Command Line newb

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by jeanniebeannie, Oct 8, 2013.

  1. jeanniebeannie macrumors newbie


    Sep 29, 2013
    I've never worked with the command line before. Are there any "best" sites or books to learn it?

    Is it possible to virtualize OSX to tinker in there, in case I were to screw anything up? And if so, how do I go about getting a download and my license number? (Just got my Mac this year, so the Apple world is still pretty unknown by me.)
  2. alexxmac macrumors newbie

    Oct 8, 2013
    If you are looking for a basic command life stuff check out the 10.8 Support essentials and 10.8 Server essentials. They have a section called command line basics which can be pretty handy.
  3. mfram macrumors 65816

    Jan 23, 2010
    San Diego, CA USA
    Not sure about a "best". But there are plenty of books out there on shells like bash. Looks like O'Reilly has a book "Learning the bash shell" that seems pretty comprehensive.

    But recognize that the book is geared toward Linux. I would estimate that 90+% of the book will apply to Mac as well since it uses the same bash shell. But there might be minor differences.

    One option for virtualized environment is to install a virtualized Linux install. That way it would follow the book much closer. And you won't mess up your Mac.

    The major difference between the Mac and Linux will be some specific system management utilities. Also, some command options will be a little different. But the way the shell acts, pipes, how variables act, and how the filesystem acts will be all the same.


    Just saw another book published by Wiley. "MAC OS X UNIX Toolbox" Haven't seen it. Maybe it'll be more what you want and more specific to the Mac.
  4. snberk103 macrumors 603

    Oct 22, 2007
    An Island in the Salish Sea
    Be aware that the CLI can mess things up. The best comment I've read - and I wish I could remember who to give the credit to - essentially said that the Command Line interface is called the Terminal for a reason. If you get what I mean.

    Always have a very good verified backup if you are going to muck about with it, and especially if you don't really know what you are doing.

    Good Luck.
  5. Macman45 macrumors G5


    Jul 29, 2011
    Somewhere Back In The Long Ago
    Before executing a command line instruction, type the word "Info" ( without the quotes) before each one...So:

    info sudo

    Will give you a description of the command and it's usage. It's not a book, but might prevent you from messing things up.:)
  6. costabunny macrumors 68020


    May 15, 2008
    Weymouth, UK
    you can also use 'man sudo' as an example to bring up the more detailed technical manual (all the options and their usage, but this can seem intimidating for newbies).

    oh and when using 'info' or 'man' - press 'q' to exit from the information pages and the arrow keys to navigate


    I will second that recommendation - a very good and fairly comprehensive book for OS X
  7. Weaselboy Moderator


    Staff Member

    Jan 23, 2005
    What you might want to do is get a cheap external USB3 drive then use Disk Util or Carbon Copy Cloner to clone your system to the external drive. Then option key boot to that drive to do your Terminal tinkering. This way any damage you do is limited to the clone on the external. If you really screw it up you can just reclone from the internal drive.
  8. satcomer macrumors 603


    Feb 19, 2008
    The Finger Lakes Region
    For Technology books look no farther the O'Reilly Media and for the OS X Terminal I suggest the book Macintosh Terminal Pocket Guide.

    Now for a cool website to bookmark (they have hints throughout the OS X area) is Mac OS X Hints. Keep and eye this site because hints are giving all the time and also use the search function.

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