Never ever ever do development on your workstation, unless it's close enough to your production environment. If his company had enough $$ for a Macbook, I'm sure they can shell out another $400 or whatever for a Dell workstation that runs the same distro as the server.
No I didn't RTFA, but give me a break. It sounds almost as bad as developing an application using MS Access.
(Yes I have a MBP, and I develop on Linux servers all day)