I haven't used OS X since an awful experience with its commandline tools and CD Xcode about 2009, that time getting rid of all Apple stuff but coming back after iPhone/iPad/FaceTime/iCloud/etc. Now I am wondering whether I could solve this problem other way, I love to use tools such as awk, mogrify, imagemagick, etc -- they are pretty integral part of me because I don't like to relearn things. Most of the time, I solve problems with short one-liners so if I cannot do it, my productivity will drop a lot.

So could I run *ix Commandline tools on Macbook Air? I have an old laptop in the same WIFI network so I may be able to connect it for remote control?

  • 3
    Pardon me if I didn't get something, but why don't you use the Terminal app and install something like macports to get everything you need in commandline? the only thing that I had trouble installing was gcc, because I did not want to install Xcode. Commented Nov 6, 2012 at 9:21
  • @Bicou can you get mogrify -running in MBA?
    – hhh
    Commented Nov 6, 2012 at 9:29
  • 4
    Did you check ImageMagick's website? They clearly mention how to install it on a Mac OS machine, and they recommend macports. I haven't tested mogrify but I guess there's no problem using it on a Mac OS machine. As @CraftyThumber mentioned, Mac OS belongs to the UNIX family. Commented Nov 6, 2012 at 13:20

1 Answer 1


Mac OSX is a certified UNIX machine so of course you can use command line tools. If you're finding yourself yearning after Linux tools then I recommend you try Homebrew which is a package manager for Mac. which works in a similar way to apt-get and contains many ports of standard tools.

As @Bicou suggests, MacPorts is another option to achieve similar aims.

As far as the tools you mentioned specifically: awk comes as standard on OSX (it's on my machine in /usr/bin/) and imagemagick is available in Homebrew since running:

$ brew search imagemagick


  • Any idea whether it is possible to get GNU versions of the *ix tools i.e. replacing all Apple commandline tools let say with some BSD or some Linux -distro tools? Last time I hacked around Apple tools, it was painful because manuals modified and commands not working as expected or missing, requiring more time -- wish I could get all basic *ix -commands somehow fast to the machine.
    – hhh
    Commented Nov 6, 2012 at 17:44
  • I believe the majority of the packages in Homebrew and MacPorts are ports of the GNU tools. You'll then just need to make sure that the paths for these tools is at the start of your $PATH variable. By default packages are installed in /usr/local/bin for Homebrew and /opt/local/bin and /opt/local/sbin for MacPorts.
    – sjbx
    Commented Nov 6, 2012 at 23:21
  • P.S. I have no idea what basic commands you're referring to because they're all there. Mac OSX is built on FreeBSD.
    – sjbx
    Commented Nov 6, 2012 at 23:22
  • It is not: symlinks do not mean the same commands. When I used them 3-4 years ago, Apple deliberately changed manuals making things very blind-folded and commands then not the same. This made certain things very painful when essential information was removed in the manual, had to read always good old obsd -manuals, obsd != freebsd. Apple *ix, their own way.
    – hhh
    Commented Nov 7, 2012 at 0:23
  • 1
    OK, so the manuals may be different and you correctly pointed out that OpenBSD != FreeBSD (which is obviously true). You've still yet to coherently articulate what it is you're missing. It is a different OS so things will be different. It is however, most certainly a UNIX derivative. However, UNIX != Linux and so if it's Linux tools you want, I suggest Bootcamp :)
    – sjbx
    Commented Nov 7, 2012 at 12:04

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