Top 10 Mac OS X Tips for Unix Geeks

Author Brian Jepson offers the top 10 tips he gathered while working on O’Reilly’s Mac OS X for Unix Geeks.

These tips will show you the differences between Mac OS X and other flavors of Unix, help you find the bits that resemble the Unix you are used to, and even feather your nest with XFree86 and ports of popular open source applications.

1. Where’s My Shell?

A Unix geek won’t get too far without a shell, right? You can find the Terminal application by navigating to /Applications/Utilities in the Finder. Drag the Terminal application to your Dock so you can access it quickly.

When you start up the Terminal, you’ll be greeted with the default user shell, tcsh. You can customize the Terminal’s appearance and settings by selecting Window Settings from the Terminal menu. You can set the startup shell by selecting Preferences from the Terminal menu.

2. sudo, Not su

By default, the root user is disabled on Mac OS X. If you need to do something as root, use the sudo command. To use this command, pass in the command and arguments you want to execute, as in sudo vi /etc/hostconfig. You’ll need to be a user with administrator privileges. The main user has this capability by default.

If you need a root shell, you can always use sudo tcsh or sudo bash. If you want to enable the root user, it’s as simple as giving root a password with sudo passwd root. You’ll also want to open System Preferences, choose Accounts, then Login Options, and change “Display ...

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