so the performance hit for using VirtualBox is small.