QIIME 2 native install on Macbook?


I was wondering if anyone had any experience or recommendations natively installing and running QIIME 2 on a laptop (specifically MacBook Air with Intel i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 128 GB storage).

Currently I have QIIME 2 natively installed on an iMac in my office at university. I am thinking of buying a new laptop and thought it might be useful to be able to run QIIME analyses away from the office (probably not demultiplexing or denoising steps, but things like diversity analysis). I have seen people running natively-installed QIIME 1 on MacBooks in the past.

Would natively installing QIIME 2 on the MacBook be a worthwhile idea or is it better to just stick with the desktop in the office? The datasets I’m dealing with at the moment are not too big but I’m not sure if that will change in the future. The research team I work with also has a high-powered computing server used for analysing shotgun metagenomic data and for demultiplexing and OTU picking in QIIME 1.

Thanks for any advice!!

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Hi @Matilda_H-D! We don’t have any hard and fast recommendations on hardware, it is really dependent on datasets and desired analyses (and also it seems, at times, random acts of the universe). That said, we have had good luck running some analyses on high-end Macbook Pro Retina hardware (generally maxed out on RAM and CPU). If you decide to train your own taxonomic classifiers you might want to use a machine with as much RAM as possible (we do offer support for memory-limited training, but it can be pretty slow because it has to throttle itself). That said, the Macbook Air you referenced above isn’t really going to be great for tasks like taxonomic classification and denoising (as you mentioned), but should be more than enough for things like diversity analysis. Also, 8 GB of RAM is pretty low if you decide to run the VirtualBox image (which we anticipate will be a mechanism for us to distribute tech previews of tools like the graphical user interface QIIME 2 Studio), I suspect you might have some pain here if you go this route.

On a more personal note, it seems like Apple has slowly been increasing the minimum RAM required for macOS over the years, I would suggest upgrading to 16GB of RAM, no matter which machine you decide to buy. The price difference is normally only a few hundred dollars (which I know can be a lot), but I think it is a pretty good insurance policy for future-proofing the machine. Also, I have had great luck purchasing official Apple refurbished hardware in the past!

Let us know what you decide to do, we would love to hear about your experience.


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