Mac vs. Linux for Python Development

Roy Smith roy at
Sun Feb 23 15:20:37 CET 2014

In article <2465a8c7-ce0e-4606-ad3b-9135c96e3e4c at>,
 twiz <twizansk at> wrote:

> Hello,
> 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?

Which is a better food: asparagus or cauliflower?

I run Python (including scipy, numpy, iPython, matplotlib, statsmodels, 
scikit-learn, pandas, etc) on both OSX and Ubuntu.  For server and 
back-end work, I find linux a better platform, partly because there 
tends to be a larger selection of pre-built packages available 
(although, I'm not even sure I can defend that statement).

On the other hand, I despise every linux desktop I've ever worked with.  
I've settled into a mode of OSX on my desktops (I have a 8 GB MacBook 
Pro at home, and a Mini on my desk in the office), and Ubuntu for all my 
"real work".

I'm not a huge fan of IDEs, so I can't give you much advice there.  I 
pretty much live in emacs and terminal windows.  I do find the 
integration of iPython and matplotlib to be compelling, so that's my 
current environment of choice for anything involving graphics.  A common 
scenario for me is running the iPython kernel on some Ubuntu box in AWS, 
and a browser on my OSX desktop, with an ssh port tunnel nailed up to 
let them talk to each other.

The bottom line is, if you've got it narrowed down to Ununtu or OSX, you 
can't go wrong with either choice.  Use whichever you're more 
comfortable using.

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