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"Learning Unix for Mac OS X Tiger": Mac Users Get More Power With Unix

June 20, 2005

Sebastopol, CA--If you're a Mac user running OS X, you know you've got the coolest operating system. But you may not know that beneath OS X's smooth graphical interface, called Aqua, lies power--like a behemoth iceberg, what you see on the surface is only a small part of the whole package. Once you delve beneath the surface with Unix, you'll encounter empowering flexibility that will completely change the way you think about your Mac.

Tap into that power, and you've caught the OS X Tiger by its tail. You're customizing commands to perform functions you could only dream of in the past, and outfitting your machine with your choice of thousands of open source applications that rival the priciest software packages available, all of them free from the Net.

"The simplicity and elegance of the Mac, and the Power of Unix." That's how Apple characterizes OS X, and what distinguishes OS X from its predecessors. For Dave Taylor, author of Learning Unix for Mac OS X Tiger (O'Reilly, US $19.95), the upshot of the upgrade from OS 9 is, in a word, power. The Unix system underpinning OS X is "ready to leap into action at a moment's notice," Taylor says. "All you have to do is command Unix to take action."

Command is the operative word here, since understanding the command line is fundamental to using any Unix system. But why would a contented Mac user want to type in a string of Unix commands instead of just clicking the mouse? Simple, Taylor says: because the mouse gives you access to only a fraction of Mac OS X's functionality. "To really know what your Mac's doing" and to "make it match what you want and need your Mac to do," Taylor believes you have to get acquainted with the Unix side of OS X.

Once you're comfortable with how it works, the command line hands you the controls. There are thousands of files and directories on your Mac that you may never have known existed, because the Finder doesn't reveal them--but the command line will. Search for files according to when they were created--or by whom--with a simple Unix command rather than poking around with the Spotlight. If you suffer from "Spinning Beach Ball of Death" syndrome, the next time Microsoft Word locks up you can try to force quit, or you can string together a few quick Unix commands and get out in seconds. And those are just warm-up exercises.

Learning Unix for OS X Tiger was written to quickly teach Mac users the basics and "expand your Unix horizons," as Taylor puts it. A Unix developer and self-described "command-line junkie," he starts by familiarizing his readers with the Terminal, the application that lets Mac OS X users power up with Unix.

Features and functions covered include:

  • The Mac Filesystem--File management and the four different ways Unix lets you look in and search for files using a wide range of criteria
  • Super Commands--Create and perform the exact task you need and execute by enabling programs and files to connect in new ways
  • Remote Access--Access your Mac from other computers in the Unix network and copying files between computers
  • Command Line Surfing--Surfing the Web directly from the command line
  • Install Unix-Based X11--Use the Unix-based graphical interface called X11, embedded in your Macintosh system to run powerful programs only it can access
  • Use Fink--The installation tool developed for Unix on Mac OS X to tap open source software like GIMP, a graphics editor that rivals Adobe Photoshop, or NeoOffice/J, a robust Microsoft Office Suite replacement
  • Learning Unix for OS X Tiger will give you a clear sense of how much more flexible and powerful your Mac can be when you dive beneath the surface to where the base of its power resides.

    Additional Resources:

    Learning Unix for Mac OS X Tiger
    Dave Taylor
    ISBN: 0596009151, 260 pages, $19.95 US, $27.95 CAN
    1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

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