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Running Mac OS X Tiger by James Duncan Davidson, Jason Deraleau

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Chapter 3. Lay of the Land

When you first log into Mac OS X, you see a user interface that is the end result of 20 years of development; quite a bit of work has gone into making it an elegant and usable interface for your computer. Underneath it all, however, Mac OS X is a structured environment based on Unix, and to truly master it, you’ll need to know how it all fits together. This chapter discusses the architecture of Mac OS X: how the various layers work together to create what Apple calls the world’s most advanced operating system.

This chapter also discusses how the filesystem in Mac OS X is organized and how to navigate through the system using the Finder and the Terminal. Each of these programs gives access to different layers of the system. For some tasks, the Finder is the best tool for the job. For others, using the Terminal is a way of life. Read on to find out which tool is best in various situations.

The World’s Most Advanced Operating System

As discussed in Chapter 1, Mac OS X is the convoluted product of two parents: the original Mac OS and the NEXTSTEP operating system. For the most part, however, NEXTSTEP had the dominant genes, giving Mac OS X its Unix underpinnings and a significant portion of its system libraries. From the Mac OS of yesterday, Mac OS X inherited QuickTime, Carbon, and many other tools. Plus, Apple has developed several technologies that have made their debut on Mac OS X, like Spotlight, CoreAudio, and Quartz Extreme.

To understand how Mac OS X is ...

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