The Unix Influence on Mac OS X - Page 4

By Jacqueline Emigh | Posted Jul 31, 2003
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Sticking with GUI

Graphical interfaces and applications in OS X allow you, for the most part, to avoid going through the CLI. NetInfo Manager, for example, allows administration of users, groups, and other computer information stored in the NetInfo database. A reset password utility is also available – for "any password in OS X " – but it runs only from the installer CD.

Other network administration tools include Network Preference Panel, for setup of location, interface order, and protocol structure; Network Port Configurations, for port setup; and Network Locations, for defining the order of network interfaces ("Louisville, Airport Only, and Bluetooth," for example).

"Networking works as a tiered system based on location first. Each location can have several different interfaces structures. Interfaces must be set up with proper protocol information," Regan said.

A tool called Network Utility, on the other hand, is designed to let individual end users gather networking information about their Macs. It provides a tabbed interface for several Unix commands.

Classic, Carbon, Cocoa, and Java

Also included in OS X is Classic Startup, for running many older Mac apps and services in Mac OS 9.2.2 on top of the newer OS. The Classic Environment stays running until shut down or put to sleep.

Mac OS X also runs Carbon applications such as Office X and iTunes 3, which have roots in classic Mac but are updated for OS X; Java 2 applications, such as LimeWire and ColdFusion; and Cocoa applications like Mail and OmniWeb, which are designed only to work with OS X.

Classic, however, is not fully compatible with everything supported by OS 9, Regan said. "Hardware support is particularly tricky. Start troubleshooting by using startup options in the Classic System Preference. Also troubleshoot by booting in Mac OS 9 using the Startup Disk Preference Pane."

Some graphical tools, interfaces, and apps were added in OS X version 10.2. Workgroup Manager, for example, is an LDAP-based replacement for the old Macintosh Manager. Accounts System Preference is for managing user and admin accounts.

OS X 10.2 also added support for the Common Unix Printing System (CUPS). CUPS can be administered through either Print Center, Terminal App, or a web browser.

Another addition as of the 10.2 release is the capability to connect to both LDAP version 2 and LDAP version 3 servers. "Preconfigured settings are available for various types of LDAPv3 servers," according to Regan. With LDAP version 2 servers, though, you need to use the Directory Access application for configuring key value pairs and data types.

Other graphical offerings in OS X include the following:

  • Apple System Profiler, for gathering information about software and hardware configurations on the local computer
  • System Utilities, which contains a log file viewing console and a CPU monitor
  • Disk Copy, an image and device mounting tool recently updated to support CD burning
  • Internet Connect and VPN, an application used for dialing the internal or wireless Airport modem
  • NetInstall, for automatic software distribution to network clients
  • NetBoot, a utility for storing workgroup desktop configurations in a single disk image

OS X also includes these key network services:

  • Print sharing, a service in OS X 10.2 that uses Apple's Rendezvous and CUPS for finding and sharing available printers
  • Web sharing, a service that uses the Apache Web server to give all OS X machines and users their own web sites
  • Jaguar Internet Server, for sharing an Internet connection with others on the network

Appletalk 'On the Way Out'

Meanwhile, OS X is instituting many other adjustments for managers and administrators. For example, Apple officials have long acknowledged that AppleTalk is on the way out.

"AppleTalk support is waning," Regan echoed at this summer's MacWorld. AppleTalk is turned off by default in OS X's Network Preferences. For file sharing, OS X instead uses Apple File Protocol (AFP) 3.0, which supports Unicode, long file names, and file level permissions. Mac OS 9 machines connecting to Mac OS X must use the older AFP 2.x instead.

"Broadcast for discovery is made by AppleTalk, but actual data transfer is over TCP/IP," according to The Mac Trainers. OS X also supports a number of other networking standards, including Internet Protocol (IP) version 6, FTP, SMB, Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP), Point-to-Point Protocol over Ethernet (PPPoE), and Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) (for virtual private networking). Supported security protocols include IPSec, Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), and Secure Shell 2 (SSH2).

Time to Learn More About Unix?

OS X offers a wide range of choices for network management and system administration. You can continue to point and click, of course. To get the most mileage out of Apple's OS, though, it's best to know as much about Unix as you can. The bottom line is that if you're managing Macs much of the time, you might want to give some serious thought to learning more about the Unix command line interface.


» See All Articles by Columnist Jacqueline Emigh

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