Oct 31, 2003

Welcome to the Machine

Hello. I would like to discuss a neat little command line utility included in Mac OS X that doesn't get enough attention in my humble opinion. Living in /usr/bin/, this simple Open Source tool is something that I just can not live without. What is this wondrous textual utility that I'm talking about? It's none other than machine!

Included since 1991 with the 4.4BSD platform, machine gives you the processor name that your system is based on. I don't know if it works for Intel or any other architectures since when I opened up the binary in TextEdit.app and couldn't find any processor name strings. Here's an incomplete list of machine output that I do know of to help illustrate what I mean:

  • ppc603
  • ppc604
  • ppc620
  • ppc750
  • ppc970

The cleverest aspect of machine is bringing up its manual page. I wonder who was clever enough to invent this little pun, but it makes me LOL every time I do it. Sometimes I do it just to laugh, even if I don't want to learn about machine at the moment. In case you can't guess, here is the command to bring up the manual:

man machine

omfg rorlolf

I have been accessing this program since OpenStep 4.2, then in Rhapsody DR2 and continue to use it today under Mac OS X v10.3. Kudos to NeXT and now Apple for including this Wunderwerkzeug for almost 10 years. It sure makes my Power Mac a joy to use. Check it out!

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