In The Outliers, Bill Joy is quoted as saying

"If you put your Mac in that funny mode where you can see the code, I see things that I can remember typing 25 years ago."

I'm intrigued - what is this mode? How does one use it?

  • 1
    What Mac? What OS? It might be MacsBug and the programmer switch on the old 68000 original Mac line, but it's hard to tell without more clarity.
    – bmike
    Aug 23, 2015 at 20:04
  • @2xedo Unix is the Mac OS "core". And it is Linux's too. If you're interested in seeing what a Unix code might looks like, you can do it through Linux: in Linux you can download (and eventually edit and publish your own distro) the source code
    – AlessioX
    Aug 23, 2015 at 20:09

3 Answers 3


Single user or Verbose mode.

Verbose mode start up

  • Restart the Mac
  • Immediately hold down the command + V keys

You have successfully entered verbose mode when you see white text appear on the screen.

See Apple Support

  • I think this is what was being referred to. Thanks!
    – 2xedo
    Aug 24, 2015 at 5:11

There's no such thing (from the user point-of-view). Mac OS X is not an open-source operating system.

  • Must have been a developer tool, then?
    – 2xedo
    Aug 23, 2015 at 19:33
  • If you're a developer and you work in Cupertino, sure!
    – AlessioX
    Aug 23, 2015 at 19:40
  • 1
    Or is it referring to Terminal? Lol.
    – iProgram
    Aug 23, 2015 at 22:08

More than likely, He is talking about single user mode. Single user mode is a state of the operating system used to repair functionality of the operating system.

  • Coding was done on the black screen which still exists under all that GUI. You can see that it starting up in Verbose Mode - which is also the way to get out of kernel panic. Hold down Comm-V.
    – Zo219
    Aug 23, 2015 at 22:07
  • @Zo219 Yes, either verbose or single user mode. The output seems as if it is the "code". Enough speculating.
    – fd0
    Aug 23, 2015 at 22:12

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