It’s just data


I bought a mac-mini today.  That’s not what I originally set out to do, but it turned out to be the best match to my requirements.

I started out looking for a replacement for an aging 17 inch CRT.  The monitor was acting flaky, losing some color definition until I would jiggle the VGA cable a bit, then it would come back — for a while.  I was lusting after more pixels anyway, as the primary use for that desktop is as an adjunct to my laptop to display a few more windows.  I bought a 22 inch wide screen LCD.

Widescreen was my downfall.  The video chips on the desktop did not understand that aspect ratio.  That was the final straw.  Despite being several years old and running Windows XP, it had enough CPU and RAM and disk for my needs.  More painful was that 10Mb Ethernet and USB 1 limited my throughput.  And the CD reader is just a reader.  The machine also has many things I no longer need — things like a floppy drive and a modem.  But most of all, the machine is hardly “green”.  In the summer months in NC on the third floor, the air conditioning struggles enough as is.

The fact that I can now test out applications on the environment that an increasing number of my friends use is a bonus.  But first I need to find the command line and ssh.


Posted by Jan at (in the Applications⊒Utilities folder). If that doesn’t appeal, there’s also

Once you’ve found the commandline, you might also want to look at Fink (what I use) or MacPorts for whatever  Unixy things don’t come preinstalled.

(I assume you already found X11 and the Developer Tools on the Install DVD).

Posted by Jacques Distler at

Here’s another +1 for MacPorts.  I’m interested to read what you think about using OS X after a few weeks.

Posted by Aaron Farr at

A nice switcher page at The Tao of Mac.

You can probably skip a lot - specially at the start - but you will end up finding out a few nice tips. (It has both Windows and Unix oriented tips too.)

Have fun,
Paulo Gaspar

Posted by Paulo Gaspar at

Here’s my 5-minute lesson for Mac switchers:

There is no system-wide package management.  Apple Software Update only finds Apple stuff (and a few trusted partners).  Most apps will check for updates themselves, which is probably better than futzing with any of the third-party attempts at update management.

Startup scripts are totally different than Linux, and you probably shouldn’t touch them.  Everything in /System is considered “off-limits” and may be overwritten without warning during any minor system update or security update.  Always check System Preferences first, then search Google for third-party apps or command-line hacks, then edit config files as a last resort.

Open source: there’s a lot of it.  All your favorite scripting languages are pre-installed.  Install Developer Tools (on the install DVD). is a good starting point for graphical apps. has command-line stuff, including libraries.

iTerm is the best terminal emulator.  MegaZoomer can make iTerm (and many other apps) work full-screen.  (Yes, Mac OS X’s window manager is so limited that you need third-party software for basic stuff like this.  Get used to saying that to yourself.)  Perian makes QuickTime suck less; Flip4Mac too.  Quicksilver is the best launcher on any platform.  Chicken of the VNC.  Colloquy.  Adium.  Google Desktop if you like that sort of thing.  NeoOffice.  SSHKeychain.  Tofu.  Vine Server.  VLC.  GraphicConverter (shareware).  DashOnOff.  Disctop.  DoubleCommand.  Growl.  Definitely Growl.  MenuMeters.  jwz has ported all of his screensavers to Mac OS X.  WinSwitch if you have multiple user accounts.  MacVim.  Schubert-it PDF Browser Plugin.  Firefox 3 with Proto theme.  AppleJack.  [link]  Any game by Ambrosia Software.

Extreme troubleshooting: hold down Command-S during boot to get into console-only single-user mode (for example, to run AppleJack or memtest).  [link] has more keyboard shortcuts, but really, if you can boot all the way to the desktop, all you need is Quicksilver.

Avoid iTunes unless you have an iPod or iPhone.  Avoid (or at least don’t let it store the only copy of your email).  iPhoto is pretty nice.  I’ve heard the new iMovie is nice too.

You’ll do fine.

Posted by Mark at

I would have bought a Mac Mini a long time ago if only it had dual monitor support (I prefer two monitors to one wide one). Who would have thought I’d ever be so close to satisfied with a computer so short on expansion options!

As it is, I’m planning on picking up an iMac soon.

I’ll echo what others have said about iTerm — much better than And for email, I use Thunderbird, though I’ve had to compile my own copy to make one little change, without which I wouldn’t be able to stand using it (but the one fix was all it needed for me to be happy).

Posted by Antone Roundy at

Welcome to the dark side, the fonts render much better here.

Another +1 for MacPorts, iTerm and MacVim (the one on Google code).  Install the developer tools (XCode) to get GCC, some Ruby gems require it, as does MacPorts.  I would also recommend getting acquainted with the half-cousin of UNIX that is OS/X.  The book I’m reading is A Practical Guide to UNIX for Mac OS/X Users.

Posted by Assaf Arkin at

Today’s selected reads

Hi folks, here are some posts, by smart bot selected for you to read today: Links for 2008-03-08 [] (RANK: 0) Camera Blues (RANK: 0) Switched! (RANK: -4) Have a nice day!...

Excerpt from Dustman's Weblog at

Best of luck!  I’m in the trial period of switching from Kubuntu to Leopard.  While the main apps (iphoto, mail, ical) are nice, I really miss having my Yakuake terminal.  I’m currently using Visor, but it is quite weak by comparison (can’t split screen...can’t change width or height).  If you find out how to get auto completion for your .ssh/config file please share, as that is another frustration.  Oh and don’t expect any kind of decent file explorer that can handle sftp or fish.  Konqueror may suck at being a browser, but dang if it isn’t the bestest file explorer ever.

Posted by Chris at

No one has explicitly mentioned sshd yet, and you’ve probably already found it while browsing the control panel, but just in case: it’s in the “Sharing” preference pane, called “Remote Login”.

Posted by Ed Brannin at

So, just to be certain... you’re aware that your front page is giving a yellow screen of death - because you didn’t close your x-ua-compatible meta tag?

[fill in your own snarky comment on that here; me, I’m not even going to bother] :)

Posted by Sander at

Also, as I now see that Mark Pilgrim did a blog post about this hours ago, and thus realize that the number of comments you’ve received on this is probably in the dozens already: Any chance you could show just a single line underneath the approved comments saying something like "x comments currently held for moderation"? Would at least make me think twice before making yet another redundant comment during the night.

Posted by Sander at

Any chance you could show just a single line underneath the approved comments saying something like "x comments currently held for moderation"?

Actually, I don’t hold comments for moderation.  I say I do to new visitors in order to cut down on spam.

Posted by Sam Ruby at

[from jemisa] Switched!


Excerpt from at


Switched! , Sam Ruby gets a Mac mini. Ask the Magic 8ttp Ball! . You are like a flower You rise and rise to the sun You do not look back at where you came from I wanna be like that #x2014 Martha Wainwright, These Flowers IMG_3302 by mary_lewey...

Excerpt from Anarchaia at

Quicksilver is the best launcher on any platform.

+1.  Quicksilver is the first thing you should install on any Mac.

Need to run Terminal?  Ctrl-Spacebar, type in the first few letters.  “TERM” should suffice.  Enter. launches.  Ditto for any other file that Quicksilver knows to index.

Posted by Bob Aman at

Today’s selected reads

Hi folks, here are some posts, by smart bot selected for you to read today: PyMOTW: time (RANK: 42) Links for 2008-03-08 [] (RANK: 0) Camera Blues (RANK: 0) Doctor Who cake (RANK: 0) Breakfast with Dustin 2008 (RANK: 0) Make Today Your...

Excerpt from Dustman's Weblog at

+1 MacPorts

I actually dislike iTerm, especially now that supports tabs (though screen worked fine before this was available). The key bindings are a bit funky.

Also, I wouldn’t recommend against Safari, if you were interested... It’s quite nice and renders really well.

Oh, silly me, almost forgot to mention: you probably want to get TextMate (from Some $50 US, or close to it. Definitely worth the investment.

Posted by Matt Todd at

Sam Ruby: Switched!


Excerpt from at

Passing on Ubuntu 804

For years, my home office has had a configuration of three machines: one that I consider a server, one that I consider a desktop, and one that is a laptop.&#1... [more]

Trackback from Sam Ruby


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Posted by peter at

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