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MacWorld: Inside Mac OS X's Unix Layer

Sep 17, 2000, 16:17 (1 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Greg Knauss)

"If you wanted to define the far ends of the computer usability spectrum, you could do a lot worse than planting Mac OS at one end and Unix at the other. For the whole of its existence, the Macintosh operating system has been a prime example of consistency and graceful design. And for the whole of its existence, the Unix operating system has been, um, not."

"Ugly where the Mac is beautiful, industrial where the Mac is personal, the domain of hard-core geeks where the Mac is the computer for the rest of us, Unix has managed to gain its position in the industry simply by being incredibly powerful. A lumbering dump truck to the Mac's zippy roadster, Unix is the pug-ugly workhorse that delivers more Web pages, routes more mail, and gets more done than any other computer operating system in existence."

"And Mac OS X is so interesting because it is Unix -- or, rather, one of the many Unix variants -- through and through. Strip away the colorful candy shell, and any number of bearded, suspendered old-school Unix hackers would feel right at home inside the confines of Mac OS X. In fact, if you ignore the graphical user interface (GUI) entirely and limit your interaction with the operating system to an 80-by-25-character text window, you'd be hard-pressed to identify Mac OS X as anything other than a true-blue FreeBSD (Berkeley Software Distribution) release, on which OS X is based. POSIX-compliant, networked, and multi-user-capable, Mac OS X can match Unix feature-for-feature and foible-for-foible."

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