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I have received a great job offer regarding both a good salary and the opportunity to work with really smart people and learn a lot. However, this is a programmer related opportunity and I'm really afraid that they will give me computer with tools and technology that I will not be as productive in as I could be if I chose my own tools/technology.

Is it is rude or unprofessional to ask for this? If not, how should one approach the company?

For reference:

I want a MAC or Linux environment. I don't want a windows environment.

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    How long have you been a professional developer? What is your objection to the Windows platform, and how much have you worked with it? – DJClayworth Jun 12 '14 at 2:50
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    RE: "it is known that working with non .NET technologies on a Windows PC is far away from being practical"...known by whom? I have done plenty of development from windows PCs. It was quite practical. – Grant Jun 12 '14 at 3:24
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    A consideration from experience: If you work on non standard OS you might have trouble using tools, scripts and procedures used by the rest of the team - making you less productive. You also have to make sure your stuff works when a windows user with windows tools needs to maintain your work. – Petter Nordlander Jun 12 '14 at 10:51
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    @Anonymous This isn't a healthy approach to work. It's perfectly fine and acceptable to request non standard tools, and there are a number of companies who would accommodate those requests. The problem comes with the "anything but that" attitude. It's perfectly fine to have preferred tools, we all do. It's also normal for most developers (especially early in their careers) to say I want to work in languages X, Y, Z. It's mutually expected that you offer specific expertise and I will utilize that expertise and not pitch on totally unrelated stuff.(it does happen though) – RualStorge Jun 12 '14 at 14:07
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    @Anonymous Also "it is known that working with non .NET technologies on a Windows PC is far away from being practical" I am an active participant in the local dev user groups. The majority of the php and java devs around here PREFER windows to do their dev work. (Honestly between Linux and Windows the dev tools are so feature rich these days that which is better is purely preference) – RualStorge Jun 12 '14 at 14:12
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Companies choose the equipment that their programmers use for a variety of reasons. Some companies don't care between PC, Mac or Linux (in all its many flavours), and let them use whatever they want. Some have strict policies about what a programmer PC looks like. You have to remember that there is more to the equipment than your personal preferences. Standardization of equipment can bring a lot of cost savings to an organization.

So while you can ask for specific equipment, you should be prepared for the possibility that they might say no. Ravenscar is right in saying that you should couch your request in terms that address the benefits to the company, not yourself. Frankly, if this was important to you, you should have asked at the interview stage. Declining a job offer at this stage because of a relatively unimportant distinction between development platforms absolutely will look unprofessional.

Not part of the question, but your concerns about your productivity are almost certainly exaggerated. Any of the main platforms are suitable for professional development work. The most likely thing is that you are simply unfamiliar with the Windows platform.It will almost certainly not take you long to get used to it.

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    +1, this is absolutely something you should have brought up in the interview when they asked you if you had any questions. – Carson63000 Jun 12 '14 at 3:21
  • This may be beyond the scope of this question/answer, but if you are asking for equipment as part of a reasonable accommodation for a disability (in the US), it is appropriate to wait until after you have a job offer in hand. – Ravenscar Jun 12 '14 at 14:34
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    I'm not sure I would class an inability to use Windows as a 'disability' :-) – DJClayworth Jun 12 '14 at 14:36
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The short answer is no. It is not unprofessional to request "custom" equipment at a new work place.

However, it would be to your benefit to develop some sort of business plan that would summarize why it is to your future employer's advantage to provide you said equipment. If you can quantify their benefit, then it will be even more persuasive (such as an estimate of money saved or time saved). This plan should be in writing. A savvy employer will recognize this benefit, and that you can also show good judgement and that you are willing to justify your requests and back them up with logic.

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Is it is rude or unprofessional to ask for this? If not, how should one approach the company?

It is not rude.

Regarding professionalism, this depends a lot on the position, your responsibilities and the project you are working on. In some cases it may be OK (or even expected), in some it may be unprofessional.

I want a MAC or Linux environment. I don't want a windows environment.

Is this a Windows project? If so, then asking for a Mac or Linux will be unprofessional, because developing on a Mac (or Linux) for windows platform, is a bad professional choice (it introduces difficulties in the process that should simply not be there). Asking for a Mac/Linux for compiling a WinAPI project for example, will show you have no idea of the project in general ( compiling WinAPI on a Mac will be ... difficult :) ).

On the other hand, if it's a cross-platform project and half the team uses Linux, then you can probably ask for one as well, without appearing unprofessional.

If you use any specialized tools (IDE, source control, etc), making them run on the new platform may be costly or impossible (e.g. if everybody uses projects for Visual Studio and you edit using vim on Linux), you can edit project files manually (and possibly screw them up) or you can duplicate a lot of the team's effort, by maintaining you own development environment sparately.

Then, you get to security and availability: development environment may require special access (different accounts and domains for example), resources that are optimized for windows-only access, Windows-only tools (like TFS) and so on.

There are also some problems with cost and licensing:

  • getting a mac costs a lot (more than getting a PC):

  • if the company doesn't already have them in stock, somebody will probably not like having to dish out money for a mac, just for you.

  • there may be licenses involved in switching, and even if there are not, lots of corporate environments have a legal department responsible for licensing issues, so even if the licensing of the tools involved impose no conflicts, (like "do not use this tool for commercial projects") it is possible you will get approval for this, only after this department confirms this officially.

Asking for such a switch also asks for administrator time for installations, configuration, and ongoing maintenance.

Basically, expect a lot of hidden costs.

A professional way to ask for such a change, would include a well argued list of bennefits comming from the switch (provided to your manager) and an acknowledgement of the costs involved and why they are worth it.

Your personal preference should not enter into it, unless you addressed this in the interview (as in "please keep in mind that my main expertise is Mac development and I have no Windows experience at all" - and they accepted this when you were hired).

  • As you point out. Your reasons for wanting specific hardware should be something other then "I like OS X better then Windows". – Ramhound Jun 12 '14 at 11:31
  • Your first point about cost & licensing ("Macs cost more than PCs") is not true if you look at the cost of comparable hardware. The price of the Thinkpad I use at work was within 10% of the cost of my personal MacBook Pro, with comparable specs. The difference is you can buy cheap (poor build quality/specs) PCs for a lot less while Apple chooses not to build equipment in that range. – alroc Jun 12 '14 at 12:39

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