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.
Video Transcript / Captions
Closed captioning for this video is available on YouTube: MacMost Now 12: Leopard Phrasebook Review.

Hi and welcome to MacMost Now. I'm Gary Rosenzweig. Today, I've got a book review for you. The book I'm going to look at is "Mac Os X Leopard Phrasebook". This is a really interesting book because it goes into all the terminal commands that you can use with Mac Os X Leopard and it's got some really useful information. It's a pretty small format too. Let's take a look.
The "Mac Os X Leopard Phrasebook" by Biran Tiemann, is a really short format book. It's about 300 pages--so, it's a quick guide really and what it's about is how to do things on the Mac using the terminal window more or less. Let's take a look at the terminal window in case you're not familiar with it. So here we have the terminal window and you just open it up. You get to this by going to "Applications Utilities". Basically, it gives you a window to the root operating system which is a flavor of Linux called BSD, at the heart of Mac Os X.
It is a command line interface meaning that you type something and you get something back. This is how computers all worked before Mac and Windows started in the 1980s. For instance, we will type a command "ls" and this will list the files in the current directory so that we see that there are a bunch of folders there. For instance, if we wanted to go to the desktop, we could change directory "cd" to the desktop and now it tells us we are at the desktop and we can list the files there. We can see what files are there and then do a bunch of different things with them. For instance, there are simple text editors that you can use to do things such as rename files, copy files, and that sort of thing. This is exactly the sort of thing that Biran goes over in this book.
Biran seems to be a Unix guy from way back and so he likes to use this command line stuff. I do too as well. So, there are lots of useful tips in here. I learnt a few things about certain commands in here and what you can do. For instance, in a terminal you can do things such as renaming files using wildcards. You can rename a whole bunch of files according to what the old filename was. For instance, if you have "picture1- picture100" and you want to change it to "image1-image100", you can do that using some commands that you can learn in this book.
There are also some other useful little things that I've learned like the fact that you can drag the icon at the top of a finder window over into terminal and then drop it there and it will put the full path name of the folder in the terminal. So, it saves you from typing a lot there.
If you've wanted to get into using the terminal, this is a good, quick book for you to learn. I think an even better audience for this book are people that maybe have already done that a little bit in the past and they have now maybe recently switch to Mac and they want to get use to using the terminal for various tasks. This is a good book for that and it is pretty inexpensive. It retails for $20 but you can get it on right now for $14 using Amazon's discounts. I am sure this price will vary. It is pretty good.
My main thing is that I wish the book even went further. I wish it went deeper. I wish after it ends here at the end of the final chapter, Chapter 15, I wish it went just a little bit further and maybe showed more about using the Apache server or something like that. Just a little bit deeper than what it goes into right now. But, there are some good things like being able to use some of the good internet tools like traceroute, lookup, and ftp. There is a lot of good stuff here. So, if you're a power user of the Mac, I think this is something you need to add to your library.
If you're not a power user, if you're more at the beginner level, I am going to have some book reviews later this week or next on some beginners' guides to Mac Os X Leopard.
Until next time, this is Gary Rosenzweig with MacMost Now.

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

    11 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.

    11 years ago

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

    11 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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