It’s not hard to understand why classes focusing on Apple’s iLife suite of applications or in-depth sessions on Photoshop would be well attended at a Mac conference like the ocean-going
MacMania II cruise, sponsored by Macworld. But one of the most well attended sessions so far has been on Mac OS X’s Unix underpinnings.
Unix expert, Randal Schwartz gave Mac users a brief history of Unix and how Apple came to base its operating system on Unix after purchasing NeXT from Steve Jobs — a move that ultimately put Jobs back on top of Apple.
Schwartz then tackled one of the scariest and perhaps most misunderstood applications of Mac OS X: the Terminal. In explaining the Terminal app and some basic command line functions, Schwartz showed a list view of the home directory structure in Terminal and the corresponding view in the Mac OS X Finder.
Schwartz then showed attendees how tasks could be done in either view (Terminal or Finder) and the results would show up in both views. It was the correlation between the two views and what could be done in the Terminal that showed many in the crowd that Unix and the command line are a powerful tool that can be utilized in the Mac OS X environment.
After explaining to users about the “root user,” Schwartz cautioned users about using commands while logged in as root. While many tasks can be done in the terminal for easily using the “sudo” command, it is also one of the quickest ways to destroy needed files in Mac OS X.