Macbook Air 13" for Rails Dev

Pointless question I know as an experienced programmer can work with
any hardware but I wanted some opinions on the new macbook air 13".

My current PC which is a 1.2ghz dual core with 4gb of ram is on it's
last legs. I've been running ubuntu and while the machine hasn't been
lightning quick it gets the job done. So I was thinking of getting the
new MBA with 1.86ghz and 4GB of ram and was wondering whether anyone
had any experience with it, I just need to kick round rails and push
my projects up to heroku. The only heavy thing I have to deal with is
some large databases around 40mb. Does the SSD help? Right now I can't
stretch to a MBP 15" and I need to replace this week so any advice
would be appreciated.

Pointless question I know as an experienced programmer can work with
any hardware but I wanted some opinions on the new macbook air 13".

My current PC which is a 1.2ghz dual core with 4gb of ram is on it's
last legs.

Can't feel sorry for you. I'm using a 5 year old MacBookPro maxed out at 2gb RAM.

I've been running ubuntu and while the machine hasn't been
lightning quick it gets the job done. So I was thinking of getting the
new MBA with 1.86ghz and 4GB of ram and was wondering whether anyone
had any experience with it, I just need to kick round rails and push
my projects up to heroku. The only heavy thing I have to deal with is
some large databases around 40mb.

Sorry, but 40mb is absolutely not a large database.

Does the SSD help?

While I don't have one, there are four developers I work with who have SSD and it make a huge difference.

Right now I can't
stretch to a MBP 15" and I need to replace this week so any advice
would be appreciated.

Get the best machine you can afford (or maybe even a little better than that). If you get an Apple, get the ProCare for it and keep the machine for at least 3 years. (Like I said, mine is from 2006.)

-Rob

Rob Biedenharn
Rob@AgileConsultingLLC.com http://AgileConsultingLLC.com/
rab@GaslightSoftware.com http://GaslightSoftware.com/

I switched to the Macbook Air 13", 1.86Ghz, 4GB, 128 SSD three months ago from a two year old 13" Macbook 2.0Ghz, 4GB, normal HD. I really enjoy the higher screen resolution and its much brighter too. The Air with SSD is lightning fast compared to my old Macbook. The Macbook Air is my primary (and only) computer, I use it for work, private and rails development. And finally, it is small and lightweight, I carry it along the whole day. The only drawback: still no UMTS option available - Apple wake up, mobile access is not limited to iPhone and iPad…

Markus

You don't have to buy a Mac unless you are deadly addicted to jumping
icons and stuff like that;)
I had brand new MacBook Pro for 6 months and replaced it with "bottom
shelf" Dell Vostro based on similar hardware level.
Now with Ubuntu on board I can work smoothly with MacOS equivalent
set of developer's tools and about half less hardware resources being
used.

Not a pointless question at all. Came up at a local UG in NYC last week. One dev is using a 13" air as their primary dev machine. I'm a little concerned by the limit of 4Gb RAM, but they are reporting really good experienced with the fast disk I/O making up for the limited RAM.

Personally I use a MBP 15" with 8Gb RAM, but in addition to Ruby and Rails I do Groovy and Grails (and Scala and some Clojure) so I usually have IntelliJ and/or Eclipse open so the extra RAM is useful. If you're using textmate (or emacs or vi) and Rails, any processor intensive test suites might be a little slower than with a faster processor, but with gems like autotest and spork that is less of an issue.

I'd say "go for it". But understand there are some limitations. You're going to want to get the external DVD for loading software, and if it's anything like my first generation Air, you're gonna be shocked by how few ports you have. You have to pay an Apple tax just to get a connector to be able to plug into ethernet, for example.

Still, great portability. I'm still on the fence about getting one as a conference laptop.

Best Wishes,
Peter

OhMyGoodnessYesItDoes!

Walter

I did not keep it as I decided I could get another year or so out of my 13" MacBook, but a few months ago I bought the 11" MacBook Air (2gb version… the 4 was not available as I bought it the first day of release), and had it for a week. Loaded all my dev environment and it was as fast or faster than my current machine – I thought the SSD did make boot up and coming back from sleep a lot faster. I was concerned with the power of the computer but in the store I opened just about every app the thing had in it at the same time and it did not miss a beat when switching between them. The only thing I realized is that with the 11" my posture got worse as I kept inclining to see the screen :slight_smile: But for me unless I have a change of heart, I plan on getting the 13" MBA.

I did not keep it as I decided I could get another year or so out of my 13" MacBook, but a few months ago I bought the 11" MacBook Air (2gb version.... the 4 was not available as I bought it the first day of release), and had it for a week. Loaded all my dev environment and it was as fast or faster than my current machine -- I thought the SSD did make boot up and coming back from sleep a lot faster. I was concerned with the power of the computer but in the store I opened just about every app the thing had in it at the same time and it did not miss a beat when switching between them. The only thing I realized is that with the 11" my posture got worse as I kept inclining to see the screen :slight_smile: But for me unless I have a change of heart, I plan on getting the 13" MBA.

The big difference for me is in TextMate, in a project with lots and lots of files in it (like a Rails app with the gems unpacked). When switching back and forth between Terminal and TextMate, there's almost no pause to re-index all the files. I have the new MacBook and an 8-core Mac Pro with a standard spinning disk, and the extra cores are only really pushing me ahead when I'm doing something unrelated to Rails, like Photoshop. The SSD is so amazingly faster at switching contexts, which is what it seems I do all day long, that I find myself sneaking off to the MacBook away from my giant two-screen Mac Pro.

Walter

Thanks guys. Looks like I should be fine with one, I move around quite
a bit so the drop in weight will help. Not to fussed about lack of
ports. Probably going to go with the 1.86ghz with 4gb RAM and get an
external hard drive for storage.

Walter Davis wrote in post #977401:

kept inclining to see the screen :slight_smile: But for me unless I have a
change of heart, I plan on getting the 13" MBA.

The big difference for me is in TextMate, in a project with lots and
lots of files in it (like a Rails app with the gems unpacked). When
switching back and forth between Terminal and TextMate, there's almost
no pause to re-index all the files. I have the new MacBook and an 8-
core Mac Pro with a standard spinning disk, and the extra cores are
only really pushing me ahead when I'm doing something unrelated to
Rails, like Photoshop. The SSD is so amazingly faster at switching
contexts, which is what it seems I do all day long, that I find myself
sneaking off to the MacBook away from my giant two-screen Mac Pro.

That's very interesting to know. I have a 3-year-old MacBook Pro which
I love, but it's probably time to get a new laptop soon. I wonder if an
Air would be suitable. Maybe not, though; I plan to use it for audio
and live looping at least as much as software development (I do both
music and programming professionally...yes, I'm busy). I wonder if the
Air can keep up with the real-time sound processing...

Walter

Best,

What application(s) do you use for audio? I've got Login Express 9 here, and that runs great on the Macbook -- but for best results you're supposed to record to a separate drive and you need an audio in port, and that's really overloading USB in my opinion.

Walter

My current PC which is a 1.2ghz dual core with 4gb of ram is on it's
last legs. I've been running ubuntu and while the machine hasn't been
lightning quick it gets the job done. So I was thinking of getting the
new MBA with 1.86ghz and 4GB of ram and was wondering whether anyone

I don't have an air. I do have a 13" mac book pro 2010 with 8gb of ram. I had 4gb. My only issue with your plan is the ram. I used to swap when loading up parallels/windows for ie testing. That sucked. I don't anymore :slight_smile:

For what it's worth, my typical open apps.... Mail, Safari, iTunes, Adium, Colloquy, Billings, iTerm (w/ lots of vim sessions), mysql, postgresql, rails console, rails server. All was fine until I'd fire up Parallels. At which point I'd use just a bit over 4gb, but enough I'd notice it when switching apps.

If you won't be running Parallels (or some other virtual app) 4gb should be fine -- and probably still is as long as you shut down some of the other ram hogs while using it, or crank down the vm's ram to 512mb or something...

-philip

I'd be careful with anything processor intensive. You don't get anything for free. If you need the weight/price, I'd check it out. Otherwise . . .

I am thinking of one as a travel/backup machine though . . . and they seem quite capable for Rails dev in Textmate.

Best Wishes,
Peter

Walter Davis wrote in post #977425:

Maybe not, though; I plan to use it for audio
and live looping at least as much as software development (I do both
music and programming professionally...yes, I'm busy). I wonder if
the
Air can keep up with the real-time sound processing...

What application(s) do you use for audio? I've got Login Express 9
here, and that runs great on the Macbook -- but for best results
you're supposed to record to a separate drive and you need an audio in
port, and that's really overloading USB in my opinion.

I use Ardour and GarageBand for recording, and SooperLooper and Moebius
for looping. I don't record to a separate drive, and I usually use the
USB input rather than the audio input.

However, I realize that we're getting off topic.

Walter

Best,

I'm working with Rails for a while from 2.0 to 3.0. Also with Jruby and
Grails.

That fine with 2GB RAM but better with 4GB.

My database is 3GB on PostgreSQL 8.4.

2.4Ghz Macbook Pro with TextMate

I have a chance to test New Mac Air 13. I feel it faster response.

Walter Davis wrote in post #977401:

kept inclining to see the screen :slight_smile: But for me unless I have a

change of heart, I plan on getting the 13" MBA.

The big difference for me is in TextMate, in a project with lots and

lots of files in it (like a Rails app with the gems unpacked). When

switching back and forth between Terminal and TextMate, there’s almost

no pause to re-index all the files. I have the new MacBook and an 8-

core Mac Pro with a standard spinning disk, and the extra cores are

only really pushing me ahead when I’m doing something unrelated to

Rails, like Photoshop. The SSD is so amazingly faster at switching

contexts, which is what it seems I do all day long, that I find myself

sneaking off to the MacBook away from my giant two-screen Mac Pro.

That’s very interesting to know. I have a 3-year-old MacBook Pro which

I love, but it’s probably time to get a new laptop soon. I wonder if an

Air would be suitable. Maybe not, though; I plan to use it for audio

and live looping at least as much as software development (I do both

music and programming professionally…yes, I’m busy). I wonder if the

Air can keep up with the real-time sound processing…

The thing too as far as I know is it is just usb, no firewire, which kind of limits audio/video… anyone know for sure?

No FireWire keeps you in the kiddie pool as far as audio interfaces go. All the big (cool, high quality) stuff is FireWire 400 or 800.

Walter

No FireWire keeps you in the kiddie pool as far as audio interfaces go. All the big (cool, high quality) stuff is FireWire 400 or 800.

So is FW 400/800 available on the MBA?

No firewire, just two USB ports.

No FireWire keeps you in the kiddie pool as far as audio interfaces go. All the big (cool, high quality) stuff is FireWire 400 or 800.

So is FW 400/800 available on the MBA?

Nope, just one USB 2 port on each side.

Walter