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Chapter 9. Accessing the BSD Subsystem
IN THIS CHAPTER
In this chapter, we reach the topic of the underlying BSD Unix subsystem, something that some Mac enthusiasts eagerly awaited for years, while others dreaded since they heard about the underpinnings of Mac OS X. As OS 9 fades into history, a good number of you have been living happily with BSD for four years now, whether you've known that it's there or not. If you're a little uncomfortable with the idea of conversing directly with the underpinnings of the operating system, this is an important point to remember: It's there if you need it, but Apple's done such a good job of putting an elegant GUI on top of it, that you don't have to know about it if you don't want to. The material in the following chapters is for users who want to know more about how to completely customize their machines, enable features that aren't available through the graphical user interface, or get under the hood and just plain tinker. We've enough experience with helping formerly-GUI-only users learn to use the command line that we're confident that almost anyone can enhance their computing experience by learning a bit about the BSD subsystem and how to work directly with it.
Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) is one of the two major philosophical variants of Unix. Apple has named its version Darwin, so you'll see this term used frequently to refer to both the open source effort Apple has underway to further develop the base of Mac OS X, and the underlying system as accessed at the command line.
If you're a longtime Unix user, you'll probably find much of the rest of this book familiar, and you should consider it a reference to those places where the Apple implementation differs from what you're already familiar with. If, on the other hand, you're new to Unix, you'll soon have to decide whether you're satisfied with Mac OS X as simply a more stable, more powerful flavor of the Mac OS you've grown to know and love, or whether you want to learn even more. In this chapter, we cover the primary concepts that you need to understand to use the BSD subsystem and introduce some of the most important command-line programs.
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