I am shortly going to be joining a statistics consultancy where the software I'll be using is R and SAS in Windows.

For years I have been using R with Linux (most previous Windows knowledge has probably been lost) and I know that my job will be far easier this way. I mentioned this at the interview and they were sceptical and asked the reasons why it would be better, and at the time I didn't have a very good reply.

Certainly the cost to moving to Linux will be making collaboration with others at work a little harder, however I want some convincing ideas of the benefits:

  • Familiarity:
    • Lots of little things I take for granted, but don't always come directly to mind, e.g. some of the coreutils packages which I know will help when dealing with large data files
    • I use Emacs with ESS, Auctex (this is meant to work on Windows also)
  • Remote working:
    • The ease of ssh to quickly do something while I'm not at work
    • I use xpra quite a lot when I need X
  • HPC:
    • I currently have access to a multi-user server with grid engine to queue jobs. To my knowledge there isn't an equivalent software for windows.
  • Others?

I know that I could run Linux in a virtual machine either as host or guest, but this sometimes add more problems and if Linux is the guest then there are performance/memory issues. Also dual booting just seems like it would waste more time than it saves.

closed as off topic by Chris Down, daisy, George M, Ulrich Dangel, Gilles Feb 14 '13 at 22:49

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    You can use cygwin to make you almost feel you'd be working on Linux. For the rest you could escape to a vserver in the web. – ott-- Feb 14 '13 at 14:46
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    Yes, install Cygwin. "cmd.exe" is just pitiful, and the PowerShell thing looks like a swamp of complexity. I predict you won't get to use Linux, because your boss probably uses Windows. There's something addictive about Windows for people in management, and they can't seem to imagine that anything else is even possible. – Bruce Ediger Feb 14 '13 at 16:09
  • Having the ability to interoperate with your colleagues and clients trumps everything else (native Microsoft Office is quite handy!). Install FAR, Cygwin, Putty and you are good to go. – Deer Hunter Feb 14 '13 at 18:24
  • Just a thought on this: " if Linux is the guest then there are performance/memory issues" - I run ubuntu 12.04 with a full x client just fine in a VM with two cores and 2 gigs of ram. The only performance issues you'd have would come if you have a substandard host machine, or poor vm settings. – Stephan Feb 14 '13 at 20:56

You have to look at it from the employer's perspective. Even a single Linux machine in an otherwise Windows-only shop is a maintenance liability. Some companies have policies against the installation of unverified software on their systems or networks. Most of what you cite as reasons can be done in Windows as well, either using built-in functionality (remote desktop, for example) or with supplementary software (Cygwin, perhaps?), rendering those reasons moot.

You say yourself that it will make collaborating with others more difficult. That would be a big minus from any employer's point of view in any field where one employee can ever be expected to interact with another, need to exchange data or collaborate in other ways.

Dual booting or virtualization solves none of the issues I mention above.

If you know the concepts, getting up to speed with different tools for data analysis should be reasonably easy. On the other hand, for someone who is only familiar with administering Windows to suddenly be tasked with properly maintaining a Linux installation is a major undertaking.

If you are going to sell the company on allowing you to run Linux, you will need to provide undeniable proof that it will allow you to do your job a lot better, because frankly you have a very large hill to climb with respect to everything that is not directly related to your particular job. I would love to use Linux at work myself at times, but the benefits simply don't outweigh the costs for the company.

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    Thanks for all your answers/comments everyone. The company must come first, and I will try to fit into the windows mould for as long as I can, then after a few months when I've gained enough knowledge about their workflow, I may consider discussing specifics. – sqrt Feb 15 '13 at 8:43

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