Introductory Notes

A Couple of Terms and Caveats and Prerequisites and Stuff

First off, don’t be too scared by the procedures you’ll find here. In order to accomplish our goal of printing, we’re going to have to leave our formerly cozy, comfortable Macintosh world and dive into the “dark world” of Unix. This something that the average Macintosh user never has had to do in the past. Nevertheless, if you’re careful and deliberate in following this guide, you’ll come out okay; have a working printer (I hope); and learn some things about the new Macintosh way (and by extension, Unix).

Through these procedures I’ll use the term “BSD” to refer to the underlying, low-level Macintosh operating system. This should properly be referred to as “Darwin,” since Apple has made sufficient changes to BSD (like using Mach instead of the BSD kernel) that it merits its own designation. However, saying “BSD” probably works better for everyone, because it’s referred to often in the man pages and in much of the documentation you’ll find available on the internet.

As I refer to “Mac OS X,” I generally mean the high-level operating system, i.e., the user interface. Pay attention to context just in case, though.

You should note that BSD is always running, whether your terminal program is running or not. It is, after all, the basis of the entire Macintosh Operating System. The terminal is merely a utility that allows you to directly execute commands to the BSD system. As you’ll learn when we set up GhostScript, there does not need to be a terminal window open in order to run BSD “commands.”

Here are some things you should already know before getting started. If you don’t know them, follow the links and learn how to do some of these essential basics before proceeding.

  • How to start a terminal (start the Terminal application).
  • How to become root in a terminal (su to root. If you haven’t enabled root, then sudo su to root.)
  • How to look at the error log (use the Console application).
  • You should know how to use cd to move around the file system in the terminal.
  • You should know to never, ever type sudo rm -R / into a terminal window!
  • You should know enough about pico that point-and-click doesn’t do anything; that you need to use arrow keys to move around; and that Ctrl-O, Return, Ctrl-X save your file and return you to the command line. If you prefer to use another text editor, feel free to do so, but please know how to use it.
  • You need to know that you need to be very, very careful about everything you do as the root user.
  • Above all, everything you do here, you do at your own risk!