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Using Windows and Linux For Web Development

When you develop web applications, you can use a single operating system of choice. Normally, that involves one of the big 3; Windows, Mac, or Linux. However, you may find that using more than one at the same time can be more effective and easier for your workflow than a using a single option. You can run multiple operating systems by running virtual machines with a program like VM Ware or Virtualbox. Both VM Ware and Virtualbox have free versions.

This article will explain how you may want to use two operating systems at once in order to accommodate your custom needs. Essentially, the overall criteria for knowing if you should use one or more systems at the same time is to determine which system has the best software and applications to do your desired task.

For example, you may have purchased programs like Camstasia and want to run them natively on Windows. A true Linux faithful may explain that anything you can do on Windows can be done on Linux. That may be good enough for him, but, you may just want to keep going on with your habits and use a system that is already fine-tuned. Adding Wine or another Linux package may just seem like adding another layer of complexity for a seasoned Windows user.

Windows / Mac Usages

Here a few instances where you may find running Windows or a Mac to be beneficial.

1. My software I have used for years
This is very self-explanatory. You have bought some well tuned software like Photoshop, Camstasia or Pinnacle Studio, and you are very used to how it works. This means the familiarity from opening the program, opening files and saving files is not something you are willing to adjust.

2. Word Processing
Microsoft Word does everything you want. After years of usage, you are not that interested in starting over. The free Linux alternative LibreOffice is a worthy alternative, but, it may miss the odd white space or spelling mistake.

3. Email
Linux has excellent email clients like Thunderbird. However, like many Linux programs, the usage can vary from that of Windows. In this case, you may just want to use the formula that has been working all along.

Linux Usages

If you have Linux experience with distros like Ubuntu or Centos, you will have no problem finding your way around the operating system. But, if you are new, you may experience that it is a much different beast than Windows or Mac. Linux is largely a programmer’s operating system.

Permissions on files and starting some programs can involve time spent with the command line. In all honesty, if you are new or do not have a desire to be good at Linux you may find running a second operating system an uphill battle. However, if you just want to edit and run a Lamp server, it should be rather easy to accomplish.

Nevertheless, if you are dedicated to learning and running Linux, you have a lot of powerful knowledge that can be used to be more effcicient with dedicated or VPS hosting accounts, and for using Linux at home where you find its benefits are high. Spin-offs from using Linux for a hobbyist are that you can setup home servers with Raspberry Pis that can allow you to test and run web applications and run other Linux applications.

One such application is a live motion security cam that stream live video and save swf files after motion is detected. On top of that, Linux machines and Raspberry Pis can be used to automate your house; like turning lights on and off, creating a weather station and watering plants on a schedule; all of which can be monitored in an online environment. Linux usage can go on and on.

Anyways, here a few instances where you may find running Linux to be beneficial.

1. Local Lamp Server
From a web developer point of view, Linux could stand out if you want to install and run a Lamp server. Wamp is good, but Lamp is really kick-ass. Since you will likely use Lamp online, using it locally has many benefits. As a web developer, it is an automatic arena to test scripts offline, or, to run custom applications on a localhost. 

2. Using a Virtualbox For a Client
Virtualbox, by Oracle, allows you add Virtual Linux machines. Essentially, you can build an entire system that is specific to client. You can add an editor like PhpStorm, Netbeans, Gedit, and others.

Using Linux makes it easy to connect to foreign servers with the command line. Keeping a whole system to store files and run applications can make your workflow very efficient. It also makes backing up a very simple process since a Virtual Machine is essentially a large file.


Under certain circumstances, using two systems can be very efficient. If you decide to avoid Linux, you may be able to make do. If you use many of its advantages like Lamp and home servers, you can get more done. Knowledge and practice of Linux is never a waste. As you learn more about it, you will be strengthening your web development and systems admin knowledge. As you can do more, more options and tasks are available to you. Being able to do more on the web is an advantage that Linux will deliver.

Finally, in addition to doing more, gaining a stronger knowledge of Linux can get you out of jams and keep your systems running smoothly. Therefore, when something does go wrong, you will have the basic troubleshooting skills to get things back to normal and find why things had gone wrong.