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Staying home for the night

&*%$ you and all of your @#*!% opinions! There, now that I’ve established my credibility, let’s get started.

I installed Ubuntu recently on a virtual machine. It was insanely easy. Pointed VMWare at the .iso then went back to entertaining myself reading comments on the local news site (http://tribune242.com; I like it because it reads like an offshoot of The Hillbaley Ho Down and Extravaganza).

Tips for people starting on Ubuntu coming from Windows

I jest. Just want to screw with the people who are skimming the headings. Last thing I want to do is claim any sort of proficiency with Linux.

It did get me thinking on the last year and a half with BookedIN though. Since starting this venture, I’ve learned (to varying degrees): Java, GWT, AppEngine, Ruby/Rails, Mercurial, Git, Eclipse, and now, Linux. I had experience in none of them at the start.

The benefits of looking outside your world

Ha, ha, I’m kidding again. We all know it’s a profoundly moving and religious experience to expand your horizons, even if all you get out of it is a vaguely pretentious blog post.

I’m actually going to discuss the opposite view: the benefits of sticking with what you know. I still do some .NET work on the side. It’s not a particularly complicated project, which is why I like it. And after a long day debugging issues with GWT hosted mode and figuring out the proper Cucumber syntax to use for a UI test and trying to massage our AppEngine data in all its NoSQL-ness, it’s comforting to open up Visual Studio and SQL Server Management Studio and whip out code almost without thinking. I know how to wire up the IoC container and once Fluent NHibernate has been wined and dined with all its conventions, it puts out like a two-dollar wh—<ahem>…yes, well, let’s just say Fluent NHibernate is a well-used piece of software at the hillbilly’s shack, let me tell you…

I’m dancing a little jig on a fine line here in my wording because it’s fun I don’t want to imply that I regret moving away from .NET for our project. It’s kind of like moving to a new country. Yes, the weather may be better but gas is also over five dollars a gallon and the power goes out once a week. In short, you substitute one set of problems for another.

I get the question “would you write your next application in .NET?” fairly regularly. My honest answer is “I have no idea.” I wouldn’t shy away from it, that’s for sure. If it was for a company whose staff consists almost entirely of C# developers, then yes, probably. If it was some little thing to help organize the schedule for my daughter’s soccer team, I probably would too. Because I could do it quickly.

(I could also use the opportunity to learn a new language. But I get enough of those opportunities running the development process of our company. These days, unpaid side projects are ones I’d like to get off my plate quickly.)

I guess my ultimate point is that going with what you know has its place. Not necessarily for long-term career satisfaction, mind you, but there is a certain satisfaction to being able to fly through a codebase without having to look up syntax for some new library. As long as you aren’t using it as an excuse to remain stagnant…

Kyle the Tap Dancer

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  • http://www.ridpiles.com/ hemorrhoids

    I think it’s worth learning about new things and about different ways of
    doing things.  Microsoft developers should definately look at how build
    systems work in that space, how configuration is done, how the command
    line works.

  • stefi watson

    Great post which can make you learn many things I also work on Linux.
    Numisma Technologies

  • Steve Sheldon

    It’s interesting… I started my career as a Unix developer and sysadmin.  Worked with DEC Ultrix, OSF/1, SunOS, SCO and then Linux from around 1991-1998.

    Not really interested in going back.

    That being said, there is definately a different mentality in the userbase.  Unix is far more about building small pieces that come together as a whole.  Microsoft, especially developers in the enterprise world, seem to focus on big monolithic applications and solutions.  An awful lot of doing things because the technology is there without much thought to why or if you should do this.

    I think it’s worth learning about new things and about different ways of doing things.  Microsoft developers should definately look at how build systems work in that space, how configuration is done, how the command line works.

    Especially the command line.  I’m amazed at the number of developers who don’t know how to use a command line.

  • http://www.58bits.com Anthony Bouch

    Hi Kyle – great post. I’m about to start a series on getting started with Linux and a non-MS stack. The intro article is here – titled ‘The Long Road Home’…. http://www.58bits.com/blog/2011/11/10/the-long-road-home-from-microsoft-to-linux/.