Going back to Linux

After spending the last month working on a Windows machine, I have decided to go back to using Linux in the office. If I have to use it under virtualisation, so be it. I have come to understand why trying to do development work on a Windows machine is a joke. Seriously, you won’t understand it until you have actually used Linux for real-world embedded development.

Let us just talk about this from an embedded developer perspective.

One word – Emacs. There are few integrated development environments that are as featured as Emacs. It has everything under the hood and more in its back pocket. Just like a woman, it takes a while to learn all the right moves but once that’s mastered, life will be good. Try comparing Eclipse or the piece-of-shit CodeWarrior that I have to use at work is laughable. While notepad++ shows some promise, it is but an infant compared to Emacs.

Two words – Code management. Windows does not come with any sort of code management system. Therefore, developers have developed a lot of bad habits over the years when it comes to working with code revisions such as the multiple-folder technique. Instead, Linux comes with a host of code management tools from the venerable RCS to the most modern Git. Once you have experienced the beauty that is distributed code management, it is difficult to go back to anything inferior.

Three words – Support Tools and Utilities. When you experience some trouble with some piece of code, you need to have a lot of support to solve it. Windows does not come with anything. For example, when you have some really cryptic C code that you need to understand, there’s always cdecl on Linux and nothing equivalent on Windows. Doxygen is truly a life-saver when it comes to the tedious work of generating mundane documentation, which every engineer hates to do.

Obviously, this just applies to a specific area. I’ve heard a lot of good things about Microsoft’s own developer tools. Unfortunately, those are not universal and are not suitable for use in embedded development. Maybe this is an area that Microsoft should take care of. However, they seem to have little incentive to do so as few embedded systems are bloated enough to run Windows.

Published by

Shawn Tan

Chip Doctor, Chartered/Professional Engineer, Entrepreneur, Law Graduate.

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