Thoughts on OS-X/UNIX/and MacOS



Actually I am glad that people are discussing this, but it raises a HUGE issue with me.... First of all, I'm a UNIX systems integrator, but I love the Macintosh interface....

It troubles me *tremendously* that Macintosh users are going to have to contend with the UNIX shells, etc just to get something done.. This is simply not what the Macintosh should be about....

I think that Pandoras Box has been opened here and loyal Macintosh users are going to be fed up with this very quickly....

I've not seen one post yet siting the ease-of-use of OS-X, which is indeed what the mac is suppose to be about.. Instead there are posts of stuff like:

"login as root"
"cd to /"
"chown on this"

As much as I love UNIX, I never wanted to see it on a Macintosh and this really *really* is a shame for all Macintosh users..

I always thought the day would come where instructions for installing programs in OS-X would be:

"start a terminal session"
"su to root"
"mount the cd-rom"
"gunzip the archive file"
"run ./"
"edit inetd.conf and add _______"

I just didn't think it would be here so soon... This is a sad day for the Macintosh - again.. As much as I like UNIX this is just not what the Macintosh is about...

I sincerely hope that average users will be able to use the Macintosh just as they have since the day it was created.... All this stuff is great for techies and it's great that people who want to learn it can - but it should be *strictly* optional.... The last thing the Macintosh needs is UNIX software installation procedures.... Or the UNIX filesystem layout, but I guess I'm too late on that one...

OS-X would have been just perfect if Apple had simply wrapped MacOS around a UNIX kernel.. I fear they have brought too much UNIX to MacOS and that loyal users are either not going to upgrade or get incredibly frustrated....

As UNIX developers we OWE it to the existing Macintosh users to not simply re-compile UNIX code to run under Mac OS-X, but to port it - so it works the way Macintosh users expect it to with the types of administrative interface they expect to see , and with an installation process that doesn't involve command-line interfaces.... MySQL ported to Mac OS-X is just MySQL... But MySQL ported to the Macintosh outta be MySQL with a comprehensive installer, GUI interface, and all the sophistication Macintosh users expect..... (of course, keep the CLI for those of us who love it.. ;> )...

Sure, it's extra work - but it's the only way to preserve the Macintosh now that Pandora's Box has been opened (in my my not-so-humble opinion..)...


Greg Saylor
Senior Systems Integrator
Integrated Suport Services

[Edited by devnul on 10-04-2000 at 02:08 PM]
I agree, it should not be there for most users. Maybe the final release of OS X will not even come with the Terminal program. This would ensure that the new users, even the mac veterans would not need to use any UNIX ever ... if they don't want to.

however, I use command line daily - even prefer it sometimes, to the gui. I think it is great that it is there for those us who know how to use it, and WANT to use it.

Example: maybe php will be a push-button install that can be done from the gui one day (I think it is pretty much there with Xtools from tenon). Until then, here is something I would have never dreamed of trying to install on my old mac OS, and it is now running on my powerbook with X beta - this is great! I installed it from the command line, and learned something in the process.

I think for the mac user with no unix experience, the final version of OS X will be what it is intended to be: a more stable, modern operating system. For the UNIX/Mac users, it will be a dream come true: the macintosh interface on top of our beloved unix - we now have the option to use gui or not, to use our machine for games, word processing and graphics work, or as a full featured web-server.

just some thoughts...
That's what it should be and I totally agree with you - nothing interests me more then being able to get at the command line of OS-X... I love UNIX and I always will....

I just hope that Apple is getting the point that we both see so clearly.... OS-X needs to be another MacOS upgrade to Macintosh users.....

That being said, for the UNIX developers out there - we have an outstanding opportunity here and a great responsibility to the Macintosh users to produce the high quality software they are used to seeing....

I just fear that in order for all this great stuff to work - the users are going to HAVE to resort to the CLI.... .. Mainly because it's easier to recompile then it is to port.....

UNIX developers should step up to the plate - not force Macintosh users to change the way they've been using their computers for the past 16 years...

(just more thoughts and ramblings)

- Greg
also - regarding posts on these discussion boards: most, if not all of these users are Mac OSX/UNIX finatics; the beta testers, hackers, early adopters etc... I think that has a lot to do with the amount of posts sending people to the command line.

If my mom was using OS X and she emailed a question, I would carefully explain a GUI route to fix the problem (even though she was a mainframe programmer at one point, i dont think she has ever logged into a unix box!). On these boards, I tend to assume the person is a hacker to some degree; at least not scared of the command line.
I would like to point out that a regular mac user does not need to launch terminal at all. This is still a mac in that it runs regular mac apps the way it always did. I love using the command line, so I do so. My wife uses Photoshop and never even knows it's there. The average user need not be troubled with all this stuff because s/he has no reason to start mucking around with it if they don't want to.

As far as Mac apps are concerned, the documentation that comes with the developer tools (and is available on apple's website) talks about the new way to write applications under OSX that greatly *simplifies* everything. The key word here is "bundle", an application that contains within it everything it needs to run on a machine.

Apple has done an amazing job, in my opinion, in providing for two seperate and diverse camps. You have, on one hand, the Unix folks who can do extremely useful and productive work and never even *see* Aqua, and just the opposite, people who need to do work that requires some kind of gui (photoshop, maya, whatever), and the command line is totally outside their radar.

Your statement is right on - but it *IS* also the problem.. MacOS users have never had to have things carefully explained to them.... There's a really serious problem here and I'm deeply concerned for those users who have invested so heavily in Apple's products..... Personally, I like almost everything about OS-X (of course I've been using OS-X server)... But, this is going to get brutally ugly I think.... I hope Apple has a solid plan for this, otherwise Mac OS-X is just going to be another UNIX with a pretty window manager..... And the bottom line is, OS-X would definately *NOT* be my first choice as a UNIX OS.... That being said, I can certainly understand writing to tarket the "hackers" which frequent this message board - it's not really that which concerns me so greatly.......

Things in MacOS should not need to be "explained carefully"..... It should be intuitive, clear, and work...

As a rediculously simple example of how out-of-control this is... Apple bundles Apache with OS-X.. Now if a user wants to turn it on or off they have to edit text files... Before they would have gone to a control panel and clicked "disable web server" or something similar... In Windows/NT one just goes to the service manager and "disables" the web server... What about upgrading Apache?... What about adding modules to Apache?.... What about setting up virtual domains, proxies, and secure services?....

The Mac has *somehow* become even more complicated to use then Windows....

So lets take these problems one at a time, the first problem of the day being:

Where's the GUI interface to administering Apache?...

(and no, I don't mean the crappy web-based administrative tools floating all over the place - where is the native MacOS tool for administering apache?...)...

I don't think any application belongs on OS-X that has not had the care taken to ensure it works the way MacOS users expect it to.....

I hope to that these types of tools are there when MacOS ships or this product is going to die a miserable death... The problems are much greater then what has been suggested repeatedly on this message board: "should we hide the terminal program or not?"... We are all thinking like UNIX-heads, not MacOS users - and that is going to be a terrible mistake for everyone...

I do not see how I can reasonably suggest to current MacOS users that an upgrade to OS-X will benefit them... They'll be completely miserable in this new environment.... Maybe when these concerns are actually addressed things will be different.... Until then, I guess it's WebStar with Mac OS-9 (for example)...

I make a strong recommendation that any MacOS user reading this evaluate OS-X very carefully before shedding any money for it....

Don't let us UNIX developers get your mindshare so easily - take us to task and make us work.... Don't buy this product until it meets your high standards... Don't "suffer through" with it....

I think using the term "roadkill" may be an understatement...

- Greg

I used to think that Apple did a fantastic job until I started poking around on the message boards, newsgroups, and managed to get 5 minutes to play with OS-X beta.... Please someone win me back, I realy hurts me to have to say things, such critical things, about something I liked so much less then a year ago.....

On the contrary to your point - there are all sorts of new features of MacOS that are not configurable the way Mac applications outta to be... Apache is only one of them - a crucial piece of this new "internet technology" that everyone keeps talking about - yet it's the same old Apache and you have to use the same-old-unix tools to administer it.... This is decidely un-Mac-like and an insult to the millions of existing Macintosh users.......

There's problems here, big problems.... Unfortunately, I am speaking only from the few minutes that I played with OS-X beta, so I am not sure what all the applications are that you have to get to CLI in order to do anything with them - perhaps you can let us know what they are?...

In other words, what UNIX services does Mac OS-X run that require CLI to configure?...


Why are there no GUI utilities?.. If they are so hard to configure - perhaps UNIX utilities shouldn't have been patched-to-compile.. Perhaps OS-X apps should have been WRITTEN....

.. from what I saw in the 5 minutes I played with it there were quite a few, though I am hoping you can clarify this for me if I am mistaken.... Or elaborate on my observation if I am correct...



Yes! It's hard work! So what?!

[Edited by devnul on 10-04-2000 at 07:37 PM]
Actually I think some people are just not looking for ways to do things in the gui. For example ppl are telling others to use Terminal and chmod when there's a perfectly good way to do this in the GUI. Apache has some config in the GUI, at least you can turn it on and off and change the root dir. Theis is enough for most home web servers.

Other things are more hidden, like when you _do_ want to edit something in /etc/ (hostconfig most often I assume), you can do it with TextEdit (type /etc/ in the Go To field). You don't even have to login as root.

I personally have told ppl to use Terminal when it isn't really necessary, but I'm learning new ways as I play along... :) Hopefully Apple won't include it in a standard install in Final. Put it in cd extras or something. That way most ppl wouldn't have it and wouldn't use it.
Originally posted by sverre
Actually I think some people are just not looking for ways to do things in the gui. For example ppl are telling others to use Terminal and chmod when there's a perfectly good way to do this in the GUI. Apache has some config in the GUI, at least you can turn it on and off and change the root dir. Theis is enough for most home web servers.

Other things are more hidden, like when you _do_ want to edit something in /etc/ (hostconfig most often I assume), you can do it with TextEdit (type /etc/ in the Go To field). You don't even have to login as root.

I personally have told ppl to use Terminal when it isn't really necessary, but I'm learning new ways as I play along... :) Hopefully Apple won't include it in a standard install in Final. Put it in cd extras or something. That way most ppl wouldn't have it and wouldn't use it.

I sincerely hope that you are correct.... :> I look forward to seeing the final release... And if it is as good as it should be, I will be thrilled...

- Greg

P.S. I feel like I need to say again that I want to use the CLI, I am more comfortable there... THe problem is, of course, Mac people are not.. Nor should they HAVE to be...

yes, i agree that apache could use a nice gui. actually, a *lot* of the underpinnings could use a nice gui, but the fact of the matter is, nobody's had a chance to! it's perfectly conceivable that someone knowledgeable in apache configuration could write an app in cocoa or carbon if s/he wanted to and make that available.

My point was that there are two distinct camps, the Mac camp who understand that if a particular config option isn't available in a control panel or dialog box, that option just ain't there. That makes sense, there is no other way to configure it otherwise. Unix, however, was built on the idea of the command line and the text file, with zero gui. In an environment like Unix, where you cannot take for granted that the person configuring your software has anything other than a telnet session to begin with, configuring through text files and likewise utilities is the only way to do it.

Apple, I think, is doing a good job straddling the two fences, but the fact of the matter remains that their attitude has to be, well, if you want a gui to configure Apache, you are free to write it. The bulk of people who configure Apache, in my experience, are very well versed at doing it sans gui completely. I'm not saying one is better than the other, and I know no would would object to having a gui to use, but the fact remains that there are some parts of the operating system that simply require some knowhow, in this case, Unix knowhow.

OSX opens up a world of possibilities for the Mac that simply do not exist in previous versions; my machine is currently running mySQL and Apache ... two things that you wouldn't dream of running on MacOS 9 or earlier. The fact that these tools are now available should, and I suspect, will inspire someone (like me :) ) to 'put a gui where there ain't been a gui before'.


Once again I find myself in agreement with your overall analysis, but I disagree on one and only one point.... These "features" should be available to Mac users - they are, after all, the ones who have spent all that money up until now on the Macintosh platform...

These "gui tools" in my opinion are not optional for a Mac system.....

I agree that developers need to spend a SIGNIFICANT amount of work to bring these tools to the Mac - or else Mac users are not going to be upgrading..... One hand feeds the other here....

I hope that this nuance does not get lost - because I think it's crucial to the acceptance of OS-X by the folks who love it for it is right now...

Respectfully (as always),

- Greg
I am going on a tangent here but ...

A control panel could probably be easily written in REALbasic that spits out the apache config file... You know, tabs at the top, radio buttons to turn things on or off, bla bla bla...

I guess my thought is that if the demand is there, someone will step up and create the missing gui elements.
This comment from sverre is sadly true :
Actually I think some people are just not looking for ways to do things in the gui. For example ppl are telling others to use Terminal and chmod when there's a perfectly good way to do this in the GUI.
As a proof, here is a quote from the <A HREF="">following thread</A> read on MacFixIt, by E. Shawn :
This goes hand in hand with my personal philosophy with linux -- 'never trust a gui to configure your system' -- they just don't work
I, for one, hope that this way of thinking will never prevail on the Mac. Of course, a good GUI is always hard to find (design) because it requires more thought and more understanding of the lay person's psychology on the programmer's part. This "tidbit" explains why so many applications come with horrid user interface at first. And remember : the Mac interface was not built in a day. (If you are interested, you can read my answer to Mr Shawn four posts bellow his, in that same thread.)

yes, i agree that apache could use a nice gui. actually, a *lot* of the underpinnings could use a nice gui, but the fact of the matter is, nobody's had a chance to! it's perfectly conceivable that someone knowledgeable in apache configuration could write an app in cocoa or carbon if s/he wanted to and make that available.
Nobody should have to hack an interface for services already in the OS. Nobody ever had to do that in classic Mac OS and I firmly believe it would be a betrayal to the spirit of the Mac to force anyone to access any feature using the CLI (except willfuly by the so-called power users). As John Siracusa wrote, in <A HREF="">Ars Technica</A> :
It's my position that the goal of the OS X interface should be to equal or surpass that of Mac OS 9. (...) I want to like Mac OS X. I want to use it as my primary operating system when it is released. I'm tired of applications bringing down the entire system in Mac OS 9. But technical merit is just one part of what makes an operating system, and it has historically been a very small part of what defines the Macintosh experience. The Macintosh is defined by its interface, and any redefinition of that must be at least as good as what it's replacing. Mac OS X Public Beta does not reach that goal.
Pushing a little bit further this comment, I would say that Apple has the responsibility of providing a visual interface to these potentially useful features. Finally, as written in the <A HREF="">MDJ</A> :
Remember this rule: any time a Mac OS X procedure {requires} you to manipulate files from the command line instead of the Finder, no matter why, it is a complete and total failure of the OS.
It says it all.

Nobody has succeeded in besting the Mac as far as the interface's ease of use goes. Maybe even Apple will not succeed.

Quod erat demonstrandum ?

[Edited by Pascal on 10-05-2000 at 07:09 PM]
I know it all, heard it all. I'm one of the guilty aswell. I wrote an installscript (sh), to install samba binaries.

I know it's not the way to go, but i am no developer, and i have no idea how to make a GUI installer and even more so a graphic interface to samba.

All i know is that i need OSX to serve a share to my co-workers and currently this is the only way to do it.

I also like to remind you of the port of PPPoE. This first consisted only out of some binaries. Next came a shell installscript, then startup scripts and now people are developing a GUI for the port. UNIX and Mac developers collaberating to make an excellant program

I would love to learn to develop for the mac and i know it can be as userfriendly as our good old OS.
But it will take at least until the final and prob. until OSX 2.0 until we will see that happen.
That is not a bad thing. We will get there.

How quickly everyone forgets that this is a Beta. Not complete.

All the install scripts and command-line hacks are for the folks who simply can't wait for the supported GUI to get their fix, then complain that OS X is a failure because you have to resort to the command-line! The examples are:

- AirPort

Remember, Apple never said these were supported, so no GUI.

For those who doubt, I can configure TCP/IP, set my preferences, setup PPP, unpack and install applications, copy files, etc. thru the GUI.

What do you think is missing that *won't* be available when the true release comes out?

I can't believe how folks want to play with the guts of OS X, then in the same breath whine that there's no GUI support.

Let's face it, the only ones using OS X right now are the Mac weenies (like myself) that want to play, play, play. When it gets released en masse most folks will never fire up, or start it by accident.

My recommendation? Apple should *not* include with OS X. However, it should be available as a free download with lots of warnings and caveats about its usage, you need to be an expert, etc. etc. This forces you to have to actively go out and find it and download it.

Or, everytime you start, you have to correctly answer a series of multiple-choice UNIX questions to prove your worthiness to approach the command-line temple ;-)
I agree that the reason Airport was not included in the Beta was that they did not have the GUI done. I can't think of one thing that Apple claims that you can do with the Beta that requires a CLI. That does not mean that you need to make it difficult to access the Terminal App.

It is hard to hurt the system with it, unless you are logged in as root. The file permissions protect most of the system files, more so then OS 9 did. Anyone could go in, using the GUI Finder of OS 9 and delete files from the system folder. With OS X, there is more security.

When I go to work, I log in as >console and run the text-only version of setiathome and get great results. It really shows the power of the PPC.

Most users will be apprehensive around the shell prompt, but that does not mean you need to make them prove their worthyness.
Pascal and TheDj,

I couldn't agree more with your posts.... The question is, how can these issues be addressed in a constructive way?... It does not seem to me that these are a priority right now..... I wonder when/if they will be?...

Pascal, your points are *right on the money*, you articulated this better then I ever could.... Your post should be framed and hung next to every developer porting applications to OS-X...

As for the last two replies - I don't think anyone is complaining.... Just stressing the importance of this from both a ISV and the manufacturer of the software.... Why bother produce something that Mac users aren't going to use?........ And make no mistake - Mac users want to take advantage of the features of UNIX, such as Apache, PHP, MySQL, etc... But asking them to resort to a CLI interface to do it is not going to happen - Microsoft WIndows would be easier to use.. THis is backwards - not forwards.... I wouldn't so lightly dismiss what Mac users will want to do with OS-X... THey've been waiting for this a long time and now that it's hear it doesn't seem to be what it should be..... What good is an OS if all you are going to use it for is copy files around and stuff like that...... That's not what Mac users use their computers for - and they aren't going to start now.. Yet, as I read more and more posts of developers gleefully porting all this UNIX code to OS-X just to see it work - well, I can't help to think that's the wrong way to go....

Almost all the "UNIX" compiled stuff I've seen is freely available and there seem to be some really smart developers..... Why not expend your efforts creating something that a typical Mac user will actually like.... ;>

Imagine Samba wrapped into an "AppleShare-style" administrative application.. That's what they expect - and anything less ain't gonna cut it with this group......


And make no mistake - Mac users want to take advantage of the features of UNIX, such as Apache, PHP, MySQL, etc...
... and I would probably be one of them ! ;)

As devnul wrote, I am truly looking forward to Mac OS X for all the problems it will solve. Classic Mac OS has some genetic flaws that have become, over the years, true headaches for everyone who uses the Mac - the most frequently cited being the OS's intolerance to programming errors resulting in system wide crashes.

This being said, I wish to reassure fmalloy : I truly understand that this is a beta, albeit public, and I know that the programming resources are still not completely available (installers à la InstallerVise and GUI resources for instance). Combined with the fact that the programmers also have to accustom themselves with the new OS paradigm, it is completely understandable that the applications now available for OS X require the use of the terminal app. I, too, remember that the Mac interface was not built in a day. This is to say that I do not blame The DJ or anybody else that has made / will make public any given hack ! Indeed, hacking the Mac has probably never been so easy. So from a power user point of view, it probably never was so easy to personalise the Mac environment (but not in the same way as we were all used to with Classic Mac OS, this is a paradigm shift after all). Indeed, this is - ironically - a truly positive aspect of OS X : it is now possible to quickly port apps from any other platforms to OS X, provided they are Unix source codes, while the Classic Mac OS's reliance on a GUI rendered any porting of applications a difficult task.

What I understood from devnul's post is this : while this way of providing apps can be understandable in the present state of affairs, this should not be the way for installing and using apps every day in the long run. The terminal app should remain (it is not an aberration in the system), but it should also remain an instrument for the true power user. (As an aside, installing an app, using it or setting preferences are not and should never be power user things.)

Unix hackers and traditionnal Mac users are all welcome aboard the same train ! The thing is, we now have to get to know each other ! ;)

[Corrected "in Unix binaries" -> "Unix source codes"]

[Edited by Pascal on 10-07-2000 at 02:18 PM]
"Things in MacOS should not need to be "explained carefully"..... It should be intuitive, clear, and work... "

(This is a quote from early in the thread, in response to someone saying that if they were explaining to their mom how to do something, he'd explain carefully how to do it via the GUI.)

I'm a bit unusual in that I've been a Windows user for a long time. I bought my first Mac last spring, in anticipation of OS X.

I think (and this is just my opinion) that Mac users feel nothing should need to be explained carefully because they've been using MacOS for so long. I found OS 9 very confusing when I first switched, and I'm still learning things about it.

Now, it has been my understanding the OS X is an acknowledged paradigm shift for Apple. When OS X comes out, OS 9 isn't going to disappear, right? Apple plans to take OS 9 to OS 9.5? (I read that somewhere but couldn't refer you to it off-hand.)

And I understood their reasoning for this overlap was to give OS X time to mature and become a polished and friendly OS. Or more specifically, to give Aqua time to mature and become a polished and friendly GUI.

A lot of the command line talk that I've read has to do with things that "our moms" wouldn't ever bother with. You can start up a Mac with OS X, get onto the internet, install Photoshop or whatever commercial apps you have, send off some emails to the kids asking them when you're going to be a grandparent, watch The Matrix on you DVD-Rom, all without ever seeing the command line.

Does my mom need to set-up virtual domains in Apache? If she needed to set-up some kind of NAT box, would she do it herself, or would she yell for a geek helper? She'd do the latter... not because of the command line -- she wouldn't get that far. But because of the -concepts- being dealt with. She'd never get as far as worrying about the command line.

Right now, we've got a beta product that doesn't even install on a significant number of machines. Clearly it isn't finished. But when it does run, suddenly there's this whole 'net full of geek toys to snag and see if we can get them to run. So of -course- everyone's trying to get every bit of open source code they can get their hands of to run! It's natural curiosity.

You don't read posts on "How do I turn on File Sharing?" because you open the GUI and click on 'Turn on File Sharing.' There's nothing to discuss there.

I'm running OS X on my iBook right now. I installed it last weekend and haven't gone to 9 since, unless you count running Classic apps. I haven't fired up the terminal yet, insofar as I can recall.

I'm confident that by the time OS X is released to the public, the command line will be an obscure tool that geeks play with now and then. I know this is blasphemy, but look at Windows. It has a command line, and there are a lot of long time Windows users who don't even realize its there, or at least, never have cause to use it.

If MICROSOFT can give us a GUI that doesn't force us to use the command line, don't you think APPLE can, too?! :)

Thanks for listening!

PS Before the PB came out there was a lot of speculation about whether it'd even contain the Was that just idle speculation, or did Apple seriously consider not including it?

My guess is that when the final comes, the terminal will be there, but stuck someplace obscure where an average user wouldn't stumble upon it. Like (sorry to do another Windows comparison on you) RegEdit in Win98.