Mac Osx

MouseAbuse made easy!

The best operating system in the world today. Don't believe that? Think you want a LinuxOs or MicrosoftWindows instead? Don't flame on, just try it. Give it a week. Heck, just give it a day. Or a few hours. It's not the prettier GUI. It's the way everything works like you expect - and better than you expect. Apple [You mean NeXT, right?] looked at each of their competitors and each competing application technology, and simply spent the money necessary to out-engineer them. Apple might still die by marketing. Life in monopoly-land is like that. But even if they die, it was worth it. Beautiful, stable, fast, and open - this is it. The best.

I was all prepared to reply to this zealotry, but I just got stuck in my project when iTerm, running that well-known resource hog BASH, got locked up and turned into a permanently rotating beachball, so I'm out of the mood now...

Plus the hardware is to die for. Look, just try out a G4 powerbook for a week. If you don't prefer it, return it.

But you won't return it.

Essentially, it's a MachMicrokernel wrapped in a BSD kernel with a bunch of GNU/Linux hacks wrapped in the logical evolution of NextStep wrapped in a pure PDF display layer. (whew!)

It's not Mach, it's XNU.

Here's a link to the Apple system architecture page, showing the relations between the major components, DarwinOs, Quartz, QuickTime, OpenGl, Classic Carbon, CocoaFramework, Carbon, and Aqua.

You FINK you!!

You have to hand it to AppleComputer, they have managed to do what so many have tried unsuccessfully before - Stick a pretty GUI on *nix. People often describe Mac OS X as linux with grace and style[Wasn't JamesGosling the person who originated this?'']. Still, lets face it, *nix should really be put out to pasture. Its a dinosaur, and people need an OS that has a future, not a history. What is really needed is a new OS, with forward looking features, not a dusty old thing like unix or cpm. I think all OS bigotry is equally silly, simply because there are no good Operating Systems. Get those brains a thinking people, lets make something new!

MacOsx isn't Linux or Unix done with style, because MacOsx is based on Mach - which however much it looks like Unix/Linux at various levels basically just isn't the same thing.

As for the startling GUI, this is Jobs' point: a good late-model computer has around 1 Gigaflops of processing power, which usually isn't anywhere close to being used. So take some of that power and spend it on the user interface: zooming and squishing windows, animating dock items, making menus semi-transparent....

Plus, it emulates MacOs 9 for diehard Apple compatibility purposes.

Also you can find a Utility to install MacOsx on older Macs (7300, 7500, 7600, 8500, 8600, 9500 and 9600) here: Might even work.

It sure does. I bought a Powermac 8500 from Weirdstuff for $100, replaced the cpu with Sonnet's 800 MHz pci card and even figured out how to install 9.2.2 too.

I was running a Powertower Pro that died, so I took out all the memory and swapped the hard drives, and added it to the 8500.

10.2.4 runs great!

MacOsx 10.5 (Leopard) Server will ship with a built in wiki server! "Teams" will have a WysiWyg editor, avoiding having to learn wiki markup.

The best resource for mixed Mac and Windows integration is (search that site for many solutions for sharing printers among PCs, Macs, and Linux/Unix boxes for example.)

Developer Tools

You'll want at least the basic developer tools from Then you can download all the usual OpenSource goodies via and be very happy. Darwin Ports also has some things Fink doesn't. I have both installed (there's also Gentoo Portage for OSX, but it's a bit more beta). Try Yes, including rootless XFree86.

The current version of MacOsx is 10.4, released May 2005, with the latest versions of the ExCode (Developer Tools) suite having been released in May 2005 (or is the newer one out?). In the Developer Tools suite is included:

Plus, as MacOsxIsUnixBased:

Beware though, it's not ELF-based, and Apple uses their own homebrewed linker. That linker is a most remarkably buggy piece of software, sporadically failing to resolve symbols that are right there in front of its eyes. Drives me crazy.


MarkPilgrim's "Dive Into Os X" [] is a wiki with MacOsx as its topic (amongst other things, MarkPilgrim has been aptly described elsewhere as "generally formidable"). It's a good place to contribute your tips and ask your questions.

Is Linux better?

Programmer? Java support has been a smidgeon better for LinuxOs ... but this is debatable. But MacOsx's development tools are descended from the incredible ones in NextStep. I've never seen a less InMyWay and more OnMySide IDE than ProjectBuilder (now ExCode). -- JoeOsborn

Eclipse on MacOsx is reportedly more stable than on LinuxOs. However, copy and paste don't always work in the Mac OS X Eclipse, and iTunes playback quality is often impacted when Eclipse is in the foreground.

Want to watch DivX movies without problems? -> MacOsx - VLC is great, and mplayer's out for OSX, too.

Tired of slow and buggy OS's? -> LinuxOs or MacOsx

Won't run anything that doesn't come with source? -> LinuxOs or MacOsx

Tired of endless configuration of endless packages that never work quite right? -> MacOsx (Software Update and Fink) or DebianGnuLinux (AptGet)

Just doing stuff like: Office, Mail, Web, Editing Photos? -> MacOsx or LinuxOs (openoffice, thunderbird, firefow and GIMP run on both platforms

Value the aesthetics of software and hardware? -> MacOsx

Got a camera, stereo, MiDi? device, or any other content generator? -> MacOsx (never had a problem doing all this under linux)

Need the best storage and wireless devices? -> MacOsx (now this is just partisanship. FireWire and USB and WiFi 802.11(x) are available and well supported on all platforms)

Need copy and paste to work -> NOT LinuxOs ''Hrm .. Linux 2.4 here. copy and paste works fine. Infact, dut to multiple cut buffers and SelectIsCopy?, c/p under linux is much more powerful then other OSs. Still .. MacOsx is nice)

Switch - Switch from Windows to a Mac

WardCunningham could do a promo for Apple saying how he switched from Windows to Mac.

I think most on this page could do a promo. I was prompted to switch because the Mac turns out to be a great development environment, while also aiming for compatibility with Windows apps (like the dreaded PowerPoint) that, sadly, seem to be the only ways that ideas in business are communicated these days. -- ChadThompson

I don't think Apple would want me. I've found key pieces of the system absent or flaky. Three things in particular: 1) it doesn't share files reliably, 2) it can't handle my email archive, and 3) it can't print to my Apple laserWriter. I've spent hours on the phone with Apple support on each of these issues until they admit, yes, that is just the way it is. So right now I drop into Darwin to FTP files, drop into Classic to read email with Netscape 4.7, and bundle up my print jobs as PDF's which I print from Windows. There is lots that I like about the machine but these basic things -- files, email, and printing -- are just too fundamental to not work well. -- WardCunningham

Besides, the people in the TV ads are such a bunch of annoying twits, I wouldn't want to see Ward lumped in with them.

I haven't noticed these problems, since I drop to the command line to do nearly all my file manipulations, and I don't get the e-mail volume of a WardCunningham. ;-) (I have switched to using 10.2's "" for reading e-mail. The rule setup seems sufficient for me to keep track of about five mailing lists, one of them being the higher volume tomcat-dev.) For printing, I've only used "work" HP Laser Printers, which work well. Overall, I've been pleasantly surprised with how well my PowerBook interacts with a Windows network. -- ChadThompson

After four months without printing I finally gave up and bought a new printer. I plugged it into the iMac that sits on the desk next to the easy chair where I work at home. Then I went looking through the dialogs to see how I could talk to this printer. After an hour of searching, my teenage son found the posting on the Apple Developer Connection that states simply, OSX will not share printers with OS9. I can't believe it! What part of postscript don't these people understand? My iBook is happy to make a PDF which my iMac is happy to print. This proves to me that it is possible to complete the path from screen to page through this equipment. I just want the print dialog to do this or somehting equivalent for me. The only thing standing in the way is the missing software. -- WardCunningham

At our (all mac) house we have a USB printer connected to an iMac running MacOsx 10.2. My iBook also runs 10.2. Both machines are equipped with an Airport (WiFi) card. I can print from the laptop from anywhere in my home (well, I don't get a signal from the back closet, but that hasn't been an issue). My wife still uses OS9 on her laptop, but now that we have upgraded Quicken and MicrosoftWord, the lure of wireless printing has put her over the edge. Guess what I get to do over christmas vacation? -- SeanOleary

So you are saying that in addition to buying a new printer, I have to buy a new iMac? My iMac does not meet the hardware requirements for MacOsx and it is one of the newer of the dozen or more computers on our network. I've found it very convenient to have lots of computers. They are about equal number of Mac, Windows and Linux. I expect them to work together. MacOsx is not a team player. I don't care what Apple says. They haven't delivered, even within their own product lines. -- WardCunningham

(P.S. To be fair, I didn't expect conversion to Mac to be easy. I did so, not because I liked the Mac, but because I wanted to know what parts of my cyber life were too hooked into Microsoft. My goal is to have all of my own intellectual property in codes and formats that do not require per-machine fees. I see increasing proliferation of computers, and I want free access to my own stuff. -- Ward)

I'll be the first to agree with you there. Apple tends to abuse their users worse than Microsoft. For everything they get right (like they blow something else (like MacOsx 10.0, which I feel was still beta). And don't get me started about the MacOsx Finder. Or their sudden deletion of product lines without support (printers, Newtons). But I am surprised to hear that your iMac can't run MacOsx. I've been under the impression that every iMac can run MacOsx (given sufficient RAM and hard-drive space). -- SeanOleary

I finally have my email under control. I moved my folder archive to a Linux server and browse it with whatever computer happens to be handy. I'm using Apple's Mail application on my iBook and find I quite like it now that I've bypassed importing. Switching from POP3 to IMAP was the key here, as was writing a few C and Perl programs to inspect and clean my archive. I even cracked the binary file format that WinCim? used for its email folders so my searchable archive goes back a few more years including the founding of Hillside, PLOP, Wiki, and even xUnit. (In an email dated March 11, 1994, Kent says: "I reread the HotDraw code recently and rediscovered the joy of reading code. I thought I'd share. Here is the tester code I've been working on. I'd be interested in any comments you have. The coverage tester doesn't quite work yet, but it shows how you can specialize Test and TestResult in interesting ways.") -- WardCunningham

I know you made the switch to using a Mac. I'm considering a similar move. Only it is complicated, since I'd need to do this for Tracy, myself and 2 employees. That means selling off PCs and buying Mac software. It also means I have to figure out a solution for the book i've been writing (i.e. Visio diagrams need a Mac equivalent). I'm just curious what your experience has been - since you, like us, are a road warrior (however much we dislike being one). I.e. is it worth the change? -- Joshua

I'm switching back.

My iBook started to fail intermittently during setup for my oopsla'03 tutorial. It failed the same way when it was only three months old so I know from experience that in a couple of weeks I will not be able to use it at all. I am now in the process of moving all of my work to my Dell laptop. Fortunately I've made this easy by keeping so much of my work in text files and server resident.

My experience with NEC and Compaq was that a laptop display backlight lasts three or four years and then is prohibitively expensive to service. My experience with the iBook is that the backlight lasts 6 months. This places the first repair within warranty. Now, once I am safely back on my pc I will see what Apple is willing to do for this one year old lemon. I'm guessing not much. If my experience is otherwise I will let you know. -- WardCunningham

Can't speak to the iBook, but I have one of the old G3 PowerBooks that's been used every day since it was new, which is several years now, and is still going strong. It may be you have a lemon. -- KeithBraithwaite

More about lemon white iBooks:

Under threat of class action lawsuit apple admits a problem

Well, I've had my iBook back in the shop twice since I last wrote here. They did try to fix the display problem and didn't charge me because I came armed with the faq mentioned above. It came back, ran one week, an then the display failed again. Fortunately apple now has a storefront in Portland so I can go in there and tell my story and get some sympathy. They took my blacked out iBook back once more and sent it away for a month. This time it came back with a notice that they had upgraded the processor board and that I would have to install the Panther version of the os, which they also provided. This means that apple service never actually saw my machine run in that month away. Now I actually already had Panther installed so I tried to boot. This failed miserably falling into some sort of diagnostic text output, white on a black screen. So I tried loading the software they provided. This took many tries and several more trips back to the apple store. The os installer would hang, or blue screen (I didn't know a mac would do that) so I would trek back to apple so that they could see my recently fixed machine wasn't so fixed. The local guys were kind enough to stay after closing until I had the machine running. Trouble is, the machine still doesn't work right. I didn't notice this until I tried to print. Seems that the usb ports don't work with this new processor board. They don't work with my thumb drive either. So I run down to the apple store again where they notice that usb works ok if I boot in os 9. Their solution, reformat my disk drive and reload the operating system. Well, thank goodness I don't have anything important on this machine anymore. -- WardCunningham

FWIW I've seen no hardware problems in my past 4 years of using macs as my main machines. This includes a couple of tower G4s, an Imac, an Emac, 1 2nd generation 15" G4 powerbook and 2 of the latest 12" G4 powerbooks. I've used 'em on wired and wireless networks of many different configurations and they gave me no hassles sharing or printing neither. Now I never used an ibook mainly because they looked like cheap plastic junk to me. If Ward's experience is anything to go by I've been well served by AesthesticSnobbishness?. -- PeterMerel.

It has been a few months since I replaced the hard disk in my iBook. I found that it ran much more reliably booting off of an external firewire drive so I figured the lockup problem must be my disk. My disk denied this. You can ask a modern disk if it has had any problems. Mine said no. I replaced it anyway. Actually it was my good friend Wayne who did the work while I counted screws: 29, 30, 31 and so on. I do continue using my iBook. You might ask why? It's small, starts up quickly, runs a long time on battries and gets good range on the wireless. I also like having good support for portable formats. -- WardCunningham

Software is still provided for Windows first. MacOsx is still treated like the "other" platform. It's been about two years since MacOsx came out. VirtualPc? with Windows 2000 latest version requires at least a 500MHz processor. So, many people who jumped on board the MacOsx train about 2 years ago with a 400MHz processor would have to upgrade their hardware again to use Windows software with the latest VirtualPc?.

Who is using MacOsX?

Who would be, if only they could afford Apple hardware?


For MacOsx, how do I get the CommandKey (clover key?) to work on the Twiddler2 made by HandyKey? This question was asked months ago in HandyKey, but it never got a response. Hmm... Ok. It has been a year now since this was posted. Let's mark the current date. Feb-01-2003

Five minutes searching results in:

There are easier ways to do it than in the above link. Quick and dirty: turn on Sticky keys on your Mac. On MacOsx this can be found under "System Preferences --> Universal Access --> Keyboard". The command key (ie "clover key") on the Mac is the same code as the Win95 key on the PC. So now you can call any command key by simply hitting the Win95 ("F 00LL") key first. For example, to call Command-X, enter:

  F 00LL# command key
  0 ML00# X key
You can also hit Alt-command (and/or Ctrl-command) key sequences, by hitting both the Alt key, then the command key, then the key in question; for example to hit Command-Alt-Tab, enter:

  A  0000# Alt key
  F 00LL# Command key
  0 MM0M# Tab key
Unfortunately, this does not work for shift-command sequences, because the Twiddler2's shift key is not a conventional shift key; the computer cannot tell when it is pressed. To get shift-command sequences (or shift-control, etc.) to work, you must first code a conventional shift key combination into the twiddler2. To program the shift key to be "F 0LLL", enter:

  NS RRRR# Go to program-mode
  F 0LLL = shift# Program key sequence
  NS MMMM# Exit program mode
Now to hit Shift-command 3 (screen shot), you can enter:

  F 0LLL# Shift key
  F 00LL# Command key
  N 00R0# 3 key
There is, in fact, a way to make command-key combinations single chords, but that will be a lesson for another day. :-)

-- Possum <> (ThankYou!)

I tried my friend's MacOsx machine for a day. Nice, yes, but I prefer being able to have my preferred working environment in a few apt-get's.

OS X has a port of Debian's package system (AptGet) named "fink." Not to mention an Aqua shell for it (Fink Commander). Obtain from

Homebrew has taken the place of Fink and MacPorts? for many. See

iTerm2 is in a class of its own compared with the default terminal. See

I bought an iBook intending to do nothing more than review it: but I ended up liking it so much that it has become my main machine. -- TonyLawrence

Also a great operating system to use if you just have better things to do than trying to keep up fighting the continual onslaught of worms, viruses and trojan horses that Windows so readily encourages.

Well, I love to hate Windows, and I bought a G5 (now running Panther) for my wife to use for music a while back. One thing I have been continuously underwhelmed with, though, is that for a company so focued on the UI and the user experience, how many annoying things there are about the GUI and the help system.

First of all, no matter how well I think I know that an application is not its window, I keep ending up closing windows and leaving the applications running - especially if those applications were launched via other applications such as a Web browser. As a Mac user, whenever I use another system I always end up accidently quitting programs when I just mean to close the window. On non-Mac systems, I can't command-w to close a browser window and command-n to open a new one, as I might've quit the program.

>>> Think of it this way: On a Mac, every application is a persistent system service that gets lazily-loaded. Once you launch an app, it can stay resident, responding to events, doing background tasks, etc. This completely does away with the 'minimize to system tray instead of taskbar' options that Windows and Linux apps have to burden themselves with to get this behavior. There's even a Mac extension that hides apps after a period of inactivity so your screen isn't cluttered with windows. Closest thing to automatic window management I've ever experienced. I wish there was a Linux DE that behaved this way. >>>

Also, how is it such a great idea to always have the menu bar way at the top of the huge display, far from the other parts of the application's GUI, and have the menu displayed be dependent upon which application is active? To select a menu item for an application, I must first move the mouse to wherever the application is to click it and activate it, then go all the way to the top again to select the menu item.

On to the help system. Almost every application I use on the Mac uses the Mac's help system which provides no way to figure out the context of a help article found by a text search. Thus, when I have found the article about the feature of Nuendo I'm curious about, it tells me all about how to use the feature assuming I knew how to activate it. The information about what menu the help article's context refer to is in a previous article in a sequence I have no access to! So I then go to the paper manual which eventually coughs up what submenu actually gets me to the feature in question. I've finally learned not to bother with the help search in the first place, since it wastes the time I should be spending looking up the info in the manual.

-- SteveJorgensen

I had a thought about this. I wonder if it's possible to write a program to add a "Find Similar Pages" option to OS X Help that lists other pages in the help file that link to the current page in view, and allows navigating to a page in the list? That would make the OS X Help System about 5 times more useful than it is now.

WRT file sharing, I guess I have to disagree... besides, to do FTP it can usually be easier to do CMD-K ftp://machine-name from the finder, although I tend to use the CLI FTP anyway (old dog, new tricks thing).

See also: MacOs, MacOsxIsUnixBased


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