Mac OS X is one of the few systems officially certified as being UNIX. On the other hand, it has a great deal of its own software, including its GUI and some admin tools, that really don't behave like anything an old-fashioned Unix guy is used to, and which don't work other than on Mac OS X.

What about Mac OS X is on and off topic?


3 Answers 3


I feel that unless this is an application-level question like "How do I blur this image in PhotoShop", all questions about MacOS are fair game.

We should not limit ourselves to the "Unix core", because depending on your brand and style of Unix, that can be a pretty lonely subset.

There are:

  • Stripped down Unixes (Busy box for example)
  • Full server environments like Red Hat Linux Enterprise, MacOSX Server, SUSE Linux
  • X11-powered desktop environments, the most common (Ubuntu, RH, Fedora, OpenSUSE)
  • Android-powered desktop environments, like aPad, ePad
  • Android-powered mobile environments, like the NexusOne
  • MeeGo-powered phones using the Qt stack
  • MeeGo-powered netbooks using the Clutter stack
  • MacOS X, with a UI powered by the Cocoa/Quartz stack
  • iOS/iPhoneOS, with a UI powered by UIKit/Quartz
  • Consumer electronics, powered by DirectFB, barebones X or other lightweight windowing system.

I do not believe we need a StackExchange for each of those, instead we should introduce tags for the specific domain of the question, like "x11", "quartz", "ios", "meego", "desktop", "server", "macos", "busybox", "bsd" and even have distribution or brand specific tags like "freebsd", "openbsd", "redhat", "fedora", "ubuntu" and so on.


I would say that anything that deals with the Unix part of the system is fair game:

  • anything that can be done from the terminal
  • anything that has direct analogues to other Unixes (Unicies?), such as managing users and groups
  • questions about ports of Unix utilities, such as macports
  • installing software that is generally available on multiple Unix systems (e.g., TeX, emacs)

Stuff that wouldn't fit

  • Any Apple applications (iTunes, keynote, etc) unless the question is about how to interoperate with them in a Unix environment
  • Any of the GUI aspects (e.g., how to move the dock)
  • What about MacOS specific things, like this? Commented Aug 11, 2010 at 13:29
  • 1
    @Michael: I would say that would fit, since its about an aspect of the Unix part of the system.
    – KeithB
    Commented Aug 11, 2010 at 17:03
  • @Michael: I asked that question specifically as a breaching experiment to see if OSX questions would be accepted here. The votes seem to say yes!
    – Larry Wang
    Commented Aug 11, 2010 at 19:19
  • +1, I agree entirely with that. Also, I believe that for the "wouldn't fit" category there is a StackExchange soon to be headed into beta for this: area51.stackexchange.com/proposals/151/apple
    – user119
    Commented Aug 13, 2010 at 20:02
  • 3
    I'd expect Gnome or KDE to be considered on topic here; why not the Mac UI? Commented Aug 25, 2010 at 21:53
  • @David Thornley: In principle I agree with you: your argument is flawless, as far as I can see. However, because the history of OS X is something of a hybrid, people associate the Finder with the "Classic" Mac OS. It seems to be almost a bigotry toward Macs when you point out the inconsistency, though.
    – iconoclast
    Commented Jul 24, 2011 at 3:04

Just looked at the same discussion for embedded Unix/Linux (it was decide they are on-topic), and those definitively are farther away from mainstream than this.

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