Page 1 902 Other Operating Systems and Technologies Study Guide for the CompTIA® A+ exam

How to Prepare for the Other Operating Systems and Technologies Questions on the CompTIA A+ 902 Test

General Information

On the CompTIA A+ 902 exam, you will encounter questions that do not concern Windows operating systems. These questions may be about the technologies involved in running Linux or OS X, so you need to have a working knowledge of both of these systems and the procedures involved in their operation. This list of concepts should be your guide for study as you review the material about these systems, but you’ll want to consult additional sources for full details.

Mac OS and Linux Operating Systems

Mac OS and Linux are similar in many ways. They both utilize graphical user interfaces that are intuitive and easily mastered. The primary difference between the two is that Mac is a proprietary system designed to run only on Apple equipment, while Linux is an open standard and will run on countless different hardware platforms. You will be expected to have a working knowledge of the various tools, features, and commands for each operating system.

Best Practices

Best practices refer to issues relating to the following items: system backups, drive maintenance, system security, software management, and system updates. You should pay particular attention to these details for all operating systems and fully understand how they are implemented.

  • Scheduled backups: Mac - Time Machine; Linux - Cron, control the type and frequency of backups

  • Scheduled disk maintenance: performed as needed, MAC - Disk Utility; Linux - /forcefsck

  • System updates/App Store: Mac - App Store; Linux - apt-get updates

  • Patch management: Mac - App Store; Linux - apt-get updates

  • Driver/firmware updates: Mac - system Information allows you to view installed drivers only; Linux - third party only

  • Antivirus/anti-malware updates: Mac - third party only; Linux - third party only


Mac OS and Linux both support numerous tools to maintain and manage systems. You need to be familiar with the following tools:

  • Backup/Time Machine: In Mac, When enabled,Time Machine allows you to go back to a previous time. In Linux, the commands tar or rsync are used as backup options.

  • Restore/snapshot: In Mac, Snapshots are temp files that will update Time Machine. In Linux, Restore can recover files with the commands tar or rsync.

  • Image recovery: Mac has a built-in Disk Utility allowing you to create an image of the drive or files. In Linux, the dd command allows you make an image of a drive and restore it. It also supports compression.

  • Disk maintenance utilities: In Mac, Disk Utility is performed when needed. In Linux, the /forcefsck command is performed when needed.

  • Shell/Terminal: Mac terminal application is found in the Utilities folder. In Linux, terminal can be selected from the Main menu. Each allows access to the system shell.

  • Screen sharing: In Mac, under System Preference, select Sharing to open screen sharing. In Linux, numerous screen-sharing software programs are available, depending on the version.

  • Force Quit: The Apple menu allows you to quit a program that is not responding. Linux kill allows you to quit a process that is not responding.


Most of the following features listed are available on both Mac OS and Linux. The main difference is the name they use to refer to each feature.

  • Multiple desktops/Mission Control: Running multiple applications on different screens is available on both Mac and Linux. In Mac, press CTRL+Up Arrow. In Linux, select the desktop on the task bar.

  • Key Chain: Key Chain is password management. Mac maintains it automatically when you log in the first time. Linux has an application under Accessories called Passwords and Keys, depending on the version of Linux.

  • Spot Light: This feature enables the user to quickly locate applications, documents, images, etc. In Mac, select the magnifying icon from the menu bar. In Linux, depending on the version, select Dash from Launcher.

  • iCloud: Cloud storage allows Mac and IOS mobile devices to share data and back up systems.

  • Gestures: Gestures allow specific actions when fingers are swiped across a Mac screen.

  • Finder: File Manager allows Mac users to navigate and browse applications in a variety of different ways.

  • Remote Disc: Mac allows sharing remote devices, such as optical drives, onto devices that do not normally support an optical drive.

  • Dock: Located at the bottom of a Mac is an area where you can place commonly used applications to quickly locate and launch.

  • Boot Camp: This feature allows Mac users to set up a dual boot between either Mac or Windows. This is not the same as virtualization.

Basic Linux Commands

You will need to become familiar with basic Linux commands used from a terminal session, as well as some of the options included with the commands.

  • ls: used to obtain a listing of a folder (directory); supports numerous options

  • grep: a search function that allows you to selectively search for certain patterns from the output of another command

  • cd: change directory, basic navigation inside the shell

  • shutdown: allows controlled shutdown of a system, comes with numerous options

  • pwd vs. passwd: two separate commands; pwd (print working directory), used to show where you are in the hierarchy of the system; passwd, used to create and/or change user passwords

  • mv: move a file from one location (directory) to another (only one copy exists)

  • cp: copy a file from one location (directory) to another (a second file is created)

  • rm: remove a file

  • chmod: changes and modifies permissions associated with a file or directory

  • chown: changes the owner of a file or directory

  • iwconfig/ifconfig: iwconfig is used to configure wireless ethernet; ifconfig is used to configure a wired network interface

  • ps: process status; lists all currently running processes

  • su/sudo: su is used to change user or to become superuser (root); sudo with the proper password allows users to run commands that would otherwise require root privileges

  • apt-get: package management; allows downloading applications, updating, upgrading the OS

  • vi: (Visual); a full screen text editor

  • dd: used to backup and restore a hard drive