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Not to start a religious debate, but I have always felt that the Windows environment has been a little friendlier programming native(not Java or web based) programming. But on the Mac XCode is a pretty good environment to learn. I just find the Macs a little pricey for the same hardware. On the Windows side, there are free versions of Visual studio IDEs that make learning to program in Windows relatively painless. And for Free IDE's Eclipse or Netbeans have quite a bit of power, but do need quite a bit of resources to run them. Many of the custom compiler environments are based on Eclipse as well.
It depends on the target environment of your application. As ecdown mentioned, an windows environment is much cheaper than a mac (this is a reason why most developers start on windows). There are free IDEs for nearly every programming language and the user base is much bigger. But if you have to develop for Mac OS X or iOS you'll need a Mac. I'm a web developer and I'm using a Mac & a Windows PC.
For programming languages and tools by Microsoft: Windows > Mac > Linux Otherwise, Linux > Mac > Windows in my opinion.
> as in greater than and not an arrow
Just to add, Linux-based operating systems are so good for programming because it's entirely or almost entirely (depending on which particular distribution you use) open source so if you really find it necessary and don't have to rely on a company to do it for you and if you're a beginner you can browse through existing source code and learn new tricks or if you're a pro, you could actually modify things yourself with no begging or waiting and hoping that the company will implement something. Security of applications is also improved but that's diverging from the topic a bit. I'd recommend Ubuntu LTS. Under the hood, Mac is pretty similar though just to note.
I forgot to mention, Linux is legally free and all those restrictions like on which computer you can do what or having to use keys for this and that, none of this exists in Linux. It's just install and use.
Thats pretty cool i learned a good deal however i have never used a linux computer before so i wouldnt know anything much about it really
Linux (Ubuntu distribution) is in most cases very similar to other desktop environments (Windows, Mac). So don't be afraid, give it a try - it's free.
To add even more :), Ubuntu is designed to make Linux easy in a manner similar to how Mac makes Unix/BSD easy to use. Having said that, being easy to use does not mean you can't do the complicated stuff, it just means that if you have normal needs, you don't need to learn any difficult stuff. Mac is likely similar, but I have to say I absolutely love how much power Linux gives you. Also, something else I should mention, upgrading Ubuntu (and Debian - which is what Ubuntu is based on) and every single program that's part of it is very seamless as it is all done in one shot for you and you can basically live your entire life off of the same installation by constantly upgrading it (for free). In fact, you can even clone the drive and then continue to use it on another computer if you change hard drive or whatever and then keep on having seemless upgrades there (but the cloning stuff wouldn't qualify as easy for regular users unless there is some program designed to make it easy which is possible but I haven't looked into it).
One really nice thing about Linux: it runs so much more efficiently that you can put it on an old box that can no longer handle Windows, and have a good old time learning!
So how do i go about getting a linux system i have an old computer which is just laying around i was thinking of selling its parts but thats a good idea to do
http://http://fedoraproject.org/ I like the KDE desktop more than Gnome, FWIW.
An old machine is also a great device to test some operating system lessons if you're interested in that material.