OS X is very popular among system administrators. It’s a Unix-based operating system, and has all of the flexibility we’ve come to expect from Unix, with the added advantages of being found on very high quality hardware with a user interface that’s often a lot easier to get along with than the defaults found on Linux. Linux sys admins will find themselves at home on Macs: the command line is never more than a click away, and there is a large collection of high-quality applications for system administration, including paid-for proprietary apps, free-as-in-beer apps, and properly open source apps.
We’re going to have a look at 8 apps that we find essential for managing networks and servers from our OS X devices.
iTerm is a terminal emulator that rivals any you’ll find on Linux for features. iTerm uses the Cocoa API so it has the look-and-feel of modern OS X applications and fits right in on the desktop. iTerm supports drag and drop tabs that can be moved between windows, full screen windows for distraction-free command line work, bookmarks to record often used FTP and SSH sessions, and — happy news for Linux users — select to copy and middle-mouse-click pasting.
There are many fine text editors available for Mac, including the venerable BBEdit, its free little brother TextWrangler, and Sublime Text, but our favorite is TextMate, which has just about everything you need for system administration tasks from editing config files to scripting.
One thing system administrators familiar with Linux will miss on OS X is a decent package manager — the Mac App Store in no way replaces a package manager. Homebrew brings much of the package management goodness of Yum or Apt-get to the OS X command line.
Cord is a remote desktop client that makes is painless to connect to Windows machines using the RDP protocol. It’s a very well featured remote desktop client that manages to maintain a simple and elegant interface: even better, it’s free.
Cyberduck is a very handy network storage browser that can connect to FTP, SFTP, WebDAV, as well as cloud storage services like Amazon’s S3
MySQL Workbench is the Swiss Army Knife of MySQL database management tools, and packs in all the features you’ll need to design, administer, develop, and migrate MySQL databases.
Wireshark is a hugely popular network protocol analyzer. If you need to know what’s going on in a network, then Wireshark has you covered.
Frequently, system administrators need to create diagrams to map out processes or networks. OmniGraffle is one of the best available diagramming applications for Mac.
This is a selection of what we install on any new Mac that we’re going to use for work. What are your go-to Mac apps for system administration? Let us know in the comments.