Make OS X into a Comfortable UNIX Workstation

Install GNU core utils

The GNU core utils is light years ahad of the BSD utils that come with Mac OS X. The GNU equivalents of find, date & friends have many more feature and generally have so much better defaults than their Mac OS X counterparts. Installing this is something you definitely want.

Using Mac Ports

First off, install the GNU core utils, GNU awk and GNU sed so that we can get most of the basic command line power we're used to from GNU/Linux:

$ sudo port install gawk gsed coreutils

Using brew

If you're using brew the equivalent is:

$ sudo brew install coreutils gnu-getopt gnu-tar gnu-sed gawk

While you're at it, you probably want to install a more updated version of BASH as well:

$ sudo brew install bash

Read this article for more instructions on how to install GNU coreutils using brew.

Preferring GNU coreutils over BSD utils

Prefer GNU core utils over the ancient BSD utils that come with Mac. Add this to your.bashrc:

export PATH=/opt/local/libexec/gnubin:$PATH

A wee test to see if the GNU core utils have taken precedence on your system is to run:

$ date --iso

If it returns a date like 2012-03-01, you're homefree

Spell checking

I cannot live without aspell, so I also install this:

$ sudo port install aspell aspell-dict-en aspell-dict-uk



Install the latest, full graphical GNU Emacs for Mac OS X and let it answer to the standard /usr/bin/emacs:

$ sudo mv /usr/bin/emacs /usr/bin/emacs.mac-os-x
$ sudo ln -s /Applications/ /usr/bin/emacs

Now, whenever you type emacs, the latest and greatest GNU Emacs version will open and not the old and outdated version that comes bundled with Mac OS X.

A better terminal

I recommend installing iTerm 2 as it's far better than the Terminal application that comes with OS X as standard. If you come from Linux, you'll find many features you miss after moving to Mac land in iTerm 2.

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