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Mac® Bible by Dwight Spivey

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Chapter 19. UNIX

Underneath Mac OS X's ravishing exterior beats the heart of one of the oldest operating systems in use today: UNIX. When most folks hear the term "UNIX," they may not necessarily be thinking about computers. However, those who do understand UNIX as being related to computers may exhibit excessive sweating and tremors when the topic arises. Okay, maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but UNIX can be a sore subject with some due to its complexity and foreign nature.

UNIX is one of the most stable and reliable operating systems ever developed. Mac OS X's core software is based on UNIX, which comes in seemingly more flavors and varieties than Baskin Robbins can serve up. The variety of UNIX used in Mac OS X is called Darwin, and even it is a variation of another flavor of UNIX called BSD (Berkeley Software Distribution). Whenever you direct your Mac to perform a task, such as dragging an item from one folder to another or emptying the Trash, you are causing it to carry out an equivalent UNIX command. If you will excuse the gastronomical term, UNIX is the guts of Mac OS X.

Most of us in this era of graphical user interfaces, or GUIs, are used to pointing and clicking our cursor with a mouse, but up until the mid-1980s this method of interacting with a computer was an alien concept. Prior to that time, if you wanted to use a computer, the keyboard was your only way to give it commands. The ...

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