Gail Williams (gail) Tue 15 Apr 03 16:04
What a cool project that is!
oh me oh my, love that country pie (lava) Tue 15 Apr 03 18:03
Hey matisse, sorry I'm a bit late to the discussion, but major kudos for a useful reference and idea book, right up there with the best of 'em and sure to become a standard suggested for my OS/X-using friends. That said, I'm amazed you had 10 days for each chapter. Wow! You asked for comments on: ... the synergies between the Mac's graphical interface and the flexible, powerful, stable core of Unix. I've never considered myself a UNIX geek. I learn what I need to learn to get the job done, and then some, but it ain't my life, IYKWIM. I fell into the opportunity to do system administration for a big company, and I enjoy it. Pretty soon I'll be taking classes in AIX, thanks to work requirements. For me, the UNIX layer of OS/X opens a world of opportunities to explore on my own system, rather than using work systems (or even The WELL) for such exploration. I can run my mac apps and become a UNIX weenie at the same time. Perhaps I'll get the two sides to interact, but personally that's not my main goal or interest. It's about the power of UNIX available in addition to my trusty mac, and I get a stable environment in the Mac interface as a bonus. Thanks again for writing this.
J Matisse Enzer (matisse) Wed 16 Apr 03 12:04
Thanks Jeff. Do you know of non-Unix using Mac people who have decided to check out thios "unix stuff"?
Michael C. Berch (mcb) Wed 16 Apr 03 19:58
I think there was just sort of a disconnect at first among Mac users. Many, perhaps most, didn't really internalize what it meant that the brand new MacOS X was based on UNIX. To them, it was just something new (and perhaps a pain the the ass) from Apple -- if they new anything about UNIX, perhaps they associated it with web servers or with older models of workstations like Suns and SGIs. It's been a lot of work (and fun) evangelizing. Another group of somewhat more technical people made the (unwarranted) assumption that even if there was a UNIX base, it would be inaccessible to users, as is the case on some special-purpose networking hardware and consumer appliances (e.g., TiVo). I think it must have been exciting for a lot of those people to see MacOS X up close and log in and get a real shell and all that. What do think people have on their wishlists for how the UNIX side of MacOS might be improved? And what's on your wishlist? I know that for me, one thing would be better integration of system admin tools (like the startup stuff membtioned above), and for Apple to make sure that every single shell-level command shipped with MacOS X have a man page!
J Matisse Enzer (matisse) Thu 17 Apr 03 07:42
I certainly agree about the man pages - and Apple has actually asked the public for help with that. Your mention of the system startup items brings up something that i find over and over again with OS X - we start talking about the "Unix side" of OS X, and immeadiatly get into how to make the Graphical User Interface have more control over the Unix layer. I think the main thig that traditioal Mac users want from the Unix side is to not have to learn it! They want a nice, real Mac interface for all that stuff. And you know what, they are gradually getting it. More and more tools are coming out for the GUI that use the Unix layer. I've already mentioned "Transmit", and then there is "Brickhouse" which offers a more detailed ability to control the Unix firewall software compared to the tool built in to the Systems Preferences "Sharing" tool. Readers should be aware of "webmin" which offers a nice graphical interface (via your web browser) of a huge number of Unix system administration tools. Webmin is written entirely in Perl (so you can examine the code easily) and is available for many different Unix flavors including OS X/Darwin.
&manbeast.hooved (satyr) Sat 19 Apr 03 09:19
The Cocoa API makes it a snap to wrap a graphical layer around preexisting software written in C, provided you have the source code. Even relatively inexperienced programmers can manage to use the provided tools to craft a usable interface.
oh me oh my, love that country pie (lava) Sat 19 Apr 03 20:29
Do you know of non-Unix using Mac people who have decided to check out this "unix stuff"? Well most of my friends are UNIX users, but I plan to give a copy of your book to a buddy in San Diego who can probably put it to good use, as a non- UNIX guy. I agree with mcb that the UNIX aspect of OS/X almost seems like a utility, rather than the foundation of the OS. It's kind of funny that as WIndoze moves away from the DOS foundation, Macintosh embraces UNIX as *its* foundation. Brilliant! Gotta go track down webmin. (sorry for taking so long to answer...work's been unusually consuming this week).
&manbeast.hooved (satyr) Sun 20 Apr 03 09:46
Are there any unix shell programs that emulate the DOS command line interface? ;-)
J Matisse Enzer (matisse) Sun 20 Apr 03 15:51
There is DOSEMU - http://www.dosemu.org/ but I think it only works on Intel 80x86 processors.
Michael C. Berch (mcb) Sun 20 Apr 03 16:11
Just wanted to thank Matisse for hanging out here all week and fielding questions -- it was a fun interview. And though the featured status of this topic is technically over, we are lucky to have Matisse on the Well full time, so I'm hoping he will look in here from time to time too, and you can find both of us all over the Mac conference.
Paul Terry Walhus (terry) Sun 20 Apr 03 19:16
I'm glad Matisse is around and I'm glad there's a BSD that unlies Mac, it gives me faith in Apples future.
Reporting 'accounting irregularities' (thansen) Sun 20 Apr 03 23:07
I am real late for this but I also want to thank Matisse for this book. It appeared at a good time for me. I am in the process of buying my first Mac after almost 20 years with PCs in CP/M, various dos, OS/2, and Windows flavors. I have become increasingly annoyed by the Windows structure AND by the fact that I increasingly have no idea what the machine is doing technically. The UNIX aspect of OSX kind of pushed me over the edge. I can get an OS and GUI that I (mostly) like better than Windows AND an opportunity to get to a command line where I am still quite comfortable feeling I can CONTROL the machine. I decided that it was worth saving a few hunderd $ to buy my Mac through work which has resulted in time and paperwork so I don't HAVE it yet. But I have been reading chapters of UNIX for MAC OSX anyway and liking it a lot. Everything is falling into place. I can hardly wait to get a hand on my hardware and actually try things. Thanks.
J Matisse Enzer (matisse) Mon 21 Apr 03 07:14
You're welcome! It's interesting how the Unix aspect of OS X has become a common reason for people to switch. (wolfy) here on the WELL switched for that reason, as well as a several others. Having a real Unix machine with a sweet graphical interface on top really appleals to a lot of technical people.
Michael C. Berch (mcb) Thu 24 Apr 03 18:34
Well, the hosts have kindly pointed out that we have a few more days of featurehood here, so in closing, I'd ask if you (Matisse or anyone else) had any final questions or comments, and for you, Matisse, what's your next project?
David Gans (tnf) Thu 24 Apr 03 19:20
NNo reason to end the discussion when the next interview begins.
J Matisse Enzer (matisse) Thu 24 Apr 03 19:23
Sean Harding (sharding) Thu 24 Apr 03 22:11
Going back to a theme mentioned in #29 and #30 in this topic, I think there is an interesting balance that Apple needs to strike. They absolutely must keep MacOS easy to use, unintimidating and visually attractive. These have been core strengths of the Macintosh from the beginning. However, I think that they could also benefit from getting more users to play with the Unix stuff. I've repeatedly amazed my girlfriend by solving some seemingly intractable problem by opening a shell window and doing a string of commands or an ad hoc shell script. The command line is intimidating to people unfamiliar with it, but I think that the power it offers is appealing to almost all computer users. It would be great to see developments that would encourage more "average Joe" users to learn some basics of the Unix stuff without scaring people away from the platform by making them think that command line knowledge is a prerequisite to be a user. I suppose this is somewhat analogous to the more advanced features in a program like Excel. The average users just know how to plug numbers into the cells and they may not even know how to enter a formula. Most of the people I know view the advanced features of Excel as so scary that they'll never consider touching them. But almost anyone who uses Excel on a semi-regular basis would benefit from learning the basics of those features. Microsoft has not done a good job of making the features approachable and convincing users that they should know about them. Of course, it doesn't really matter to Microsoft -- they have almost all of the spreadsheet marketshare anyway. I think it could make a real difference for Apple to get more people using the "power user" Unix features. It's really the same problem that has existed in computing since the beginning: giving users power while keeping it easy to use. I think, perhaps, that the difference here is that the power and ease of use are already present in the system. But either they're not presented clearly enough or the integration isn't strong enough to get over the barrier of intimidation for people. I don't have good suggestions on how to fix this problem. If I could solve it, I'd start my own software company and maybe put both Jobs and Gates out of work (right).
J Matisse Enzer (matisse) Fri 25 Apr 03 07:14
Well, my book is one small part of the solution. People who are curious about the command line stuff can read the first couple of chapters and decide if they want to go further. Another useful solution that I hope will emerge is something like a list of the "Top Ten Easy Things To Do at The Command Line" -- things that NON-Unix users would find useful. That's something that I think requires some real consumer research, something Apple could do. It's easy for us Unix people to make alist, but I think our lists would be wrong.
Gail Williams (gail) Fri 25 Apr 03 09:50
They might be a great starting point, however. What *would* your top ten things to do (for beginners) be?
J Matisse Enzer (matisse) Fri 25 Apr 03 17:08
I've tried to come up with a list and not done very well. I'll give it some more thought and see if i can make at least try at it. Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly.
Gail Williams (gail) Fri 25 Apr 03 17:24
Heh. Civilization was built by successive rough drafts, after all. I think various searches and sorts such as greps are the things I most crave when I don't have unix.
J Matisse Enzer (matisse) Fri 25 Apr 03 17:34
So there's two: sorting a text file easily searching through many files for a word
Sean Harding (sharding) Fri 25 Apr 03 18:14
The one that first impressed my girlfriend was merging two directories full of hundreds of files with duplicate names (but different content, so you couldn't just delete one of the two). Took about 10 seconds to type the loop into the shell and a few seconds to run. Would have taken ages to do in the GUI.
J Matisse Enzer (matisse) Fri 25 Apr 03 18:15
Is that something you'd say it is easy for a newbie to do?
Sean Harding (sharding) Fri 25 Apr 03 18:23
Well, see, there's the problem. (Especially the problem with people like me trying to come up with such a list). The really cool stuff is often not easy for a newbie to do, unfortunately. I think that's an example of a very non- geek problem: a lot of people have had file name problems like that (my girlfriend's was caused by the fact that her digital camera reset the file names so the new photos had the same name as a bunch of old ones). And I do believe that it's much better solved in the shell than in the GUI, at least in the current incarnation of the GUI. But is it reasonable to expect someone to learn how to do 'for' loops in bash to avoid 20 minutes of clicking and renaming? I dunno.
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