Ultimate system tools software thread - Gearspace.com
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Ultimate system tools software thread
Old 23rd April 2003
BevvyB's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Ultimate system tools software thread

I've had a pig of a month with OSX and I'm not denying it

I have learned things I never thought I'd know (I guess that's called 'learning')

Anyway, without software I'd never have been able to get my software to work. If you know what i mean.

So, what software/tools/info is essential for troubleshooting and cleansing your extremely fragile and petulant OS X system? (homage a Jules there)....

Here we go, from personal experience. Non-inclusion of similar software doesn't mean I've forgotten it, it means I don't think it's really up for the job. I've tried everything.


Maintenance Essentials:
Drive 10
Data Rescue X
Carbon Copy Cloner
Jaguar Cache Cleaner

Already Includedware Maintenance Essentials:
Process Viewer
Net Info Manager
Disk Utility

Not Essential But Really Useful:

Productivity Tools:
Show Desktop

Great Fun:
Marine Fish Aquarium


OS X support:

Audio related OS X:

Useful OS X tips n tricks:

GUI fiddling OS X:




Before we all got started on Mac's and were using Ataris, none of us had ever heard of extension clashes. You had to learn about it.

Well, it's the same in OS X.

Here's a list of some of the things that you're going to learn about in OS X whether you like it or not:


You thought they'd vanished in X? So did I. They haven't. They just work differently and have different names.


Everything on the system knows who it belongs to. And sometimes it thinks that person ISN'T you. Sometimes permissions need 'repairing'. Quite often actually, but usually the system takes care of it automatically.


Something the OS does in the background MOSTLY. This is where it scans all your apps and works out IN ADVANCE what resources they're going to need. make launching and general working of your computer faster. Until you install something.

The shell:

Let's not kid ourselves here. Just because our Macs have never shown us anything 'computer' like (such as all that junk you see appearing on startup on windows machines - urgh - how ugly) doesn' mean it's never been doing exaclty the same stuff in the background.

Well, now you can see all that stuff if you want to. And actually, once you get your head around it, it's jolly useful.

Terminal commands:

Most of the shareware knocking around at the moment simply accesses already existing maintenance routines that exist in UNIX, but gives them a nice look.

There's going to end up being so many of them that to be honest learning a smidge of UNIX can only be a good thing.

Whenever you have a crash, I reccomend you do this:

On boot, hold apple S
This gets you into the shell
type fsck -y
-That UNIX command does a File System Consistency Check. If it reports errors it tries to fix them. Run that again till there are no errors
type reboot
-The machine boots back into OS X

Extensions loading view:

In 9 you can watch the extensions load up on startup. It's kind of pretty.

You can't see it in OS X.

Unless you hold apple V on startup. But it's not pretty.

Crash Files:

OS X tries to keep a log of every crash it ever had for every app and the whole system.

You can open them with the supplied application called 'Console'

I won't go into detail here. Suffice to say that looking at these logs helps you understand what is going wrong and also lets you give feedback to your third party vendors. Such as MOTU. Grr.


I will write more on Unix and shell stuff later. Please feel free to add anything to this list of stuff. I'll compile it all together and make it available.

After I've bought the biggest book on UNIX I can find and eaten it. Why? Because your technical conversations to tech support over the next TEN YEARS are going to be riddled with it. So either you do it, or your younger assistant learns it.

Thanks to Alan Mcal for couple of good hints.

Old 24th April 2003
Gear Addict
kenn.michael's Avatar
🎧 15 years
nicely done Bevvy!
Old 24th April 2003
Lives for gear
C.Lambrechts's Avatar
🎧 15 years
as Bev pointed out in another thread to me ... Carbon Copy Cloner looks like a MUST for OSX users ....

thanks again for that one Bev.

Old 24th April 2003
Gear Maniac
jimlongo's Avatar
🎧 15 years
That's a really good list, just want to add a few comments.

For maintenance tools you should try Cocktail. It's another one of those OSX GUIs for the underlying unix utilities.

And for managing permissions nothing beats SuperGetInfo.

I read the other day that when you do the fsck-y at the single user startup apparently you need to use the -n flag or when you select reboot you can again damage the disk structure. Read that here

For productivity tools you got to get QuickeysX. There is a demo of V2publicbeta available.
the other one I really like is MaxMenus. It lets you put drop down menus in the corner of your screen that you can actually drag things into.

A great Unix book is Mac OSX Unleashed.
I spent a good year with this book and an iMac - learning the operating system, the Terminal, installing tons of FREE software like AbiWord (Word equivalent) The GIMP (photoshop eq) and gnumeric (excel eq). As well as things like MySQL. Perl, PHP and loads of great stuff that you never could really get into before on the mac platform.

In fact I tested a perl-based bulletin board on an iMac running as an intra-office web server before deploying it on the internet.

Looking forward to more info in this thread.

Old 24th April 2003
BevvyB's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Just in case non one bothered checking out that link

MacFixIt: 'fsck' utility can damage disk drive
Wednesday, April 2, 2003

MacFixIt has posted a "Late-Breakers" article warning that restarting a Mac after running the "fsck" command-line disk repair utility can potentially cause disk corruption.

"Although Apple makes no mention of it in their documentation," the MacFixIt article says, "you can avoid the memory buffer flush by invoking the 'n option.' That command bypasses the disk synchronization process that normally occurs during shutdowns or restarts. To prevent this synchronization and the potential damage it can cause, type the following the after running the fsck utilty.

shutdown -n now

You can also use

reboot -n

to restart the system immediately.

A MacFixIt reader pointed out a UNIX SysAdmin book, which says:

"The -n option is very important. It prevents the sync command from being run, which flushes the output buffers and might very well re-corrupt the filesystem. This is the only time rebooting should occur without syncing the disks."
Old 24th April 2003
BevvyB's Avatar
🎧 15 years
So Quickjeys does what Applescript SHOULD do.

The apps I mentioned do what Cocktail does.

And I quite like max menus...

but I am a mega fain of Dragthing and Launchbar. To me those are the two greatest productivity things ever.
Old 24th April 2003
Gear Maniac
jimlongo's Avatar
🎧 15 years
Yes cocktail is just a combination of a few of those tools with an auto-pilot setting that is handy because you can do everything with one button.
There are a lot of these types of applications out there. They basically take a simple unix command and wrap it in a nice looking aqua interface. That's a great result of Apple going Opensource.
You can find reams of this type of FREE stuff on VersionTracker, as well
as Apple's OSX software page. (BTW If you like mindless games check out this new game "ENIGMO" that's on the apple site it's a hoot.)

As for QuickeysX it's a well-known application from OS7-9 days. It allows you to assign any key to any file command. It let's you change the key commands to ones you might prefer. And it let's you record sequences of keystrokes and clicks in an application.

Quite indispensible in ProTools. That with the Focus Key commands really makes the program fly.

My partner uses DragThing a lot, I just never saw any use for it . . . but I sort of prefer to keep a really clean desktop and he has dozens of icons and bars and things all over his. YMMV
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