Apr 27 2009
A powerful Unix underbelly is part of what makes OS X the world’s most advanced operating system. But, some of that power goes unused – hidden away in cryptic backend commands.
Even if the backend commands aren’t difficult to learn, most Mac users simply don’t make a habit of firing up Terminal on a regular basis.
Thankfully, the freeware community has stepped up with quick, easy applications that give a face to the Unix utilities they control.
Unix has a cool program called renice that can tell the system how many CPU cycles to dedicate to a running application (try doing that in Windows). There are several Aqua wrappers for this command. Process Wizard lives in the menu bar, and once fired up lets you graphically allocate CPU priority to running applications, hidden applications and even processes running on your Mac. The Wizard is perfect for on-the-fly CPU allocation. Other renice utilities include BeNicer and Carl’s Renice Scripts.
OS X is kept tidy by maintenance routines scheduled behind the scenes. If you miss a scheduled task because your Mac was off, you can run these tasks manually. MainMeni makes this easy by putting an icon on your menubar that gives you quick access to these tasks.
MainMenu also includes some other handy chores built-in to an easy to use interface, and is a must for quick Mac maintenance.
If you’ve wandered into unfamiliar territory in Terminal before, you might be familiar with the man command. This Unix program digs up documentation on a Unix program. These ‘man pages’ can be a lifesaver when using a cryptic command line utility. Unfortunately, man is itself a bit of a cryptic command line utility.
So Man Handler comes to save the day. This Aqua app browses man pages for all your favorite obscure Unix applications from an easy desktop interface. It also allows you to save out man pages to text for easy reading or emailing.
Unix keeps things moving by scheduling tasks behind the scenes. It does this with a scheduling process called cron. CronniX is an Aqua app that lets you add your own tasks to cron. You can set up repeating schedules to execute Unix commands, AppleScripts and even launch applications.
Ever seen the MD5 hashes on your favorite Open Source download site? MD5 is a method unix uses to compare files to verify them as identical. File Compare provides you with a GUI to browse for two files and compare them. File Compare will let you know if you have duplicates or not.
As you can see, the command line holds some pretty powerful utilities most of us never use, but anyone could find useful. Thanks to our great programming community, they are just a few clicks away.