Chapter 2. Using the Terminal

With a typical Unix system, a staff person has to set up an account for you before you can use it. With Mac OS X, however, the operating system installation process automatically creates a default user account. The account is identified by your username, which is usually a single word or an abbreviation. Think of this account as your office—it’s your personal place in the Uix environment.

When you log into your Mac OS X system, you’re automatically logged into your Unix account as well. In fact, your Desktop and other customized features of your Mac OS X environment have corresponding features in the Unix environment. Your files and programs can be accessed either through the Finder or through a variety of Unix command-line utilities that you can use in Mac OS X’s Terminal application.

In this chapter, you’ll not only learn about the Terminal and how to customize it for your own needs, but you’ll also gain an understanding of the command-line nature of Mac OS X when accessed through the Terminal. If you’re used to moving your mouse around and clicking on buttons, this might seem wonderfully—or awkwardly—retro, but like any other powerful environment, the difference between the Finder and the Terminal are part of what makes the Terminal, and Unix, so remarkably powerful.

Launching the Terminal

The way you use Unix on Mac OS X is through an application, known as the Terminal. The Terminal application is located in the Utilities folder (/Applications/Utilities ...

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