While looking for something else the other day, I ran across this Apple technote. I think it illustrates quite nicely the kind of sacrifices that were made to put Mac OS on top of unix. In the end the rewards are worth it, but the way volumes are handled is a step backwards. Seems like they could have created a small root partition, just for links to standard unix directories (usr, lib, etc), and mounted volumes in their own directories /My hard drive, /My apps, etc. This “/Volumes” business is silly. It’s another example of the fragility of the new system.
We used to brag that you could rename your System Folder and the Mac would still boot. Those days are long gone.
Related: John Siracusa reviews Panther.