MacMost Now 12: Leopard Phrasebook Review

Gary Rosenzweig takes a look at the Mac OS X Leopard Phrasebook by Biran Tiemann. The book features the Terminal application and shows you the basics of using Linux directly on your Mac.

Comments: 3 Responses to “MacMost Now 12: Leopard Phrasebook Review”

    16 years ago

    As long as you're doing book reviews, I like to see your review of "iPhone Fully Loaded" by Andy Ihnatko. I've heard him give great tips on podcasts for iPhone so I like to know more about his book.

    16 years ago

    Interesting review, Gray Rosenkrantz. And fascinating how many ways Biran's name got mangled. Awesome!

    16 years ago

    An important note: the underlying UNIX of the Mac is almost entirely FreeBSD, not Linux. It's an important distinction for a variety of reasons: a different code base, a completely different usage license, and a different low-level way of doing things.

    A different code base: on a low level, there is almost no code in common between FreeBSD and Linux.

    A different license: Linux is under the GNU Public License v2, which requires that source code be published ("Do anything you want with it but you have to give away the source code for free"). FreeBSD is under the BSD License, which has no such requirement (you can take open-source BSD-licensed code and make something proprietary and commercial, and it's explicitly OK to do that). Because Apple is not in the business of giving away their core products for free, the BSD license makes OSX possible.

    A different low-level architecture: the BSD kernel and device driver architecture have little in common with Linux. You cannot just take a Linux device driver and drop it into FreeBSD; you either need a wrapper to translate one to the other, or at least a partial rewrite and recompile. Thread management is different. Process scheduling is different. The all-important TCP/IP stack is different. The deeper you go, the less there is in common.

    What many people consider to be "Linux" or "FreeBSD" or whatever are the utility programs ("ls", "rm", "man", the "bash" shell, etc.). These command line utilities are the "face" of most UNIX operating systems, and they appear similar for a reason: most of those are actually platform-independent Gnu utilities; you just compile them for your platform (even for Windows). But to use the classic method of tired analogy: if I paint an airplane and a car with the same paint, and have Recaro bucket seats in both, and have the same CD player in both, and burn the same gasoline in both, that doesn't mean they're both airplanes. It's the invisible underlying platform and operating system (the kernel, the code libraries, the device driver architecture, the network code, how processes and applications are handled) which make UNIX what it is, not the highly-visible "fluff" that wraps around the core. Linux and FreeBSD are cousins, not twin brothers.

    And just to complicate matters further, the innermost core of OSX, the kernel, isn't even FreeBSD. It's MACH, going back to the NeXT. Confused yet? You're in good company!

    Please don't consider this to be some sort of attack from a BSD zealot or Linux zealot (I own a Mac, two PCs running WinXP and WinVista, a Linux-based server, and work with Linux, Mac, Windows and FreeBSD every day... it's all Just Another Operating System to me, and they ALL suck... just in different and entertaining ways :). The BSD-vs-Linux confusion thing is everywhere, even among very highly technical people.

    For further research, have a look at for a graphical family tree of the UNIX world. You've probably seen these printed out and taped to the walls of most geek-dominated companies at one time or another...

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