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Looking at various pictures/office tours of software companies (Facebook for instance), I see a lot of the same hardware in terms of monitors (Dell monitors). I was wondering when companies hire new programmers, is the programmer given a choice between say a large monitor + laptop, a desktop + 24"(2?) monitor, or some other combination?

PS. If you know for sure, it would be helpful to list the options at various companies.. e.g. Microsoft, Apple, Google; unless the information is confidential.

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closed as not constructive by Thomas Owens, Chris, ChrisF Jul 20 '11 at 12:52

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

This is just a "list of X" type question and therefore off topic. – ChrisF Mar 28 '11 at 12:12
-1 for a question that does not really much, at best for idle curiosity or at worst, collecting some marketing data. – tehnyit Jul 20 '11 at 8:34
this should be a community wiki – vartec Jul 20 '11 at 10:07

13 Answers 13

up vote 16 down vote accepted

At Google you get a fairly powerful Linux workstation with either one 30" or two 24" displays (your choice). Besides that, you can also choose between a ThinkPad laptop and a MacBook Pro (either 15" or 17").

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I'm at the wrong company – Kevin D Mar 27 '11 at 17:40
And the laptops come standard with SSD drives. – Mark Renouf Mar 27 '11 at 23:17
Okay, so where's the 'Like' button around here? I'm not giving an up-vote, but just slobbering at my defunct work computer. – John K Mar 27 '11 at 23:25

In my experience you get one of the following

  1. Whatever the guy you're replacing had (battered version of what everyone else has)

  2. Whatever they had in their tech stock (slightly less battered version of what everyone else has)

  3. If they had nothing to give you they would buy something new, but then manager type will see it and say "that's better than mine, I'll be having that. Give the new guy my old one". (something old that can barely do what you need it to)

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For (3), that would be a poor manager IMO. – JBRWilkinson Mar 28 '11 at 13:16
I'm an intern and even I got a brand new i7 laptop and 2x 20" monitors. I think giving you someone else's old stuff just reduces your percieved value to the company. – rmx Mar 29 '11 at 10:34
Everything, except 3, because our managers aren't idiots. – Joris Timmermans Jul 20 '11 at 10:24

Most larger corporations have standard issue equipment and you pretty much get whatever the standard is. That's been the case in a few jobs where I've worked. When those standards really fell a little short, a request for more RAM or another monitor (or whatever) are usually arranged when your manager agrees.

But as a general rule, I don't think you'll be able to get a consensus here. Every company and job will be different.

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The same thing everyone else gets has been my experience. Maybe more RAM?

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More RAM or a slightly better computer, since it's the new stock. – Matthieu M. Mar 27 '11 at 18:18
Most of the tech support staff want everyone to have the same computer, with the same install image. Hopefully you're surround by those with a little more sense and know that programmers should be able to take care of their own equipment unless there is some corporate rule where users have no privileges on their machines. – JeffO Mar 28 '11 at 0:26

Dave Thomas gave a talk at JAOO a couple of years ago about Agile IT. In the talk he mentioned in passing what the developers at his current employer get:

  • 16 cores (which at that time meant 4 sockets × 4 cores)
  • 256 GiByte of RAM (and the only reason they don't get more, is because then they'd have to use server motherboards, which don't have enough graphics card slots to support their multi-monitor setups)
  • IIRC a couple hundred gigs of SSDs
  • a couple monitors

Of course, that was 2007, so we can expect Moore's Law to have quadrupled those numbers by now.

This is obviously an extreme example of a company that actually "gets" that it doesn't make sense to pay a developer and then artificially constrain his performance. It's also a company in a market where time-to-market advantages are measured in seconds, not months, so shaving off 1 second from the compile time can actually make or break a product.

I'm guessing I'll be severely disappointed when I start my next job :-)

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Life is sweet at the bleeding edge, but what about reliability? The fastest machines by necessity have to use the fastest, least tested technology. Does Dave Thomas take this into account? – quant_dev Jul 20 '11 at 9:50
Jesus. I'm sitting here 9 years later and other than single-threaded speed, those machines still beat mine. Oh, other than that I have 4 monitors. :) – Jules 1 hour ago

As a new developer at Enova Financial you'd receive:

  • a new MacBook Air or MacBook Pro (or equivalent Dell if you prefer Linux)
    • 13", 15" or 17"
    • 8GB RAM
    • Vertex 3 SSD
  • a desktop machine if you'd like one (quad-core, 8GB RAM)
  • a Xen slice (usually 4GB RAM)
  • monitors - I've got 2 x 24", a couple guys have 5 or 6 on their desks.
  • accessories - as needed, bluetooth keyboard, external trackpad, speakers
  • a phone (HTC Evo 4G, or iPhone) if you're supporting releases
  • vim
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In my "big corporation" the company would buy the new guy the newest, high-quality computer. Not something crazy, but pretty good. Then upon arrival at the team, the member of the team with the oldest hardware would take over the newest-bestest, and the newcomer would receive the old box and need to wait for the next round of upgrades (every 2-3 years).

It was quite reasonable - the newcomer would need some time to get up to speed and wouldn't be too hindered by worse hardware, meanwhile productive, experienced guy gets a much needed upgrade.

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I got Intel Xeon 5130, 2 GB RAM recently upgraded to 4GB, 4x19'' monitors and a 68GB SCSI drive. Nothing to write home about, but it's enough.

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My previous work:

  • Choice between 3 x 21" or 2 x 24" (Dell Ultrasharps)
  • Dell Optiplex 390 (i5, 8GB RAM, Radeon HD 6350 w/ 2xDVI)
  • Choice of 15" MacBook Pro or 15" Dell Latitude E-series, later with docking station.

Currently I work in startup, so it's:

  • MacBook Pro 13"
  • 24" HP ZR24w
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Most likely you'll get the default setup that everyone gets. Maybe the developers have a little bit extra RAM.

I'd recommend that you complain as early as possible if you get an obvious office PC setup with only 1 monitor, too less RAM or an outdated CPU.

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A few years ago, on the first job I was hired as a junior web developer I got a Linux box with 2x 20" monitors, nothing spectacular in terms of in-box specs. Soon (about 6 months later) this became a brand-new iMac 24" with a 20" monitor on the side (at my request) and later on the secondary monitor became a pivoting one.

Mind you this was a garage type of start-up in Greece with lots of passion in the people running it. I doubt it is the norm.

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Cisco gives you either

  • Mac book pro 15" laptop (500 GB hdd, core i5, 4 GB ram) or
  • Thinkpad W510 with core i7, 128 GB ssd and 4 GB ram.

External monitors start at multiple 21" to 30" ones.

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Quad Core Xenon (possibly with HT), 4GB RAM, 320GB HDD, 2x20" monitors, Local admin rights.

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Local admin is underrated. – insta Jul 20 '11 at 15:00

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