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What is the dependency on visual studio ?

Can we use open source tools like g++/gcc and make to finish the exercise. Are there any dependency / Visual Studio specific libraries required to complete the course. I am new to windows may be that is why I find myself spending more time in setting up visual studio then deleting hidden files etc rather than coding. So I really want to know if there is a way we can use use open source gcc / g++ and make which I feel are more transparent and according to my seniors from Columbia University that gcc/g++ and make are main tools at top prop trading shops such as Citadel, Jane Street and Hudson River Trading to implement trading strategies. Please can we have a open and candid discussion about it without being biased about a set of tools.
Any compiler is allowed for this course, as long as your code is well-formatted and standard code. The only caveat is that parts of level 9 may be tough to do without VS.