A few days with MacOS X

As a newcomer to the Apple world, and an avid Linux user, I thought I would share my impressions after a few days. As a disclaimer, I have spent too much time in meetings this week to actually get to know MacOS X in details, but still…

  • Apple has done a good job at capturing the best of Unix and free software. After installing xcode (provided by Apple for free), you have the GNU compiler and most things you need to do free software work.
  • Fink is useful to get a few Unix tools you miss. Don’t bother with unstable packages. Don’t bother with any X application.
  • Pretty much everything under MacOS X can be done remotely using a shell. Even when Apple only says “double-click on this or that to install”, you pretty much can get away with the shell. However, unlike traditionnal Unix systems, there are many scripts missing in MacOS. For example, you can’t quickly delete or add users by default. You need to create or borrow your own scripts if you want to do this. This is slightly annoying, but would be easily fixable if a bunch of people got together to write scripts and provide an nice installer.

To sum it up, I could see a world where both Linux and MacOS dominate and that would be a beautiful world.

Published by

Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the University of Quebec (TELUQ).

2 thoughts on “A few days with MacOS X”

  1. Just curious why you advise against X apps in your comment about Fink (I
    presume you mean X11 apps in this context).

    Also, your comment about Fink seems to be verging on damning by faint
    praise. It’s probably worth pointing out that “a few Unix tools” means over
    7000 ported packages ranging from simple little tools to complex suites like
    LaTeX or KDE. And no matter the complexity, it generally just works. For
    example, you might type ‘fink install gimp’ and it will fetch, build and
    install the 30 or so package dependencies with no further intervention. I
    recently rebuilt Tiger from scratch, and discover almost daily that I’m
    missing yet another Fink package that I’ve grown to depend on (last night it
    was netpbm).

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