Archive for April, 2006

Apple’s asr Badly Broken in Mac OS X 10.4.6?

In my article The State of Backup and Cloning Tools under Mac OS X, I investigated the metadata preservation capabilities of several command-line utilities, among them Apple’s asr (Apple Software Restore) command-line tool. The same tool is used by the Apple Disk Utility GUI. It seems that its behavior in file-by-file copying mode has changed drastically between OS X 10.4.5 and OS X 10.4.6—see the following table that corresponds to the table in my earlier post. Refer to my earlier post for an explanation of the metadata classes.

ownSOpermBFFFlckMDCDFC [a]RFEAACLind
ASR (file mode)Apple (10.4.5)x-x?xxx-xxxx-
ASR (file mode)Apple (10.4.6)x-x-x-x-xx---

Basically, the BSD flags (not sure if they were preserved in 10.4.5), the locked flag, HFS+ extended attributes, and ACLs are not preserved.

The conclusion would be that the asr tool, upon which many people rely for backup and machine setup purposes, is badly broken in OS X 10.4.6. This would also invalidate my earlier recommendations made here and here. Can readers confirm this behavior? I’ve filed the bug as Radar #4523878.

Update 2006-04-26: Apple has marked the bug as duplicate, effectively acknowledging it is indeed a bug in asr.

Update 2006-07-11: Apple has not indicated any pertinent fixes in the release notes of OS X 10.4.7, and, indeed, I can attest that the situation is unchanged with respect to 10.4.6.

39 comments April 23rd, 2006

Mac Backup Software Harmful

burnt computer

Earlier, I wrote about The State of Backup and Cloning Tools under Mac OS X, where I made the point that copying files on Mac OS X is not trivial because of the metadata associated with files.

I analyzed a variety of file copying engines, most of them command-line tools, and demonstrated how they fare in preserving file metadata.

In this article, I will investigate commonly used GUI backup/cloning tools for Mac OS X. The tools vary widely with respect to their feature set; the features are irrelevant here. I will concentrate purely on the underlying functionality of copying files. A backup tool needs to be able to copy files faithfully for a successful restore in case desaster has struck. The surprising conclusion of my investigation is that almost all Macintosh Backup tools fail at their most basic task, the faithful copying of files.

Continue Reading 351 comments April 23rd, 2006

Mac OS X 10.4.6’s iSync 2.2 Adds Nokia Series 40 Support

Nokia 6230i

Oh happy news! Apple has today released Mac OS X 10.4.6, which includes the new iSync 2.2. I didn’t consider it possible, but at last Apple seems to have extended iSync support to Nokia Series 40 devices! Nokia Series 40 devices include popular phones such as the 6021, 6230/6230i, and 6820/6822. Until today, iSync support has been limited to Series 60 smart phones.

List of iSync supported devices

This welcome addition finally makes Nokia users who didn’t want to invest in a clumsy smart phone first-class citizens on the Mac, and probably at the same time destroys a large part of the business of third-party developer MacMedia.

I haven’t tried it myself, but will soon. I am curious how practicable the sync mechanism will be.

Add comment April 4th, 2006


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