Moving home folder to another encrypted volume on OS X

Over the last weekend I was reinstalling my older MacBookPro (late 2011 model) again after replacing its hard drive with a fresh and modern SSD drive from Crucial 512GB. That change was really necessary given that simple file operations took about a minute, and every system tools claimed that the HDD was fine.

So after installing Mavericks I moved my home folder to another partition to make it easier later to reinstall OS X again. But as it turned out it is not that easy, especially not given that OS X doesn’t support mounting of other encrypted partitions beside the system partition during start-up yet. If you had a single user only, you will be busted after the home dir move and a reboot. That’s what I experienced. As fix under such a situation put back OS X into the “post install” state, and create a new administrator account via single-user mode. With this account you can at least sign-in again, and after unlocking the other encrypted partition you will have access to your original account again.

Having to first login via an account which data is still hosted on the system partition is not a workable solution for me. So I was continuing to find a solution which let me unlock the second encrypted partition during startup. After some search I finally found a tool which actually let me do this. It’s called Unlock and can be found on Github. To make it work it installs a LaunchDaemon which retrieves the encryption password via the System keychain, and unlocks the partition during start-up. To actually be on the safe side I compiled the code myself with Xcode and got it installed with some small modifications to the install script (I may want to contribute those modifications back into the repository for sure :).

In case you have similar needs, I hope this post will help you to avoid those hassles as I have experienced.

Firefox Automation report – week 35/36 2014

In this post you can find an overview about the work happened in the Firefox Automation team during week 35 and 36.

Highlights

Due to a lot of Mozmill test failures related to add-on installation and search, we moved from the addons-dev.allizom.org website to the staging website located at addons.allizom.org. Since then we experiencing way lesser test failures, which are most likely network related.

In order to keep up with all test failures, and requests for new tests we started our Bug triage meeting on a weekly basis on Friday. For details we have created an etherpad.

If you are interested in helping us with Mozmill tests, you can now find a list of mentored and good first bugs on the bugsahoy web page.

Because of the app bundle changes on OS X, which were necessary due to the v2 signing requirements, we had to fix and enhance a couple of our automation tools. Henrik updated mozversion, mozmill, and mozmill-automation. We were close to releasing Mozmill 2.0.7.

Individual Updates

For more granular updates of each individual team member please visit our weekly team etherpad for week 35 and week 36.

Meeting Details

If you are interested in further details and discussions you might also want to have a look at the meeting agenda, the video recording, and notes from the Firefox Automation meetings of week 35 and week 36.

Synchronizing Nokia N900 with Mac OS X

About 2 weeks ago I got my new Nokia N900 device for testing purposes. During the next couple of months I will have to run some dogfooding against the mobile Firefox aka. Fennec. To have it handy all the time I will have to use it as my mobile phone. Therefore it’s necessary to synchronize all the relevant information, e.g. Contacts, Calendars, and Tasks, between OS X and the N900.

There is no official plug-in yet which will allow the synchronization with iSync. But after a quick check I have found a plug-in which is still in a beta state but works quiet well for all of my data, and that in both directions. You can download the software from this website. The installation is fast and you will be able to start the first sync process nearly immediately.

Keychain forgets saved passwords … or not?

Yesterday I was really shocked. After reactivating my MacBook from stand-by mode I wanted to burn a DVD with exported pictures. I copied all files into the burning folder and started the process. From now on the whole system was curiously pretty slow. I never had this before. No idea if the burning process was responsible for that. But anyway, let us talk about the real problem…

I opened Adium to check if a friend is online. But instead of getting my contact list a password dialog was shown. Damn, what’s that? Most of my passwords are stored within Keychain. Why I have to enter a password now? Afraid of the thing happened I started the Keychain application and I was taken my breath away. No password, certificate or notes were visible. All entries were completely gone! The only thing I saw was a bright and white background. But that’s not what I wanted to see!

I was ebbed between waiting to finish the burning process or executing a restart immediately. Finally I decided to wait because there is no reason why it should getting worse. While the burning process wasn’t finished I restarted Keychain but without luck. It seems that all my stored sensitive data was lost. But stop! Let’s run a restart first… After taken the DVD out of my drive I did a restart. All the while I hold my fingers crossed. Please, please, please give me back my data… In such situations a restart takes a really long time! I entered my password and opened Keychain after my profile was loaded…

The applications window was shown and what I saw made me really really happy! All the entries were visible again and saved me from hacking them in again. I still have no idea what’s happened here and why they are back again. But I’m glad to have them back and I’m still interested for an explanation.

Anyone of you who had a similar experience? What was your result? Did you get back your stored passwords?

Mac OS X 10.5 alias Leopard available

Mac OS X alias Leopard It was a long time for everyone, who is interested in Mac OS X, to wait for the upcoming 10.5 release alias Leopard. Even after Apple Inc. announced its brand-new mobile phone iPhone and shifted the release forward further 6 month. But now you don’t have to wait any longer. Since yesterday Mac OS X 10.5 alias Leopard has been in the wild. Its sale started exactly at 6pm and many of the distributors celebrated a “Night of the Leopard”.

With more than 300 new features and additionally bugfixes this is the biggest release of Mac OS X ever launched. Improvements were made for the Finder, the Dock and many more. New applications like the Time Machine or Spaces add missing core features. Feel free to explore all that on the Mac OS X website.

As we know Apple there is no update available for existing Mac OS X users. Only customers who bought a Mac with Tiger in October can get an upgrade for 8,95 EUR. Anyone else has to buy the full version. But they are not too expensive. A single license of Leopard costs 129 EUR while a family license (for 5 members of one household) costs 199 EUR. Both versions can be bought by Amazon. If you order it before December you can even get a coupon over 10 EUR. Just enter following code at the end of your order request: AMZNLPRDAPPL.

Let the Leopard run!