Problems With Unix Utilities & HFS Forks in Jaguar

I arrive home to find a spiffy package from ADC… Look it’s Jaguar! The excitement was racing to install this upgrade but then I thought what about my data? I wanted to partition my drive differently for Jaguar so I did what I would do on any of my systems. I tared my home directory double checking the file contents to make sure I got all my hidden files. I then uploaded the tar to my server via scp and checked the md5sum of the file. Everything looked good I was ready to go!

Editorial notice: All opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of

The Jaguar install false started once and crashed in the middle of it. I started it over and went on smooth as butter. Jaguar was up and running in no time and I was impressed by the repsonsiveness of the OS. While it wasn’t BeOS it was pretty darn quick, especially when you consider the amount of eye candy there is and all the alpha calculations that are done. Before I start delving deeper though I wanted to get all my data back. So I snagged the tar file via scp, checked the md5sum all was good. I untared the file into a temporay directory and restored the files I needed right away.

My first problems came with Chimera. I restored the ~/Library/Application Support/Chimera folder from my tar archive and everytime I started Chimera it crashed before loading… This wasn’t too troublesome though since Chimera is still under heavy development. I simply created a new profile, copied my bookmark file over and I was ready to go again. The next problem I ran into was with my software archive. I like to keep copies fo my software on my hard disk cause I hate looking for CD-Roms. Well when I goto install Adobe Photoshop 7 (downloaded version) the SMI image won’t mount. This is disturbing but I had this at home on CD too so I didn’t think about it to much and went onto install Quicken. Again Quicken installer wouldn’t start up. I then discover that pretty much my entire Mac OS software archive is fungled, but my Linux binaries were fine when I copied them over to my Linux box.

At this point I was frustrated and confused. I spent a lot of time playing with Jaguar but was still somewhat disturbed by my software archive being pretty much toast. I got home and installed Quicken 2002 off of CD-Rom and go to open up my quicken data file and Quicken does not recognize it. So that got me thinking about my creator ID’s and OS 9 resources. I set the file type and creator code to the appropriate settings via the Developer Tools and Quicken now recognized the file. I still had problems though. When Quicken attempted to open the file it said the resource file had changed and it would rebuild it. Well the rebuild failed and I’m without my Quicken data. This get’s me really worried. I then remembered something about legacy Mac OS systems… The resource fork! The tar command didn’t archive the resource fork. So I used the Developer Tools again and extracted the resource fork from a new quicken file and copied into the resource fork of the restored quicken file, and voila! My quicken data was back. This brings me to an interesting question. Is the behavior of tar a bug or a feature? I searched through apple’s documentation and all I could find on the topic was this:

Note: You can use the BSD cp or mv commands on a application package (or any other bundle) without ill effect. However, if you use those commands on a single-file CFM application, the copied (or moved) application is rendered useless. For the latter purpose, Apple includes the CpMac command-line utility.

There is no mention of the other unix utilities. Further more I had applications corrupted and single files corrupted. To me this behavior is inappropriate, the filesystem should be smart enough to provide this forked data through unix tools some how. The other gripe I have is that the Finder application uses a seperate fork other than the data and resource fork to store its information! Where does this stop? As a *nix sys admin I am very frustrated with this aspect of Mac OS X, though I must admit that it shines everywhere else. Personally I think OS X needs to be on UFS file systems only, get rid of this crazy HFS garbage, but that’s just me.

Let me know what you think…

About the Author:
Philip Streck is an Applications Programmer for Akron General Medical Center, an independent consultant and specializes in Palm OS(C)-based applications. He is also currently obtaining a BS in Computer Science at the University of Akron.


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