Darling shell

We plan to implement a nice and user-friendly GUI for Darling, but for now the primary way to use Darling and interact with it is via the Darling shell.

Basic usage

To get a shell inside the container, just run darling shell as a regular user. Behind the scenes, this command will start the container or connect to an already-running one and spawn a shell inside. It will also automatically load the kernel module and initialize the prefix contents if needed.

Inside, you'll find an emulated macOS-like environment. macOS is Unix-like, so most familiar commands will work. For example, it may be interesting to run ls -l /, uname and sw_vers to explore the emulated system. Darling bundles many of the command-line tools macOS ships — of the same ancient versions. The shell itself is Bash version 3.2.

The filesystem layout inside the container is similar to that of macOS, including the top-level /Applications, /Users and /System directories. The original Linux filesystem is visible as a separate partition that's mounted on /Volumes/SystemRoot. When running macOS programs under Darling, you'll likely want them to access files in your home folder; to make this convenient, there's a LinuxHome symlink in your Darling home folder that points to your Linux home folder, as seen from inside the container; additionally, standard directories such as Downloads in your Darling home folder are symlinked to the corresponding folders in your Linux home folder.

Running Linux Binaries

You can run normal Linux binaries inside the container, too. They won't make use of Darling's libraries and system call emulation and may not see the macOS-like environment:

darling shell
Darling [~]$ uname
Darling [~]$ /Volumes/SystemRoot/bin/uname

Becoming root

Should you encounter an application that bails out because you are not root (typically because it needs write access outside your home directory), you can use the fake sudo command. It is fake, because it only makes getuid() and geteuid() system calls return 0, but grants you no extra privileges.


  • darling shell: Opens a Bash prompt.
  • darling shell /usr/local/bin/someapp arg: Execute /usr/local/bin/someapp with an argument. Note that the path is evaluated inside the Darling Prefix. The command is started through the shell (uses sh -c).
  • darling ~/.darling/usr/local/bin/someapp arg: Equivalent of the previous example (which doesn't make use of the shell), assuming that the prefix is ~/.darling.