Mac-mini mini-tutorial

Mac-mini mini-tutorial

Basic intro for first-time Mac users to the observer workstations

The Magellan Mac mini observer workstations have been set up to mimic a typical linux setup as closely as possible. While you are in the X11 environment you should notice little difference in the behaviour of the setup to the old linux workstations.

Essential software

To run IRAF:

You can simply open an xgterm, change directory to ~/iraf, and type cl.
They can also type “goiraf” on the command line.

To open the instrument GUI’s:

The same procedure as before is used. For example, on MIKE, one types “mike” and then fills out the relevant information.

Xterms and Terminals:

You have the choice of an X11 “xterm” or an Apple “Terminal”. Both behave the same way for the most part – they see the same shell. However, the xterm is an integral part of the X11 environment, and will obey normal X11 focus-follows-mouse behaviour. Highlighting something in an xterm using the mouse cursor copies that item to the X11 copy buffer as usual. 

The Terminal behaves slightly differently in these regards. It is a part of the Mac Aqua environment. To copy – use the “Apple” or “Command” key and hit: Apple-C. To paste use Apple-V. Copying to the Apple copy buffer also copies to the X11 copy buffer, but the inverse is not true. To copy from an X11 window into a Mac Application, you will need to go to “Edit -> Copy” while in the X window.

Mac tips

The Keyboard Apple button: The keyboard buttons on either side of the space bar are known as the “Apple” or “Command” keys (like the windows keys on windows machines). It is widely used for Key Shortcuts to do all sorts of things. A list of them is available from:

Many are application-dependent, but some common system-wide ones include:

  • Apple-C = copy
  • Apple-V = paste
  • Apple-X = cut
  • Apple-Q = quit application
  • Apple-W = close current window / tab / instance of application without quitting entirely.

The basic layout of the desktop:

The Apple symbol at the top left of screen gives you access to System level things, including an ability to force-quit an application (like “kill” on the command line, which still works as well).

The “Status Bar” is the bar across the top of the screen. This tells you, first and foremost, which Application you are currently “in” (next to the apple symbol). The other items are Application-specific menus that allow you to do certain things relevant to that application.  Note that the “Preferences” for an Application are ALMOST ALWAYS found under the first menu (the name of the Application).

The “Dock”: The panel across the bottom of the screen is called the Dock. It simply contains aliases. You can drag things onto and off the dock to suit. Removing something from the dock does not remove it from the computer – it simply removes that “shortcut” or alias to the item. A single click will open items on the Dock.

The Desktop: Clicking on the Desktop puts you into the “Finder” application. This is the basic file system navigator (like Nautilus or windows explorer) for the Mac.

The “Finder” allows you to navigate around the files on local disks and remote disks. When in Finder, you can open a new Finder window by hitting “apple-N”. You can connect to a remote server using “apple-K”.

Finder and MacOSX Help: Note the “Help” item on the status bar when in Finder gives you access to a useful Help menu describing how to do many things on the Mac. This is also reach-able with “apple-?”.

The Finder only sees the Mac-specific directory tree, not the normal BSD linux tree (which still exists, but  with some modifications).

/: Going to the hard drive (the mount to which is aliased in the Dock) is equivalent to “/” on linux, but you will note that the familiar /bin, /etc, /usr directories are not visible from the Finder. Fear not – they are still there, and the complete tree is visible from the command line as normal.

Home: The Mac equivalent of “/home” is “/Users”. Your user account will be at “/Users/username”

Volumes: External disks, including USB sticks, CD’s and DVD’s are mounted to /Volumes 

Open: On the command line, typing “open filename” will open that file with the default Mac application. Opening a directory (e.g. “open .”) will open the Finder

Accessing Data:

If someone is using an instrument that stores data remotely:…
(e.g. PANIC, MagIC), they will need to sftp or scp it across to their local machine to work on it or write it to DVD. They can
do this as usual on the command line, but we have also included a nice application called “Transmit” on the Dock. Once
the connection is established, the user can simply copy across any new data (in an “rsync”-like way).

To connect to a remote disk or server:
Go to the “Finder” application on the remote computer. Then click the “Go” menu item (in status bar at top of screen),  and select “Go To Server”.  Alternatively you can hit “Apple-K”.
Enter the name of the machine you wish to connect to the data disk on (e.g. “guanaco”). The user should then connect to the data disk “Data_Guanaco” when given a list of options.

Burning a DVD

Burning a DVD on a mac can be done simply using the Finder. Put the blank DVD into the slot on the front of the mini. In a few seconds an icon appears on the Desktop — double click to open a Finder window. This is where you will drag the files to be burned. Note that dragging files here creates softlinks – it does not physically transfer the data.

Open a second Finder window and navigate to your data. Drag the files or directories to be burned to the first Finder window – NOTE the text at the bottom that tells you how full your DVD is so far. Once you are finished, burning can be initiated by hitting the “burn” button, or the black and yellow disk at the left of the DVD Finder wndow. Please CHANGE THE NAME OF THE DVD and do not include spaces or characters – failure to do this may result in you being unable to read it on a non-Macintosh machine! Hit OK.

To EJECT: Press AND HOLD the eject button at top right of the keyboard!


Unresponsive Applications:

If you have an application that becomes unresponsive, you will see a “spinning color wheel”. If you click on the Desktop, this should disappear. You can then click on the Apple, select “Force Quit, and select the application that is causing you problems.

The “System Monitor” Application:

Available from the Dock (bottom of screen) or “Applications” folder.
This gives you a list of processes running, and their drain on system resou

rces. This is like “top” on the command line
(which still works as well).


To switch users without logging out the current user: Go to the top right of the screen: Click on the name of the logged in user. You will see a list of other users. A tick mark next to the name means that they are currently logged in. Clicking on any name will bring up a box requesting a password. Once the password is entered you switch to that Users desktop.

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