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Chapter 1. Using Mac OS X > Starting Up and Logging In

1.1. Starting Up and Logging In

When you turn on your Mac (or restart it), it takes a minute or so for the system to start up. During this time, various processes and services are started before the user is presented with a login window. Unix veterans are used to seeing the startup phase displayed as a cascade of text messages spilling down the screen, but Mac OS X hides all this information behind a plain white screen with a gray Apple logo on it.

You can see all that startup text if you really want to, by booting into single-user mode (hold down -S as your Mac starts up). This can be a useful diagnostic tool for hardcore Unix-heads who know what they're doing, or a way for the merely curious to watch the strange sight of their Mac rolling out of bed and stumbling around in pure-Unix mode before it puts on its Mac OS face. Use the exit command at the single-user shell to resume the normal Mac OS X boot process. You can also view some of the machine's startup messages after the fact by looking at the file /var/log/system.log; only users with admin privileges can read this file.



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