I have recently put together a new Core 2 duo PC for doing my web development. And I have been asked why I didn’t get a Core 2 duo Mac instead…

The question definitely makes sense. You can now get essentially the same components into a PC or a Mac. So the choice would boil down to:

  • Design
  • OS
  • Software


Well, the Macs look better, definitely.


If you choose your hardware carefully, you can get a pretty decent looking PC. Check out these Antec enclosures (they have a nice quality feeling by the way) or these Sony displays.

And also, if you actually want to connect 3 screens to a Mac, you’ll definitely need one of those bigger Mac Pros where you can put in a PC video card. And those sort of lose their coolness factor over the iMacs. But to be fair, I guess you could get away with a 24" iMac ;)


I don’t care about Vista yet. I won’t trust it until Service Pack 1 anyway :P

So it’s basically XP against OS X Tiger…

Tiger again looks better. But, from my experience on my Mac Mini Core Duo / 512 MB RAM : it feels less responsive than XP on a Pentium III / 512 MB of RAM. Not to mention XP on the Core 2 duo / 2 GB of RAM!

Tiger crashes on me, almost on a daily basis. I can basically crash it on demand just by launching iPhoto three times in a row, then try to shutdown.

And when the Finder crashes, there is just no way to recover! There is no magical Ctrl+Alt+Del to kill the Finder and relaunch a fresh one, like you can do on XP when the explorer crashes (and it doesn’t crash daily by the way).

There is also this thing about the (bluetooth) mouse being slower when the system is loaded! It’s sooo frustrating!

Then there is the windowing interface. I like to maximize an app over a whole screen (and I like having 3 screens side by side). I can hardly do that on the Mac. I don’t like seeing other application windows behind my current documents and tool windows. It disturbs me.

Finally, there are a lot of things you can’t do with the keyboard on a Mac. Like confirming a file delete (it just won’t Tab to the Delete button) or cycling through open documents in an application with a standard shortcut like Ctrl+Tab on Windows (the closes thing is Command+< which works… sometimes). That’s a nightmare too.

Sure there are these little gadgets everywhere, but that’s marketing. You don’t need those for day to day production.

I guess the one thing I really miss in XP is Automator. But that’s not enough to turn me away from it. Most of the time I can find a piece of software that embeds all the automation I need for a specific task.


That’s the BIG issue!

If I switched to a Mac, I would have to buy all my software again! That’s a real show stopper! :/

Now, let’s assume I could get away with illegal Mac copies as long as I have a valid license with a Windows copy for the same software like Excel or Dreamweaver or Photoshop… (I don’t think this is legal, but let’s just pretend for the sake of the argument…)

Now even if I had my software exchanged to Mac versions for free, there is one piece that has no equivalent on the Mac: NuSphere PhpEd! And, as a matter of fact, this this the central piece of software I need to use when doing development.

Worse, there is no complete PHP IDE on the Mac. And by complete, I mean an IDE that will analyze all PHP files in a project, build a structure of classes and functions, then provide code insight and completion when you try to call the class members or functions throughout any file in the project.

Now, of course if I was doing web design only, and no development, I’d definitely be happy with the Mac software! But I’m not that much of a designer actually… :-/


Still I like the Mac… I sometimes miss it at my Desk. Automator especially!

So I think I’ll investigate two things:

  • Would more RAM make Tiger more responsive? (good chance) and more stable. (I doubt it)
  • Can you work with a PC & a Mac hooked up on a KVM switch. In other words, can you operate a Mac with a PC keyboard in a decent manner? (because physically switching keyboards on the desk is something you get bored of pretty quickly!)

One last thing...

There always have to be one last thing when talking about Macs!

Bootcamp! This allows to double boot XP and OS X on a Mac. I don’t want it because you have to reboot each time you want to switch back and forth from PC to Mac. So I’d rather have two separate machines.

Parallels Desktop for Mac! That’s supposed to be able to run both OS X and Windows in isolated virtual machines. Sounds good… but I don’t have enough HD nor RAM on my Mini to give it a try. I’m afraid virtualization will seriously slow things down (and not give an accurate estimate of whether my database queries are efficient or not). Also I’m not overly confident of the overall stability of such a set up.

So, for now… I prefer to keep separate machines. A Windows development machine. And a Mac multimedia machine.

Comments from long ago:

Comment from: Danny

That’s a tough dilemma. I use a Mac at work and at home. I don’t use an IDE, so I just edit code in TextMate. I really like having a Unix command line and all the tools that it comes with. Parallels is probably the most promising way to get the best of both worlds. But if your central app has performance problems, that’s not good.

I use a PC keyboard on my Mac Mini at work. No problems there. I even use Synergy to control my PC laptop with the Mac keyboard and mouse.

OS X rarely crashes on me, but I’ve never used it with less than 1.25 GB of RAM. The need for so much RAM is a valid complaint against Apple computers.

Keyboard shortcut for cycling between the windows of an app: cmnd + ` (that’s the ~ key, not an apostrophe). I also use F10 to show all windows in an app and F9 to show all windows. I really miss those when working on a PC.

Good luck with the new computer.

2006-11-18 19-07

Comment from: Joseph A. di Paolantonio


The command-tilde that Danny mentions is indeed the way to switch among windows within an open application on MacOSX. I notice that your list of allowed XHTML tags doesn’t include the a to give a link, so I’ll just list the URIs of three sites that have helped me in my transition from MS Windows to MacOSX keyboard shortcuts.




There are also instructions on how to activate full keyboard access on the Mac, which you’ll need to get around some of the keyboarding issues you mention.

I have to agree with you that the lack of some tools, like a PHP IDE and a graphical diff similar to WinMerge is a problem. We haven’t found any real alternatives yet, and I don’t know if there is anything in the xcode kit that would help. We are looking at TextMate, ForgEdit and Smultron as possibilities. I’ll let you know how they help with our upgrade from b2evolution to 1.8.5. ;-) Transferring to MacOSX has been one thing delaying our upgrade.

We have purchased and installed Parallels [US$89] to run MS Windows and various Linux distros, such as SLED10, on the Mac. Since this virtualization software has guest OSs running each in its own window and sandbox, it is very convenient to run multiple guest OSs - though you’ll need to have 2GB RAM to run more than one Guest OS at a time. We have found it very useful for using tools for which we have MS Windows licenses and for which there are no MacOSX licensing paths or equivalents, or for testing software solutions under a variety of operating systems.

Maybe what we really need to do is pressure NuSphere, Watermark, Ankord, etc to port their PHP IDEs to MacOSX, and even ask the WinMerge project. [Though I keep thinking there must be a good Aqua UI diff tool. I just can’t seem to find it.]

Regarding your Finder crashes… I haven’t experienced this at all. However, there is a MacOSX equivalent to the Windows Task Manager that allows you to shut down unresponsive applications: Force Quit, which can be launched either from the Apple Icon in the menu bar, or using the option-command-escape keys, and selecting the application that you wish to kill and clicking on the “Force Quit” button. Force Quit also works for Finder by relaunching it, rather than just stopping it, [the “Force Quit” button is replaced by “Relaunch”].

Have fun developing on your new machine. And thanks again for b2evo - it’s the best blogging tool out there.

2006-11-19 21-17

Comment from: bradley_python

Hi, It seems that you are a recent switcher. Or you did not try Mac OSX that much :-/ Basically all what you say about what Macs can’t do is… errr… wrong. ;)

  • Sure thing that nowadays 512 Mo of RAM is kinda short for Mac OSX. The Mac Mini is really a low-cost computer, you can’t ask a short price, great design, and great performances. 1Gb is, according to me, the required memory amount for OSX. But I do remember that Windows was kinda short with 512 Mb too! Try OSX with 1Gb and you’ll really see the difference.

  • You can find the equivalent of Ctrl-Alt-Del-task-manager on a mac with Alt-Apple-Esc to force quit an application. And it just works so much better than the windows task manager. I think I used it about 10 times in one year. I can’t remember how many times I used that Ctrl-Alt-Del that doesn’t work well on my PC. Also, my finder never crashes on my old Powerbook G4-1Ghz…

  • Confirming a file delete is Apple-Backspace

  • Switching between documents in the same app: isn’t the F-10 key working? This is true that all these hot keys are not well documented.

About all your PC softwares you miss on a mac… Well, I kinda felt the same than you at the beginning of my switch. Contrary to all the Apple ads, I think that switching (especially for work) is really a big (and nice) change of habbits. Even if it’s often impossible to find the exact same software (apart for important stuffs like Photoshop, Microsoft Office, etc), you can often find an equivalent, which is often better. Why? Because OSX is new and it’s another way of software thinking (ergonomy), in my humble opinion. But this is true that you sometimes can’t find an equivalent (for Borland Delphi for example). But now you can use windows for these rare apps with Parallels and Boot camp.

In one word, everybody has its working habbits, and it would be stupid to proove you that a Mac is better than a PC. Because it isn’t. Because you maybe (or probably) work faster on your PC than on a Mac, because of you PC habbits.

That beeing said, it is also not true to say that you can’t code efficiently on a mac. The best example is the web development team of Last.fm (which is a big website, isn’t it?), and they do code PHP on mac hardware…

2006-12-21 13-22

Comment from: Martin


I feel your pain. I love my Mac (iBook G4 PPC), but I also get tired of trying to find development tools that will help improve productivity. I have also been looking for a worthy PHP IDE for mac. I came across Komodo (http://www.activestate.com/Products/Komodo/), but have had a heck of a time getting the debugger to run. I am about to give up on the trial version.

On the other hand, I found about a dozen IDE’s for PC (many that were free), and my guess is I could be up in running in less than 15 minutes.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Mac computers, but loyalty isn’t enough when productivity lacks. Apple knows that so many people are using their computers for web design and development, why don’t they create a more friendly environment for Development and not just Design?

2007-01-12 04-16

Comment from: Ori

I like the way you people discuss things about the MAC vs PC thing. I am waiting for my new Macbook Pro and I am new to PHP, so it was nice reading your gentle thoughts.

Have a nice day!

2007-02-09 17-18

Comment from: d-Zone

cite :And when the Finder crashes, there is just no way to recover! There is no magical Ctrl+Alt+Del to kill the Finder and relaunch a fresh one, like you can do on XP when the explorer crashes (and it doesn’t crash daily by the way).

Actually, you can relaunch a fresh finder, just with a cmd + alt +escape

cite : Then there is the windowing interface. I like to maximize an app over a whole screen (and I like having 3 screens side by side). I can hardly do that on the Mac. I don’t like seeing other application windows behind my current documents and tool windows. It disturbs me."

don’t you use Desktop manager ? even if it is a freeware for now, an equivaent thing will be buit in Leopard. With such tools, you can easily switch over several desktop.. no more need several screen.

cite :Finally, there are a lot of things you can’t do with the keyboard on a Mac. Like confirming a file delete (it just won’t Tab to the Delete button)

delete a file : cmd + backtab

cite: or cycling through open documents in an application with a standard shortcut like Ctrl+Tab on Windows (the closes thing is Command+ which works… sometimes). That’s a nightmare too.

!!!! and what about F10 !!!

2007-02-20 17-39

Comment from: d-Zone

by the way, have you heard about MAMP ? http://www.framasoft.net/article3719.html

2007-02-20 17-43

Comment from: Mox Folder

François, if tiger crashes daily, you certainly must have a problem with your Mac Mini or your installation of tiger… try to re-install tiger and if it doesn’t still work try to exchange your mac before the warranty goes away.

2007-03-20 22-32

Comment from: François Planque

I did reinstall twice. And I do have a problem with my Mac Mini. The problem is called iPhoto more specifically.

I upgraded from 512 MB of RAM to 2 GB of RAM. Now it only crashes once a month. I can live with that.

Believe it or not. Mac OS X needs a much more powerful machine than Win XP. (With Vista it may be a different story…)

2007-03-20 22-49

Comment from: Glen

Macmini is basically crap. Mine crashes every time I use it and I cannot even shut it down without have to turn off the power. Have reloaded software a few times and apple now say its probably a hardware fault. Its a new machine and the problems have been evident since day one.

Bad design or bad quality control? frankly i dont give a damn as its my first and last apple experience

2007-03-24 07-20

Comment from: Faktor

We have multiple reports of PhpED doing fine on Mac with Parallels, we actually posted about it here: http://support.nusphere.com/viewtopic.php?t=151 Take a look, I think it can work

2007-08-13 18-05

Comment from: Bob Ray

I’m thinking of switching to the IMac 24 and I found your comments very useful.

You might look into Eclipse and PhpEclipse. That combo does everything you want once you get it installed correctly (which can be a royal pain since you have to get compatible versions of all the components).

Personally, I don’t like the user interface of PhpEclipse and, like you, use PhpED and either QVCS or TortoiseSVN. QVCS, which I love, isn’t available for the IMac either, nor is there any Mac equivalent.

I’d probably use Bootcamp and PhpEd, since things run a lot faster in Bootcamp than Parallels. In fact, I might never boot OSx.

My biggest concern would be getting peripherals to work like my Hawking parabolic USB wireless antenna. In theory, the XP drivers would work under Bootcamp. In practice, who knows.


2007-10-25 03-51

Comment from: Bob Ray

I should have mentioned that Xampp (or the equivalent) is necessary for the Eclipse platform but there is a Mac version of Eclipse.


2007-10-25 03-54

Comment from: eatrjsykdifgl

just get a new imac with leopard put xp professional on it and use vmware fusion duh

2008-02-16 05-35

Comment from: Matt

I must say, I have exactly the same problem as you. I use vs.php on my pc to do my development, but I cannot find a solution for my mac. Until there is something that will improve my productivity over a basic file editor, I will not be able to move my main desktop to a mac.

I am trying to comprehend people saying to just install xp in bootcamp. If I wanted windows, id buy a pc, no? For now, I have my windows box for development and actual productive work, a mac mini connected to my tv with plex, and my macbook pro for everything else. I think it is a good compromise :)

2008-12-27 13-43

Comment from: Imran Bukhsh


I am recently started using Eclipse for PHP development and its awsome. Code-completion ( for your classes php functions and more ), step - debugging and more. Although I am pretty sure Eclipse runs on Mac. Only downside of Eclipse is its not WYSIWIG.

Thanking You imran

2010-08-28 14-43

Comment from: seo

Mac is highly recommended by many developers and even many big firm uses mac systems.

2010-09-09 14-23

Comment from: Stas

I am using Codelobster IDE for web development.

2017-12-19 14-28