Archive for category: Tips

The Light at the End of the SSH Tunnel

Stuck behind a draconian firewall and you need access to your Mac OS X Server? Read on to find out about the only tunnel on your Mac where you are not likely to be eaten by a grue…

(Updated 8/16/2004, 2:03 PM EST)

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Unique ID Module Errors (Apache)

After a software update and reboot together with some system tweaking, my personal webserver was not loading httpd successfully. I checked /var/log/httpd/error_log and found this: "[alert] mod_unique_id: unable to gethostbyname" followed by my hostname – actually, the hostname I had specified when setting up my server.

I had changed the Rendezvous name in Sharing Preferences, and forgotten that my hostname would be changed too – this conflicted with settings in httpd’s conf files. For now, I’ll just switch off the unique id module in Server Admin under Web service.

Web service is back up.

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Errors Regarding Unavailable Home Directories

I was having some trouble with a large Open Directory installation recently – users were able to authenticate, but never saw their desktop – they got a "you are unable to log in at this time…" error instead, then were logged back out.

After some googling, I found a story on’s discussion boards about bad aliases in /Volumes. I checked /Volumes on my server, and sure enough, though the Homes mount record pointed to /Volumes/ServerRAID, the homes were actually at /Volumes/ServerRAID 1 (note the 1!).

What had happened was simple but had pretty bad side effects – I had found that the admin previous to me had set two of the Xserve’s drive modules to fucntion as a striped RAID (!) – very bad for user data – I had cloned the drive (with CCC) to an external firewire disk, then changed the RAID to a mirrored one, cloned from the firewire to the RAID, then removed the firewire disk.

The problem with this was that CCC also clones the volume name – you see on your desktop two disks with the same name, but Darwin needs to differentiate between disks – hence adding the "1". Unplugging a firewire disk unmounted it, but didn’t remove the alias (ServerRAID) to it in /Volumes. The new RAID continued to be called "ServerRAID 1" – and that, of course, confused clients looking to automount a home in /Volumes/ServerRAID – which no longer existed.

It’s not easy (possible?) to rename an alias, so I waited till the server could be shut down, booted down, removed the RAID drive modules, booted in single user mode (fsck’ed the disk to be safe) – checked /Volumes and deleted any stray alias files, shut down again (shutdown -h now), reinserted the RAID modules, booted, and all was immediately well with user logins.

So, keep an eye on /Volumes if you have Home Dir troubles. (Anyone know a way to make the Finder display all the unix stuff?)

(ed. note. "defaults write AppleShowAllFiles ON" will show all files in the Finder and you can always use the "Go To Folder…" command to navigate to hidden folders. You might also want to check /private/var/automount/Network/Servers –pre 10.3.5– or /private/Network –10.3.5 on– on the client side for network home folder issues.)


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Use diskutil in 10.3 Single User Mode

Have you tried to run diskutil in single user mode only to be shot down by a ‘lazy carbon values’ error message?

Read on to find out how to get diskutil to run in SUM on Mac OS X 10.3.x!

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My Favorite OSX UNIX Tools

I’ve learned almost everything I know about UNIX on my own, and even when I’ve been shown how to do something from the command line, troubleshooting often puts me on the path of self-instructed discovery. Here are some tools I use a lot (specifically in OS X), when mapping uncharted territory.

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Creating Domain Admins on an OS X Server PDC

Use the “net” command to create Admin users on your windows machines.

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Entourage 2004 – Networked Home Folders

Getting Entourage 2004 to launch a second time after installation.

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convert postfix-watch to full blown postfix on X Server

This is a tale about getting rid of postfix-watch.

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Headless Xserve install

Nobody told me it didn’t come with video!

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