Over the last 20 years, my primary computing environment has gone from Windows 3.1, to Mac OS 6/7/8/9, to Windows for about a decade, and then back to a Mac a couple of years ago. Recently, I switched to using a Linux desktop as my primary computer. I can’t say that there’s a dramatic reason why I switched (it’s not some political statement about free and open source software); I just wanted to use some hardware that was impractical to get from Apple.

Something crazy happened when I switched: absolutely nothing changed.

I basically used three programs on the Mac: Google Chrome (web browsing), iTerm (terminal), and Adium (IM). Now, I use Google Chrome (web browsing), Terminator (terminal), and Empathy (IM). Switching was a matter of copying over a couple of directories and configuration files and connecting Chrome and Dropbox to sync. When I wanted to do some real work, getting my development environment running for our applications was just as easy as on a Mac.

Perhaps surprisingly to some people, Linux hardware support has improved to the point that everything worked perfectly out of the box, just like on a Mac. In a shift from what David saw a few years ago, and despite being largely panned by critics, I find the stock interface in Ubuntu 11.10 to be just as nice as Mac OS X Lion.

I’m just as productive on Linux as I was on OS X, and there’s no reason you couldn’t be too if you wanted or needed to switch. All you need these days to build great things is a browser, a text editor, and the programming language or tool of your choice. As long as it works for you, it really doesn’t matter whether you build your killer social-media-photo-sharing-Facebook-tweeting app on OS X, Linux, or Windows.