Integrated Utilities, and Built-in Options
The *nix Underpinnings
Despite popular belief from uninitiated and inexperienced users who have never actually sat down with Mac OS X to examine the operating system, Mac OS X is one powerful *nix system. Take for example, the core structure of OS X. Those who have experience with Linux or FreeBSD will feel right at home with the OS X terminal or console. System maintenance and customization can actually be performed right from the shell. Got a bash script you’d like to run? OS X can handle that.
The venerable X Window System is fully supported in Mac OS X by X11 (xterm).
Users can download, extract, compile and run their X Window applications right inside OS X. The cool thing of it is? You can tunnel X applications through a SSH connection with OS X’s built in X support. In the screenshot, I have a Firefox browser opened on my Ubuntu machine, tunneled through a SSH connection and displayed and skinned on my Mac. Obviously you can do this with Windows as well with available X server utilities.
Some comments claimed in the last article that Macs are for "people who don’t know how to use computers" — sorry. Completely untrue and biased. Apple wouldn’t include some of the tools it does if that were the case. Some claims are based entirely on the total lack of experience with OS X and so baseless that it’s appalling.
Other Built-in Utilities
Other powerful utilities that come with OS X are the Network Utility tool, RAID utility, Keychain Access, ColorSync Utility, Grab, ODBC Administrator, and Front Row.
Inside Network Utility, you have tools such as a port scanner, finger, whois, traceroute, lookup and netstat to help troubleshoot network issues. One of the other critical utilities is the Keychain Access tool, which helps store frequently used logins and passwords to a keychain, which can be edited. For example, logins to frequently used network shares can be stored, as well as websites and other places.
Front Row is much like a media center interface, giving a very simplistic and clean view of a user’s media. From movies to photos, users can hook up their Mac to a large screen display and easily navigate through their library.
Obviously we can do this with other free software even on a Linux or Windows system. Clearly some people will argue that they could do this home business on a much cheaper machine, costing say $500. But you wouldn’t get a Mac just to do this, that wouldn’t be a smart buying decision. You would either build your own, or get something like an Apple TV or a cheap Windows Media Center unit. I myself threw together a cheap PC, costing less than $400 as my HTPC. You buy or build what you can, for the right reasons.