I'm taking a new job soon. The new company will let me install any operating system of my choice on the company workstation. At my current job, I was given a choice between Ubuntu and MacOS, so I am unfamiliar with having completely free rein.

I use Gentoo exclusively as my daily driver at home, so I'm very familiar with it and prefer it as an OS at work as well. I'm concerned if this would cause any audit/compliance issues. I know Ubuntu has some certifications that Gentoo does not. (Jurisdiction: Germany (EU), Operating Area: Media Sales Platform)

I will clear up the compliance/policy issues with my manager, but I was wondering if there are any concerns that I hadn't thought of, such as:

  • Is it generally a bad idea for any other reason, besides compliance/security concerns?
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    Voting to close this question as off topic because you should discuss this with your company. Beyond that, compatibility and security concerns of different operating systems is off topic and compliance would be extremely company-specific (unless you mean legal compliance, in which case that's probably off topic too and more the company's problem than yours). – Bernhard Barker Nov 16 '17 at 6:51
  • This question was previously more technical and comments on that part of it were moved to chat. Please take any technical questions or discussions to that chatroom. – Lilienthal Nov 16 '17 at 9:10
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    You talk a lot about what you use at home (irrelevant) and at your past job (irrelevant). What about the work you have to do in the new company? What about the projects? I mean, even if you do web work only in angular, if the main project is in .NET - being able to run Visual Studio is a BIG plus. And you say nothing about that. Start investigating the landscape you have to work with. Take it from there. – TomTom Nov 16 '17 at 10:54

If you intend to choose an OS that no one else at your company uses you should ask your manager if he has any objections to your choice, or if there is a standard configuration used by members of his team filling your role.

Is it generally a bad idea for any other reason, besides compliance/security concerns?

Seeking the input of your new peers is always a good idea in this scenario. This way any advantages to their configuration can be accounted for. Also make sure that you consider any compatibility, ongoing maintenance, or security issues during your decision making process.

And finally, remember to take into account this new to you environment. Most likely they are doing most things for a reason.

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    In addition to compatability issues, if you're the only one using an OS, you need to do all your own maintenance and troubleshooting. – Erik Nov 15 '17 at 19:28
  • @Erik this might however also be an advantage - depending on what tasks are available in the new team and what you like. If you demonstrate some level of expertise with a particular OS, your manager might think of you first for any tasks that are OS-specific, say server administration when your are the only one with a Linux or bug reproduction when you are the only one with a Windows (and you got a bug from a user that has the same Windows running). – Frank Hopkins Nov 15 '17 at 22:06

Is it generally a bad idea for any other reason, besides compliance/security concerns?

One important thing to consider is the compatibility of the system of your choice with the others available in the company. Make sure that they can supply you with all the things you could need for your system regardless of the OS you chose. Also make sure that there will be no trouble accessing printers and similar devices with the OS of your choice. You could also try ask your coworkers about the experience or considerations they have had with the choice of OS they made.

This also depends on the gadgets, devices, libraries, etc., that you will need to use in the work you will perform. Generally speaking (and without promoting any tech feuds), there is a higher rate of compatibility amongst MacOS and Ubuntu than, say between any of those and Windows. This means that regardless of your choice, the differences if any, will probably be few.

I have not worked with Gentoo specifically, but seems that it is a Linux distribution as well as Ubuntu (Debian), so probably the smoothest transition for you is to chose Ubuntu if given the option.

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They're multiple problematic that have to be handled if you use your own OS :

  • Compatibility with the Information System of the company. To access internet you may have trouble if you're using Linux based distribution and the proxy server of the company is Windows-Kerberos based. However if the company allow any kind of OS, they should have think about this kind of trouble before hand.
  • Compatibility with co-worker of the same project. If every developer set up their own development you might have trouble finding why it isn't working on your own station.
  • Company support. If you have trouble to access some resources in the company, of if some intranet website doesn't work (because they're IE based) the IT support might refuse to support you.

Depending of the information system of you company you may be able :

  • To run under Linux without trouble
  • Need a Windows VM to access some specific resources
  • Need Windows as main OS and use Linux VM hoping your computer is powerfull enough to run a full IDE within a VM (for me, it is not even that much the case without the VM layer).

My advice is that unless you're really sure of what you're doing, stick to something commonly used in the company.

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  • Actually it is 2017. If there is any interop, the bestter answer is to run windows - and then use the Linux Subsystem that can be installed as a feature of windows to run Linux build tools. No VM's required. msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/commandline/wsl/install-win10 - title "Install the Windows Subsystem for Linux". – TomTom Nov 16 '17 at 10:56
  • It is possible that they're not under W10 though, remember that companies are often 5/10y late. And it doesn't seems like you can run any Linux distrib but only those provided right ? But that's an interesting point I didn't know it existed. – Walfrat Nov 16 '17 at 11:47
  • but he says he is able to choose ;) Which makes the 5y point moot. Also any linux distro - remember, in this scenario you do not really run UI elements on linux. It is perfectly fine for example as a compilation platform ;) That is what MS uses it. Add support for docker (also in windows) and you have all that you need to compile and prepare docket images in windows that then get uploaded (or you can actually run them) to whatever kubernets you run ;) – TomTom Nov 16 '17 at 13:19

Remember that you might find it hard, or sometimes impossible, to use the company VPN and Active Directory controlled systems when you use a less common OS. Be ready to spend weeks in getting everything working. In worst case scenarios, you will be ordered by your boss to "stop playing around and get it working". Which usually ends up meaning: install Windows. If you are lucky, you can replace your company laptop with a Mac after the fact, if you don't want to use Windows.

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  • I have yet to come across a company where Linux is the predominant OS, or even widely used, in employee computers. And I've worked and interviewed in companies from startups to Fortune 500. Personally I prefer Linux, but of course the workplace is the one that decides what you must use. – Juha Untinen Nov 15 '17 at 23:35
  • @Juha_Untinen Well, from the one's I interviewed with I got quite mixed answers on that topic - but I wouldn't go by that alone (is allowed vs. reality etc.). In my last company Linux was the norm amongst developers and some guys even had to switch from Windows to Linux to integrate into the normal infrastructure. In research I've only seen Windows machines in the secretaries office. All in all I've been in more places with Linux predominance (in development) than Windows. I didn't even care in the beginning, but now a decent Linux option is a must for any job. – Frank Hopkins Nov 16 '17 at 0:53
  • @Darkwing Which means install windows. Then install Linux Subsystem to get an integrated Ubuntu without the use of a VM ;) – TomTom Nov 16 '17 at 10:58

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