Published: October 3rd, 2002

Net Insider

I’m an unabashed Unix geek. I recently installed about the best version of Unix I’ve ever worked with on all the computers I regularly use. At the same time, I installed the best window-based operating system I’ve ever used on the same machines. Obviously the only way I could have done both at the same time was to install the new Mac OSX 10.2 on my home and office computers, and that is what I did.

I’ve used Unix since AT&T Corp. (you remember AT&T, it was once the big telephone company that also had the best basic research lab in the world) started licensing it in the early ’80s. Because I worked in a university and needed good support for TCP/IP networking, I mostly used the Unix distributions from the University of California at Berkeley, also known as Berkeley Standard Distribution (BSD). I never got into the almost-Unixes from Sun Microsystems Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co.

I’ve also been a Macintosh person since late 1983 but did not do a major switch to a Mac as my basic computing platform until I found MachTen by Tenon Intersystems Inc., which is a version of BSD Unix that runs as a Mac application. That let me run a single platform and still get my Unix fix. Then a year or so ago, Apple Computer Inc. started shipping the first version of OSX, a full-fledged Unix system with a Mac-like shell over it. It was not quite as good at being Unix as MachTen was – and the Tenon user support was better than Apple’s – but the advantages of a unified system got me to switch.

Now Apple has released an upgrade to OSX and it’s a great Unix and a great Mac. OSX was always solid – only one of my five Macs running OSX ever crashed and only twice at that – but OSX was a bit slow and had some funny quirks. OSX 10.2 has fixed all of that and is now fast, clean and a Unix geek’s dream.

And for you other Unix geeks, note that Version 10.2 boasts the following: every BSD and gnu command I ever use other than the gnu wdiff file comparison utility; 549 commands in /usr/bin, 35 in /bin, 60 in /sbin, 169 in /usr/sbin; a full development environment; open source; IPv6; Apache Web server; name server; sshd; sendmail; and procmail. And for you window-based personal computer (note I did not say “PC”) folks, Version 10.2 features thousands of applications, including up-to-date Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer. Good stuff.

The ads say that OSX 10.2 can be a good network citizen in a Windows shop, and I’ll have to try some of that out when I figure out why I need to interact with a Windows network.

So I’m in hog heaven, even if I’m almost alone in Harvard’s central administration in using a Mac – and even though OSX 10.2 did away with the smiling Mac on startup, much to the annoyance of Mac purists.

Disclaimer: My use of Macs is a perfect example of how Harvard’s and my opinions are not necessarily the same, but the university tolerates me (most of the time).

Bradner is a consultant with Harvard University’s University Information Systems. He can be reached at sob@”sobco.com.

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