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The Unix File System

To the novice Unix user—especially one coming from a GUI environment as nice as the Mac's—venturing into the Unix file system will probably feel like a journey back to the Stone Age. Files upon files, nothing to indicate what any of them do, and not a friendly icon in sight. Although the file system might initially appear cryptic and primitive, you will find that with experience, it actually affords you considerable sophistication and control. This sophistication comes from the ability to combine the functions of many small programs into larger programs with arbitrarily complex functions.

Before the use of most Unix commands will make sense, you'll need to understand a few things about the design of the Unix file system. The Mac OS X HFS+ file system doesn't strictly adhere to the model that most Unixes use, but from the point of view of the BSD subsystem, it functions in an analogous manner. You'll find a number of differences between the way Unix thinks of files, and what you're probably used to, but after you get used to them, you'll probably find these differences are to your liking.


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