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Question about running unix and or linux software on OSX

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
I'm trying to convince my dad to switch to OSX when he buys his new computer. He's a nuclear engineer who uses unix and linux software at work, and if he can use that software at home, it'd probably be enough to convince him to switch; he's already really impressed with my MacBook Pro. I know OSX is based on unix but can he run unix and linux software natively on OSX?
post #2 of 6
Quote:
Originally posted by david christ superstar
I'm trying to convince my dad to switch to OSX when he buys his new computer. He's a nuclear engineer who uses unix and linux software at work, and if he can use that software at home, it'd probably be enough to convince him to switch; he's already really impressed with my MacBook Pro. I know OSX is based on unix but can he run unix and linux software natively on OSX?

Yes. This is a feature of MacOS X that Apple has promoted since it introduced the OS. The Unix capabilities of MacOS X has enthusiastic support by such projects as Fink and DarwinPorts.
post #3 of 6
Here's a good list of Unix software that works under OS X: http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/unix_open_source/
post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 
Awesome. Thanks a bunch. And to think he's been using Windows all these years...
post #5 of 6
Whoa there, OS X doesn't run Linux binaries if that's what you mean. You can't take an app from Linux and drop it onto OS X. It has to be recompiled from the source code. Your dad would need to make sure that all the Linux software he uses was either open source or had equivalent OS X binaries. Mostly there will be but he may rely on some software that isn't available for OS X.

Also, some Linux software has to run under the OS X X11 layer and it is slow.
post #6 of 6
The short answer is yes; the long answer is usually. Like Marvin said, not all Linux/UNIX is the same - to run a program on OSX, it needs to have been compiled specifically for a particular platform. Much *NIX software is open-source, so you can compile it yourself, or use a repository that compiles it for you (like Fink or DarwinPorts). Commercial *NIX apps will only run on the specific platforms they were released for (usually Linux/x86 and Solaris). Whether your dad will be able to run his programs depends on what he actually wants to run.

You mentioned a MacBook Pro, which adds another little kink to the story - the Intel Macs are a different platform than PPC Macs. Programs compiled to run on Darwin/PPC won't run on Darwin/x86. Even for open-source programs, there's been a lag in getting everything tested and stable on Darwin/x86, and some of the larger projects still have bugs to work out. So at the moment, there's generally better support for *NIX apps on PPC Macs - but that will change at some point in the near future.
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