What is Mac OS X?© Amit Singh. All Rights Reserved. Written in December 2003
This document attempts to give a hacker over-friendly answer to the question "What is Mac OS X?". My original motivation in writing this was that somebody had proxy-volunteered me to give a talk introducing Mac OS X to the Linux Users Group at my work place. While thinking over what to say to those folks, most (if not all) of whom are strangers to Mac OS X, I decided to write a supplementary document that they could refer to at their leisure.
Since I moved to Mac OS X, I have had a few discussions with people who are curious about Apple and Mac OS X, but have not used the platform. Often, what they think is a somewhat distorted, perhaps even incorrect version of the "truth": there are many areas in which they think the Mac is worse or better than it really is. Consider (with colloquialisms preserved):
- Macs are good only for graphics/media work.
- Macs suck for hackers.
- There is very little software for the Mac.
- Macs are overpriced/not worth the price.
- Mac OS X is Unix.
- Mac OS X is not Unix.
- Mac OS X rocks. Linux is crap.
- Mac OS X is crap. Linux rocks.
Some such curiosities and questions are addressed in this document.
This document does not aim to regurgitate Marketing KoolAid, not that there's anything wrong with it™, but is intended primarily as an introduction to Mac OS X for those members of the technical community who are not familiar with it. You can think of it as a somewhat low-level taste of Apple's operating system. Consequently, some parts are fairly technical, and the implicit assumption is that you are familiar with fundamental concepts of one or more of BSD, Mach, UNIX, or operating systems in general. In many cases I have made no attempt to provide background details of the concepts referred to in the discussion.
I currently use Mac OS X as my primary operating system. However, I am not a longtime Apple user. I bought my first Apple computer in April 2003. I have used and played with a number of operating systems, and have used Linux, Solaris, *BSD, and the Microsoft Windows family as my primary platforms at different times. The operating system that I have used the most is Linux. I have not been involved in religious riots involving operating systems, and I really believe that all these systems (including Mac OS X) have flaws, but they all have good things to offer.