I have been using XP for almost a decade. Contrary to popular belief, it has served me well. In the last 4 years I don't remember ever having it crash on me. It has the most stable GUI I have ever used.

However, an OS is only as good as it's GUI AND command line combined. Windows command line is awful and totally useless. So I have been using Ubuntu for a couple years and Debian on my servers.

The only problem is that Gnome applications (ubuntu 6-10) constantly crash on me (Ubuntu Studio was the most unstable OS I ever used). I have high quality Gigabyte, MSI, and Asus motherboards and CPU's from old Semprons/Athlons to Celerons/Core 2 Quads. What are the odds that every PC I have ever owned can't remain stable with a linux GUI? Not to mention that Adobe CSx Suite doesn't work on linux.

Anyway, I am now looking at moving to a Mac in the hope of finding a stable GUI and a feature-packed command line.

Does Mac OS have an integrated command line where I can do linux-like-awesomeness like rsync, ssh, wget, crong jobs, package updates, and git without having an unstable GUI?

Basically, until the linux GUI applications get a little better, is OS X what I need?

  • 3
    I guess you haven't heard of powershell? :)
    – user1931
    Commented Jan 14, 2011 at 18:30
  • @John thanks, I hadn't heard of that. However, powershell only seems to be .NET related.
    – Xeoncross
    Commented Jan 14, 2011 at 18:38
  • hmmm.. just found a project called "flink" which seems to be the "Cygwin" of Mac (except that it actually integrates with the native OS X command line!) Anyone have any feedback on it? finkproject.org/about.php
    – Xeoncross
    Commented Jan 14, 2011 at 18:41
  • 1
    In what sense? That it requires .NET framework to be installed? The scripting doesn't require you to know .NET, although you can incorporate it if you want.
    – user1931
    Commented Jan 14, 2011 at 18:42
  • 1
    I like MacPorts more than fink ( macports.org ). There is also Homebrew ( mxcl.github.com/homebrew ). These seem to be the three big macos package managers.
    – Fake Name
    Commented Jan 14, 2011 at 23:50

5 Answers 5


I'm a software developer who routinely work on linux and OSX machines machines using the command line, often over SSH. They're nearly identical.

I run Bash on both for my shell. Nearly all the command line tools work on both. All the tools you mention are the same on either.

  • wget is not on OSX out of the box. But that's ok, I (personally) prefer cURL, anyways.
    – VxJasonxV
    Commented Jan 14, 2011 at 23:24
  • oh shoot, you're right. I've always installed it on my OSX machines that I forgot. Commented Jan 15, 2011 at 16:45

Yes, Mac OS X is built on top of a Darwin UNIX foundation. You will find most commands from your Linux installation are available in OS X, including all of the ones you've listed. The purchase is up to you.


OS X is based on Darwin, which is a POSIX-compliant BSD derivative. It supports many of the same features as Linux with regards to command line tools, but does certain other things differently such as X handling and low-level capabilities. Also, be aware that any reputation for stability that OS X may have is based on Apple hardware, whereas Linux can run on a much wider variety of machines.

As for "is OS X what I need?", that's hardly for anyone but yourself to decide.

  • It is for others to decide. I want a command-line that actually does something - and a GUI that won't crash on me. I haven't used mac yet so I am looking for feedback from anyone that has which can confirm my questions.
    – Xeoncross
    Commented Jan 14, 2011 at 18:35
  • @Xeoncross Voting to close based on your comment. All the facts are there, but you have to decide for yourself.
    – Daniel Beck
    Commented Jan 15, 2011 at 0:45

Yes, you can most certainly do the things you want. You will have to install things like wget and git yourself, and lots of command line things like make and gcc will work better if you have the Xcode Developer Tools (And, what I mean by "work better" is that they are easiest to install if you have the Xcode Tools, seeing as how the Xcode Tools include them). There are many different package managers for Mac OS X, such as Homebrew, MacPorts. Some of the tools that you mentioned such as ssh and rsync come built in. The command line application is built in as well. It is called Terminal.app. Here is a screenshot: Terminal Screenshot

The command line on Mac OS X is just as powerful as that on Linux. But of course, the final decision is up to you, and you should choose whatever works best for you.


Mac OS X's command-line backend, Darwin, is a POSIX-compliant FreeBSD derivative, which is itself based upon the original UNIX. It lets you use many GNU/Linux command line tools, although there's a few differences in the way things are handled behind the scenes.

If you'll be installing a lot of command-line tools and don't want to be messing with configuration scripts and GNU make, you still won't be missing APT, Pacman or whatever package manager you used before, because with Homebrew, it's just as easy and fool-proof.

As for "is OS X what I need?", even when considering your specific needs, it will be up to you to decide.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .