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from a Mac system to a Unix-like one: the state of Mac OS X

In 1996, with the acquisition of Next and the return of the founder Steve Jobs, Apple's second life began; at that moment the house of Cupertino, in a very serious crisis, implicitly admitted that it was unable to cope with what had been its main problem over the previous 5 years: to create an operating system that would ferry it into the new millennium with new conditions of technological advantage over the competition.

The adaptation work of the new purchase however appeared titanic, and in fact other changes of strategy and new shifts on the planned dates were necessary before the first version of MacOs X could be released last year. In fact, only recently the system 10 is has become the default boot of Apple machines, and in fact version 10.1 has been accepted as a huge step forward in functionality and above all performance.

The idea of ??adopting a unix heart had seemed as rash at the time of the choice, as today it seems to have been a brilliant move: a rash choice because unix has a long tradition of system as powerful as it is complex and dedicated to servers, therefore all the contrary to what Apple has been in its history; a brilliant choice because it has made OS X a proven and robust system already at the time of release, it has relieved the weight of development and debugging from Apple's shoulders only by leveraging the Open Source movement, it has attracted towards the platform apple stuoli of new capable and enthusiastic siluppers and has allowed an easy and rapid porting of already existing applications on unix systems.

Today therefore MacOS X allows to have an easy and coherent system, administrable through a colored graphic interface and on which to run, as well as the new software written specifically for it, the vast majority of the programs born for the previous operating systems of the Mac, so 'as a complete BSD shell from which to launch scripts and command-line applications typical of the unix world.

But that's not all. It is trivial to note that the terminal, the main interface of unix systems, is indigestible to the typical Mac user, who has always been used to point-and-click, and therefore the developer community has started to create so-called front-ends for software that should be launched with complicated text commands, thus allowing you to enjoy numerous programs of excellent functionality at a very low price.

Let us give some examples: there are interfaces for grep (a utility contained in practically all unix systems and that allows, in short, I do not want purists, to search for occurrences of text within a group of files), for management permissions on the archives, to configure the server programs that run on our computer, to read the man pages without using the terminal and many others. Nothing extraordinary, but still comfortable software for both the novice and the savvy user, and , which does not hurt, often free.

The above applies to those who do not want to go into any technicalities, but having a little more initiative it is possible to even acquire, for example, completely free Microsoft Excel and Word clones: these are Gnumeric and Abiword, products of the world Open Source "brought" on Macs that run using XDarwin, the X server (the graphics engine of traditional unix, to put it simplistically) for the unix layer of MacOs.

All roses and flowers, then? Of course, MacOs X is still young and subject to many improvements, someone objects that the "carbonization" of the old applications (ie the passage necessary to make them run in Os X without the need for the Classic environment) it is not really a walk as expected, but to a good extent the answer is yes; a spannometric analysis has seen more new software products come out in recent months than in certain previous years, and the enthusiasm for Apple within the community of the best and most fanatic programmers has never been so high , and the merit is all of MacOs X.

We can also realize this thanks to the intervention of Tim O'Reilly (patron of the homonymous publishing house of reference texts for the world of Information Technology) at the recent WWDC.

O'Reilly basically said that by looking at the work of what he calls the "Alpha Geeks", that is, the most gifted hackers, you can glimpse the future well before this is made obvious by commercial operations, and many of the things that these characters have made part of their lifestyle since yesterday begin today to peep into MacOs X, which makes them accessible to the masses, showing how Apple is on the right track.

(By Marco Centofanti)