Mac Info

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With Apple releasing Mac OS X with its heavy roots in Unix, and many people in the department purchasing Macs for use here, there has become a need for some Mac OS X information. Here's where you'll find it.



I want a Mac, what should I buy?

See the article on hardware. Of course, if you want a Mac desktop, then like all other purchases which the systems administration staff is expected to support, you need to run the configuration by us first so we can make sure that it's feasible. Also if you're looking at a Mac desktop, have a look at this section.

How do I set up a new Mac laptop?

See OS X Software for an extensive list of to-dos.

Can I change the Ctrl & Caps Lock keys?

You can change the actions of the Caps Lock, Ctrl, Command, and Option keys in the "Keyboard" section of System Preferences by pressing the "Modifier Keys" button.

Can I change the Esc and ` keys?

You can change things somewhat, but they will only take effect in X windows. You'll want to create a file called .xmodmaprc and put the following in it:

clear Control
clear Lock
!keysym Caps_Lock = Control_R
keycode 67 = Control_R
!keysym Ctrl = Control_L
keycode 67 = Control_L
add Control = Control_L Control_R
! Keep shift-grave as ~
keycode 58 = Escape asciitilde
! Make ESC generate `
keycode 61 = grave

Then to load the file in, open a terminal and type 'xmodmap .xmodmaprc'. You'll see all your key bindings changed for the better, with the exception of making caps-lock a second ctrl character (because the push-release events for that key always come in pairs either when you push the key or release it). More precisely, caps lock is disabled, ` becomes ESC, and ESC becomes `.

Is there a Mac users group in the building?

There is, though the mailing list is very low traffic (either because people don't talk about their problems, or they just don't have that many problems with their Macs). See

Can I make Focus-Follows-Mouse work on a Mac?

You can, but this will only work for X11 windows. If you want it to work for all applications, you'll need a third party desktop program such as Codetek Virtual Desktop. To turn focus-follows-mouse on for X11 windows, open a terminal and type 'defaults write wm_ffm -bool true'. Additionally, the Terminal program has an option to enable this. 'defaults write FocusFollowsMouse -string YES' turns it on, and 'defaults delete FocusFollowsMouse' turns it off.

Should I use the Mac firewall?

While there's usually no services setup on a Mac that would listen to the network interface, and therefore not much need for a firewall, there's certainly no reason not to run it (extra security measures never hurt). One thing that was noticed, however, is that by running the firewall you may see an extra delay in SSH connections. This is because the remote machine attempts to connect back to your Mac to find out the username associated with the incoming SSH connection, but the Mac firewall silently drops the packets. The delay is anywhere from 10-20 seconds before the remote machine finally gives up on the ident request and allows the connection through. To fix this, add to the "Sharing" firewall list port 113 (sometimes known as 'auth' or 'ident'). You should then see the initial SSH connections work faster.

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