Archive for the ‘System Administration’ Category

Why Every Creative Needs To Know a Little Unix

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

The Mac OS has developed into a truly powerful and stable operating system. Long gone are the day of System 7 Type 11 errors that would bring your machine (and your productivity) to a grinding halt. And yet, all that power has not come at the expense of usability. Apple have done an outstanding job of shielding the end user from all of the UNIX, Apache and other hard-core technologies Mac OSX is built upon. Apple have always been known for wrapping their products in an attractive Graphical User Interface (GUI) thus allowing even the most digitally retarded end user to jump in without feeling overwhelmed.

Creative types long ago adopted the Mac as their platform of choice because it allowed them to create without having to learn any type of scripting, command-prompting or back-door hackery. We gladly traded off those ‘Ultimate Power User’ features that fans of Windows and Linux would gloat over. No, Mac users have been content to just turn on the box and get to work, joyfully ignorant of such shenanigans.

However, there are times when the raw power sitting beneath the sheen of a user-friendly GUI needs to be accessed directly. Sometimes the shiny user-friendly GUI gets in the way just a little too much. Fortunately, Apple have provided several windows (no pun intended) into the machine room of Mac OSX, where one can tinker with the cogs and pulleys that make The Big Cat roar. The easiest and most obvious way into the land of UNIX is via the Terminal, found in every Mac OSX Utilities folder (Cmd-Shift-U from the Finder). The Terminal is an application that lets the user open a ‘shell‘ to run UNIX command line instructions and gain greater access than a normal admin account can.

I’ve dabbled in UNIX commands in the Terminal a little. Listening to the Mac Geek Gab piqued my interest and I taught myself a few minor tricks. Nothing too fancy. This week I found myself depending on Terminal to save my bacon, because the ‘nuke and pave’ I performed last week left my MacPro in a state of Permissions meltdown. Actually, it was the Migration Assistant pulling my User data back that made a mess of things. Luckily I found a few really useful tools to force my belligerent machine to behave again. (more…)