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June 8, 2005

"Mac OS X Tiger for Unix Geeks": A Survival Guide for Taming the Unix Side of Mac OS X

Sebastopol, CA--Even while Apple has used its line of Mac OS X cats to pounce on business owners tired of Windows security flaws, and consumers tempted by the fun and creativity of its iLife Digital Hub, the company has quietly captured another constituency. The Unix and Linux developers attracted to Mac's guts rather than its glamour, along with many hardcore Perl developers and those who program in Java and XML, have also switched to Mac, but for a very different reason: Mac OS X's BSD Unix core.

With Apple's release of Tiger, Mac OS X 10.4, Mac OS X Tiger for Unix Geeks (Jepson and Rothman, O'Reilly, US $34.95), the latest edition of the popular book, has been revised and expanded to cover further changes to what is now, ironically, the world's most widely-used Unix system. According to coauthor Brian Jepson, developers faced an unexpected learning curve. "Hacking code on a Mac is similar to hacking code on other Unix systems, but there are subtle differences between the Unix they're accustomed to and how things are done in Mac OS X," remarks Jepson.

"When you first launch the Terminal application, you find yourself at home in a Unix shell, but some of the standard Unix utilities we've grown accustomed to aren't there," explains coauthor Ernest Rothman. "When it comes to developing applications, you'll find things like library linking and compiling have a few new twists to them." This book is a "survival guide for developers and system administrators who want to tame the Unix side of Mac OS X."

The new edition tackles this task in five distinct parts:

  • Getting Around--Shows how to navigate and adapt Mac OS X's Unix core, how to use the Terminal application and Tiger's new Spotlight metadata search, how to install the X Window user interface and manage printers with the Common Unix Printing System (CUPS)
  • Building Applications--Takes geeks through the Mac OS X system and includes ways to compile 64-bit code with the GNU Compiler Collection
  • Working with Packages--Includes chapters on working with Fink and Darwin Ports to download Unix and X11 software
  • Serving and System Management--Explains how to use Mac OS X as a server, including how to monitor system status, how to set up and configure free databases such as MySQL and PostgreSQL, and describes versions of Perl and Python that ship with Mac OS X
  • Appendixes--Offers a primer to Mac OS X terminology and a list of Mac OS X's various development tools
  • "There are many PowerPC-based operating systems that run great on Apple hardware, including Linux, NetBSD, BeOS," Jepson says. "But who says you have to run one operating system at a time? And who says it has to be a Power PC-based operating system? There's an array of bewildering choices when it comes to mixing and matching." Geeks can partition their hard drive and load another OS onto the Mac, or use an emulator, such as Microsoft's Virtual PC, or an open source x86 emulator called QEMU. Readers will also learn how to run Mac OS X under other operating systems.

    Compared to other Mac OS X releases, Tiger makes it easier for hardcore technical users accustomed to a command line to delve directly into the underlying Unix engine, Rothman says. Developers and system administrators can port Linux and Unix applications and run them side-by-side with native Aqua applications on the Mac desktop. Mac OS X Tiger for Unix Geeks is the only book that looks at Tiger from the geek point of view. "This book," adds Rothman, "serves as a bridge for those who've been lured to Mac OS X because of its Unix roots."

    Additional Resources:

    Mac OS X Tiger for Unix Geeks
    Brian Jepson and Ernest E. Rothman
    ISBN: 0-596-00912-7, 395 pages, $34.95 US, $48.95 CAN
    order@oreilly.com
    1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

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