Mac OS X for Unix Geeks
Posted: 4-Feb-2003

Mac Guild Grade

Publisher: O'Reilly


Reviewer: Steve Nickerson $24.95

Mac OS X for Unix Geeks

By Brian JepsonErnest E. Rothman
September 2002 
ISBN 0-596-00356-0
216 pages, $24.95 US

What the Book is About
"This book serves as a bridge for Unix Developers and system administrators who've been lured to Mac OS X because of it Unix roots. When you first launch the terminal application, you'll find yourself at home in a Unix shell, but like Apple's credo Think Different - you'll soon find yourself doing things a little differently."

These statements from the book provide a good summary of the book, "Mac OS X for Unix Geeks". While one flavor of Unix is similar to all the other flavors, there are enough differences between them to make the transition a challenge -- and that is the focus of this book.

"Mac OS X For Unix Geeks" is a book for Unix developers and system administrators who have decided to make (or at least learn more about) the switch to the Mac OS X version of Unix. This book is broken into four main sections. The first section, "Getting Around", discusses the Mac OS X command line, startup and directory services. The second section, "Building Applications", describes how to compile source code on Mac OS X, discusses libraries, headers and frameworks, and completes with creating and installing packages. The third section, "Beyond the User Space", contains information about building the Darwin Kernel, system management tools and discusses how the X Window System can replaces the standard Max OS X user interface. The last section contains the appendixes, which cover the Mac OS X file system and provides man (manual) pages for command line utilities that are not included in the official documentation.
Target Audience
Overall, this book is a good introduction with enough detail for those developers that currently use Unix on a different platform. It is easy to read and provides significant information on how to make the transition between other Unix platforms and Mac OS X. Each chapter provides good comparisons between Mac OS X Unix and other platforms and provides hints on making the transition to Mac OS X in the different areas of software development and system administration. This book could be used to actually attempt a migration to Mac OS X Unix. If you have any experience with Unix at all, this book provides a good level of detail for transition to Mac OS X Unix. While this book describes Unix features many advanced Unix developers might consider basic, it is written at a good overall level of detail to appeal to a broad category of Unix user. For developers not familiar with Unix, a more introductory book on Unix (i.e. "Learning Unix for Mac OS X") might be the place to start.
What to Expect
While reading this book, it appears that the authors attempted to include as much detail as possible for making the transition in a very short, easy to use book (relative to other Unix developer reference guides). While not to the detail of similar desk reference guides for Unix on other platforms, it does contain many parameters, command line arguments, and utilities to allow the developer to jump right in and begin writing, compiling, linking and running programs on Mac OS X. This book allows you to "open the hood" of Mac OS X and really take a look at how Apple has implemented Unix on the beloved Mac.
Highlights of the Book
This book is written in an easy to understand language and can be read cover-to-cover in a session or two. I also found it useful as a reference guide for the more common things that you might want to accomplish on a Unix system. It provides a good description of the basic system administration tools that a Unix administrator might find useful, and will answer most questions relating to how to run the X Window System on top of Mac OS X.
Mac Guild Grade
B+ Great
Final Words
Overall, I found that the book would be useful by any experience level of Unix developer or system administrator. It is the in-between book too advanced for the new user to Unix, but not complex enough for the expert user. I did find the book useful and practical and would recommend it as the place to start. I look forward to new books that provide even more levels of detail.