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ATPM 12.02
February 2006





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Book Review

by Tom Bridge,

Mac OS X Tiger in a Nutshell


Authors: Andy Lester, Chris Stone, Chuck Toporek, and Jason McIntosh

Publisher: O’Reilly

Price: $40

Trial: None

If you’ve been thinking recently that you might want to do some major improvements and personal development in the Unix command-line portion of Mac OS X, but you just didn’t know where to start, this might be a good reference volume to keep handy. Mac OS X Tiger in a Nutshell features the entire directory of Unix commands available to your Mac running OS X 10.4, as well as shell primers, a good guide to the defaults system in OS X, and several other major power user tools.


Mac users by default miss a lot of the detail beneath the hood of the operating system, and this book seeks to give more confidence to users who want to poke around with the Unix underpinnings. Let’s face it: Venturing into Unixland without a good understanding of what’s happening is a fairly scary prospect for Mac users. The command line was what we wanted to avoid initially, and now we’re faced with the prospect of using it? Have no fear.

The book is divided into several sections, the bulk of which is a full command-line reference for OS X. If you want an alternative to bulky man pages, this is a great volume to keep handy for reference when mucking about on the command line. In addition to the commands reference, there’s a full bash reference for use with the shell, as well as guides for vi and emacs, and a tutorial on the X Window system.

If you’re trying to be a bit more geeky with your Mac use, this is a great volume to keep around when you have questions. It’s intended as a desktop reference book for use in getting more experience and familiarity with the back-end system behind the pretty front end we’re used to. If you’re looking for a book more focused on the front end, the Missing Manuals series may be more to your liking. The book is, in my mind, not complete without a guide for tcsh which many users who have upgraded over the past years may still have as their shell, however complete the bash guide is.

I look forward to hearing about more Mac users who are both unafraid of the command line, and willing, in fact, to work from the command line on a week-to-week, if not every day basis. This book is for you; be sure to keep a copy handy when venturing into Unixland.

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