XP or Vista for CS courses

Discussion in 'Mac Programming' started by ingenious, Aug 19, 2008.

  1. ingenious macrumors 68000

    ingenious

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2004
    Location:
    Washington, D.C.
    #1
    I'm getting ready to start university this month and I'll be a Computer Science major at a Division 2 state university. Which should I purchase to run in Bootcamp and Fusion/Parallels on my Mac? XP or Vista? Does Visual Studio 2008 only run on Vista? Should I jump for that version because of VS08?

    Honestly, the time I've spent with Vista I've hated, but I'd rather not be stuck behind the curve.

    I'll be running all of this on a 2.6 GHz MacBook Pro with 2 GB RAM (soon be upgraded to 4) in either Parallels or Fusion and probably some BootCamp.

    Thanks for your advice.
     
  2. Cromulent macrumors 603

    Cromulent

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    #2
    Are you sure you need Windows? I would have thought most CS degrees focus on theory rather than on what IDE you use to produce code.

    If you absolutely must have Windows (and I don't think you do) then I would go with Vista 64-bit myself just for the stability. I've been running it for 6 months and never had a crash, absolutely rock solid on my machine. I swear that the people who have problems just do stupid stuff like download shed loads of random files from the net or something.
     
  3. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus

    robbieduncan

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    London
    #3
    I was going to post similar, but perhaps cheekier: are you sure you need to use Windows at all? Most CS degree courses when I was looking (and all the ones at decent Universities) were taught on Unix platforms...
     
  4. lee1210 macrumors 68040

    lee1210

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    #4
    My thoughts exactly. VS is for MIS. Get cozy with your mac's terminal, vi, gcc, and maybe a java IDE, if any.

    -Lee
     
  5. iSee macrumors 68040

    iSee

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2004
    #5
    VS2008 runs on XP and Vista.
    Here's a link to a document with System Requirements: http://download.microsoft.com/download/9/a/e/9ae0f6cc-7032-408e-9ca7-989f9e4af4ec/VS2008Readme.htm

    Vista takes up a bunch more HD space (for Bootcamp, I'd make the partition 40GB so you don't get stuck recreating it) and XP runs better in Parallels/Fusion.
    With Vista, though, you're going to be a little more future proof, I'd guess. That is, eventually there will be apps that run on Vista but not XP. We're a ways off from that, but it will happen at some point.

    I agree that a CS program should be platform agnostic and you should use the OS that is most conventient to you. That might still mean Windows, though, even if you have a Mac. Why? If most others are using Windows, you'll be able to collaborate more easily on group projects. And, it will be easier to get/give help. For example, compiler error messages vary from compiler to complier. When you're stuck on a particular error, you have a better chance of getting useful help from a classmate or TA if they happen to be using the same complier as you. I'd try to figure out what the dominant platform is where you're going and use that platform.
     
  6. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #6
    Why are you using Windows? Are they really having students work in visual studio at the university level? I'd hope not. Can't you pick Solaris, Linux, or BSD? Or just work at the terminal under Mac OS X.

    When I was a CS major (years ago) they told use to "go find a computer" and didn't really care what we used as long as we finished our assignments. I had access to a CDC mainframe (actually a "super computer") at work. For much of my work they did not even specify a programming language, or maybe selecting one was part of the assignment
     
  7. ingenious thread starter macrumors 68000

    ingenious

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    #7
    Hmm. Sounds like my research was little premature... :D

    I'll check some things and post back here in a bit. Thanks for your help.
     
  8. ingenious thread starter macrumors 68000

    ingenious

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    #8
    Okay, so here's what I've discovered:

    CS Program entails learning C, C++, and Java... all of which XCode can handle, right? So, if XCode can handle it, does it make sense to use it, or is it better, as iSee said, to use what everyone else is using? The Department head wasn't exactly super-Mac friendly when I spoke with him back in January, but so far I don't even have any classes with him (and probably never will, knowing how hierarchy works... :rolleyes:), so the Mac "problem" may be moot.

    Thanks for all your help... this is a completely new concept to me.
     
  9. lee1210 macrumors 68040

    lee1210

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    Location:
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    #9
    I am betting 1/2 or greater of your peers will be using the mac, and most others will be using linux. I'm betting any of the labs will be linux and perhaps solaris. There will be some folks using windows, but the windows commandline is pretty ill-suited for development (not sure about monad or whatever in Vista).

    Your professors and TAs shouldn't care what you develop on as long as it runs where they need to grade. Chances are that will be linux, so you should be fine working on OS X.

    People will disagree with me, but if you want to avoid issues, avoid XCode. Just stick to the terminal. It will be the same on OS X, Linux, Solaris, etc. If you're using gcc for C and C++, this should be the same as your instructors and peers, so that should not be an issue.

    For Java, I would recommend something like NetBeans or Eclipse, but I would definitely learn how to use javac, java, and jar from the commandline as well. NetBeans and Eclipse are both cross-platform so no matter what platform your peers use, this shouldn't be an issue.

    If your department head didn't seem keen on the mac, I'm betting it is not in favor of windows, but linux.

    Good luck!

    -Lee
     
  10. ingenious thread starter macrumors 68000

    ingenious

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    Jan 13, 2004
    Location:
    Washington, D.C.
    #10
    Thanks so much for the help. I'm going to (thankfully) skip Windows for now. We'll see how it goes. I'm hoping I won't need it ever again! :D
     
  11. iSee macrumors 68040

    iSee

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2004
    #11
    It will be easier for you if you use the dominant platform, but I don't think it's clear what that is at this point.

    It may very well be gcc from the command line, in which case you're golden (installing the developer tools will get you everything you need).

    Maybe don't make any decisions now and just go to your classes and see which way the wind is blowing.

    Also, as you progress in school, it's good to not always take the easy route.
    Once you start feeling comfortable with the programming and theory its a good idea to branch out with the tools and techniques you are using as well, even if it's hard at first.
     
  12. cube macrumors G5

    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    #12
    "Easy".

    Changing options in VS sucks. It's a snap to edit a Makefile.
     
  13. mobilehaathi macrumors G3

    mobilehaathi

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    Aug 19, 2008
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    The Anthropocene
    #13
    Hopefully they'll have you learn in a UNIX environment on the command line (personal bias). Later on when you understand the fundamentals of what goes on using an IDE like Xcode might help streamline the process (especially if you're programming GUIs?), although IDEs never really caught on for me.

    I still manage just about everything with gcc, emacs, and make, but I program mostly command line scientific computing apps (no GUIs).

    If I may recommend something, learn perl and some shell scripting. It can make certain error checking tasks so much simpler.

    Best of luck with your degree!
     

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