Setting up better shell and terminal environment for OSX Lion

Free (wannabe-pro) tips of the week for those who develop Javascript and Python on OSX.

1. Macports install poem

After fresh OSX Lion install,  install Macports to bring all the goodies of open source software to your computer. This will help get things running in shell and set up smooth Python development environment

sudo port install python32 python27 subversion perl5 nodejs npm \
  rsync sqlite3 wget curl py32-virtualenv py27-virtualenv \
  wget unrar zsh bzr bzip2 openssl jpeg libpng libxml2 libxslt \
  git-core git-extras coreutils lesspipe findutils highlight grep +with_default_names

(Macports 2.0.4. If you are upgrading Macports or OSX or XCode please see these migration notes and Lion / XCode 4.3 specific issues.)

2. GNU Userland

Then enable Macports GNU userland commads put the following into your shell .rc file:

export PATH=/opt/local/libexec/gnubin:/opt/local/bin:/opt/local/sbin:$PATH
export CLICOLOR=1
export LESSOPEN='| /opt/local/bin/ %s'

This will give you nice colours in ls, etc. improvements over barebone BSD userland commands.

3. Sane text editor

Use your favorite non-terminal text editor from command line. Here is an example for Sublime Text 2 which is one of software developer text editors seeing active development under OSX

# Use Sublime Edit 2 as text editor inst
export EDITOR="'/Applications/Sublime Text'"
alias subl="$EDITOR"
# Open file in a real text editor,
# if you happen to type nano from your muscle memory
alias nano="subl"

4. zsh

ZSH is a popular shell among power users with all kinds of plug-ins available. They will help you to deal with Git repositories, virtualenvs, and so on…

To change your shell to Macports‘ /opt/local/bin/zsh in System Preferences > User & Groups: right click on your user after unlockingthe dialog window.

I am also working with some friends with a zsh installer Ztanesh which comes with more powerful default settings for OSX and Linux.

5. Terminal

iTerm 2 is a better replacement for the default Terminal. (Terminal has some serious problems).

6. Disable Spotlight

Disable Spotlight indexing for better performance. Who uses Spotlight search anyway when you have grep?

sudo mdutil -i off /

Disable it also for your Legacy Filevault volume if you have one:

sudo mdutil -i off /Users/moo

7. Sync your configuration files

Some files you might want to save to your Dropbox etc. cloud storing service to share between your computers

8. Kill alt + spacebar character

Pressing alt+spacebar accidentally creates an invisible character which causes most source code go hayware. Disable this behavior.

9. All Python versions

They can be built with collective.buildout.python recipe. In the case you need to deal with ancient codebases (*cough* Plone 3 *cough*).

10. Still some open questions….

All hints and pointers welcome for the following

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3 thoughts on “Setting up better shell and terminal environment for OSX Lion

  1. Hi,
    Suggestion for “Edit-text-files-over-SSH using a local text editor”

    Il use OXSFuse that provides the FUSE API to OSX with an OTB sshfs support and MacFusion that provides the GUI and manages the collection of your favorite servers.

    You cant edit any remote file with any suited MacOS app, as that server’s files system appears as a new drive in the Finder. It works like a charm. But do not copy / move a huge tree of files with the Finder or your local shell (that’s slooooow).

    That’s fine for testing exacly the same script with Linux and OSX too.

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