Book Review: Mac OS X for Unix Geeks

last updated in Categories Book Review, OS X, UNIX

Mac OS X is the successor to the original Mac OS, which had been Apple’s primary operating system since 1984. Unlike its predecessors, Mac OS X is a Unix-based operating system built on technology that had been developed at NeXT through the second half of the 1980s until Apple purchased the company in early 1996.

If you’re a developer or system administrator lured to Mac OS X because of its Unix roots, you’ll quickly discover that performing Unix tasks on a Mac is different than what you’re accustomed to. Mac OS X for Unix Geeks serves as a bridge between Apple’s Darwin OS and the more traditional Unix systems. This clear, concise guide gives you a tour of Mac OS X’s Unix shell in both Leopard and Tiger, and helps you find the facilities that replace or correspond to standard Unix utilities.

In this fourth edition, the authors have not only updated it for Mac OS X 10.5, but have tweaked the book to make it even greater than before. Co-author and O’Reilly editor Brian Jepson says, “Rich Rosen joined us as a co-author on this edition, and really fleshed out some of the later chapters of the book. For example, he added a section on Ruby to Chapter 17, ‘Other Programming Languages,’ and really worked over Chapter 15, ‘Using Mac OS X as a Server.’ Because of this, Ernie and I got to focus on some other areas of the book and we all feel that this edition is what this book’s always wanted to be. I think the same could be said of Mac OS X Leopard – it’s really grown into its skin, I mean, fur!”

You’ll learn how to perform common Unix tasks in Mac OS X, such as using Directory Services instead of the standard Unix /etc/passwd and /etc/group, and you’ll be able to compile code, link to libraries, and port Unix software using either Leopard and Tiger.

This book teaches you to:

  • Navigate the Terminal and understand how it differs from an xterm
  • Use Open Directory (LDAP) and NetInfo as well as Directory Services
  • Compile your code with GCC 3
  • Port Unix programs to Mac OS X with Fink
  • Use MacPorts to install free/open source software
  • Search through metadata with Spotlight’s command-line utilities
  • Build the Darwin kernel

Mac OS X for Unix Geeks is the ideal survival guide to tame the Unix side of Leopard and Tiger. If you’re a Unix geek with an interest in Mac OS X, you’ll soon find that this book is invaluable.


  • Title: Mac OS X for Unix Geeks, Fourth Edition (available on with Free Two-Day Shipping from Amazon Prime)
  • Authors: Ernest E. Rothman , Brian Jepson , Rich Rosen
  • ISBN: 9780596520625, 426 pages, Book Price: $34.99 USD, £21.99 GBP
  • PDF Price: $27.99 USD
  • Order Info: / 1-800-998-9938 / 1-707-827-7000

Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin, DevOps engineer, and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. Get the latest tutorials on SysAdmin, Linux/Unix and open source topics via RSS/XML feed or weekly email newsletter.