The uncomfortable marriage of the UNIX command line and Mac GUI, and its implications for my sudoers file

I’m a longtime Mac user. A “power user,” you might say. Not so much a power UNIX user, though I do a fair bit of Linux-based command line tomfoolery as part of my job.

But things get ugly when the two come together. At the command line I am a bit too inclined to treat my Mac like a Linux server. It may have UNIX at its core, but it’s not Linux. And Apple has put some effort into de-UNIX-ing it as well. Things you expect to work don’t work the way you expect them to. (Yes, I just wrote that sentence. See what this is doing to my brain???)

For reasons I don’t care to get into, I decided today that I needed to modify the sudoers file on the studio’s Mac mini file server. And in my own inimitable and slightly stupid way, I handled this task as I typically do anything involving changing buried system files, not by struggling through using a command line text editor, but by copying the file to my desktop (where it is magically released from the prison of UNIX file permissions in which Apple has… uh… imprisoned hidden UNIX system files). I edited the file and put it back in the /etc folder where it belongs.

Only problem: in the process, the file’s ownership and permissions got changed. No problem, I thought. I’ll just sudo that sucker. Only problem is, when the permissions on the sudoers file aren’t what the system expects them to be, it doesn’t let anybody sudo anything.

Well… crap.

But then I remembered… Mac GUI solutions to the rescue! I opened up Disk Utility and ran “Repair Disk Permissions.” Problem solved! Apple has saved me from myself.

Now I can go back to my delusion that I am a power user.