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Development Computer's OS

What OS do you guys develop on? 

The reason I am asking about this is, my boss wants upgrade all of our development computers to Windows Server 2003 Standard R2 (We currently uses Windows XP SP2).  He feels Windows Server 2003 this more stable also it will match our current production environment.  I see no problem, but I feel it is over kill for a development OS.  Any feed back is greatly appreciated.

Aaron Olds Send private email
Monday, February 18, 2008
From what I've seen it is basically identical to XP SP2 (which was really XP R2), but with performance tweaks to optimize it for a server role.

I'd say it's nonsense to use Win2003 as a desktop OS, but that's just me.
Monday, February 18, 2008
I have had this done before (using WS2003 as the development OS) - it was a near-identical experience to using XP; I didn't see any major difference.  I was fed the same line as well, to more closely match production, but isn't that what a development and/or staging server is for?

IMO the way to set up a development environment is to have:
- Developer Workstation(s) (client OS, local test database, etc.)
- Development/Staging Server (server OS, mirrors Production server, development database, etc.)
- Production Server (server OS, locked down, real database)
WayneM. Send private email
Monday, February 18, 2008
We use almost exclusively Win 2003 for development machines.

- Better IIS configuration (multiple sites, real application pools and so on). If you develop Asp.NET application like we do this is the main reason to use win 2003
- Very stable, rock solid, no problem in installing server tools if needed (SQL, BizTalk, Exchange) and so on
- License is covered by MSDN license

- Sometime difficult to find drivers (for notebook it's a real problem sometime)
- Some tool (like Adobe ones) need some tweak to properly install on win 2003, after installation they work without problems but they are hard to install
- Different visual behaviour if theme is not enabled, if you made windows applications you have to test them on XP and Vista to be sure

So as a guideline I would say to use Win2003 if you develop mainly web sites or web services and XP if you develop windows application.

Massimo Gentilini Send private email
Monday, February 18, 2008
Thanks for all of the feedback.  Our Production environment is exclusively Windows Server 2003 and we deploy our application via a Citrix Farm.  So we don't have to worry about quirky user desktop issues, just quirky server issues.

So I am going to recommend we upgrade our development computers to Windows Server 2003 when we build our new boxes.  (We also have the MSDN subscription so no worries licenses)

Aaron Olds Send private email
Monday, February 18, 2008
Aaron -

With regard to licensing, your MSDN licenses will not cover running Windows 2003 as your primary OS on developer machines if those developers will be doing anything other than development/testing. Note: sending a standard-course-of-business email counts as non-development/testing.

Check the MSDN licensing FAQ here:

Specifically, the section titled "Can I use the operating systems in my MSDN subscription to install or upgrade my development PCs?" and the second sentence of that section.
Ryan LaNeve Send private email
Monday, February 18, 2008
You are correct.  Mac OSX is far superior to Windows.  I think that would make a better dev OS.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Licensing issues aside, I think Windows 2003 is less heavy weight then XP if you dont install any of the unnecessary services. I have been using the 64 bit version and am very happy with the  performance - very snappy. I also like the old windows 2000 style UI.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Isn't there also going to be a set of CAL requirements not met by using Win2003 as a client?  Licenses included in XP?
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
I guess that question depends alot on what you actually develop. I use a linux for my development machine, since the production environment is unix (freebsd). I used Windows for the longest time, but I got so fed up with cygwin, that I changed over.
Troels Knak-Nielsen Send private email
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
> He feels

Feelings shouldn't come into it. You'll be spending money and effort.

However, matching your development and deployment evnvironments always sounds like a good idea to me.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008
"I'd say it's nonsense to use Win2003 as a desktop OS"

Win2k3 works great as a desktop OS, once you properly configure it.  However as another poster pointed out, unfortunately the MSDN license is rather draconian and prohibits using it for anything other than pure development and testing. 

I'm not certain if there are other ways to get ahold of cheap licenses for development that, horror of horrors, let you read your email on it as well.

You could consider running it in a VM if it came to that.  I do agree that wherever possible, the development OS should match the testing and production OS.
Dan Fleet Send private email
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
We used to do development on w2k3 server because it was the only thing that shipped on Dell's dual Xeons.
The graphics drivers lagged the XP by a couple of versions and the ram was a lot more expensive.
Out of the box it is a little slower but you can tweak it to give higher priority to desktop tasks. And for builds this was offset by having 2 cpus!
Martin Send private email
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
+1 Dan Fleet

Use virtual servers. It's a good way to make sure you are testing clean builds and you have a good deployment strategy.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
2003 is a great desktop operating system. I wholly prefer it to XP in every sense. The IIS support on 2003 is obviously top-notch, and it's also a newer version than what you get on XP. But that may not matter to you.

It's true it will take some configuring to get it up and running more like a Desktop OS. Like enabling hardware accelerated video in the Display settings and switching it to Application instead of Services.

The commenter above who mentioned no theming is wrong - the service is merely Disabled. Simply start the service and you can get theming like you do on XP - if that's your thing...
The Luggage
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Not quite the same I know, but I'm currently using Windows Server 2008 as my desktop OS. Once properly customised you get the same desktop experience as Vista, with the added benefits of SP1 and Hyper-V for virtualisation.

To be honest I'm only really doing it to get familiar with the tools for when we start to host on W2K8, but I certainly don't find it an inferior desktop experience once all the relevant tweaks are done.

The IIS thing is the primary reason to go with 2003 over XP, if you develop Web apps. Vista and W2K8 both have identical versions of IIS7, so no advantage there.
.NET Guy Send private email
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
A good reason? Xp is limited at 10 network connections. Server not. So, if wanna test a load of a database or a website, is a must.
Mario Send private email
Friday, February 22, 2008

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