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Running Mac OS X Panther 288

sympleko (Matthew Leingang) writes with his review of Running Mac OS X Panther, by James Duncan Davidson. "The Macintosh has come a long way in twenty-plus years. Much has been said of Mac OS X being the perfect union of a rock-solid operating system with a beautiful and functional user interface. Since the iMac, Apple's market share has been steadily increasing, and since OS X, Unix users have been making the switch. My last computer was a dual-boot box that I kept finding excuses to keep from booting to Windows. My PowerBook is literally the best of both worlds. I can run the older unix-based apps I need to for work, and use Microsoft programs and play fancy games when I want. It's also essentially two different computers. This book is about using that second computer, the workhorse behind the scenes." Read on for the rest.
Running Mac OS X Panther
author James Duncan Davidson
pages 306
publisher O'Reilly
rating 9
reviewer Matthew Leingang
ISBN 0596005008
summary Managing your Mac as a unix box

The book fills a certain niche very well. It is not the missing manual to the iApps or a list of Finder tricks. It's not a primer on Unix for people used to GUIs and Macs (that's Learning Unix for Mac OS X Panther , also from O'Reilly). This book is for users who have administered a machine or network before and want to get the absolute most out of their Mac. It's also useful for connecting your Mac to a network seamlessly. But it's complicated and technical enough if you're the kind of Mac user who doesn't have the Terminal on your dock you might be intimidated. That may not include most slashdot readers, but it's worth mentioning because part of the Mac ideology is that it works beautifully with little trouble. The Unix ideology, however, is also represented: if want to tweak it, you can.

The author illustrates both interfaces to the operating system throughout the book. There are Macintosh applications to access all kinds of system information, whether it's users and groups, preferences, system logs, or services. For those who love Unix and the command line, just about anything you can do with the GUI you can do with the CLI. This makes a nice two-tiered approach to anything you'll want to do. The GUI is fast and easy to learn, but some things (particularly automated tasks) really need to be done on the command line.

The book is written well, and if you happen to be sitting next to your computer while reading it, you'll be constantly torn between the two. There are lots of things you'll want to try right away.

Part I: Getting Started

This part has a charming history of the Macintosh, from the toaster to Panther, complete with snapshots (my favorite parts of these are the disk usage indicators: System Folder: 152K in folder, 167K available.) It's fun to read and discover where on the time line you came into the fold.

Here also is a basic layout of the filesystem, containing parts used by the more Macintosh-y side and the more Unix-y side. For instance, there are several directories (um, folders) called Library; these contain information which might be in an include, share, etc, or lib directory. Better put, these contain supplemental Mac-app-related, non-user data. For Unix applications, the /usr, /var, /bin, /sbin, /etc, are all there.

Of course, there are top-level places to store things, or user-level locations for essentially the same kind of data (applications, preferences, documentation). This is the concept of filesystem domains, which additionally include network and system domains. The whole idea is to allow customization to ordinary users without giving up system integrity and preventing all users from unintentionally corrupting things.

If you haven't used the CLI on the Mac before, the author gives a basic introduction to Terminal by default uses the bash shell, but there are number of ways to change that if you want. Several text editors are available for editing through the terminal, but unfortunately, the author doesn't talk much about them. True, pico is self-explanatory and vi and emacs users will already have their followers, but a little more than how to exit these programs if they start accidentally (while that's quite useful information) would have been helpful.

There's important extra structure to Mac files that can be (accidentally or intentionally) unlinked on the Unix side. There are commands like ditto, CpMac and MvMac which take care of the important stuff and do exactly what their GUI counterparts do (and more than mv and cp). Also, there's open which is the analog of double-clicking (either apps or docs), and osascript which lets you write and run AppleScript scripts on the fly. More could have been said here about the differences between Mac files and Unix files. What of the resource fork?

Part II: Essentials

This is where the book's meat is. There is first a blow-by-blow account of what happens when you turn on your Mac. If you are interested in seeing all the gory details, you can always hold down Propeller-V during startup and see the BSD diagnostics (even if you don't know what these mean, it's nice to know some progress is being made. Though I love the taste of Mac Kool-aid, I often worry what's going on while that dial is spinning). You can change how the Mac boots by updating (at your peril, as usual) the Open Firmware settings on the chip with nvram. One nice bit of customization from Bell-and-Whistle Land: the graphic shown at boot time is in /System/Library/CoreServices/SystemStarter/QuartzDisplay.bundle/Resources/BootPanel.pdf. The /etc/hostconfig file has Unix-style host configuration information, such as what services get turned on.

Creating your own startup items is relatively easy; it's a matter of putting a directory, shell script, and plist file in /Library/StartupItems. You can also customize what happens after a successful startup. You can present a login window, auto-login as a specific user, or even allow dropping down to console login.

The larger and more powerful a computer gets, the more people want or need to use it, and the more important it is to make sure each user area remains separate. At the Mac lab at which I worked during college in the early nineties, we used RevRDist to make sure every computer in the lab mirrored one with just the right software, fonts, and windows in the right place. The Mac from which we mirrored was locked in the office, not to be touched. Now there are much easier ways to do this without wasting a computer.

It's easy to create and manage users using the the Accounts preference panel. The root user exists, but is essentially not needed. The person who installs the operating system becomes an administrative user, and can bestow that privilege on other users. On the command line, all administrative tasks can be done with sudo, which requires authentication as an administrative user to run, but which contains a slight memory so that passwords don't need to be typed at every command. Although it's discouraged, you can allow the root user to log in.

With the several filesystem domains, each user can manage his or her own preferences. Each application allows access to its own preferences, or they can be taken care of from the command line with the defaults utility. GUI means it's easy to do what you want without knowing exactly what setting to change; CLI means you can automate it easily.

Another important aspect of a multi-user system is in permissions. Like in any good unix, in Mac OS X files have permissions attached to them indicating whether the owner, other users in the owner's group, or all users are allowed to see, edit, or run them. This can be managed through the Finder (with the Get Info menu command), or with the command line with chmod.

Several applications in the /Applications/Utilities folder allow you to keep track of what's running on your Mac. The author demonstrates these:

  • System Profile, which shows information about your system's hardware and software. You can use this to check out who made your hard drive and how much RAM you have. Also, every application installed in /Applications is registered here, so you can easily see what versions of which are there.
  • Console is another great utility for monitoring your applications. It collects log files from /Library/Logs, /var/log, and ~/Library/Log in a tree for browsing. You can filter views of these logs easily, making this a little more pleasant than tail -f.
  • To monitor processes themselves you can use Activity Monitor. Think of it as top on Macintosh Steroids. You can inspect processes to try and figure out what they're doing or kill them if they've stopped accepting input. For super users and developers, you can sample processes to figure out their inner workings. There is probably FMTYEWTK about processes, but it's good know it's there.
  • To terminate processes, there's the Force Quit command from the Apple menu, or you can do it through Activity Monitor, or there's good old-fashioned kill.

At the core of the Mac filesystem lies, of course, the filesystem. The Mac OS X Extended Filesystem (HFS+) is powerful yet friendly. It's case-preserving and case-insensitive. The latter means that README and Readme are the same file, but the former means that your original name for the file will be kept without enforcement of case usage. So if you want to call it ReAdMe, that's oK, too.

One of the most powerful features of HFS+ is journaling. This means every change to the file system is kept track of in the event of a system crash. This causes a slight overhead but pays benefits in automatic recovery from crashes without having to run fsck (or be scolded by your computer for its own crash). Fragmentation is also handled smartly; files smaller than 20MB are moved so as to have less than 8 fragments.

Lots of other disk-related activities are covered, including:

  • how to mount filesystems of other types, including CDs and DVDs, Apple Filing Protocol, Samba, NFS, WebDAV and FTP;
  • The Disk Utility application and its CLI cousin diskutil which do as much as you would want and more with a disk utility. You can check, repair, partition, erase and format any disks. You can even obliterate data by writing over it eight times with random data. Take that, NSA!
  • disk images, which are like 21st century tarballs. A disk image contains not only data but its own filesystem, and are mounted onto the user's filesystem just like disks. In addition, disk images can be encrypted to restrict access without a password.

Part III: Advanced Topics

The further along in the book, the less useful it gets. That speaks not the author's skill of exposition or choice of subject matter, but simply confidence in the Mac and the knowledge that I didn't need to know it. For the user administering a single machine, there's no real need to grok the inner workings of Open Directory: it just works. Printing, network services: it all just works. That's good news for Mac users. But it's also good that all this information is available if you really do want to tweak default behavior or configure something that isn't working as it should.

I talked about this book with the systems administrator in my department, and he mentioned that my statements in the previous paragraph are somewhat simplistic. According to him, it was a hard task to have public Mac workstations which mounted home directories from a central Unix computer, and allowed users to have their own preferences and user data (including Dock setups) live in their Unix accounts. Apparently the book that has all the information about networking, warts and all, hasn't been written yet. This book is as good as it gets, so far.

To summarize this part of the book: Open Directory has nothing to do with the filesystem directory. Instead, it's the central location of all authentication information. At one time Unix maintained user information in flat files such as /etc/passwd and /etc/group; with the advent of larger networks that regime has been largely replaced. Open Directory is a liaison between BSD's Pluggable Authentication Modules (PAMs) and Mac's Directory Services on the local end, and LDAP, Rendevous, Kerberos, etc., on the network end. Open Directory can talk to Active Directory as well, to allow authentication across Windows and Mac platforms. Through network (shared domain) authentication, users can log in on networked machines while their names and passwords are stored on a central server. The Directory Access Utility is the tool for this.

NetInfo is the database behind Open Directory. As usual, there are two ways to manage Netinfo information; the GUI NetInfo Manager, and nicl on the command line.

Mac OS X uses CUPS (Common Unix Printing Service) to configure and access printing. The printing chapter shows how to add and manage printers using the Printer Setup Utility, and how to customize jobs with the various settings in the standard print dialog. Like I said, though, printing is much easier than it sounds from this chapter. Rendezvous and Open Directory find the printers you're allowed to print on; you click Print and go.

Networking and network services are also covered here. The author shows not only the theory behind networking, but the settings which allow one computer on a network to find another on another network through the internet. Once this is accomplished, a number of services can be deployed, from FTP to remote login to a personal web site.


There's some useful stuff in the back, including how to install Panther from scratch (but especially what needs to be backed up before you do so!), all those boot key combos you can never remember, and a whole list of other resources, be they books, magazines, web sites, or mailing lists.

Check out this book if you want to learn the gory details of Mac OS X's core. It's short on gimmicks but long on information.

You can purchase Running Mac OS X Panther from Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews. To see your own review here, carefully read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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Running Mac OS X Panther

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 26, 2004 @06:02PM (#10927516)
    Then you better go catch it!
  • by WIAKywbfatw ( 307557 ) on Friday November 26, 2004 @06:08PM (#10927555) Journal
    Tiger, the next version of the MacOS, is being polished right now. At Mac Expo London last week, Apple was giving demos of the new OS and had machines where you could get a hands-on taste of some of the new features, like video conferencing, Safari RSS, etc.

    Impressive doesn't do it justice: if it lives up to its billing then it'll be nothing short of the best desktop OS ever. And this coming from a dedicated Windows and Linux user.
    • by fussili ( 720463 ) on Friday November 26, 2004 @06:52PM (#10927761)

      Actually Video Conferencing using iChat has been around for a long while (I make use of it every day talking to relatives around the globe who although may not be the most technoliterate are easily capable of using iChat). The big difference in Tiger is that you can Video Multiconference - ie have a multi user video conference.

      The GUI displays it as a sort of black marble table affair with beautiful reflections and an elegance which is breathtaking - not to mention the fact that using the H.264 codec they can render massive resolution video feeds from 3 other users and the feed from your own iSight/DVcam.

      Check it out []

      • The problem is, that save the video conferencing features, iChat blows ass. For all purposes, it's horribly underpowered* given the alternatives.

        Most heavy IM users are using either Adium X or Fire, and Fire's going through a heavy rewrite right now - it has it's fair share of issues.

        I know the rewrite of Fire is taking advantage of it, but not sure if the current one is. Either way, the protocol support comes from libgaim, which is a great use of Open Source - I'm not a fan of GAIM's interface, nor Fire'
  • (Score:5, Informative)

    by blackmonday ( 607916 ) on Friday November 26, 2004 @06:11PM (#10927567) Homepage
    Allow me to save you 43% off the listed price (I hope /. at least gets a cut at that price).

    The awesome Bookpool [] has it for $22.75.

  • by asv108 ( 141455 ) <asv@ivoss. c o m> on Friday November 26, 2004 @06:13PM (#10927576) Homepage Journal
    "My PowerBook is literally the best of both worlds. I can run the older unix-based apps I need to for work, and use Microsoft programs and play fancy games when I want."

    That goes for my thinkpad running Linux too. I can run microsoft programs, I don't but I could, and play "fancy games." While the game collection for OSX and Linux is increasing, its usually older games. I really don't find gaming enjoyable on a laptop anyway. My powermac G5 is a nice gaming machine with the addition of a sensible mouse. Now all I need to do is wait for Doom3 and Half Life 2. By the time they come out, my one year Apple warranty will have expired.

    • by NeedleSurfer ( 768029 ) on Friday November 26, 2004 @07:25PM (#10927952)
      If you are a gamer, pure and hard, truly a Mac isn't the computer of choice. That's not why people use Mac or play games on them. Mac users usually want the option of running a few games, they will buy their computer for video editing, audio engineering, media content creation and management, biochemistry, genomics... that sort of thing, if it can also play games... yay!
    • Don't buy a Mac if you're a gamer. Buy a Mac when you want to get work done.

      Buy a Windows machine to play games - they're ultimately cheaper and support more of the stuff you will undoubtedly like to play.

      If that changes in the future, great. Otherwise, my plan is to install FreeBSD for utility servers, use a Mac as a UNIX workstation and play games on a Windows box.

      If you can't afford that, perhaps being choosy isn't something you should be doing. I know I wasn't when I couldn't afford it.
  • by blackmonday ( 607916 ) on Friday November 26, 2004 @06:14PM (#10927582) Homepage
    Mac OS X Hints [] is a great free resource for those wanting to get under the hood of OS X. They have stuff like Applescripts for automation, shareware reviews, and command line stuff. Bookmark it!

  • RISC vs CISC? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by copponex ( 13876 ) on Friday November 26, 2004 @06:33PM (#10927670) Homepage
    I have an emachines laptop that includes an Athlon64, 512MB RAM and an ATI 9600 Mobile. I bought a 15" AlBook with an ATI 9700/128MB RAM.

    Yet, WoW runs faster on my emachines laptop, without a doubt. And on the forums I've heard that people are getting less framerates than my x86 laptop while running Dual 2.5 G5s with 6800 Ultra cards.

    My question is, where's the bottleneck? Is it poor optimization for PPC? Or driver design? Or simply RISC vs CISC?

    I was going to throw YellowDog on the AlBook because I love the hardware, but YD4 still doesn't have a sleep function, which is the same problem I have on the emachines. I've since gone back to fedora on the x86 and the difference in opening programs, scrolling, etc, is huge. Anyone out there with anecdotes on YellowDog vs OS X?
    • RISC Vs CISC was over years ago. They've both have sort of CISCy frontends (look at that OoO scheduling :/) with RISC core.
    • RISC vs CISC no longer applies to modern x86 architectures. The instructions you feed the x86 class processors are not exactly what are run on the execution core, there's a bit of translation to give RISC-style execution speed for commonly used ops (MOV, INC, ADD, etc) while retaining backwards compatibility.

      As far as the bottleneck, I'd venture to guess that it's probably poor optimization. It MIGHT be driver related, nVidia might be behind in their Mac drivers. Eh, who knows...
    • Re:RISC vs CISC? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TheLittleJetson ( 669035 ) on Friday November 26, 2004 @07:24PM (#10927948)
      Anyone out there with anecdotes on YellowDog vs OS X?

      I stopped running linux on my macs at work for one simple reason. Make a list of the activities you plan to do under linux, that you couldn't do under OS X. Now, make a list of things you can do under OS X and can't do under linux. Chances are, you'll end up sacrificing a bunch of features so you can simply say "I'm running linux". There's no motive.

      Hell, if you're a X11 purist you can even make it so you can toggle your OS X install between Aqua and XDarwin as your default environment. ...but once again, there's not much reason to do this as you mostly just lose functionality. Mac's have the advantage of being able to use OS X, why not do it?
      • It's got something to do with the way I use computers, I guess. I'm a little bit ADD and switching between windows, scrolling (*especially* with a mouse wheel), opening new windows, and typing in general just seem more responsive on my x86 box, in XP and in Fedora (and FreeBSD). And no, I'm not one of the gentoo zealots bent on getting 1% performance boosts for three hours worth of work. I can live with a few trade-offs for convenience.

        It might break down to just learning key combinations. I've turned on t
        • Re:The "lag" time (Score:4, Informative)

          by nuggetman ( 242645 ) on Sunday November 28, 2004 @03:48PM (#10938314) Homepage
          I can't alt-tab between windows in the same program

          switch programs: ALT+TAB
          switch windows w/in a program: ALT+~
          show all windows: F9
          show current app windows: F10

          I have no delete key.

          on a mac laptop, pressing Fn+DELETE (the key typically called backspace on a PC that is labeled delete on a mac) will delete the characters in front of the cursor, similar to pressing DEL on a pc

          It's the little things like having a scroll section on my trackpad that I miss.

          http:/ /
    • Re:RISC vs CISC? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Llywelyn ( 531070 )
      " Athlon64, 512MB RAM and an ATI 9600 Mobile. I bought a 15" AlBook with an ATI 9700/128MB RAM."

      128 MB with WoW *and* MacOS X? You should have at *least* 512 MB, preferably more.
    • Ported from Windows (Score:4, Interesting)

      by green pizza ( 159161 ) on Friday November 26, 2004 @07:57PM (#10928093) Homepage
      This has been addressed in several interviews with Win Game -> Mac porting houses. It seems that while raw OpenGL performance is about the same between a Mac and a similar PC, the differences come in the game design / optimization and other libraries used. Many coding decisions made in the original game were done with the Windows / x86 crowd in mind. Even many PC "OpenGL" games still use other DirectX libraries for sound, user I/O, and other tasks. Even some very basic considerations, such as data file read-in, is done in little endian. Differences like this are almost nill in a small academic test case, but are significant in a complex game. Virtual machines, such as those used for AI in games like Quake3 are also optimized for x86.

      For an example of a "pretty good" port, try the latest Mac build of UT2004. It has a few more tweaks and makes uses of a newer version of OpenAL. It's still slower than the native Windows version, but it's not too bad.
    • Re:RISC vs CISC? (Score:5, Informative)

      by topham ( 32406 ) on Friday November 26, 2004 @08:06PM (#10928141) Homepage

      The bottleneck is OpenGL on the Mac.

      Check out and you'll see mentioned of the author having some issues with really low frame-rate on his new scenery for version 8 of X-plane. (The scenery is brutal. But it runs on a PC, and kills a Dual processor G5.).

      I looked into it a bit and it looks like Apple's implementation allocates too much memory and causes thrashing (in memory) if the Display Lists are too large. I suspect it is the same reason iD hasn't released Doom III for the Mac, simply put the current OpenGL code cannot push that much data.

      • Re:RISC vs CISC? (Score:3, Informative)

        by PygmySurfer ( 442860 )
        I suspect it is the same reason iD hasn't released Doom III for the Mac, simply put the current OpenGL code cannot push that much data

        iD hasn't released Doom III for the Mac yet because Aspyr [] is. Why iD isn't doing there own port though, is beyond me.
  • by samekt ( 628697 ) on Friday November 26, 2004 @06:41PM (#10927710)
    I am a long time PC user, dual booting Windows and Linux. Although I am not easily influenced by advertisements, Slashdot is doing a very good job convincing me to switch.

    I know that Mac OS X is a great OS. I think I know the most important advantages of switching. What is holding me back, however, is the fact that no-one is talking about the disadvantages of doing so.

    I know that there are certain applications which do not exist on Mac OS X. But I can do my research on that topic. What truly bothers me is that there might be things I do not expect to be missing, e.g. I recently learned that iBooks do not support extended desktop, or that Quicktime does not play fullscreen.

    So I have a question to y'all switchers. Are there any annoyances you encountered when switching from Windows or Linux? Something unexpected?
    • erm, Quicktime not play fullscreen?

      Command-F : Fullscreen

      That's also accessible via the 'Movie' menubar

      You can also choose "present on screen" from the same menu.
      • That command never appeared until I got the cracked version of Quicktime. I was surprised, I had always assumed it was one of the typical Apple bonehead mistakes. Like the Quicktime program itself is really ugly and hard to use.
        • That command never appeared until I got the cracked version of Quicktime.

          When you first ran it, QuickTime would have come up with a "sales pitch" dialog claiming one of the benefits of buying QuickTime Pro was to be able to play fullscreen. I believe that should be a standard feature, but apparently the QuickTime Pro $30 keys sell quite well.

          typical Apple bonehead mistakes

          People around here really do have issues with Apple don't they.

          Quicktime program itself is really ugly and hard to use.


    • Fullscreen QuickTime playback is supported by the Pro (pay-for) version of the QuickTime Player application on both Mac and Windows platforms. It has always bugged me that they split QuickTime into 2 versions a number of years ago, the free one having most of the functionality disabled. Video Lan Client [] is a very good program, that offers a lot of features Quicktime's free version does not.
    • The free version of QT that comes with the box does not play fullscreen, but the full version ($35US, plays fullscreen very well, as well as allows you to edit QT content in many ways that the free version doesn't: add/remove tracks, adjust a plethora of attributes (size, aspect ratio, graphics mode, sound levels etc.) For example, I do a fair amount of basic video editing with iMovie, but iMovie won't let you swap the video track left to right, ie. car entering frame left now entering
      • allows you to edit QT content in many ways that the free version doesn't: add/remove tracks, adjust a plethora of attributes (size, aspect ratio, graphics mode, sound levels etc.) For example, I do a fair amount of basic video editing with iMovie, but iMovie won't let you swap the video track left to right, ie. car entering frame left now entering from the right. Full QuickTime does that in two or three clicks, without re-encoding.

        Quick trick to make a super-quick rough cut of a short sequence: directory

    • Yes of course there are annoyances -- you've learned to do things one way and when you try to do them the same way on a mac it doesn't work, and a lot of the nice little details of the OS you just don't know about at first. To take two examples: when I first got a mac I was looking for the Add/Remove programs thing in the System Preferences (the equivalent of the control panel) because I wanted to uninstall a program. I couldn't find it, and grew frustrated until I realized that you can just drag applicatio
    • by kiddailey ( 165202 ) on Friday November 26, 2004 @07:06PM (#10927834) Homepage

      Actually, Quicktime definitely does do fullscreen. What doesn't is the free version of Apple's Quicktime player - though for $25 US you get fullscreen and a lot more handy features.

      There are many free alternatives though -- such as, but not limited to MPlayer [] and VideoLAN [] which are two very fine players.

      As far as missing applications, I've had yet to be unable to find alternatives to what I use in the PC world, so without further specific examples, you won't get much help. In fact, even if there is a program only available for PC, VirtualPC [] or Remote Desktop Connection Client [] solves that problem completely for me.

      I've always used Win and Mac OS (since Win3.1 and OS 7 anyway) and the only major annoyance on the OS X side is when I keep hitting CONTROL+C to copy on my Mac after working on the Windows box for prolonged periods of time.

      I won't even bother to list all my annoyances with Windows :) ... IMO, it just feels like a clumsy OS in comparison.
    • I know that Mac OS X is a great OS. I think I know the most important advantages of switching. What is holding me back, however, is the fact that no-one is talking about the disadvantages of doing so.

      Well, I consider myself a real Apple fan, bought 4 of their machines and the next one probably will also have the fruity logo. The hardest part of the apple to chew for me is the limited choice of hardware. I mean, the hardware itself is absolutely great, but the choice isn't. For example, if you fancy a sub
      • There's no technical reason for Powermac 1.8-single CPU to have slower bus than its siblings, dual G5 Powermacs, it's done only to make them "different" so higher price tag on dual is more "justified".

        Chips need to meet a tolerance range to be considered acceptable, and that includes FSB range; as such, I'm guessing that Apple puts 1.8 ghz chips that otherwise wouldn't make the cut into the single processor machines and reduces the FSB. Meanwhile, they can introduce a headless Mac for less money than they'

    • I have been using a mac since OS 6 was first introduced. I currently own an iBook G4 and while it does not support an extended desktop there is a firmware hack [] that will provide you with this capability if you have a vid card with enough RAM.

      That said I do have 2 pcs at home, one running windows XP and the other running Debian. For some of the more obvious annoyances between my mac and windows pc (fink [] and apple's X11 actually give me most of the capabilities of my Debian box):
      1) many websites (large c

      • For the record, not all CompUSAs suffer this limitation. My local chain has a good sized Mac section right at the front of the store with a lot more than just RAM upgrades available. And keep in mind that a lot of off-the-shelf PC stuff (like internal HDs and peripherals) will work fine with the Mac and OS X.
    • I'm a switcher, but my switch happened so long ago as to be lost to history. Against that, I can offer you the fact that I use Windows XP at work every day, so I live in both worlds.

      iBooks do not support extended desktop

      This is something I can speak to: they do support it. I have a iBook G4 12", and it's a very simple hack [] to fix this. Apple has created a setting in OpenFirmware which prevents it, but the hardware can do it. Run the hack, and voila: mega-desktop goodness. I run a 19" external monitor

    • I got my first Mac, an iBook, a few weeks ago. A few odd things (this is a UK version, some may not apply to the rest of the world): @ and " are the wrong way round (@ is on the 2 key). There's no # key marked (it's ctrl 3). No Del key. Seriously, there is no Del key (it's Fn backspace). No disk activity light(s).

      Apple say you can't run the iBook closed, which makes docking and using a separate keyboard/mouse/monitor a bit of a bugger. You can make it run closed with a bit of hacking, which I think I'll d

    • Reliance on the mouse is a big issue to me. I really loathe having to pause reach for the mouse every two seconds to move the cursor to the button, click then go back to my keyboard. I also find Apple's mouse designs to be pathetic. Single button mice are down right dumb in my opinion. Right clicking is such a useful feature. I wouldn't mind not having a wheel, but a right mouse button is very valuable. The shortcut keys they have can also cause a strange tangle of fingers too. Having that option key c
      • Reliance on the mouse is a big issue to me.

        Hit command (the apple button)-tab to cycle through programs and command-tilde (~) to cycle through windows in a particular program. Command and the direction of an arrow left, right up or down will bring you to the end of lines, right and left, or the end of a field, up or down. That might be part of the "strange tangle" you describe, but I've found that I don't have to take my hands off the keyboard often.

    • Answers (Score:4, Interesting)

      by claudebbg ( 547985 ) on Friday November 26, 2004 @07:56PM (#10928090) Homepage

      Concerning the extended desktop on iBooks: html []
      will do the trick (easy, safe -list of supported machines, clean). Concerning the Quicktime full-screen, previous answers are complete (buy it if you also need editing, trick it, or just use VLC as you perhaps already do on Linux).

      And yes, there are differences between Linux, Windows and MacOsX and that makes some of the possible annoyance.
      If you know Linux well, you'll discover some little changes, like when you switch to FreeBSD or AIX or Solaris. Basically you can (configure; make; make install;) run most of Linux tools. You'll certainly miss the multi-desktop feature (not included but some free/sharewares do the trick) and discover Expose (whaaaou).

      If you know Windows well, you'll find the Finder strange at the beginning, you'll perhaps regret the latest games (situation gets better but slowly), and some advanced P2P/Ripping tools (situation gets better really fast), you'll miss the global inconsistence you got accustomed to and perhaps some keyboard tricks (like calling menus with alt-E), you'll discover new Ms Prices (Office is really expensive on Mac and stealing it is easier but still forbidden), you'll miss the graphical admin (get server tools if you like admin with windows or get some of the freewares which do that well or remember it's Unix and you can do what you want with a terminal). And of course you'll discover "major updates" with "real features" (and "price";-( every 18 months.

      There are plenty of good sides of course but you seem to have heard enough of them for today...

      Just remember the first week is awkward and you have to realize you need to learn new moves. Don't try a small weekend switch and get ready to spend some time at the beginning to make your new /Users (oops, not /home nor /usr) feel good.

      And ask some Mac users about your precise needs and habits, they'll certainly tell you how to find a solution.

    • by green pizza ( 159161 ) on Friday November 26, 2004 @08:16PM (#10928185) Homepage
      I have personal biases, and I think we all do. But the fact remains, the best choice is to use the right tool for the job.

      Mac diehards will flame me, but a Mac is not always the best tool.

      If you live or work in a MS world, then no amount of utilities and features will ever make your Mac fit perfectly. However, if you only have to grab mail and swap calendar data from an exchange server and open/edit files from Office, then perhaps a Mac will be OK. If you need to access SMB shares and printers, Mac OS X should work fine out of the box. If your office has a screwy setup then you might need to use Dave. Then again, it might also be configured in such a way that your Mac may never be able to connect. A Mac isn't a Windows PC, so there's no guarantee.

      If you need to work on a "pure" Unix system, you should be OK. It's POSIX compliant and has pretty much every OS feature found on FreeBSD (with some bits from OpenBSD) though implementation may be different.

      If you need to use a Windows-only application, you could probably use Virtual PC, but performance will suck. Badly. Even on an overclocked 9 GHz G7.

      You need to figure out what exactly your needs are and pick the right hardware and software for the job. I have friends and coworkers that use 8-year-old Silicon Graphics (SGI) workstations for both work and home use with great success!! I have friends who are highly talented software engineers that use nothing but Wnidows. I've had a college professor who does GIS R&D on a second generation iMac. There are all types.

      As for me, these days I develop software for internal company use. My platform of choice is Linux, though I still run a few Solaris servers for various projects. I also have a company-issue ThinkPad running Win2K for the corp stuff, but it gets little use. At home I have a variety of machines... new, old, and ancient. Win, Mac, Linux, Unix, Prodos. :) The only Mac I use these days is my PowerBook G4 I use for most of my personal web surfing, personal email, digital photography, digital home videos, and other light duty experimenting. It works like a charm and I love it. But I also love my other toys, and it's a PC and a PS2 that I play my games on. I don't bother running anything other than Enigmo, SimCity 4, and UT2004 on the PowerBook.

      • I'm a Mac die-hard (and a Windows die hard at the same time, go figure) and I wouldn't flame you at all - your answer is the exact answer I give everyone that asks me "Should I get a Mac or PC?"

    • I'll try and be objective, because I never really "switched". I believe in using the right tool for the job.

      IE is there, and the nice thing about the mac is that you can have all the major browsers on your machine (including a KHTML-based one, which is unavailable on windows AFAIK)... Big bonus if you do web dev. However, it's IE 5.x (version slips my mind), and the renderer is tweaked somewhat. So, while this was attractive to me originally, it's ultimately useless.

      Some things are poorly supported on the
    • For the year I was a Mac user I kept meaning to write a list of the thing that annoyed me. There was a lot of great stuff and you hear about it all over the place. But nobody is really documenting the stuff they dislike.

      Being less keyboard friendly was definitely part of it.

      Incompatibility with office stuff was another. I use Firefox most of the time on Windows but there are times that I switch browsers to IE 6 for weirdly coded sites. I didn't have that option on the Mac. I could just cycle between thr

    • What I miss most about running Windows is SmartFTP and mIRC. While there are a plethora of graphical FTP and IRC clients for Mac OS X, they all lack something, and it has been my experience that the most usable Mac software is released as demoware, shareware, or strictly commercial software. That in and of itself isn't a bad thing (mIRC is ostensibly shareware), but the Mac stuff is usually crippled, or time-limited, or something to that effect (I don't have a problem paying for software--I'm probably one o
    • I switched to macosx from windows , and yes there is stuff i hate missing:

      -If you use MSN, say good bye to a decent client. No audio or video
      -Macs are generally more expensive, and only come with 256mb ram, unless you get a top of the line model. Macs love ram, so you need lots of it.
      -There is no driver for either my lexmark printer, or my new cannon printer through a windows network. This is the biggest problem i have. Check that your printer is supported in mac, not only through a native driver, but thro
    • A warning about VirtualPC: you'll have problems if an important app that you use all the time or which is performance-intensive is only available for Windows. *nix apps are very commonly ported to Mac OS X, and are pretty easy to get via DarwinPorts or Fink.

      If you need to run (for example) a time sheet app that only works on Windows once a week, VirtualPC is fine. If you need to run IE 6 for a few minutes to check for cross-browser compatibility, or to use some web site, that's fine. But if you think that
  • HFS+ does have defraged files, it just defrags the FS over time.
    So you cant say it never get defraged, it just knows how to clean up after itself. Thats a big difference than saying it never defragments.

    How could you not go indepth in Resource forks? Thats the main difference between it and a normal BSD Box. Since most applications are GNU they dont care about them, and you have to use special programs to copy apple files, etc. Thats really the only annoying thing about the mac, resource forks (IMHO).. I
    • How could you not go indepth in Resource forks?

      Because probably 90-95% of the people who will buy this book will be new to the Mac, and probably don't even have a Classic System Folder on their hard drive (since it no longer comes preinstalled on new machines), much less any legacy files that have resource forks.

  • Apparently the book that has all the information about networking, warts and all, hasn't been written yet. This book is as good as it gets, so far.

    Ah. That was the answer to my question. (Where is the rest of the documentation for Open Directory?)

  • You can even obliterate data by writing over it eight times with random data
    Probably 'cos the NSA can still read data after 8 wipes and asked Apple to limit it at eight.
  • I've seen this book in stores and I'm curious, why is the cover [] of a german shepard? Instead of, oh I dunno, maybe, a big cat?
  • by Sevn ( 12012 ) on Friday November 26, 2004 @09:40PM (#10928570) Homepage Journal
    And I truly mean it. There has been so much influence from the FOSS, OSS, OSC, CIAFBINAACPHPGPG13, etc and so many features have been added that cater to my kind of work that it's not surprise that the powerbook count has been steadily rising at meetings and conferences. We had one guy left in our department that stubbornly refused to stop developing perl on his winXP laptop. We let him borrow a 12" powerbook for the weekend and he still has it. His winXP laptop is a place to sit one of those obnoxiously large-bottomed coffee pot/cups. XCode is fun stuff to play with. It was so fun we've ended up using Mac OS X for some small kiosk based products. So far we've purchased 5 Xserve RAID's for storage when we need something cheap and autonomous. They've been cheap as sin and rock solid reliable. Ich bein Impressed! (lame sealab reference) We probably aren't going to be using it for servers anytime soon. We have a pretty entrenched RHES 3.0 install and have just started to see the light at the end of the tunnel with the package management hell that naturally arises when you have UTF8 compatibility issues with Perl, a need for a version of aspell that isn't 3 fucking years old, or the ability to make a ton of custom rpm's for various things (ldap integration, sendmail customizations, etc) and not cause dependancy breakage hell.
  • 3 days ago (Score:3, Interesting)

    by adaminnj ( 712407 ) on Friday November 26, 2004 @10:42PM (#10928839)
    The day before Thanksgiving I bought my first Mac (a 12in Ibook 1.2 Gig, and I talked the salesperson out of a bag and an extra 256Megs of Ram)

    I for one will probably not be buying this book until I need it. Thus far I have been able to install everything I need to run my Linux Apps, and have loaded Gtk2 and Gkrellm and got them running without a hitch with Fink.

    It took me about 6 hours of messing around with this laptop and saying to myself "I Hate Mac OSX-nix why am I doing this to myself" untill I had some kind of breakthrough, and I'm feeling much more comfortable; don't get me wrong, I love Linux and KDE (just MHO) but if this is as stable as I'm told since all I do with a laptop is check Email, web, Light linux admin and development, this laptop is nice with great battery life and light.

    I am glad that this book is available, even if there is another pussycat in the wings. I don't think I will be upgrading right away, and good resources can be hard to come by.

    I wish Safari had a web spellcheck.
  • "Rock Solid" (Score:3, Interesting)

    by skinfitz ( 564041 ) on Friday November 26, 2004 @11:06PM (#10928936) Journal
    Anyone who buys into the OSX being "rock solid" obviously never ran an OSX server with over 100 clients. Take NetBoot for example - great system when it works, but has a tendency to simply stop working for seemingly no reason whatsoever.

    If you want examples visit the Apple support discussions and look under OSX Server.

    OSX Server is definitely a feminine OS. It does what it wants when it wants with no reason or accountability. You just have to accept whatever it decides to do and attempt to work around it.
  • by kurt555gs ( 309278 ) <{kurt555gs} {at} {}> on Saturday November 27, 2004 @01:04AM (#10929320) Homepage
    I have Linux servers, (SuSE RH, Debian) but I prefer Macs for workstations.

    I can use Apple X11 and do the ssh -X -l root to work on the Linux boxen while I am inside at lan speed, and I have found NX ( ) for everywhere else.

    I like the OS X user interface more than I do Linux though, and I love my PowerBook.

    OS X still is close enough that I can scp -r user@domain:/stuff/ /Users/home/me unlike using a windows lappy.

    When friends of mine as if OS X is similar to linux on the comand line I just tell them.

    "It's like going to a Korean massage parlor and getting a Chinese girl. Most woul'nt know the difference"

    In any case, OS X is where I choose to spend my time .... I cant wait for Tiger


To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. -- Elbert Hubbard