I’m a hardware nut who likes both building and upgrading my dev boxes. I’m getting ready to refresh my box this year and the biggest difference - I’m no longer doing .NET/SQL Server. I’m also not on Windows.

So what’s different?

Instead of a laggy/sluggish RDP sessions doing password dances, I’m all in with SSH and loving it.

Instead of the behemoth Visual Studio - I just use a text editor or bash or any number of focused tools that get out of my way.

SQL Server is replaced with a lean Postgres and a tricked out psql. This still blows my mind and loving it every day.

Instead of a fatty windows - I run Ubuntu. Ubuntu is not for everyone, I get that, so lets pretend that Ubuntu is some nasty monster - I can run Crunchbang and have a hyper focused OS that wants nothing more than to help me code. Speed wise, going from Windows 8 to something like Crunchbang is like going from a bicycle to a Ducati. The difference is further illustrated by the fact that I’ve been able to install versions of Linux that have the same memory footprint as just the Activation/License checker on Windows. I’ve often thought it would be cool if instead of more Windows Modern-UI for plebes, Microsoft had a more OpenBox type windows manager built on top of Server-Core. This would probably get me back on a Microsoft OS. Of course, by then, I might just be running everything off my phone.

Virtual Desktops
Having an OS with native virtual desktops is a complete joy. Sometimes I’m doing just data, sometimes I’m wallowing around in code, other times I’m browsing/social networking. Having dedicated desktops for this and not having to resort to ‘I need a ton of monitors’ Windows syndrome has been a welcome change as well.

Even when it comes to virtualization, gone are the days of heavy handed, GUI ridden 4GB of ram windows VM’s… I can do extremely light, fast Linux VM’s and ssh to them. It feels seamless and a lot of fun. And no comment on how cheaply I can offload a nice virtual to the cloud vs offloading Windows to the cloud.

For me, Linux is clean and focused and Windows is Teletubbies. As I go to build a new machine, breaking myself of the mentality of needing a 16 core, 24GB RAM dev box has been a welcome relief and it’s nice to stop and smell the progress.