Category Archives: Mac

How the Finder misbehaves on USB sticks…

As a new Mac user I find it very annoying that the Finder leaves its traces everywhere you go — even on USB sticks. ­čÖü

The finder will create hidden .DS_Store and .Trashes folders (used by SpotLight and the Trashcan) all over the place. ­čÖü

I’ve not yet found a way of disabling this unwanted behavior.

If you know of a way to do so, I definitely want to hear from you. So, please step ahead and leave a comment! ­čÖé

Encrypted TimeMachine backups on network share

Mac OS normally doesn’t allow you to use network shares as targets for TimeMachine backups. This can be worked around, tho. ­čÖé

First you need to tweak Mac OS to accept network shares by entering the following command in a Terminal session:

defaults write com.apple.systempreferences TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1

That would already allow you to store your backups on a network share. But do you really want to trust your valuable data to a network share that can potentially be accessed by untrusted users, such as your favorite bastard admin from hell?! :)

Here’s when the following comes in:

You will create an encrypted sparse bundle and use it as a target for the backup.

Continue reading Encrypted TimeMachine backups on network share

ARDAgent exploitable locally

I was pointed by a colleague that ARDAgent can be exploited locally to gain “root” privileges under MacOS 10.4 and 10.5. A quick search on Google turned up this post on Macworld that gives some details about this issue.

To check whether you’re vulnerable type the following in a Terminal window:

osascript -e 'tell app "ARDAgent" to do shell script "whoami"';

And if it says root you are vulnerable. To quickly protect you type the following:

sudo chmod u-s /System/Library/CoreServices/RemoteManagement/ARDAgent.app/Contents/MacOS/ARDAgent

TrueCrypt for Mac

I was very happy to see that there’s TrueCrypt for the Mac, a disk encryption tool I really like and use since a long time on my Windoze PC.

Quickly I installed it. The installation went smoothly, and a quick test was successful. However, when I played some more with it, I found a strange oddity which I couldn’t clarify myself. I doubt that it’s because I’m a new Mac user, but I rather think it’s a quirk in TrueCrypt. Let’s see whether anyone can reproduce the issue, and whether it will be fixed (shortly). ­čÖé

Anyway, this is a tool that you should definitely use when you have confidential data on your laptop.

Hibernation on the Mac

As a Windoze user I was used to putting my notebook into hibernation. This has the following advantages over shutting the machine down or putting it into sleep:

  • Shutting the machine down means a long boot when I need it again, plus I have to open all apps and docs again which I was using when I shut it down.
  • Sleep mode eats up your battery quickly, because he machine is still running at a reduced power level.

However, I couldn’t find a menu item to put my Mac into hibernation, so I googled a bit and came across this Wikipedia entry.

Altho I agree that the way the Mac does it seems quite nifty (in fact IBM notebooks had this feature aeons ago…), I still wanted to be able to immediately put my Mac into hibernation. So I googled again and came across this nifty lil’ Apple script.

The tool works very well, I recommend it.

Update: My buddy Jochen just pointed me to a blog article he wrote recently. He discussed a preferences panel that allows you to configure how the Mac sleeps and/or hibernates. This is a nifty tool, but still doesn’t exactly do┬á what I need. I want to be able to immediately force the Mac into hibernation, and SmartSleep unfortunately cannot do that for me. ­čÖü

GPG with IDEA on the Mac

One of the first things I did when I got my new Mac was install Mozilla Thunderbird, the invaluable EnigMail extension, which is a very easy-to-use frontend to GNU Privacy Guard (GPG), and of course GPG itself.

All went very smoothly, and to check whether the installation was fine I tried to opened an encrypted message which I had received some days ago. Unfortunetly GPG couldn’t decrypt the message. A quick look at EnigMail’s console window told me that the message was encrypted using IDEA, and that the version of GPG I had installed was lacking support of that encryption algorithm.

Continue reading GPG with IDEA on the Mac

Ok, so I got a Mac… :)

I received a new work-horse for my job some days ago, a MacBook Pro. It’s very nicely equipped, featuring the following items:

  • 2.5 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor
  • 4GB 667MHz DDR2 SDRAM – 2x2GB RAM
  • 200GB Serial ATA Drive @ 7200 rpm
  • extra power supply
  • AppleCare Protection Plan

The whole package cost almost EUR 2.900. ­čÖé

What I found strange is that the MacBook came preinstalled with 2 RAM sticks of 1G each, which I had to remove and replace with 2 sticks of 2G each, “Kingston” brand. I don’t know whether this is Apple’s official policy, or whether it was our local dealer who wanted to earn some extra bucks. ­čśë Anyway, I now have two spare 1G sticks which I will put into the old Dell D810.

The MacBook already has the new multi-touch trackpad, but it hasn’t got the fastest CPU available today, which is the 2.6 GHz model. I don’t think it makes that big of a difference, tho. ­čÖé

I’ve already installed a lot of applications I need, and so far I like the Mac very much, altho I must admit that it’s quite different than a Windoze PC which I have been using for the last 20 years. ­čÖé