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Computer requirements for programming?


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Do you have a MAC or Windows machine?

 

No matter what, an upgrade to memory and processing speed will help even if it isn't the latest and greatest. However, without knowing a lot of specifics about the laptop and what you currently have, it's hard to make a recommendation. Bearing in mind that place like Best Buy will try to sell you the highest end of everything, it might be worth it to talk to the tech department, show them your laptop and the software he needs to run, and ask them if your laptop can be economically upgraded for better performance - making sure they understand you are not going to pay for top of the line everything - and see what they say. Don't buy that day. Take home those recommendations and see what is available from a variety of sources including even Staples online. Sometimes they have big closeouts on technology and you can get a laptop very reasonably. If you don't know how to install new memory or video cards, etc. yourself, it's probably not worth it to go that route since the cost is very high through most tech departments. However, if you can find a college student with a great reputation going through the computer hardware tech courses at your local cc or uni, you might be able to upgrade very cheaply. My nephew, an electronics whiz, put himself through college repairing every techie including pc's, ipods, cell phones, you name it a prices so reasonable he made it worthwhile to not buy new. If you can find someone like that, you may be able to get some upgrades for the laptop that will make it hum along for your would-be programmer.

 

Faith

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We had an older laptop for ds. We upgraded the RAM, I think, and let him at it. It was a Windows system, which he hates. So he dumped Windows and installed a Linux system (Unbuntu). He knows way more than me and loves to dabble. Our only requirement was it still had to go online, and he had to have a text program for school work. He has a newer desktop so we had no fear about losing data.

 

We also have a small computer shop in town. They were helpful in getting the right parts without attempting to upgrade the entire system. Dh speaks some tech (it is a whole other language I think), so he and ds worked on it together.

 

He's dabbling with C++ and I know his biggest complain was about compiling time.

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For laptops with AMD processors, I recommend a laptop with an AMD A6 or better. For Intel, i3 or better should be reasonable. 4GB of memory is reasonable for both. A Macbook Air will have an i3 minimum anyway, I think that a Macbook Pro will have at least an i5 (please correct me if I'm wrong), but they go for much more than their Windows-supporting counterparts.

 

...Bearing in mind that place like Best Buy will try to sell you the highest end of everything, it might be worth it to talk to the tech department, show them your laptop and the software he needs to run, and ask them if your laptop can be economically upgraded for better performance - making sure they understand you are not going to pay for top of the line everything - and see what they say. ...

 

 

The highest end would be AMD A10 and Intel i7. If the retailers try to sell you laptops with these processors, bear in mind that these are gaming processors. Only game programming could fully utilize that kind of power.

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Quite a lot of the laptops in the $350-500 price range are pretty good for programming. For laptops, it is easy to add on RAM (memory) but not possible to upgrade the processor unlike for desktop computers. I would go for the fastest processor within your budget and upgrade the memory later.

 

He's dabbling with C++ and I know his biggest complain was about compiling time.

 

That is unfortunately dependent on the processor type and speed. We are looking at getting a i7 quad core laptop to replace our oldest laptop.

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elegantlion sent you on the correct path. You really want to buy a low end Desktop PC. You want it to have the Linux operating system on it. Linux is free and all the software and development tools your DC wll need are free for Linux.

 

Linux will not run on all hardware. Especially on newer hardware and laptops. Before you purchase an existing system that has M$ Windows installed on it (try not to do that), take a "Live CD" or a "Live DVD" of the Linux operating system you plan to use (I use CentOS Linux) and put it into the machine and verify that everything, including the network connection, works, while using Linux, before you buy it.

 

Probably it would be better to have a local PC shop build the Desktop PC for your DC, with the requirement that all of the hardware works, properly, with the Linux OS he is going to use.

 

Ubuntu, as mentioned, is very popular, and is easier for Linux Newbies to use.

 

He does NOT need a fast box to write code on, but, more RAM is always a plus. GL

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Quite a lot of the laptops in the $350-500 price range are pretty good for programming. For laptops, it is easy to add on RAM (memory) but not possible to upgrade the processor unlike for desktop computers. I would go for the fastest processor within your budget and upgrade the memory later.

 

That is unfortunately dependent on the processor type and speed. We are looking at getting a i7 quad core laptop to replace our oldest laptop.

 

 

I agree with this. We use laptops wirelessly throughout our house and its so much more convenient than fixed desktops. The prices on new or gently used laptops have really come down over the past several years.

 

I'm a software engineer and although I've programmed in many languages on all sorts of operating systems I find most companies still use Windows for the developers' workstations simply because it functions in multiple capacities. In other words we use it for more than just programming. It acts as one's word processor, email client and a whole host of other common tools shared across an enterprise. Similarly at home I use various windows programs as well as programming tools. With modern laptops such as those which are pentium based i3, i5 or i7s you won't have any problems when it comes to programming, given its a well made system.

 

I am actually teaching ds11 to program in Java on my older Dell Inspiron Pentium II core duo with 3 GB ram running Vista and it works just fine. We even run NetBeans IDE and compilation is fast, C++ should be faster. It sounds like your laptop may be older than this or potentially has other issues.

 

OTOH, if you want to repurpose your old computer and load linux on it for your son to experiment with it would most likely work better for compiling programs as its leaner than Windows. But it sounds like it might be time to get him an upgraded system if you can swing it.

 

The other thing to consider is that there is more to a computer purchase than simply the latest processor or ram. For those who aren't as familiar with all the components I recommend staying with a quality brand and line such as Dell XPS or HP Elitebooks for example. Recently my wife wanted an 'affordable' laptop because she mainly surfs the web. So I found a new ASUS i5 at Best Buy for ~ $450. However once we brought it home and tried it I just couldn't get over how cheaply it was made among other things, even though it had 'good specs.' So I returned it with the promise of something better for the same $ or less. I then began a search for a much higher quality 'gently used' laptop. Long story short I found an excellent condition Dell XPS i5 for $400 on ebay. This is now by far the best laptop she has ever had and is more than happy with it.

 

So its all the components working together along with their quality that make the biggest difference. That's why specs 'alone' can be deceiving. Think of two cars with similar V6 engines and the same horse power, one is junk and the other smooth and reliable. Although I'm not a Mac fan that is something which Apple has built their reputation upon - clean, smoothly running, integrated systems. If you're into research, notebookcheck is one of the best sites for this. Here's an example review: http://www.notebookc...0M.51186.0.html

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