Monthly Archives: November 2007

Enabling Root in Mac OS 10.5 Leopard

When troubleshooting your Mac, it helps if you can log in as a different user. Instead of creating a new user, you can enable Root. Here’s how:

  1. Open Finder,
  2. Browse to Applications -> Utilities,
  3. Open Directory Utility,
  4. Click the lock to make changes,
  5. Enter your password when prompted,
  6. From the Taskbar go to Edit -> Enable Root User,
  7. Enter a new password for Root,
  8. Confirm the password and click OK,
  9. Close Directory Utility, and log out of your Mac,
  10. At the login screen, click the picture for Other…,
  11. Type the username root, with the password you previously set.

The root account should only be used when absolutely necessary, and when you know what you’re doing.

Using WordPress Pages to Link to Another Site

You may have noticed that since I changed the theme for this site that there is now a page called “” that directly links back to the root of my website. Unlike a normal WordPress page, this page links to a document completely outside the WordPress hierarchy.

I’m sure that it would be possible to hard-code the link into the theme files, but every time the theme is changed, the changes would have to be re-coded again. There’s also the fact that every theme is slightly different, so each theme change could mean starting from scratch. Instead it’s much easier to update the WordPress database.

Updating the database will ensure that the changes are persistent across theme changes. The downside is that if you’re not careful, you could hose your entire WordPress installation. So if you’re going to do this, make a backup. I’ll say that again – backup your WordPress database before you even think of doing this.

The first step is to create a standard WordPress page. The title of the page should be the name that you want to appear in the link. In my case the page title was “”. Under the discussion tab on the right hand side of the writing pane, untick the “Allow Comments” and “Allow Pings” options. Don’t enter any content and publish the page.

Now it’s time to edit the WordPress database. To do this you’ll need access to phpMyAdmin. Connect to your WordPress database and look for the wp_posts table. Choose the option to browse this table. You now need to locate the entry that corresponds to the page you’ve just created. It should be the last entry in the table.

Now that you have located the page entry, it’s time to edit the database. Click the edit icon. There are two items that you need to change. The first is “post_name”. This should be changed to reflect the URL that you want to link to. If you want to link to a page that is in the root of your website, you need to use relative addressing. For example, in my case, I changed the “post_item” to “../index.php”.

The second item that needs to be changed is the “guid”. This should be changed to the full address that you’re linking to, including the “http://www”.

To apply the changes that you’ve just made, click the Go button. Exit out of phpMyAdmin and you’re ready to test your changes. Refresh your blog and test that the link takes you where you want to go.

Update: Changed the name of database entry from “post_item” to “post_name”.

Adding Recent Item to the Leopard Dock

I came across this handy hint on Mac OS X Hints. It adds a “special folder” to your Dock that allows you to easily browse recent applications, documents, servers, volumes etc.

Open Terminal and type, (or paste), the following command:

defaults write persistent-others -array-add '{ "tile-data" = { "list-type" = 1; }; "tile-type" = "recents-tile"; }'

After the command has completed, type “killall Dock” (no quotes) to restart the Dock. You’ll now have a new icon beside your Trash. Click the icon to open a stack showing your recent documents. Command-click, or right click to show options to display:

  • Recent Applications
  • Recent Documents
  • Recent Servers
  • Favourite Volumes, and
  • Favourite Items

Forcing Time Machine to Use a Network Drive

Update 18 December 2007:

I’ve discovered a better way to force Finder to browse the contents of a network drive. You can read more here.

By default, Time Machine will not allow you to back up to a network drive – even if you can get Leopard to recognise the drive.

However, there is a command that will allow you to use a network drive with Time Machine. Before running this command, mount your network drive. Open Terminal, and at the prompt type:

defaults write TMShowUnsupportedNetworkVolumes 1

Open Time Machine Preferences, and you should now be able to view your network drive mounts.

My Network Drive Now Works with Mac OS X Leopard

Update 18th December 2007

I’ve found an easier way to force Finer to recognise the contents of a network drive. You can read more about it here.

I’ve written at some length about the problems that I’ve been having getting Leopard to connect to my Network Drive via SMB. The problem has been grating on my nerves over the last few days, and I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time trying to get it to work.

I’ve tried quite a few things over the last few days to try to get it to work, all without success. Here’s just a sample:

Reinstalled Leopard from scratch

I erased my entire hard-drive and installed Leopard from scratch. I did this just in case there was a problem with the installers method of upgrading from Tiger to Leopard. In the end, I had the same problem: Leopard could see my network drive, but not the contents.

Installed Tiger, updated Tiger, then installed Leopard

Installed Tiger from scratch, once again erasing the hard-drive in the process. Updated Tiger using the Software Upgrade option from the Apple menu. Then upgraded to Leopard. I went through this rigmarole just in case there were parts of Tiger that were being carried over into Leopard and that weren’t being upgraded. Still no joy though.

Manually reverted to the old version of the smb.conf file

I located the smb.conf file in the /etc directory, renamed it, then proceeded to rename smb.conf.old to smb.conf. Restarted the computer. I did this just in case it was a configuration issue. No luck with this either.

Installed the latest version of Samba

I downloaded and installed the latest version of Samba from the web. In case there was an issue with the version shipping with Leopard, I thouht it might be a good idea to try this, but I still wasn’t able to get it to work. In fact I wasn’t even able to get Samba installed. It may work, but I just didn’t see it going anywhere.

Installed Sharity 3

Sharity is a program that brings the SMBFS file system to Unix. There’s a version available for Mac OS X, but while it looked promising, it just ended up hanging the OS.

Reformatted my network drive with the Mac OS Extended File System

Thinking that it may be a problem with the way that Mac OS views FAT file systems, I tried formatting the drive for use with Mac OS. I had no problem partitioning and formatting the drive when it was directly connected to my MacBook, but when I tried to connect to the drives built-in webserver it reported that there was no free space – the firmware in the drive just didn’t recognise the file system. So I had to reformat it back to FAT32 again.

Now that I’ve been through what didn’t work for me, I can explain what I did to get Leopard to recognise my network hard drive.

  • Connect to my Network Drive using Apple-K
  • Close the lid of my MacBook
  • Leave it sleep for several hours
  • Open the lid of my MacBook and login back in

Voilà! I can now browse my network drive, and add and delete files and folders, etc. I’ve moved my iTunes Music folder to the drive and it works perfectly.

There is one issue. The network drive does not appear under the Shared section of finder, nor under the Desktop folder in my profile, even though I can see the link to the folder on my Desktop.

More on Connecting to a Network Drive Using Mac OS 10.5 Leopard

Update 18 December 2007:

I’ve discovered a better way to force Finder to browse the contents of a network drive. You can read more here.

I wrote recently about the problems that I was having connecting to a network drive from my MacBook.

I still haven’t solved the problem, but I have come across something else: If I share a drive on my Windows XP computer, the computer will be displayed in the Finder Window, along with my network drive. I can browse the Windows machine, but for some reason, I still can’t browse the network drive.

Finder Window

Problem Connecting to a Network Drive using SMB on Mac OS 10.5 Leopard

Update 18 December 2007:

I’ve discovered a better way to force Finder to browse the contents of a network drive. You can read more here.

Today I bought a new network hard drive. I bought it because I was getting tired of dragging my old USB external drive from room to room when I needed it. Having a network accessible hard drive makes it so much easier to share data between multiple computers using multiple operating systems.

Initially I set it up from my Windows machine, as I was working on that at the time. Setup was easy enough, and within a minute I was backing up my data over the network.

My problems started when I tried to access the hard drive from my Intel MacBook running Mac OS 10.5. I could connect to the drive and the shares with no problem, but when I tried to browse the contents of the share, it appeared to be empty. Now, I know it’s not empty because I just copied data onto the drive from my Windows machine. First of all I though that it may be the Mac OS firewall that was causing the problem, but even after disabling it, I still couldn’t get Finder to see any of the files on the drive.

I tried creating a folder on the drive using Finder. It seemed to create the folder OK, but no sooner had it done so than the folder disappeared. I checked the drive using Windows XP and the folder was there. It just wasn’t visible to Leopard.

The drive that I bought has a built in FTP server, so I tried to browse the drive using my FTP program and it worked. Using Finder to connect via FTP also worked. In both instances I was able to browse OK, but I could only add new files and folders with my FTP program.

I also tried mount the drive from the command line using:

mount_smbfs //user:password@drive_name/share_name /Volumes/NAS

(BTW, I had to manually create the /Volumes/NAS directory first)

No error messages were returned by the command and the hard drive showed as being connected in Finder, but once again, the share contents were “missing”. I also tried connecting using the CIFS protocol, but the same problem occurred. In desperation, I even tried using the Apple AFP protocol, even though I had an inkling that the drive wouldn’t support it. Unfortunately I was right.

I’ve been browsing the web for a bit looking for a solution, and it looks like I’m far from being the only person with this problem. There’s a thread on the Apple forums with some possible solutions, but none have worked for me.

So for the time being it looks like I’m stuck with browsing my new hard drive via FTP from my MacBook, while my Windows machines will have no problem connecting.

BackUpWordPress Plugin Security Issue

Over the last few days I’ve been noticing quite a few hits on my blog for various, non-existant pages. Each of these hits takes the form of:

bkpwp_plugin_path=URL of a text file on an another website

Checking the URL in the page request returns a text file containing PHP code that attempts to launch a remote shell.

The first part of the page request is a reference to a plugin for WordPress called BackUpWordPress This plugin automatically backs up your WordPress database and files. According to Security Focus, the plugin does not properly check user provided input, thereby allowing remote users to possibly access your hosting providers server.

At this point in time there is no update available to resolve this issue. If you’re using this plugin, then until a fix is made available, the safest option is to deactivate and remove the plugin.

Update: Since I wrote this piece, the BackUpWordPress plugin has been updated to fix this issue. Kudos to the developer for releasing a fix so quickly. More details in this comment.

Google Earth and Mac OS 10.5 Leopard

I tried running Google Earth today for the first time since I upgraded to Leopard. It quit unexpectedly without an error message. I tried re-installing from the original .dmg image but did not resolve the issue. Apparently I’m not the only one with this problem.

According to Google, version 4.2 of Google Earth is compatible with Leopard. Downloading and installing this version resolved my problem, but there are others for which this solution did not work. According to one poster on the Google forums, the following may help:

  • Delete the entire ~/Library/Application Support/Google Earth/ folder
  • Delete the ~/Library/Preferences/com.Google.GoogleEarthPlus.plist file
  • Restart Google Earth

If you delete these files, be aware that you’ll need to reload your myplaces.kml file from a backup. (The myplaces.kml file is saved in the “Google Earth” folder listed above).