Mac vs. Linux for Python Development

Chris Angelico rosuav at
Sun Feb 23 09:58:27 CET 2014

On Sun, Feb 23, 2014 at 7:43 PM, twiz <twizansk at> wrote:
> I'm sure this is a common question but I can't seem to find a previous thread that addresses it.   If one one exists, please point me to it.
> I've been developing with python recreationally for a while on Ubuntu but will soon be transitioning to full-time python development.  I have the option of using a Mac or Ubuntu environment and I'd like to hear any thoughts on the pros and cons of each. Specifically, how's the support for numpy and scipy?  How are the IDEs?
> Since I generally like working with a Mac, I'd like to hear if there are any significant downsides to python dev on OsX.

There have been some issues with running Python on OSX, so you'd want
to make sure you're running the very latest; for instance, 3.3.4 fixed
some issues with 10.9 Mavericks. Generally, I'd say you'll do
reasonably well on either platform, as long as you're happy with the
editor and related tools; but personally, I love my Linux for
development. I use Debian (Ubuntu is closely related to Debian), with
Xfce, SciTE, and roughly ten thousand terminal windows - that's my
"IDE". SciTE is available for a Mac, and there are plenty of other
excellent text editors as well, so you shouldn't have any trouble on
that score.

Your text editor is probably more important to your productivity than
your OS is. Whether you're on Windows, Mac OS, or Linux, or something
more obscure like OS/2, you can run your scripts just fine (OS/2 isn't
an officially supported Python platform, but I have a third-party
build that works fine for me); the important part is getting code from
your brain through your fingers into the computer, and a good editor
can help hugely with that. You'll hear advocates for vi/vim, emacs,
and myriad others, but ultimately, just grab one that looks good and
get to know it :)

Personally, I'd recommend going Linux, for the openness; among other
benefits, it's generally easier to build C stuff from source on Linux
than on pretty much any other platform. But you should be able to use
your preferred Mac just fine, and learning something new is a cost
that's hard to justify.

Just do be sure (and yes, I'm reiterating this) that you're on the
very latest Python you can get. At the moment, that's 3.3.4, but soon
there'll be a 3.4 release.


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