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Use the 'bash' shell in the terminal UNIX
The default shell (the program that runs when you open a terminal window) is called tcsh. Bash is an alternative with a superset of features that many UNIX users prefer; you can read about it on the Bash information page. Jim Weisbin of has written a great set of instructions for installing the Bash shell in OS X.

You can download Bash from Jim's site, and the installation instructions are included. It's quite simple; if you've used the terminal much at all, it should be fairly straightforward. You can also view the instructions online prior to downloading to get some idea of the process.
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Mount your iDisk from the command line Network
This thread over on the MacNN forums discusses how to mount your iDisk using a terminal session. Why might this be useful? You could SSH to your OS X machine from anywhere, mount your iDisk, and then use cp to copy files from your iDisk to one of your local drives ... with the new "Apple Software" folder on iDisk, this could prove to be very handy!

I've documented the "how-to" in the second part of this posting, but head over to MacNN to read the full details!
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MacWorld keynote System
In case you missed it, Steve Jobs gave a very interesting keynote this morning at MacWorld.

You can download the QuickTime video at one of these three locations:

1000mbit stream [This is a 1.7 gigabyte file; as of 1/17, it seems to have vanished]
100mbit stream
56K stream

He gave a very exciting demo of the new OS X features, including (amongst other things) hierarchical capabilities in the dock, the return of the Apple menu at the left edge of the screen, customizable finder navigation features, and (amazingly cool!) QuickTime movies playing in the dock! Also, it looked very fast in general use (of course, he was probably on the fastest new machine).

In addition, he introduced some very cool new hardware and software. Go to MacCentral's notes live from the keynote for all the details. The most interesting things (to me, anyway) were DVD recording hardware in the new high-end G4's, iDVD, iTunes (for free!), built-in Finder-level CD burning in the new boxes, and (of course) the Titanium PowerBook!

In all, it was a very impressive show. The most relevant OS X items of interest were the price ($129) and the ship date (Saturday, March 24th).

On a related note, anyone interested in buying a slightly used G4/350 AGP? ;-) I'm thinking I really really want one of the new 733mhz machines ... and I wish I had some viable excuse to need a new G4 Titanium PowerBook!

Comments on the announcements?
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Sharing mailboxes with Apps
Say you are sharing a computer with a number of people (say your family), and you want to be able to share a common mailbox. It turns out that with a little work, this can be done using MacOS X (PB) and But it does take a little work, some time with, and the root password.

Read the rest of this article for detailed instructions on how to set up a mailbox that can be used by more than one user. [Editor's note: I have not tried this on my machine yet, but it looks fairly straightforward.]
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How to access your idisk Network
Accessing your idisk (given to you when you sign up for itools) is quite easy under OS X.

When in the finder, select Connect to Server under the Go menu (or just press command-K). When the dialog box appears, make sure the drop-down menu says AFP Servers, and then type in the URL entry box.

A username/password dialog box should appear. Enter your username and password, and your idisk should mount on the desktop. Once it's mounted, you can make an alias to it, and simply double-click it in the future.

Apple has added a new "Software" folder to everyone's idisk which contains a selection of OS X software disk images. To use, simply drag the image you want onto a local volume and it will download. There's a large number of programs listed, and I imagine this folder will get much more active once OS X 1.0 ships. Quite cool, and this alone probably makes it worth getting a (free) itools account.

Thanks to 'James' for submitting the idisk question!
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Modify your terminal shell prompt UNIX
The tcsh shell (the one that launches when you start a terminal) has a prompt which looks like this:

[machinename:~] username%

You can modify the prompt with the set prompt = command (subtle, I know!). Over on the MacNN forums, this thread includes a great tutorial (written by blanalex) on how to generate some unique and useful prompt strings, including those with colored foregrounds and backgrounds.

I've reproduced the final how-to from the discussion in the remainder of this article, in case the MacNN posting goes away anytime soon.
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PB Only - Enabling secure remote connections System
[Editor's note: The following applies to the Public Beta only. The current release version of OS X does not contain SSH; search the site for articles on installing SSH if you'd like to use it. Rumor has it that the first OS X update will again include SSH]

If you access your OS X box remotely, you can do so through an incredibly simple-to-use Telnet server (simply click "Turn on remote Telnet access" on the Sharing System Preference panel). However, this is not the best way to connect to your OS X box - your passwords are transmitted in cleartext (non encrypted), meaning that they could be intercepted by those with malicious intents.

OS X includes a built-in secure remote access package known as SSH (Secure SHell). However, there is no GUI for enabling SSH, which is unfortunate (hopefully this will be changed prior to final release). It is not, however, overly difficult to enable SSH using a terminal session, if you're reasonably comfortable with editing files in the shell.

If you access your machine remotely, and you would like to do so more securely, read the rest of this article for information on how to enable and use SSH.
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A new 'Services' package Apps
InstantLinks screenshotWhile looking for interesting OS X apps recently, I happened upon a program called InstantLinks, available from Subsume Technologies. InstantLinks, shown in use at the right (click on the image for a larger screenshot), is a system service that is available in any application that supports OS X services (such as Fire and OmniWeb, to name two).

What does it do? From a services-aware application, you highlight a text string that you're interested in, such as a word, an address, or a URL. Then simply activate the InstantLinks service menu, and pick the action you would like performed on your selection. You can look it up in a dictionary, map the location, open the URL, search the web, or check a thesaurus.

It's an amazing example of some of the really neat stuff that I think we'll see coming out for OS X in the next few months. Highly recommended, if for nothing more than a peak at the future possibilities of OS X. Read the rest of the article if you'd like a detailed explanation for how to install and activate the progam (it's a bit different than a typical application).
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Interesting dock 'feature' Desktop
I keep only one thing (the screensaver module) in the dock when nothing else is running. I was somewhat surprised to find a Eudora icon there today, even though Eudora wasn't running.

Experimenting a bit, I discovered that if you simply move (or even just pick up and drop) the icon of a running application, it turns into a permanent dock icon when you quit that application.

I'm not sure whether this should be called a feature or a bug...
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Change the colour of desktop icon names Desktop
To make the names of your desktop icons appear in black enter this in a terminal window:
defaults write Desktop.HasDarkBackground 0
The names will look appear like this.

To return to the default (this) enter:
defaults write Desktop.HasDarkBackground 1
(Of course you need to logout or kill the Desktop to see the changes)
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