Is Mac OS X Unix?

By Xah Lee. Date:

Someone wrote:

The meat of the article says that from about 300 email feedback from their fanning article on Mac OS X, a meagre 10% thinks Mac OS X is a improvement, and the rest don't.

If the internet-proclaimed journalists and online-proclaimed publishing houses have any import, then it follows that i am a member of the elite 10% in society. Whoopee!

For me, with my strong disgust of the clueless mac fanatics' drool of Aqua and all associated pretty-petty-fluff, and hatred for the Apple Public-Relations doused *Open Sourced* and *Unix-based* espoused by equally if not more clueless sea of unix-abiding dimwits, i do not see much good in Mac OS X, except that it should stop crashing every-other-day like its precedent.

First of all, there is the name. Mac OS X. What's with the eks? We learned from Apple's Marketing Department that X is really not X, but ten. When did Apple went backwater and started to use Roman Numerals? Upon further pondering, it became apparent that the X is there for the drama. Apart from being a outstanding letter in the shape of a cross, there's the tomfoolery aspect in the traditions of Unix, POSIX, Irix, HP-UX, AU/X, AIX, XENIX, Linux ending in a X to allude to being a “Unix-family” OS.

I was not going to “upgrade” to OS X till when i absolutely need to, if i didn't get too disgusted and hopped onto Windows 2000 or XP pro (which i'm not too willing for political reasons), but unfortunately a hard-disk failure in December made me pickup OS X along with a replacement hard drive, because my boot CD that came with my 1999 era G4 is a few years old. OS X comes with OS 9, so i thought i might as well upgrade now. It is a matter of time, like it or not.

I upgraded in early December 2001, and have used OS X for a month now. To my delight, i have far too many good things to report, contrary to some of these internet-proclaimed opinion-throwing a-dime-a-dozen journalists, despite the facts that i don't share Apple Fanatics's fanaticality and unix fanatics's moronicity, both of which are the marketing whir for OS X.

• I love the new GUI. Yeah, i have doubted it, i still adamantly hate many of the pretty-fluffs i've read such as the fantastically stupid traffic light system, the Genie effect, the movie-in-doc effect, the pretty-useless dizzying dock magnification, the exalted transparencies everywhere, and i don't give a fart about change-for-change's-sake the new Finder and dock-of-ways. I'm of the attitude that when it comes to user interface, functionality reigns supreme. There is no amount of prettiness that should make functionality a sacrifice. Apple's new UI, in my opinion, have trod upon this functionality-supreme creed of mine. However, now that i have used the machine for daily work over a month, i can only say that i find the new Finder and the Mac OS X ways more functional than the classical OS 9, that i was able to do things more quickly. I guess one thing that helped this perception is that now Mac OS DOESN'T CRASH ANYMORE! My golly, now i don't have to worry about the order i launch/quit apps, the memory fragmentation problem, the setting of memory for each app, the fear of system-freeze when opening a tad too many windows in IE or bumping into some java site, unplugging my portable firewire drive as soon as i'm done so it won't corrupt if my system suddenly freezes, slowing down myself in fear of giving the OS a fit. My golly, now i have the stability of Windows (NT) on the Mac! Better now then never. As for all the little pretty-useless UI things, they just made OS X hatefully beautiful, bugged me in principle but turned out not in practice.

• Mac OS X for me in general is faster. When OS X 10.1 came out in October or so, i shudder at the fact that Apple dropped support of machines that's just frigging 1+ years old by dropping DVD player ability in PCI-based G4s sold in 2000. But Apple released a new version of DVD player in December that fixed that, and i'm just in time to catch it. When i bought my Yikes G4 in 1999-12, i fancy the prospect that i could have a small window that plays DVD while i go about in my work. Alas t's wasn't so. The motion picture would freeze and skid. By my delightful surprise, Mac OS X came to the rescue. Now, i can actually have a little window playing motion picture in DVD, while i go about doing work on my machine if i wanted. The picture won't skip. I suppose this capability is in your behated Microsoft Windows for long, but finally it came to the rest of us. (one thing that i extremely value but still lacking on the Mac, is DVD screen capture.)

There are many other detail i find OS X much better than 9, but I guess the above two are main points contrary to those who grieves about OS X. I hate unix and Perl, but given that i'm a unix admin and a god-damn-good Perl programer for years, i secretly find it nice to be able to exercise my expertise to my advantage under OS X. All those gobbledygook ls cd vi sed awk perl mysql sh csh tcsh ksh make | || && < and excrement and friends are now under the control of my fingers of my home OS. All the utterly-stupid but never-the-less-already-there unix programs are now available for Mac if i wanted it. Even though i disapprove, at least i should be thankful that Mac OS X, in certain aspect, can be thought of and used like a unix.

I sense that Apple or mac community is dropping the X and calling it plainly 10.n. I'm glad for that too. I think, for all sensible purposes, it is not wrong to consider Mac OS X a unix, therefore i prefer for the X to stick by the literary-foolish tradition of ending in X. (after all, we should not despise tradition just for the sake of Think Different.) But on the other hand, i utterly find it alarming if Apple started to give the air that the future of Mac is the unix ways, therefore i find the dropping of X by Apple a big relief.

Of course, there are still bugs and problems. Many of which in Finder annoys me. I also find the disabilities of QuicKey in OS X a disappointment. On the whole, my experience is that OS 10.1 beats OS 9 by far.

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