The Caffeinated Penguin

musings of a crackpot hacker

Apple update

Posted By on April 9, 2005

Okay, so the Mac is almost done being set up. There are a couple things left, and I'll get to those later.

First, it looks like ps2pdf is broken under Ubuntu Hoary. I've filed a bug report. I'd appreciate if people can try it on their systems and see if it works or not.

Second, someone has found a legitimate OSX local root compromise. Basically, a trojaned app could run, wait until it sees a call to sudo go off, then executed something itself. Congratulations on finding a legit vulnerability in OSX, as well as every other Unix distro using this mechanism. It's not a new thing. This has always been the problem with sudo when set up to run things in a desktop context (when running from the terminal, it can be locked to the terminal).

Anyway, installed bits: DoubleCommand – Since I’m running the Mini off a PS/2 KVM with a PS/2 -> USB converter cable (the only such conversion I’ve ever found that actually works), and my keyboard is a standard 101 key PC keyboard (no Windows keys), I don’t have a command (open apple) key. This creates a decided problem. So, DoubleCommand lets me remap Alt to Command (which is actually in the same spot as Command is supposed to be). It also has the side benefit of changing it so that the Home/End keys work as they do on PC’s. Apple’s X11 – This was not included on my Mac Mini’s install DVD (at least, not that I could find), so I needed to download it. – This is one of the many Gimp packages for OSX. It requires X11, and works just fine with Apple’s. Mozilla Thunderbird – Because behaves very strangely when dealing with IMAP+SSL. It’s supposed to be a lot better in 10.4. We’ll see. Mozilla FireFox – Note that this one was a little special. As explained in the article, the stock FireFox doesn’t use the right input handler API, which is why it doesn’t handle middle-click properly. The poster fixed the issue in his patched version of FireFox. Also note that this is only installed for compatibility with my other machines – since all my bookmarks are in FireFox’s HTML format, and Safari won’t import them, the only nice way to get access to the bookmarks is to install FireFox. Sure, I can open the bookmarks in Safari, but that’s just ugly. However, Safari is much faster on OSX and therefore remains my default browser. Hopefully, Apple will add an “import bookmarks” feature. Neo Office – This is a native port of OpenOffice, which doesn’t require X11. XJournal – LJ Client. Works nicely. Fink and Fink Commander – Apt-style packages for OSX. Haven’t done much with this yet, except installing Gnome and KDE and then removing them when I scrapped my 2 desktop idea because it was taking too long. Destop Manager was the one who told me about this. Anyway, it provides multiple desktops and cool switching effects. QuickTime Ogg Component – So I can play Ogg files in iTunes. Things I considered installing and didn’t, or tried and removed: iTerm – It was nice, but I didn’t see why this was so much better than Apple’s stock terminal. So, I removed it. DarwinPorts – I was actually going to install this to get XFce (see the XDarwin discussion, below). Then I saw that there wasn’t an installable package and that I was going to have to get it from CVS and that it was basically going to be more trouble than I cared for. XDarwin – Thanks to for this one. It’s actually REALLY good. You can executed as a full screen session and flip between (you’re supposed to be able to do this with Apple’s X11, but I haven’t tried). Anyway, I was originally going to try to have Cocoa and X desktops running in parallel and flip between them. The problem with this was that Fink didn’t have an XFce package. I did get KDE and Gnome running just fine (it was trivial to install), but as I worked on this problem, I started to care less and less, especially since my Linux desktop is just a KVM flip away. Problems fixed – I wanted to make an icon to mount the network shares on my core server. I finally figured out that a nice way to do this is to mount it by your favorite method, then right click and choose “Make Alias”, then drag the alias to the dock. But, it has to be on the part of the dock next to the trash, where you can drag documents and stuff. Of course, this led me to the document explaining the Top Nine Reasons the Apple Dock Still Sucks. Bear in mind that this guy was “Apple Employee #66, Apple’s first Interaction Designer and only Human Interface Evangelist”, so not just some random crank. (Well, maybe a crank, but not random). I think he’s right. Problems needing fixing – My local DNS is broken. My WRT54G serves out DNS names for itself and all machines in the house. The Linux and Windows machines have no problem with this. The macs seem to hate it for some reason. I don’t know why and have to look in to it, and just haven’t yet. Of course, it means that printing is broken until I do. – I need to figure out how to make an entry for the dock that launches a script. – I need to figure out how to make additional bins/drawers/folders/menus/etc. to contain less frequently used icons. You know, click drawer, click icon, drawer closes and app launches. Misc opinions and thoughts – The fact that you can’t shift+home or shift+end to select text in an input box in Safari really pisses me off. – Finder’s behavior in accessing FTP sites is annoying. I wanted to get a pile of stuff and ended up just doing it in a terminal because copy/paste wasn’t working. I could have drag & dropped it, but that would require opening 2 finder windows (one for the FTP site, and one to navigate to the desired target folder). Conclusions – This is not going to replace any of my Linux machines (they’re just too “set up exactly perfect” for what I want. – This does have a lot of really good applications that I want to use (which was why I bought it). Also, I haven’t made much progress on Linux/Mac video comparison (been busy), and since I want to actually get some video projects done, I think I’ll do them in iMovie and go back and do the comparison when I have a chance.


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