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Minimum machine for Java

Travis Bretton
Greenhorn

Joined: Mar 02, 2011
Posts: 5
Hi All.

I would like to know what people consider to be the minimum computer system needed to reasonably develop in Java. Sure, a bleeding edge machine would compile code in seconds, but that's not always feasible for a shop with a budget. What system would balance breaking the bank with wanting to pull your hair out because IntelliJ takes 30 seconds to autocomplete?

Thanks.
fred rosenberger
lowercase baba
Bartender

Joined: Oct 02, 2003
Posts: 11356
    
  16

a pretty basic system that runs a simple text editor and a command line is all you really need.


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Travis Bretton
Greenhorn

Joined: Mar 02, 2011
Posts: 5
I guess I was looking for something a little more expansive than that.

The 286 in the basement that keeps that table from tipping over has a text editor and a command line, but would you really want to develop Java on it? :-)
Jesper de Jong
Java Cowboy
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Aug 16, 2005
Posts: 14194
    
  20

Any standard PC that's not really ancient will do. What operating system are you going to use?

It's important to have enough RAM, especially if you're going to use an IDE. You'll need at the very least 1 GB, but get 2 GB or more if you can. That shouldn't be a problem since RAM is not very expensive.

The processor and harddisk don't really matter that much - any processor made in the last 5 years is more than enough.


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fred rosenberger
lowercase baba
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Joined: Oct 02, 2003
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  16

Travis Bretton wrote:The 286 in the basement that keeps that table from tipping over has a text editor and a command line, but would you really want to develop Java on it? :-)

Well now, that all depends on what kind of development I'm doing. If it's for my daughter to fool around on while first learning how to write code, then yes, a 286 would be more than adequate.

If I am going to have a team of developers around the world who want to share a code repository and teleconference directly on their PCs, using the fanciest IDE, while compiling 10,000 source files and running all their unit tests hourly...maybe not.

My REAL point was that like most things, it's hard to answer without knowing all the details.
Stephan van Hulst
Bartender

Joined: Sep 20, 2010
Posts: 3647
    
  16

Yeah. I actually do most of my programming on this ancient laptop (Pentium III, 500 MHz; 256MB RAM). I run JDK 1.5.0_17 because newer versions don't support Windows ME

And I'm perfectly happy! I work on small hobby projects; file access is a bit slow at times, and drawing in Swing could be faster, but everything works pretty smoothly. I use a simple text editor and the command line, Firefox 2 to look at the API.

Like Fred said, it depends on the details.
Travis Bretton
Greenhorn

Joined: Mar 02, 2011
Posts: 5
Any standard PC that's not really ancient will do. What operating system are you going to use?


I'm using 32bit Linux.

It's important to have enough RAM, especially if you're going to use an IDE. You'll need at the very least 1 GB, but get 2 GB or more if you can. That shouldn't be a problem since RAM is not very expensive.


I will be using IntelliJ. I have noticed with IntelliJ and especially NetBeans that java based IDEs really consume the memory, especially when compiling. Would 2GB be enough to allow painless auto complete and similar functions?

I'd like to simply keep my 2+ year old hardware and upgrade to 64bit and upgrade the memory. My machine has a max of 8GB as compared to the 286 which had a max of 16MB but couldn't really address it all. It might be adequate for gwbasic, but not for java I would think.

Thanks.
Campbell Ritchie
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 13, 2005
Posts: 39079
    
  23
I don't think you can change from 32 bits to 64 bits without buying lots of new hardware. Apart from that, your PC should be all right for Java™ programming.
Travis Bretton
Greenhorn

Joined: Mar 02, 2011
Posts: 5
Yeah. I actually do most of my programming on this ancient laptop (Pentium III, 500 MHz; 256MB RAM). I run JDK 1.5.0_17 because newer versions don't support Windows ME

Wow. As soon as I read your post, this quote from Star Wars popped into my head: "You came in that thing? You're braver than I thought!"

Now, you do hobby development on your PIII, but would you consider using it everyday as your primary development machine? IDEs are nice and make developing a lot faster, but they might have trouble running on your rig. There are several IDEs with tiny resource requirements, but I'm not sure if even they'd run very well.

The question was more to see what people, in their opinion, consider to be the minimum machine needed to do professional java development. I suppose I'd define that as using a IDE in an environment were time is important--i.e., the IDE can't run like a dog. The machine's only purpose would to be a development box, not to do dual duty as a server.

I know a person who claims that they couldn't possibly develop on anything less than a quad core Lynnfield. Seems ridiculous. I actually don't have a problem developing java with my P4 with 4GB of RAM (although I wouldn't refuse another 4GB), but I would like to get the community's opinion before I tell the before-mentioned person that they're mistaken.

I don't think you can change from 32 bits to 64 bits without buying lots of new hardware. Apart from that, your PC should be all right for Java™ programming.

Sorry, I was a bit vague. My architecture supports a 64bit OS even though I'm running a 32bit OS. Since I only have 3GB of RAM, there's no compelling reason to run at 64bit. But if I increase my RAM...
Campbell Ritchie
Sheriff

Joined: Oct 13, 2005
Posts: 39079
    
  23
If you're already on 64 bit hardware, you are right. You can reinstall a 64 bit OS very easily.
Jim Newton
Greenhorn

Joined: Feb 22, 2011
Posts: 11
Depends what you're doing. I have a 386 with 512M of ram running Xubuntu which I use for toy code (wouldn't run an IDE on the thing) but which is OK for command line development. I have Eclipse running very cheerfully on a 586 with IGB ram which is perfectly adequate for all the IDE features to work completely adequately. Servlet development would probably benefit from another GB of ram. Would I like to upgrade to a 64bit quad core with 8GB? Sure ... but I don't feel it's going to make much difference to the performance of the IDE. IntelliJ sounds like dog if you've got problems with the autocomplete ...
Stephan van Hulst
Bartender

Joined: Sep 20, 2010
Posts: 3647
    
  16

Oh no, I would hardly consider my laptop fit for professional development. But then, I don't think that a system I *would* consider to be fit would be that much more powerful.

I don't think compiling speed is a very compelling argument. My desktop is a Core 2 Duo @ 2.7 GHz, with 2GB RAM, and it compiles most programs pretty much instantly. The laptop will take anywhere between 5 to 20 seconds. Yes, it's annoying, and it feels like an eternity, but really, it's nothing compared to the time you spend staring blankly at your text editor, thinking about the next step to implement.

If I made a very rough generalized estimate, I think *any* system capable of running Windows XP and up should be enough for professional development. We are talking about the minimum of course.
 
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