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Switcher Hangout The place for switchers to discuss their new machines, and how to work with OS X. General support can be had here for newbie stuff, like "How do I restart my new iMac?" :)

Long time Windows developer gets a Mac


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dalison

 
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Two weeks ago today I bought my first Mac in nearly 24 years. Yep - I bought an original 128K Mac in the spring of 1984 when they first hit the market. I didn't keep it too long though. While it was a truly innovative piece of hardware that I wish I had more time with, DOS ruled the world at the time and I was just kicking off my career as a software engineer and needed to go with PCs.

Fast forward 24 years. I've been doing hard core Windows development for a really long time now (17 years) and I thought maybe I should take a look at Mac again. To dip my toe in the water I went out and bought a little MacBook - 2.2Ghz, 2GB RAM and a 120GB HD. I originally intended for it to be an extra machine - a compliment really. Something I could test my web based applications on since Safari caused so many headaches for applications I had developed.

What I didn't expect to happen was that I would find myself using the machine as much as I have. It's not that I hate Windows (well, I pretty much hate Vista but XP is a fine OS), it's just that I find myself constantly playing with this machine.

So I figured I'd pop in here and introduce myself. I actually created a blog that I'm updating nearly daily about a long time, highly experienced Windows guy making the switch. The address of the blog is:

http://www.davidalison.com

I've already been spending time reading through these forums and found some great new tips and software to check out. Glad I found this place!
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RiDE

 
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Great story!

Welcome to Mac-Forums!
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Lifeisabeach

 
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Welcome to the forums! As a former Windows "power user" who switched completely a couple years ago myself, I have a gut feeling that in time your opinion of Windows XP being a "fine OS" will change dramatically.
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dalison

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lifeisabeach View Post
Welcome to the forums! As a former Windows "power user" who switched completely a couple years ago myself, I have a gut feeling that in time your opinion of Windows XP being a "fine OS" will change dramatically.
Only time will tell . I really like most tech - even pretty fond of the Ubuntu Linux distribution right now. It's really a matter of it filling the need. The only thing that worries me about Windows right now is the Virus / Spyware problem; I've been able to get around it without much of a problem but my wife and kids seem to get machines infected with so much crap so quickly that I have to wipe the machines every couple of months - and that's with Symantec System Works trying it's best to keep it safe.

As their machines need replacement I'm getting them Macs - it will be much easier.
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dtravis7

 
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Welcome dalison to Mac Forums. I hope you enjoy your Macbook and OSX. If we can help ever in any way, just ask.

I feel XP is a very good OS also. I just like OSX more. Enjoy.
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dalison

 
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OK then here's a newbie question for you: When I fired up the machine I kept my default account (administrator) and began using it. Should I create a new account that is not the system administrator (effectively root)? Other than the obvious issues associated with doing something stupid (rm can be fun), is it highly recommended to create a non super user account and run from that every day?

--David
My blog about my move from Windows to Mac: www.davidalison.com
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MacFanBoy

 
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Simple answer YES
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walkerj

 
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Simpler answer: Well, not really, you're running not as 'root', but as an administrator who requires that you authenticate to do things to your system. You are not actually the 'root guy', but more to the point the guy who has the administrative authority to do things on your system.

Really you have to understand that you are the 'highest authority' on your system, and thus you kind of need to know what's going on and act accordingly. On a Mac (unless you have explicitly enabled this) while this is a UNIX type of system with UNIX type permissions there is no real 'root' that can do wholesale damage to your machine. By default this 'root' authority is not enabled, nor should it be.

If you want to be ultimately 'safe' (which nobody ever is) you would create an 'account' which is just a regular user with no administrative capabilities and log in as your other account which has said administrative abilities.

In the practical sense, you're probably fine having the ability to allow things that deem they need administrative access (i.e. requesting your admin password) do the things they need to do without that extra 'layer', so to speak.

It's kind of hard to explain, especially at this late hour for me. I could probably provide a better explanation later and someone else could probably provide a better one as well, but for now, let's just say that if anything asks you for your admin password it's most likely doing something that you want it to do to your system, as opposed to what might happen under the default Windows world of not bothering to ask you for any password at all.

I left the Windows world awhile ago with windows XP, and have no knowledge of Vista, so this advice may be suspect. But in the Mac world, you're dealing with UNIX. Things can do damage, but chances are they won't be and you'll be okay letting them do whatever they need to install themselves on your lovely machine. It's kind of the same thing as using 'sudo' to do things. You need to allow it to do them, but it will ask first. I'm probably not making that much sense.

BTW, I read your blog. It pretty much is the same as my own experiences switching to this platform two years ago myself. I have a number of really long, detailed posts regarding exactly how and why I am typing this from a Macbook today. And regardless of what any of my future employers might issue to me, I'm not going to be buying any Windows machines for my own personal use. Or business.

But then this is a Mac forum. You should kind of expect that.
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Lifeisabeach

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dalison View Post
OK then here's a newbie question for you: When I fired up the machine I kept my default account (administrator) and began using it. Should I create a new account that is not the system administrator (effectively root)? Other than the obvious issues associated with doing something stupid (rm can be fun), is it highly recommended to create a non super user account and run from that every day?
Just to muddle up things more here...

Basically an administrator can do pretty much anything root can do. An admin will have to frequently verify/confirm an action that "may" be dangerous to the system, and in some cases will have to resort to using the terminal. Root, once logged in, is completely unfettered and has fewer hassles to face, if any. At least that's been my perspective of things.

So "should" one run a limited account routinely and use the Admin account only as needed? I've seen it recommended that way, but I personally don't due to the nuisance it would involve. Basically you have to simply trust yourself not to do anything stupid, and be aware of what you are doing and what's going on. If you get a pop-up box asking for your password, you should know why it's asking this. Often it's just an app installer that needs to put files in the Library, but other times you may be trying to do something (like delete a Library item) that potentially could cause a problem with the system. It's possible to run a malicious script that, if you aren't paying attention and just authorize it, could cause damage. In Windows... you don't get asked for a password... such a script would just go! Those boxes asking for authorization are one extra layer of security that exist to make you pause and think for a moment.
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dalison

 
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OK, so many new things to learn!

One of the challenges of being a techie as well as a developer is that I really want to understand what's going on under the hood. Right now I'm investigating web development solutions - for building large scale web based applications - and trying out those environments.

Can you guys recommend a site or book that helps me dive a little deeper than just the typical application level? Based two of the three responses above I actually think I'm ok running as the administrator all the time.

I really appreciate the help!

@walkerj: I get where you are coming from. I've already started spec'ing out a new Mac Pro for my primary development machine. A good friend of mine that has also switched completely to Mac still has to use PCs at the office every day; he said all he does is long for the minute he gets home so that he can use his Mac. And he was about as hardcore a Windows user as they come too.

--David
My blog about my move from Windows to Mac: www.davidalison.com
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dalison View Post
Fast forward 24 years. I've been doing hard core Windows development for a really long time now (17 years) and I thought maybe I should take a look at Mac again. To dip my toe in the water I went out and bought a little MacBook - 2.2Ghz, 2GB RAM and a 120GB HD. I originally intended for it to be an extra machine - a compliment really. Something I could test my web based applications on since Safari caused so many headaches for applications I had developed.
That's funny, the exact same thing happened to me. I picked up a little MacBook to use for software testing (I needed an Intel Mac for the lab) 1.5 years ago. I took it home with me the first night to configure it... then I took it home the next night to play with it... then the next night, and next. You get the idea. Within a week I had retired my company issued XP laptop in favor of my lowly little MacBook as my primary working PC.

2 weeks ago I made the switch at home. I retired my Dell 9100 desktop in favor of a new iMac.

Welcome aboard!
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sgarrand

 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dalison View Post
Can you guys recommend a site or book that helps me dive a little deeper than just the typical application level? Based two of the three responses above I actually think I'm ok running as the administrator all the time.
I've seen The Missing Manual Leopard Edition recommended many times. It's worth checking out.

Scott
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WolfsBane

 
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XP is a decent OS. When it originally came out, the biggest issue was in either obtaining or modifying device drivers for all the devices that we used, specially in a work type network environment with lots of applications and supporting hardware. But once those rolled out, the OS itself was pretty good. The other issue with Windows is that it lends itself open to penetration by malware because of the way that some of it's components are written. They developed certain components to allow universal programing access, and then they had to go back and develop security updates to disable those functionalities because they were being used as a means to load malicious coding into our systems. That's the way it goes...

Being a fundamentally native multi user type platform, Mac OS X has within it the means to tell an experienced user with system level access when he or she is about to access or install something that is critical in nature. I think that as long as you are careful and don't bypass the intended parameters, that you should be ok with just your administrative account and access.


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dalison

 
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Quote:
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... They developed certain components to allow universal programing access, and then they had to go back and develop security updates to disable those functionalities because they were being used as a means to load malicious coding into our systems. That's the way it goes...
You hit that right on the head. One of the biggest challenges with Windows development was that you would build an application only to find that key libraries you were using (like to embed IE within your application or access MAPI to send e-mail) had been disabled by a patch. My application would suddenly cease to work and I would get inundated with support e-mails from customers asking why my app suddenly stopped working. Good times.

@Scott: I saw that on Amazon while I was poking but it looked a little lighter than I need. I did find this:

Mac OS X Internals: A Systems Approach

Looks pretty close to what I'm looking for. Comes in Wednesday.

--David
My blog about my move from Windows to Mac: www.davidalison.com
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Macs to and maintenance needed on them selves while your not using it, so as long as you are not constantly turning it off there is no need for you to do any maintenance Just an interesting little fact that you might be interested in.
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