Mac OS X

Resuming apps on login vs. the quarantine flag

This is the workflow Apple envisioned when they introduced the annoying quarantine flag back in the days of Mac OS X 10.4:

  1. User A downloads an archive (.dmg, .tar.gz, etc.) from the Internet. The system applies the quarantine flag to the archive file.
  2. User A extracts an application from the archive and places it into /Applications. The system infects the app bundle passes the quarantine flag on to the app bundle.
  3. User A launches the application. The system warns about the unsafe origin of the app.
  4. User A confirms that the app is safe to use. The system clears the quarantine flag. Problem solved.

Unfortunately, my workflow is slightly different: Click the "Read more" link to see what the problem is.

Volumes mounted by TrueCrypt are visible/accessible to other users

On Mac OS X, when I mount a TrueCrypt volume from a file container while logged in as user A, I can then switch to another user B and view the mounted volume's content (e.g. in the Finder, or in a session). I believe this is a bug, as the content of the TrueCrypt volume should remain private. I don't know enough about the underlying issues to lay the blame on any one in particular (Mac OS X, TrueCrypt, FUSE?), but what I definitely can say is that I cannot trust my Mac to be left alone while a TrueCrypt volume is still mounted.

This is how my mounted volumes' mount points look like inside a session. As you can see, the TrueCrypt volume PRIVATE is mounted with permissions that make it wide open for any user to snoop around inside.

nargothrond:~ --> ls -l /Volumes/
total 184
drwxr-xr-x   1 patrick  staff   8192 12 Dez  2010 BOOTCAMP
lrwxr-xr-x   1 root     admin      1 29 Aug 21:17 Macintosh HD -> /
drwxrwxrwx   1 patrick  staff  16384 31 Dez  1979 PRIVATE

I have reported this issue on the TrueCrypt website in September 2009. I never received a reply. Today I double-checked whether the problem is still there with the latest version of TrueCrypt (7.1a): Yes, it is! In case anyone wonders: I am using Mac OS X 10.6.8.

Mac OS X processes explained

Discovered today: Very nice if you have a question about one of those mysterious processes that run on your Mac. Such as: Why is "AirPort Base Station" running on my desktop machine, even though that machine is not equipped with Wi-Fi/AirPort and, in fact, there is no AirPort base station in the entire household? Anyway, you can also upload a text file created with ps -A and let the website "

AppleScript for auto-mounting Samba shares

My LAN consists of a Linux server that, among other things, exports a few Samba shares, and a number of Mac OS X and Windows clients that mount those shares when needed. On Windows it is possible to tell the system that it should automatically re-mount a share on login, but on Mac OS X there is no such option. Because of this, up until now I had to manually mount my shares each time I logged in on any of my Mac OS X clients. Not anymore!

How to set environment variables for Mac OS X applications

Although the typical Mac user, living in the Aqua land of blissful ignorance, usually does not care about environment variables and other such "strange" beasts, it may sometimes become unavoidable having to deal with this stuff from the ninth hell of command line wickedness.

My moment of truth came when I wanted to run the Gimp (the official Mac port can be downloaded from here) in a different language (English) than the default language of my Mac OS X installation (German). For this I had to run using the environment variable LANG set to the value en.