What are the differences between using the terminal on a mac vs linux?

I've been using Ubuntu for the last four years.
I have a basic knowledge of shell commands and I prefer working in a terminal rather than using a GUI. Recently I've started using a Mac.

I've tried a few terminal commands (that I use on Ubuntu) in the Mac terminal and it seems to respond in mostly the same way.

Are there are significant differences in the commands I use, the task(s) they perform or the shell environment that I should be aware of?

-------------Problems Reply------------

If you did a new or clean install of OS X version 10.3 or more recent, the default user terminal shell is bash.

Bash is essentially an enhanced and GNU freeware version of the original Bourne shell, sh. If you have previous experience with bash (often the default on GNU/Linux installations), this makes the OS X command-line experience familiar, otherwise consider switching your shell either to tcsh or to zsh, as some find these more user-friendly.

If you upgraded from or use OS X version 10.2.x, 10.1.x or 10.0.x, the default user shell is tcsh, an enhanced version of csh('c-shell'). Early implementations were a bit buggy and the programming syntax a bit weird so it developed a bad rap.

There are still some fundamental differences between mac and linux as Gordon Davisson so aptly lists, for example no useradd on Mac and ifconfig works differently.

The following table is useful for knowing the various unix shells.

sh The original Bourne shell Present on every unix system
ksh Original Korn shell Richer shell programming environment than sh
csh Original C-shell C-like syntax; early versions buggy
tcsh Enhanced C-shell User-friendly and less buggy csh implementation
bash GNU Bourne-again shell Enhanced and free sh implementation
zsh Z shell Enhanced, user-friendly ksh-like shell

You may also find these guides helpful:



On a final note, I am on Linux (Ubuntu 11) and Mac osX so I use bash and the thing I like the most is customizing the .bashrc (source'd from .bash_profile on OSX) file with aliases, some examples below. I now placed all my aliases in a separate .bash_aliases file and include it with:

if [ -f ~/.bash_aliases ]; then
. ~/.bash_aliases

in the .bashrc or .bash_profile file.

Note that this is an example of a max-linux different because on a Mac you can't have the --color=auto The first time I did this (without knowing) I redefined ls to be invalid which was a bit alarming until I removed --auto-color !

You may also find http://unix.stackexchange.com/q/127799/10043 useful

# ~/.bash_aliases
# ls variants
#alias l='ls -CF'
alias la='ls -A'
alias l='ls -alFtr'
alias lsd='ls -d .*'
# Various
alias h='history | tail'
alias hg='history | grep'
alias mv='mv -i'
alias zap='rm -i'
# One letter quickies:
alias p='pwd'
alias x='exit'
alias {ack,ak}='ack-grep'
# Directories
alias s='cd ..'
alias play='cd ~/play/'
# Rails
alias src='script/rails console'
alias srs='script/rails server'
alias raked='rake db:drop db:create db:migrate db:seed'
alias rvm-restart='source '\''/home/durrantm/.rvm/scripts/rvm'\'''
alias rrg='rake routes | grep '
alias rspecd='rspec --drb '
# DropBox - syncd
alias work="cd $WORKBASE"
alias code="cd $WORKBASE/ror/code"
# DropNot - NOT syncd !
alias {dropnot,not}="cd $WORKBASE_GIT"
alias {webs,ww}="cd $WORKBASE_GIT/webs"
alias {setups,docs}="cd $WORKBASE_GIT/setups_and_docs"
alias {linker,lnk}="cd $WORKBASE_GIT/webs/rails_v3/linker"
# git
alias {gsta,gst}='git status'
# Warning: gst conflicts with gnu-smalltalk (when used).
alias {gbra,gb}='git branch'
alias {gco,go}='git checkout'
alias {gcob,gob}='git checkout -b '
alias {gadd,ga}='git add '
alias {gcom,gc}='git commit'
alias {gpul,gl}='git pull '
alias {gpus,gh}='git push '
alias glom='git pull origin master'
alias ghom='git push origin master'
alias gg='git grep '
# vim
alias v='vim'
# tmux
alias {ton,tn}='tmux set -g mode-mouse on'
alias {tof,tf}='tmux set -g mode-mouse off'
# dmc
alias {dmc,dm}='cd ~/Dropnot/webs/rails_v3/dmc/'
alias wf='cd ~/Dropnot/webs/rails_v3/dmc/dmWorkflow'
alias ws='cd ~/Dropnot/webs/rails_v3/dmc/dmStaffing'

@Michael Durrant's answer ably covers the shell itself, but the shell environment also includes the various commands you use in the shell and these are going to be similar -- but not identical -- between OS X and linux. In general, both will have the same core commands and features (especially those defined in the Posix standard), but a lot of extensions will be different.

For example, linux systems generally have a useradd command to create new users, but OS X doesn't. On OS X, you generally use the GUI to create users; if you need to create them from the command line, you use dscl (which linux doesn't have) to edit the user database (see here).

Also, some commands they have in common will have different features and options. For example, linuxes generally include GNU sed, which uses the -r option to invoke extended regular expressions; on OS X, you'd use the -E option to get the same effect.

EDIT: Another difference is that many linux commands allow options to be specified after their arguments (e.g. ls file1 file2 -l), while most OS X commands require options to come strictly first (ls -l file1 file2).

Finally, since the OS itself is different, some commands wind up behaving differently between the OSes. For example, on linux you'd probably use ifconfig to change your network configuration. On OS X, ifconfig will work (probably with slightly different syntax), but your changes are likely to be overwritten randomly by the system configuration daemon; instead you should edit the network preferences with networksetup, and then let the config daemon apply them to the live network state.

Category:osx Views:1 Time:2011-11-08

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