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Jul7-07, 09:06 PM
P: 837
Quote Quote by las3rjock View Post
You should check your computer science department's website to see if they have an computer purchasing recommendations for students. Unless they have specific recommendations, there are no specific technical reasons to choose a generic Windows laptop over an Apple laptop or vice versa.
  • Most undergraduate computer science programs start with courses that use programming languages and software development tools that can be run on any operating system (Windows, Mac OS X, or Linux). As you get further along in the program they tend to use more and more UNIX-based software development tools (gcc, make, etc.).
  • Since all current Apple laptop models use Intel processors, you have the option to dual-boot between Mac OS X and Windows via Boot Camp, or you can run a virtualized copy of Windows alongside Mac OS X via Parallels. Since Windows can be run natively or in virtualization on all current Apple laptop models, any program that you can run on a generic Windows laptop (for computer science or otherwise) can be run on any of the current Apple laptop models. You can also run a virtualized copy of Linux in Parallels, but generally there is no need for this since Mac OS X is already a UNIX-like operating system, and most UNIX/Linux programs can be compiled to run on Mac OS X. In particular, the Fink and MacPorts projects enable easy installation of UNIX/Linux programs. (Fink is an adaptation of the apt-get tool in Debian and Ubuntu; MacPorts is an adaptation of the FreeBSD ports system.)
  • On a generic Windows laptop (Dell, ThinkPad, etc), you can repartition your drive using a third-party utility like PartitionMagic (I have heard that many current distributions can resize Windows partitions safely, but I personally have never done this) and dual-boot Windows and Linux (Debian, Gentoo, etc.). The only caveat here is that the enormous diversity of Windows hardware means that it may be difficult or impossible to get some devices working on a natively-running Linux installation. (Linux hardware support has improved tremendously over the last 10 years, but often the latest and greatest hardware is difficult or impossible to get working. In particular, I have had difficulty getting wireless networking to work, even on various current Linux distributions.) There is a virtualization program called VMware which is similar to Parallels and can be run on either Windows or Linux. Running Linux in virtualization should solve any potential hardware compatibility problems because the virtualization program should provide software interfaces between Linux and Windows (which presumably has working drivers for these hardware devices).
I personally recommend going with the MacBook Pro. I bought a first-generation MacBook Pro about a year ago, and I have not regretted it. I had a few issues with dead and/or recalled batteries (all of which were replaced free of charge by Apple), and sometimes the laptop does run a bit hot, but I imagine that even those kinks have been ironed out now. I love that Mac OS X combines an elegant graphical user interface with powerful UNIX underpinnings, and I love the cool applications that Mac developers are coming up with. I have both Parallels and Boot Camp installed, and at first I was dual-booting or running Parallels a lot, but as more Mac applications have been compiled to run on Intel hardware and as I have discovered replacements for Windows-only programs, I have been booting into Windows or running Parallels only on rare occasions. The only potential showstopper is that Microsoft Office does not natively support Intel-based Macs (that will happen when Office 2007 for Mac comes out later this year), but even that does not affect me because I write most of my papers (and soon my PhD thesis) using the LaTeX computer typesetting system (for which there are some fabulous Mac-only programs), and I do most of my calculations in MATLAB (which now supports Intel-based Macs). If there is an Apple Store or Apple-retailer near you, I suggest that you visit and test drive a MacBook Pro before making a decision.
I am in the market to buy a new laptop. When I found out that Apple now supports MATLAB, I made the decision that I would purchase a Macbook (not pro). I'll be buying it in the next couple of weeks.

So, how was it to install MATLAB? Does it just install like any old' program on OSX (something I have no idea about), or does it require some additional steps to get it working? After it's running, does it run equivalent to how it would on a Windows box?

Thanks man.