Since Mac OS X has Unix at its heart, performing some system administration tasks is unavoidable, even for the most casual users. For this reason, the system lets you approach many administrative duties from two different angles. Fundamental tasks such as user account management (you’ll need at least one user on the system, after all) and network setup may be performed though the friendly frontends of System Preference panes, while a more experienced admin can perform more subtle and sophisticated tasks through the Terminal’s command line.
As such, much of this chapter assumes knowledge of the Terminal application and Darwin’s Unix command line. See Chapter 19 first if you need to.
Many administrative tasks also require looking up and modifying information stored in the machine’s NetInfo database. See Chapter 12 for complete coverage of NetInfo and its available user interfaces.
Like all Unix systems, Mac OS X has a concept of a special user named root. Root can read from and modify any part of the filesystem, execute any program, and send signals (including the terminate signal) to all running programs and processes, regardless of who might own them. Root doesn’t correspond to any one user; instead, a user with proper access privileges can become root temporarily in order to perform tasks that the Unix file and process permission systems wouldn’t otherwise allow, such as launching or reloading system services or installing ...