I'm taking the CS50 course for computer science and I'm currently at week 1.
Is it necessary to install the CS50 appliance in order to do the problem sets? Or can I solve them with other compilers as well? I am a Windows user.
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You could solve your problem sets in any text editor, but you'd (probably) get into trouble when the time comes to compile and debug your programs.
It's relatively straightforward to install required libraries and tools (e.g.:
valgrind...) in Linux (in my case Ubuntu), but not so much in Windows.
If you're comfortable installing/using an IDE (as e.g.: Eclipse) in Windows, and including/using external libraries in your projects, then you should be fine, though you'd be using a different set of tools than used/referred to throughout the course.
If, like me, you're a total beginner in this
C world, you should stick to the appliance ;)
You can use any operating sistem/compiler/editor you want, as long as you at the end submit the problem sets accordingly to the specifications.
But the cs50 appliance has a lot build in features that make the realization of the psets a lot easiest or painless. This features can be added to other systems but can be difficult sometimes.
I am a windows user too, and its really easy to install with WMware.