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A happy geek


By Scott Bradner


I'm an unabashed UNIX geek.  This week I installed about the best version of UNIX I've ever worked with on all of the computers I regularly use.  At the same time I installed the best window-based operating system I've used to date on the same machines.  Obviously the only way I could have done both at the same time was to install the new Mac OSX version 10.2 on my home and office computers, and that is what I did.


I've been using UNIX since AT&T (you remember AT&T, it was once <ITAL>the<END ITAL> big telephone company which also had the best basic research lab in the world) started licensing it in the early 1980s.  Because I worked in a university and needed good support for TCP/IP networking I mostly used the UNIX distributions from the University of California at Berkley, a.k.a. Berkley Standard Distribution (BSD).  I never got into the almost-UNIXes from Sun and HP.


I've also been a Macintosh person since late 1983 but did not do a major switch to use a Mac as my basic computing platform until I found MachTen by Tenon which is a version of BSD UNIX that runs as a Mac application.  That let me run a single platform and still get my UNIX fix.  Then a year or so ago Apple started shipping the first version of OSX, a full fledged UNIX system with a Mac-like shell over it.  It was not quite as good at being UNIX as MachTen was and the Tenon user support was better than Apple's but the advantages of a unified system got me to switch.


Now Apple has released an upgrade to OSX and itŐs a great UNIX and a great Mac.  OSX was always solid, only one of my 5 Macs running OSX since it first came out ever crashed and that crashed only twice, but OSX was a bit slow and had some funny quirks.  OSX 10.2 has fixed all of that and is now fast, clean and a UNIX geek's dream.


Some stats for other UNIX geeks: every BSD & gnu command I ever use other than the gnu wdiff file comparison utility, 549 commands in /usr/bin, 35 in /bin, 60 in /sbin, 169 in /usr/sbin, a full development environment, open source, IPv6, Apache web server, name server, sendmail, procmail, etc.  And for the window-based personal computer (note I did not say "PC") folk, thousands of applications including up to date Microsoft Office & Internet explorer.  Good stuff.


The ads say that OSX 10.2 can be a good network citizen in a Windows shop and I'll have to try some of that out when I figure out what I need to interact with a Windows network for.


So I'm in hog heaven, even if I'm almost alone in Harvard's central administration in using a Mac, and even though OSX 10.2 did away with the smiling Mac on startup, much to the annoyance of the Mac purists.


disclaimer:  My use of Macs is a perfect example of how my and Harvard's opinion are not necessarily the same, but they tolerate me (most of the time).