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I come from growing up on dos/windows and the more I got into programming and development the more I invested time/effort into linux distributions.

I had a choice between an IBM and a Macbook. I went with the Macbook to get some experience but I am not really sure where to start? I find myself wanting to install virtualbox and boot up linux.

Any advice for a new Mac user who wants to get back up to speed with programming efficiently?

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closed as off-topic by GlenH7, MichaelT, amon, jwenting, Giorgio May 10 at 23:29

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Unless you have the time to learn using Mac, apologize to your employer and ask for IBM. Since you invested a lot of your resources into Linux, do you really have the time to fiddle around with Mac while trying to meet that quickly upcoming deadline? I don't think so. –  Jas Nov 3 '10 at 12:41
@Jas: Yes I do have the time and flexibility to learn a new operating system. My employer is very receptive to me learning Osx and understands my lack of experience with it. It was actually a justification point to diversify me experience. And additionally, we know I can always boot into a VM to get work done and play with it on my free time outside of work to become more familiar with it. –  Chris Nov 3 '10 at 13:04
This question belongs on SuperUser - unless you're specifically asking for programming/career related advice (which the current question is not; it's asking for MacOSX usage advice), this is off topic. –  Peter Boughton Nov 3 '10 at 13:37
Being a programmer doesn't let you ask any question here you like - see the faq for the topics covered (which I don't think is a perfect fit/description yet, but it gives the idea). Learning MacOS is neither programming nor programmer related, (it's about being a user of the OS), and you will get far more useful answers on SuperUser than here. –  Peter Boughton Nov 3 '10 at 13:55
@Peter: 3 votes and 2 favorites, along with 4 votes to reopen begs the question was this appropriately closed? –  Chris Nov 3 '10 at 14:07

5 Answers 5

Well Mac OS 10.6.x has a POSIX compatible core, so look for the terminal icon and fire up your UNIX certified terminal! You'll quickly find yourself at home there.

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Also check out DarwinPorts, an open-source package manager based on FreeBSD ports but fulfills the same function as most package managers in help automatically building all dependencies for installations and keep packages up to date. –  Jeremy Nov 3 '10 at 13:40

First, I would thank the employer for getting me such nice gear. Courtesy is sadly lacking in today's workplace. Next, I would look at what it is that I need to do for the employer, and if it REQUIRED Linux (i.e., direct dependence on a particular set of binaries in a distribution) I would set up a virtual environment to host it (I am partial to VMWare - to each their own). If the need was NOT for a specific Linux distro I would get my terminal program in Mac set up how I wanted it and start working. All the basic commands you expect are there, with some changes to the allowed switches. Anything you don't have can be installed and/or you can fall back on a VM with whatever distro floats your boat. I would not mess around with dual booting or such. Other than that, no particular advice for a new Mac user.

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Why do you say "I would not mess around with dual booting..."? –  Chris Nov 3 '10 at 13:02
Why? Because there is too much hassle associated with a reboot of the hardware. Back in the day I used to have multiple boot partitions to go into whatever OS was necessary, but the hardware that is now available makes most tasks (from where you're sitting at the keyboard) nearly identical running in a VM. My desktop has four cores and 8GB of RAM. Even my laptop has two cores and 4GB of RAM. Hardware is cheaper and easier than messing around with rebooting. –  Todd Williamson Nov 3 '10 at 13:28

Go into it with an open mind. Remember the first time you booted a Linux box, and how it wasn't anything like Windows/DOS? You're in the same boat, now.

There will be some things which you really like and some things which you really hate -- that's completely normal. Over time, it will become more familiar, and just like I'm sure you're equally comfortable working in a Windows world now as you are a Linux one, you'll soon be equally comfortable working in a Mac world as well.

Enjoy the process. You only get to learn a new operating system once.

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Here's a survival kit for the first months. Start with installing MacPorts and the latest version of XQuartz. Download and install the software that you are used to: Firefox / Thunderbird, OpenOffice, Gimp, Inkscape, Emacs if that's your bag (I personally recommend Carbon Emacs) etc. This will allow you to get up to speed as fast as possible.

Later, you can try out the "native" software, please take advice from the other posters. I converted not so long ago, and the only thing I can recommend for now is TextMate, although I still cling to Emacs for day to day use.

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My advice is to slowly appreciate the powerfulness of a Macbook, and at the same time, get ready to install VirtualBox and install Windows and Linux on it. There might be some tools that is readily available on Windows that you are used to using, but at the moment can't be found on the Mac, or a similar tool exists also on Mac, but you are not used to using it yet.

And now you have the best of 3 worlds.

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