My new favorite book has 1,464 pages and I intend to read every bit of it… eventually. It’s called Mac OS X Unleashed by John Ray and Will C. Ray. Never has there been a book this robust for the Mac. Hell, never has there been an Operating System this robust for the Mac either. That’s how over a thousand pages of text can only be considered an introduction.
Simply put, the Mac is back. I am a web developer and a general Mac enthusiast and I work in a mostly corporate environment. I know all too well the sentiment of disregard the PC hegemony feels towards the Mac platform. Most think of Apple as a company that’s constantly on the verge of distinction, an uttering almost as clichè as the evil empire status begotten Microsoft. But fortunately, years after the personal computer has entered into millions upon millions of homes, only the latter happens to be true. And this time, the Rebel Alliance might stand a fighting chance against the Emperor, er, I mean… Bill Gates.
The reason for this lies in the robust nature of Mac OS X itself, the UNIX-based overhaul of what is arguably the easiest, most gorgeous, and, yes, most advanced computer environment ever conceived. The brothers Ray (no, I’m not sure that they’re related) cover the basic groundwork of Mac OS X with great diligence, spending appropriate time on the more advanced details. They touch on the basics, like working with the Dock, then move their way into the dark cavernous reaches of the sophisticated UNIX underpinning. They do this with a keen awareness, wisely sensing that this is new ground for most Mac users—even self-proclaimed aficionados such as myself.
This book contains answers to nearly every question one might have about the new OS. After hearing David Pogue not too long ago on the Mac Show Live, a net-casted radio broadcast on all things Macintosh, claiming his new book to be the only one on the market covering Mac OS 10.1, I have to wonder if he even knows this book exists. Both books were at my local Borders. Perusing for a second, I could see that Mr. Pogue’s Mac OS X: the Missing Manual does cover 10.1, and I’m certain with great accuracy, but Mac OS X Unleashed seems to cover it much better, spannning a much greater depth and exploring everything, from configuring Apache to providing a Terminal command-line reference for the newly uninitiated who have, up until now, had permanent residence in the land of GUI.
Of course, casual users will probably find David Pogue’s book more in line with the commercial basics of X, and there’s nothing wrong with that. After all, not everybody uses their computer like a developer. Nor do they have to, by any means, with Mac OS X.
I’m certain that this book is destined to become the most dog-eared of my computer manual collection within a few months. The breadth of information provided in it is just outstanding. My urge to explore the new OS, from the top-most layer of GUI goodness to the far reaches of a new command-line interface, has now become almost too impossible to contain.
Books like this, with their careful attention to details (the chapter tabbing is a wonderfully useful touch), are testament to the fact that the Mac is quickly becoming a viable competitor to Windows, and even Linux. The system hailing from Cupertino is stable, attractive, easy to use, and expandable to undreamt of capacities by wiser geeks than me out the yin-yang. I am in awe at the nearly Utopian effort Apple has put into making Mac OS X the most open and standards compliant Operating System available — appealing to both die hard developers and everyday consumers. I don’t think it’s any risk at all to say that Mac OS X will be one of the technologies to watch in 2002. The magnitude of its power is just too overwhelming. And I simply can’t wait for whatever announcements are made at the MacWorld Expo in San Francisco this coming January.
With a book as in depth and useful as Mac OS X Unleashed, it’s no surprise that the power can now only be, well… unleashed.
May the Force be with you.