How To Go From a Plain Computer That You Use For Reading Email To a Full Powered Software Development Computer In Just 20 Minutes.
Hi! I’m Wahid Tanner and I went to my first CppCon in 2018 in Bellevue, Washington. It was a full week of attending one presentation after another about C++. I was busy from 9am until 10:30pm each day with almost no time to spare. But I want to take you back in time before the conference in early September just a few weeks before. I needed a computer.
I already have a computer. It’s a modified MacBook from 2012. It’s a great computer and would have worked fine. It’s also my main computer so I didn’t really want to take it with me. Plus, I was planning to attend one of the two day classes after the conference and would need a computer that could run Linux.
I decided to go shopping for another computer. My requirements were that the computer could run Linux, wasn’t too expensive, and was small and light weight.
Of course, it had to run Linux. There was no point in getting another Mac. My modified Mac would probably be faster than even a new Mac anyway. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money. Otherwise, I would just bring the one I already had. And I figured that if I was going to invest in another computer, it should be different somehow from the one I already had. That meant it should be smaller. Why smaller? Because I would again use the one I already had instead of bringing something bigger. I was also hoping that a smaller computer would be less power hungry than a giant and last all day at the conference on a single charge.
I finally found an 11 inch Lenovo Ideapad that weighs just one pound. It cost just $140. And online reviews said it would run Linux.
The only problem was the computer came with Windows installed. And it had no programming environment setup. Now, there’s nothing wrong with Windows. If not for the fact that I needed Linux, I might have considered a computer with Windows. Just not this computer. It barely ran Windows. That meant it should run Linux just fine.
I spent the next week getting this computer ready for the conference. And I documented everything that I did to it. I had to install the basic development tools. And an editor so I could write code. And all the supporting software that I regularly use to program.
I later repeated the setup exercise that I did with the Lenovo computer running Linux with virtual computers running Windows and Mac.
In a way, this class comes directly from my experience from the conference. I’ve rebuilt the Lenovo computer since then and it no longer takes me a week to get it setup. Once the operating system is setup, it only takes about 20 minutes to go from a plain computer that you can use for reading email to a full powered software development computer. You can have your computer ready to code in about the time it takes to finish a cup of coffee. You might even have some coffee left when you begin coding.
This class will introduce you to programming and get you ready to code your own applications or programs. At the end of the class, you’ll have your computer setup and your own program that displays some text on the computer when you run it.
There’s not a lot of programming instruction in this class. The priority is to explain what you need to program. Don’t worry, there’s other classes that will teach coding. For right now, let’s get your computer ready.
There’s three versions of this class. One for each operating system, Windows, Mac, and Linux. You should probably start with the class that matches your computer type so that you can follow along and setup your computer during the class.
What type of computer is best? It doesn’t have to be the most expensive. Your best computer is the one you already have. As long as it meets these requirements:
- It should be a 64bit computer. Most computers built in the last 10 years will be good.
- You will need a computer. A tablet or phone will not work. Either a desktop computer or a laptop will be okay.
- You should have at least a few gigs free on your hard drive. You won’t be able to install new software if your computer is already full.
Should you use an integrated development environment, an IDE, or separate tools?
You’ll learn about three IDEs that cover Windows, Mac, and Linux. CodeLite will be used for the class because it’s quick to install and runs on all three environments.
- You can use Visual Studio for Windows and Mac.
Note that Visual Studio supports C++ only on Windows.
- You can use Xcode for Mac.
- And you can use CodeLite for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
You can setup Windows with CodeLite and be ready to program in about 10 minutes. A Mac will take about 15 minutes. And Linux will take about 20 minutes.
If you want to use Xcode or Visual Studio, that’s okay. However, I suggest doing that after the other components are installed and you’ve written your first program. You’ll learn how to setup these tools but we won’t have time to do this part in the class because they each normally take about an hour themselves.