1.2. The Terminal and xterm Compared

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There are several differences between Mac OS X's Terminal application and the xterm and xterm-like applications common to Unix systems running X Windows:

  • You cannot customize the characteristics of the Terminal with command-line switches such as -fn, -fg, and -bg. Instead, you must use the Terminal Inspector.

  • Unlike xterm, in which each window corresponds to a separate process, a single master process controls the Terminal. However, each shell session is run as a separate child process of the Terminal.

  • The Terminal selection is not automatically put into the clipboard. Use -C to copy, and -V to paste. Even before you press -C, the current text selection is contained in a selection called the pasteboard . One similarity between Terminal and xterm is that selected text can be pasted in the same window with the middle button of a three-button mouse. If you want to paste selected text into another window, you must drag and drop it with the mouse or use copy and paste. The operations described in "The Services Menu section of this chapter also use the pasteboard.

  • The value of $TERM is xterm-color when running under Terminal (it's set to xterm under xterm by default).

  • Pressing -Page Up or -Page Down scrolls the Terminal window, rather than letting the running program handle it.

  • On compatible systems (generally, a system with at least an ATI Radeon or NVidia GeForce AGP graphics adapter ), the Terminal (and all of the Aqua user interface) uses Quartz Extreme acceleration to make everything faster and smoother.

If you need an xterm, you can have it; however, you must first install Apple's X11 package, which is bundled with Mac OS X Tiger as an optional installation. See Chapter 7 for more information about the X Window System.

There are also Aqua-native applications that offer an alternative to Apple's Terminal, such as the freeware iTerm . We'll have more to say about iTerm later in this chapter.

Enabling the root User

By default, the Mac OS X root user account is disabled, so you have to use sudo to perform administrative tasks. Even the most advanced Mac OS X users should be able to get by with sudo, and we suggest that you do not enable the root user account. However, if you must enable the root user account, start NetInfo Manager (/Applications/Utilities), click the lock to authenticate yourself, and select Security Enable Root User.


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    Mac OS X Tiger for Unix Geeks
    Mac OS X Tiger for Unix Geeks
    ISBN: 0596009127
    EAN: 2147483647
    Year: 2006
    Pages: 176

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