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08 November, 2007

"Leopard - The Install, The Upgrade, The Trouble "

Last time I said I would discuss Leopard upgrade issues with user accounts. Some have run into strange account problems when they upgrade from Tiger to Leopard. Everything from not being able to log in at all, to Admin users being told by their cat that they don't have Admin privileges. Talk about an insult!

Well, I'm not going to write about that today. Apple has posted some workarounds and so the story is dead for now. Instead, I've got an update on the disappearing hard drive I thought I fixed last time. Turns out that while my fix works, it is only temporary. It seems to last about as long as my interest in Vista.

I thought that by setting the correct extended attribute on the volume I had eliminated the problem. I was wrong. The drive still vanished from the Finder and the Desktop it just did it's disappearing trick at apparently random times.

I posted a plea for help on Apple's discussions website. While others had seen similar behaviour, no one had a fix. Since I was able to bring the drive back to the land of visibility someone suggested I use iosnoop to see what was going on.

This tool sits in your /usr/bin directory and prints out I/O events as they occur. Do a man iosnoop for more info. Anyway, I pointed iosnoop at my 'Macintosh HD' volume. Reset the 'v' bit with SetFile and waited for something to happen.

I piped iosnoop to a text file and then used tail -f on said file so I could watch I/O events as they occurred. I also kept an eye on the presence of my Macinsoth HD and waited for it to disappear.

Lo and behold, the common denominator between the hard drive disappearing and an entry in the iosnoop log file was Spotlight! Not every Spotlight event made it disappear but one always preceded the disappearance.

To confirm that Spotlight was causing the issue, I went on a kill Spotlight rampage. I turned it off for all volumes (using mdutil -i {volume name}, deleted the index (.Spotlight-V100) and Spotlight preference files. Then I reset the 'V' bit on my root volume and left the machine alone for 24 hours. ... o.k., it wasn't 24 hours it was more like 12 but 12 hours without my Mac is like a day without sunshine.

I then turned on Spotlight one volume at a time. The Macintosh HD volume was still on my desktop until at last I turned Spotlight on for the root volume.

mdutil -i on /Macintosh\ HD

It took a few minutes but the drive vanished.

I flipped the 'V' bit and it was back.

I tried creating files on that volume with the idea that they would trigger Spotlight to add them to the volumes index (it did) thinking that would trigger the invisibility (it didn't).

So, I was perplexed. Spotlight was triggering the problem but not every time it indexed a new or changing file.

I then tried mdimport which allows one to import file information into Spotlight by entering:

mdimport -V /Volumes/Macintosh\ HD

That one little ole command always triggered the flipping of that 'V' bit.

So now I had a way to reproduce the problem in addition to temporarily bringing back the drive. As a last step, I logged a bug report with Apple.

We'll see what Apple has to say about all of this. Perhaps the next 10.5 update will take care of the problem. Until then, I have to live without either Spotlight or my beautiful Macintosh HD icon.

Well, as a Scotsman once said

A Tutto Per Oggi!

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