need to learn about mac os

I am an extreme novice to Mac OS.  My plan is to get a copy of it and then load it on virtual box to play around with it.  What copy of Mac OS do I need to get?  How many OS version are out there and what do they typically cost?   If you had to choose which OS is the best to get familiar with, which one should I choose?
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Apple does not allow you to do this, and it is against their licensing rules. We cannot help to do this your way.

Alternative:  Get a good MAC machine (laptop I assume) and install Fusion (VMware) or like product. Install Windows 8 or 7 as a virtual machine and be able to use the Windows machine while learning MAC. Eventually you can just convert to using MAC. This will work.

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Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
Mac OSX won't load on anything but Apple products.  If you want Mac OSX, you have to get a Mac.  And you can only get the version that comes with that Mac or upgrade to a newer version within limits.  Apple is Very restrictive about how Mac OSX is used.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
It is not a question about pirating. Apple will only allow you to install MAC on an Apple Computer. That is how their licensing works. You must have MAC on an Apple, but then you can turn around and put Windows (not machine dependent) as a VM on the MAC. This works.
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al4629740Author Commented: I basically need to buy a MAC.  What if I buy an older mac, can I get an updated OS at a low cost?
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Newest MAC OS need reasonably new (but not brand new) Apple MAC machines. You need to know what age of MAC and then see what it supports.
Let's try it another way, what is it you are considering doing, Mac OS X has two sides, the user side with the GUI and the more lower level(terminal window). Os x is built on the BSD flavor of Unix.

If they are still selling the Mac mini, that might be the lowest cost investment/expenditure or buying a used one.

Given the change to one of your comments, I suspect you are one who would be adapt no matter what is placed in front of you.
al4629740Author Commented:
So that I am on the right track, would something like this work.
Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
Maybe but you would have to check.  I have Mac OS X 10.6 and I believe it is too old to upgrade.
You just need an intel based iMAC or Macbook. The old PowerPC based models (G4 or G5) will only run OS-X Snow leopard, and even then not the newest version of it. The one you linked to is an intel based Macbook, and that should work fine with the current version of OS-X Yosemite. But check the year that Mac was built. The Link below shows you what you can upgrade from:

The upgrade is, as far as I know, free. But you will need to register your product with apple and create an account with their store.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
You really want to be able to run the newest (or nearly so) IOS on your MAC, so see if you can find a newer one (more money of course).
iOS is for the MAC gadgets, like iPhones, iPads etc., not for the PC's. Those run OS-X of one version or the other. Those in the Link I provided will run with the newest OS-X that is available. So it doesn't have to be very "new". In the Link you'll see that if the iMAC or Macbook Pro is from mid 2007 or later it will work. That's about 8 years old hardware. Obviously newer hardware should perform better though.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
iOS was a blunder on my part. I meant OS-X. I still think newer is probably better.
David AndersTechnician Commented:
You can find the original OSX version and the newest version it can be upgraded to at
Standard RAM:       2 GB       Maximum RAM:       8 GB*
Pre-Installed MacOS:       X 10.6.1 (10A2047)       Maximum MacOS:       Current*

There are refurbished models on Apple's site with 1 year warranty.
Used models are available at Other World Computing
al4629740Author Commented:
Ok, so I hope I understand this.  I think this is the latest one in terms of OS-X
David AndersTechnician Commented:
This is a 2007 model
Standard RAM:       2 GB       Maximum RAM:       6 GB*
Pre-Installed MacOS:       X 10.4.9 (8Q1058)       Maximum MacOS:       Current*(meaning Yosemite)

SnowLeopard 10.6.8  Lion 10.7.5  MountainLion 10.8.5 Mavericks 10.9.4 Yosemite 10.10.3*Current OSX

Unsure what you mean by latest.
Dave BaldwinFixer of ProblemsCommented:
Here's the upgrade page with the requirements.  My MacBook Pro doesn't have a date although it is running OSX 10.6.8.
No. OS-X 10.6 is snow leopard, not Yosemite. Yosemite is the latest OS-X.
al4629740Author Commented:
So they basically changed names over the years.  Are the operating systems much different compared to each other from a technical standpoint
The names apply to the releases/versions of OS X.
The changes add features/functionality.  What technical aspect?

Without knowing what your point of reference is, it is harder to answer your question.
Are you looking to learn as a user, i.e. supporting OS X users? Or coding for OS X?

If you have unix/linux background, it is similar to getting One of those distros. As the kernel evolves, newer OS releases ....
al4629740Author Commented:
learn to support OS X users and I have no background in Macs
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
I have family members with MAC laptops and they are not hard to use as users. You can learn quickly. Learning the underpinnings will take time.

This is why I suggest you get a decent, fast  MAC laptop, and run Windows 7 or 8 as a virtual machine (VMware Fusion).

This way you can work and learn at the same time.
al4629740Author Commented:
What do you mean by underpinnings?
I would venture to say underpinings/the guts on which the OS/GUI operates.

The OS Includes a Help section.  A search on the web with what you want to do will return many great examples. Try common tasks with which you are familiar with windows but use the Mac/OS X in the search and see the responses.

While not exactly the same, i.e. would you know how to operate a vehicle in a country where the wheel is on the opposite side of the car from your own?
It is just getting used to.  You have the background to troubleshoot issues, and you are only in need of the terminology/nomenclature with the other.

I think the "fear" of the unknown is more of a problem than the item itself.

Your best bet is to get a used OS X system make sure it is intel based without regard to how current the OS is.

Alternatively, your Support of OS X users involves what? Their access to an application your firm provides online (web based)? technical Support style troubleshooting of hardware/software issues?
al4629740Author Commented:
I have a new account that contains a hybrid environment of PCs.  The Macs access a SMB server, so I'm not sure how user permissions work with a mac and SMB server.  Or even a domain.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
What do you mean by underpinnings?  <-- Most people can use Windows 7, 8, MAC and be productive. Most people cannot fix underlying issues and that is what I meant by underpinnings.
The windows shares can be setup in two ways, so either you use smb:// to access the resources. or if the windows server have added the SFU or even Mac Related tools, the shares might be accessible as NFS.

There is a way to join macs/OSX into a domain. Access to the shares will be governed in a similar way to the credentials exchanged.

If it is an NFS, the UID/GID mapping and the settings on the NFS share is what would govern that access.

Do you customarily visit the place and get familiar with the environment or do you go when there is a service call?
Proactively, you may learn without the time pressure the environment and what is going on. Application dependencies, etc.
If you want to learn to support multiple Macs, learn basic Unix commands and you'll be able to do almost everything remotely and unattended in scripts.  Macs just have a few proprietary commands, just as various Linux distros do.  You can manage many more systems via the command line than through the GUI.   The command line is also free.  The Apple Remote Desktop and Apple OSX Server tools cost money.

By default, Macs can join a domain, but the only real benefit is that you can log in with a domain account.  There is no Group Policy control unless you purchase 3rd party software to integrate that.  Joining a domain also keep SMB share authenticated once you've connected.  If you don't join a domain, you can still connect to Windows SMB shares with the correct username and passwords, but it will frequently prompt you to reauthenticate.  If you don't join a domain, you can still set a WINS Workgroup name to match the domain name and reduce the authentication prompts to the SMB shares.

The GUI is actually very easy to learn, much easier than Windows because the GUI menus are much simpler overall than Windows, but the real power is the command line.  Even an older Mac OSX will get you mostly familiar with the basics, but they have changed a few minor things around.

OS 10.6 can be upgraded to Yosemite if it's on an Intel Core2 Duo or newer system, so you should get at least a newer Intel Core2 Duo or, better yet, an intel i series system.

Get a Mac, because it's not worthwhile to run a virtual machine or try to load OSX on a PC system.  It can be done, but it's going cost as much as a cheap mac when you get the hardware to match, or it's going to be extremely slow to be excruciatingly tedious.

If you're in the EU, you can load a mac in a virtual machine or on any PC that you can set up with the proper hardware, if you've purchase the OS.  The law there says that you own software that you purchase, meaning that you can do what you want with it.  Apple just won't support those systems.  It's also just not that worthwhile to do, as you need to get the hardware to match closely, which causes it to cost nearly as much as a real Mac, or it will run quite slowly or not at all.  Buy a used Mac with a newer Intel CPU.  I can't mention the term here because the EE mods will censor it anyway.

If you're in the 9th Circuit Court District of the USA, it's been ruled that the OS is licensed, so, unless you've purchase a previous DVD copy of OSX, you can't legally run OS X in a virtual machine.  The rest of the USA is still somewhat a legal gray area, but the legal precedent has been set.
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