Monday, July 11, 2005

I can't believe it's not Unix!

(Of course, that's because it is Unix. But I couldn't resist the title.)

I'm surprised how little I use the command line on the PowerBook. And I'm surprised for several reasons.
  • Foremost, I'm an enormous fan of the command line. I've always considered the graphical user interface to be the bumbling Chester the Terrier to the command line's Spike the Bulldog. (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, and you've got a bit of spare time and some patience, read Neal Stephenson's† ‘In the beginning was the command line’. Not because it explains my (possibly lame) Warner Brothers cartoon reference, but because I think it does explain at least why people like me think the command line is better.)
  • I would never have predicted that the Mac OS X GUI is as good as it is. That is, I haven't felt the need to resort to the command line. It's generally easier to use the GUI, and that's unusual, for me at least. I can only conclude that Windows is comparatively harder, since I'm often found longing for a decent command line under Windows XP. And you have to do something like install Cygwin to get one, and that's way more effort than it should be. (By which I don't mean that Cygwin isn't great, but that after two decades or more of development, you'd think Microsoft could ship a decent shell with the OS.)
  • I suppose, lastly, that I'm still not confident enough about how Mac OS X (in terms of its Unix base) is all laid out. Sure, everyone wants to claim it's based partly on FreeBSD, but let me tell you that the filesystem ain't no vanilla BSD filesystem. I just don't trust myself not to screw anything up yet. Which is possibly a good thing, since it means I've yet to find a reason to put in the effort to discover how it all works. It just works.
But it sure is Unix:
kermit:~ paulh$ uname -a
Darwin kermit.local 8.1.0 Darwin Kernel Version 8.1.0:
Tue May 10 18:16:08 PDT 2005; root:xnu-792.1.5.obj~4/RELEASE_PPC
Power Macintosh powerpc

† Sorry, Neil, I'd love to link to your home page, but Firefox tells me it's got a pop-up window. I checked it out, and it's quite cool, but pop-ups are lame—full stop.

1 comment:

  1. There's something funny about your blog software... I don't get notified of updates, and posts seem to appear out of order. I read the above two previously, but hadn't seen this one.

    Yes, I was an 80x25 text mode user for 20 years until using OS X's GUI. I still spend most of my time using Terminal, but I also use a lot of graphics now.

    That's one of the problems with trying to get people to look at the Mac. It looks the same, it's the same, it's all the usual stuff that is so crap on other OSs... but it works well enough that it becomes something else.

    So when people think "I've seen that before, and I know it's shite", they won't look closer at what is actually there and how it actually works.