Saturday, March 29, 2008

Windows: Ruby's Red-Headed Stepchild

In case you missed it, there has been increased online discussion these past few days regarding the viability of Windows as a development platform for Ruby. This was triggered by at least two blog posts...

Luis Lavena:

"Is Windows a supported platform for Ruby? I guess not"

Peter Cooper:

"Is Windows a first class platform for Ruby, or not?"

"All the cool kids are doing it."

I've been disappointed by some of the readers' comments to these posts. As in so many discussions within the open source community, there's a significant anti-Microsoft sentiment. There are many reasons to dislike Microsoft and Windows. But those who wonder aloud if anyone still uses Windows, or that comment that "real programmers don't use Windows" are either tragically ignorant or blinded by their passion for Linux and/or MacOS. Yes, I know, we're wandering back towards the Ruby in the Enterprise debate.

“The race is not always to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, but that's the way to bet.” -Damon Runyon

Fortunately, there are voices of reason in this discussion, including Peter Cooper, who, while not a Windows user, says "a poor Windows Ruby ecosystem could harm the growth and spread of the language". Whether you like it or not, Windows is far and away the most popular desktop OS. Many desktop developers in the [insert Darth Vader/Evil Empire theme here] Corporate World are required to develop for Windows because that's where the users are. We might be able to "sneak Ruby through the system", but expecting a company to switch hundreds or thousands of users from Windows to Linux or Mac is childish.

If you love Ruby, and care about the future of The Language, then you want Windows to be a "first-class platform for Ruby". It's not about developer preferences. It's about market forces.

Ruby is more than just Rails.

Software development is more than just websites.

Ruby needs Windows more than Windows needs Ruby.

Think about it.

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