January 17, 2006

My desktop OS: Mac OS X

Author: Turki Marri

In 2002, I bought a PowerBook G4 and started using Mac OS X, and it has never let me down since. Apple has done a good job putting together the best user-friendly and easy-to-use Unix-based operating system.

All Apple computers come with Mac OS X -- Tiger 10.4 is the latest version -- pre-installed, but should you need to reinstall the OS, the process is easy and asks only about a few things. After the setup is done, user will find one of the best-looking desktops anywhere.

I have two peripherals connected to my PowerBook -- Microsoft Notebook Optical mouse and a Belkin Bluetooth USB adapter. Mac OS X recognized them both with no problems.

Browsing the Web is great on Mac OS X, thanks to the wide selection of browsers you can use. Safari is great and pretty stable, but I'm a Firefox user, so I downloaded the Mac OS X version and in seconds I was up and running with it.

Apple's .mac site is at the heart of the company's Internet-enabled applications on Mac OS X. I started Mail 2.0 and started fetching my .mac mail. You can also sync your important data with .mac servers using iSync. I always sync my Keychain, which stores password and permission information, and bookmarks.

You control Mac OS X's setting from a centralized panel called System Preferences. Accessing it is a click away off the Dock icon bar, which is like Kicker in KDE or the Start button in Microsoft Windows. You can control many things from the System Preferences panel, from your desktop appearance to the built-in firewall.

Mac OS X includes several tools for managing media files. iTunes, for managing the music and video files, along with Apple's music store, make up the best music experience on a personal computer. iPhoto, for managing the photos, is fast, which really matters when you have large photo albums, as I do for all of my family vacation trips. iDVD lets you create high-quality DVDs. The iApplications (known as iApps) are great and do what they promise to do most of the time.

Burning data CDs or DVDs is matter of drag and drop in Mac OS X. You drag the files to a to-be-burned folder, then click a small nuclear-looking button, and you're done.

The Terminal application, under Mac OS X's Utilities folder, gives you a wide selection of shells, from Bash to C. I'm currently running a recompiled Korn shell (KSH). There's plenty of open source software available too. I share files on my PowerBook using the Apache Web server, and manage my corporate firewalls using SSH and X11 for graphical user interface (GUI) access.

Mac OS X is pretty stable even under heavy use. The operating system has never come between me and what I wanted to do, especially when kept up-to-date with the fixes Apple releases every once in awhile.

I have used many operating systems, including Linux, FreeBSD, BeOS, and Microsoft Windows. I really love Mac OS X, and would recommend it to anyone who wants a premium, elegant Unix operating system that's fun to use, no matter whether they're a new-to-computing person or the best computing guru on the planet.

What's your desktop OS of choice? Write an article of less than 1,000 words telling us what you use and why. If we publish it, we'll pay you $100. (Send us a query first to be sure we haven't already published a story on your favorite OS or have one in hand.) In recent weeks, we've covered SimplyMEPIS and Xandros.

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