macOS as Unix Workstation 2022

Unix pro environment in macOS

I'm a die hard Linux user, but in November 2022, I had to use a Mac for some work. This document describes how I turned a vanilla install of the latest macOS into a powerful Unix workstation.

Homebrew 🍺

This is AFAIK the best package manager for Unix tools on macOS. Install it with:

$ /bin/bash -c "$(curl -fsSL"

Emacs 🐂

Install Emacs from, this gives you a good, up to date Emacs build.

Note, this build doesn't provide native compilation (aka "gccemacs"), nor the non-blocking JSON processing done in this emacs-lsp fork.

Update 2022-11-25: It's also possible to get Emacs with brew. Note, after testing this on a fresh Mac, I the --cask emacs --with-native-comp --with-cocoa options didn't work, so had to just issue the below command which gives a non-graphical Emacs (to get the full package, use the emacsformacosx link above):

$ brew install emacs

Spell check 📖

$ brew install aspell

Terminal 💻

I've grown very fond of the kitty terminal. I believe it's the best terminal around, it even beats iTerm2 😃. It strikes a great balance between features (24 bit colours, Unicode, multiplexer, view pictures on remote servers, remote server clipboard integration++) and speed. Install it with:

$ curl -L | sh /dev/stdin

Set Caps Lock as Ctrl

Or else, I'll go seriously mad.

Head over to System preferences, then Keyboard and finally Modifier Keys.

Unix shell environment


$ brew install git


I prefer the ZSH shell over BASH:

$ brew install zsh
$ brew install zsh-autosuggestions
$ brew install zsh-completions
$ brew install fzf


You should install a newer version of bash. Although I use ZSH for my interactive shell, I still do lots of shell programming in BASH. The version of bash that comes with macOS is very old, 3.2.57, so installing a newer bash with brew:

$ brew install bash

Coreutils 🧰

GNU coreutils, sed, awk, getopt and grep are superior to the ancient BSD tools that ship with macOS.

$ brew install coreutils
$ brew install gawk
$ brew install gsed
$ brew install gnu-getopt
$ brew install grep

Add this to your ~/.zshrc or ~/.bashrc to ensure the GNU coreutils are first in PATH:

export PATH=\

As you can see from the above paths, gnused isn't packaged like the others, and doesn't provide a bin directory outside the cellar.


$ brew install gnupg

Java ☕

$ brew install openjdk@11

Ensure this JDK's binaries are first in PATH, add these to ~/.zshrc or ~/.bashrc:

export PATH=/usr/local/opt/openjdk@11/bin:$PATH


Installing jq allows you to query JSON documents, a bit like what XPath on XML files.

$ brew install jq

Installing json_xs lets you convert between YAML and JSON. For instance, you can use this to do look ups in YAML documents using jq. json_xs doesn't exist in Homebrew, but you should be able to install it from CPAN using cpm (untested):

$ brew install cpm
$ cpm install JSON::XS
$ cpm install YAML::XS::LibYAML

Video meetings 📽️

My company uses Microsoft Teams, so that' the one to get.

Update 2022-11-22: Per told me Teams can also be installed with brew like so:

$ brew install --cask microsoft-teams

Fonts 🖊️

Download the excellent Adobce Source Code Pro font, unzip it and drag and drop the files to the Font Book:

install good looking font on macOS

A better top

btop is my favourite resource monitor these days, install it with:

$ brew install btop

That's it!

Your shiny macOS machine is now a good, modern Unix workstation with most of the same tools and versions as GNU/Linux distributions ship with.

Happy hacking!

Licensed under CC BY Creative Commons License ~ ✉ torstein.k.johansen @ gmail ~ 🐘 ~ 🐦 @torsteinkrause