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Thanks for clarifying. I have thought about using a linux that would run on my g4, but the last time I checked, the ones I knew about (suse, linuxppc) didn't support dual processors yet. It wasn't clear whether they would run on a dual processor machine, but only use one processor, or wouldn't run at all. And the database I wanted to use wasn't supported. In any case, I'm using the mac Mail program, and other mac applications I wouldn't want to have to switch back and forth to run. I want to get this working under OSX, and have time to do it -- no deadlines, this is just personal stuff.

The kind of stuff I want to do generally works fine on Linux, or (I hate to say it) Windows. You can run executables from the "system" command in Perl, for example. I had a Perl script I ran in Windows NT that would launch a bunch of browser windows, so I could read the sites I read daily and have all the pages loading in the background. I can launch some mac apps from the command line, but not others. Some aren't written to take command line arguments -- none of the browsers I have seem to -- and I haven't found a way to run any Classic apps from the command line.

I expect this to get better. I doubt I'm the only person trying to use scripting languages for small projects like this. Everything I'm doing so far is portable, so moving to some flavor of linux would be fairly simple, but I'm still holding that out as my last resort.
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