powerbook for computer science

Discussion in 'Macintosh Computers' started by intj, Apr 25, 2005.

  1. intj macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2005
    #1
    I'm going to start university in September and am planning to buy a powerbook 12 inch to aid me in my studies. Since I am going to major in Computer Science, I am going to max out my ram. Now, is 1.256 GB of ram enough for Java, C, and Unix programming?

    Thanks.
     
  2. stoid macrumors 601

    stoid

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2002
    Location:
    So long, and thanks for all the fish!
    #3
    I have a two year old 15 inch PowerBook 1.25Ghz and 1GB of RAM, and it handles Java programming in the Eclipse IDE very nicely. Keep in mind though that some Computer Science courses use languages that are Windows only, so double check with the university, that buying a Mac won't leave you out in the cold.

    Note: 1024MB + 256MB = 1280MB = 1.250 GB
     
  3. therevolution macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 12, 2003
    #4
    But it will work just fine with Java, C, and Unix programming, which he specifically asked about. About the only thing you can't use are the MS Visual Studio .Net languages - which seem like they'd be terrible languages for teaching computer science topics. Does anyone know of any schools that actually teach their core classes using those?
     
  4. jcgerm macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2003
    #5
    I personally don't know of any schools, but I'd bet that some schools use C# as a first language. Even if they don't use any .Net languages, they might require a C or C++ program to compile in Windows. That can be a pain sometimes because gcc and VS's compiler can be very different in some places. Also, if the department uses Windows more than Unix/Linux, you might run into problems with using libraries required for programs. For instance, if you're in an OS class, you're most likely going to learn about system calls and threading. Both are different between Windows and Linux/Unix.

    I would definitely recommend talking to your department before you buy a computer. If they say you need a PC, ask them what about the program requires a PC (specific courses, etc.?). But, if they say you need a PC I would get one because you would most likely be saving yourself a lot of time over the next 4 years.
     
  5. gallivant macrumors member

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2004
    #6
    Heck, you don't even need that much RAM. I'm finishing my third year as a CS major right now, and frankly, I could have done nearly all my assignments on a Pentium II running Win98. Not that more RAM's bad, of course, but don't think that just because you're going to be coding that you need metric tons of memory. 512 is certainly enough, and 768 is probably the price-performance sweet spot. You may want to consider an external monitor or a larger screen, however - having worked on both a 1024x768 and 1280x1024 monitor, I can say that the extra space for more code and reference documentation is incredibly useful. Still, the 12" makes for a fine CS major's machine; I'm planning on buying one in a month or two.
     
  6. ChrisBrightwell macrumors 68020

    ChrisBrightwell

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2004
    Location:
    Huntsville, AL
    #7
    For what you've described here, 1.25GB RAM is probably overkill. :)

    You need to make one fundamental decision, though. If you go with the Powerbook, you have two options for any Windows-specific classes down the road:
    1. Use a lab machine.
    2. Buy a low-end PC.

    For example, I don't have any Windows-specific classes, but I've had a few groups who elected to use Visual C++ as the IDE of choice (blech) and I've had an x86 Assembly class (which requires an x86-based Linux or Windows workstation).

    You can usually get functionally adequate PC laptops for $500 or so that will do anything you need as an auxillary sort of workstation. A desktop PC will cost even less.

    You should already be using at least an external keyboard and mouse w/ either an external display OR a stand such as an iCurve. Your body will thank you. Assuming you go with the external display, adding the PC (desktop or laptop) into the mix is as simple as a $60 KVM switch.
     
  7. Pismo macrumors 6502

    Pismo

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2002
    Location:
    NH
    #8
    I went to Keene State College (I have a BS in Computer Sciences) and the CS department are Visual Studio .Net whores. Every programming class I took used it. I hated the IDE and I hated the debugger. I used Codewarrior and that was a lot better but it was a little outdated at the time. I've taken more programming classes than was required too. The languages I took were C, C++, C#, and Java.

    For Java, I used Eclipse (awesome), Websphere, and Visual Age Java. I have to say that Java is actually my favorite language to program in. I had to write some programs in C++ over the weekend and I cringed the whole way. Besides, Java is really hot right now. C is dying, C# is a joke, and C++ is getting a little long in the tooth but it'll never die. So, my advice is to study Java and C++ as much as you can and make sure you practice on Mac and Windows.

    PS - Java sucks in Windows (just my opinion).
     
  8. DaveP macrumors 6502

    DaveP

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2005
    #9
    I am a Comp Engr major and just having a Mac would not cut it. I have a Windows machine which I use a lot and also remote desktop into. It could be possible to use only a Mac depending on your school. For me some teachers I have had require Visual Studio projects, otherts just code and output. I would talk to some teachers and students (who often have a better idea).

    Why all the hating on Visual Studio? I've used it from version 4 up and think it is pretty good. Then again, I've only used CodeWarrior a little bit. Though I love that XCode is free, and therefore is an excellent value, it is definitely a bit lacking. Not to sidetrack too much here....but I went to talk about .Net 2005 and it looks pretty good. And good to see that COM and MFC are going the way of the dinosaur.

    Oh, and Pismo, yeah Keene St! I'm from NH and have a few friends there.
     
  9. Pismo macrumors 6502

    Pismo

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2002
    Location:
    NH
    #10
    I was lucky enough to have a PC laptop running XP Pro and VS .Net 2003 to do my programing. I'll have to try .Net 2005 but I'm focusing on Java and Eclipse. Eclipse has a great interface and it's FREE! It can be a little slow but who cares?

    If I could do it all over again, I think I would've gone to UNH. I think they have a better CS program. The CS program at KSC needs an overhaul BAD.
     
  10. matix macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #11
    (this is my first post) :)

    Hello all,

    I too am going to university in september (CS). Our first year is going to be taught in C++. I've used Xcode a bunch for an intro course in C++ at my local college.

    Our labs had msft visual studio .net 2003, which i found to be brutal and unintuitive to use. :D yes, im a macboy. for 5 weeks i tried to get by with VS.net and my learning was stagnated while i waited for my mac mini to arrive.

    Once i got my mini, i was coding in Xcode *literally* 20 minutes after i opened the box. As a previous poster mentioned, Visual studio .net uses a different compiler than gcc. therefore, I was lucky that my assignments only required the code and output.

    While my Mac mini is a great performer, my school days are going to be long, and I won't be living on-campus. So i need a 'Book. In my limited programming experience, I've come to realize that 1024*768 is just not enough space to write code, especially for extended periods of time.

    So i'm thinking that a 12 inch PB for working between classes, with a spacious lcd monitor at home (dual displays!!) will be the best solution for me. Any thoughts?
     
  11. ChrisBrightwell macrumors 68020

    ChrisBrightwell

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2004
    Location:
    Huntsville, AL
    #12
    If your days are going to be long and this thing is going to be used on-campus during those long days, why constrict yourself to a resolution you just deemed "not enough"?

    I'd aim for the 15" and get the LCD down the road somewhere. You'll appreciate the extra real estate, believe me.
     
  12. MacNeXT macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2004
    #13
    1024*768 is not much for code writing, but thanks to expose it's not too bad, you'll quickly get used to it. I also use a 1280*1024 external screen for my iBook at home. It's a perfect solution.
     
  13. JeffTL macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2003
    #14
    The PowerBook should be fine.

    I took, just for kicks and for a natural science credit, the first serious programming class in the information science and technology core sequence at my school, and it was C++ on Linux, with an SSH server available for those not running Unix at home. Of course, I did most of my coding in OS X and then uploaded to the Linux server, since GCC on Unix is pretty much GCC on Unix as far as console stuff is concerned.


    If it turns out you need Windows for anything, get Virtual PC; you won't be doing anything too graphics or performance intensive, and it and a 12" PowerBook are a lot cheaper than a good Wintel laptop, in my opinion.
     
  14. TDM21 macrumors 6502a

    TDM21

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2004
    #15
    I'm about to finish my first year at college (only 1 more week). When I started I put Computer Science down as my major. The core programming classes you needed were Javascript (the school starts at the lowest level of programming), C++ (requires the student to use VisualStudio.Net), and advance C++ programming. C# and Java are not offered where I attend school. I use VPC to do my programming and I don't find any major problems doing so. Please note I haven't learned much about Xcode so can't comment on using it.

    Unfortunately I realized that programming was something I don't excel at so I changed my major to Computer Electronics Networking. I'm more hands on and trouble shooting.
     
  15. jalagl macrumors 6502a

    jalagl

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2003
    Location:
    Costa Rica
    #16
    I am using my 867 TiBook with 768MB of RAM for my Masters in CS. I can't complain about the performance - Eclipse runs great for the Java apps, and gcc works great for compiling C code. I don't really like XCode... I guess I have to give it another shot, but I guess I'm too used to either the Java IDEs or VS.NET.

    An additional comment - for Java development, after I upgraded the RAM to 768MB, I haven't seen any serious performance issue. I sometimes have JBoss, Tomcat, MySQL, Eclipse, and lots of Safari and Terminal windows open at one time, and the PB still responds nicely. :D
     
  16. matix macrumors member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #17
    thanks for the input, guys

    I guess it's a toss-up between a 12 inch and external display right away, or a 15 inch-- hoping that the screen real estate would be sufficient enough and not having to buy an external...$$$

    The reason i say that i would use a smaller display (12inch book) is basically because of portability. In various threads ive seen mixed feelings about a 15 inch being truly portable.
     
  17. superbovine macrumors 68030

    superbovine

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2003
    #18
    If you get a prof that likes wants to do MFC, VB, or just plan c/c++ programs compiled in windows then you are going to logging some lab time unless you have PC. I'd do what chris suggest and get a low end PC. I studied computer science and two different university. both were mixed, a lot of unix, however if assignments on0 windows. Some professor prefer everyone to use visual studio, and some like gcc. A lot of the time it will depend on what the TA wants to grade your assignments in. Also in your digital logic/computer arch classes you may need to design stuff in pspice. another reason to get have a low end pc unless you want to log lab time.

    My pb got through university. fyi, it wouldn't hurt to learn the basic about programming in windows, which you will probably anyways. the more on the resume the better. FYI computer science entry level job market is pretty rough right now i.e. minor in something :p
     
  18. peterjhill macrumors 65816

    peterjhill

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2002
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    #19
    Carnegie Mellon starts out with Java... Their CS computer labs are mostly iMac G4s (at least they were a year ago). I think the theory is that it is an object oriented language, and that is where they want to go...

    I think your powerbook will be just fine... You might consider metrowerks... If your school is pushing visual anything... change schools, unless you want to end up writing code for Windows... Boring....
     
  19. jalagl macrumors 6502a

    jalagl

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2003
    Location:
    Costa Rica
    #20
    I love the display on the 15", and I do consider it fairly portable (I may be biased, though, by the 1-ton "desktop replacement" windows laptop I have from work). I think it is light enough and has the correct size for you to carry it around - and the screen is just great.

    Then again, having a 12" and a, say 20" display, may be a better option., depending on where you'll be doing most of your coding.
     
  20. gamestriker macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2004
    #21
    I'm also starting in August as a CS major, and I have a PowerBook 12". I've been programming in Java, C, and C++ on it with no problem on the standard 512MB RAM. You don't need to max out the RAM just for the programming, but I plan to just because it makes the OS run much better. You also don't need to have extra screen real estate just for the programming, because Expose makes window management easy, especially in large, very OO programs; however, I plan to get it an external display anyway because the extra screen real estate is just nice to have overall.

    For the RAM upgrade, if want it, check this out - about $150 with tax!

    http://www2.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=20-155-111&depa=0
     
  21. intj thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2005
    #22
    Thanks for the advice everyone. I already have a 17" studio display so I'll probably use that for my powerbook and buy a 23" cinema display for my PC desktop.
     
  22. jcgerm macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2003
    #23
    Just a small suggustion...even if you all are going to get Macs instead of PCs it might be prudent to learn to use Visual Studio whether you like it or not. You might end up using it once you graduate and you're in the working world. In my opinion, showing you know different IDE's to a potential employer can only help you. So, even if you hate VS to death, try to learn to use it.
     
  23. Engagebot macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2003
    Location:
    LSU - Baton Rouge
    #24
    I got a 15" al book for that exact reason, and it has worked beautifully.

    Had to use my desktop PC for visual studio, but the only thing i needed it for was VB.net (my school doesn't teach C# as regular coursework).

    I actually had bought a copy of Codewarrior because it comes with the PC and mac versions, so i could switch back and forth, but turned out I liked Apple's built in IDE a lot better.
     
  24. MacCoaster macrumors 6502a

    MacCoaster

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2002
    Location:
    Washington, DC / Rochester, NY / Lexington, NC
    #25
    C#/VB.net

    For those who were concerned about C# and VB.net, it's simple.

    Mono project provides a .NET framework implementation along with C# and VB.net compilers. Works great on Mac OS X.
     

Share This Page