Useful OS X Terminal Commands

As usual, last Sunday night, my Powerbook decided to come down with a really strange problem. It slowed to a crawl and for a moment I thought my hard drive was dying a slow death. However Disk Utility, showed no problems at all, so I was a bit puzzled by the problem. Eventually after deleting cache files with Cache Out X and rebuilding Prebindings and Spotlight databases, everything was back to normal. Apparantly it does not matter if I run Windows or OS X, I still end up doing computer maintenance at late hours of the night, when I could be sleeping.

I found these terminal commands handy. Unlike third party utilities, you can run these on any up-to-date OS X system.

To update Prebindings manually:

sudo update_prebinding -root / -force

To delete the Spotlight database from the boot volume:

sudo mdutil -E /

To run Software Update from terminal:

softwareupdate -l

To install Software Updates found:

sudo softwareupdate -i -a

Notes: Prebindings usually do not have to be redone, as OS X does this automatically, but if you are having a strange problem; rebuilding might help. Deleting the Spotlight database forces OS X to rebuild it right away, so it is best to let the computer sit overnight while it indexes the vloume. Spotlight is a feature of Mac OS X 10.4. For Software Update, terminal will not prompt for restart, so you must remember to do this after the updates are installed.

To Disable DMG File Verification:

defaults write skip-verify true

Microsoft’s Vista Theme

MS Vista Start MenuThere seems to be this belief that Microsoft is the new IBM. Namely that they are no longer cutting edge and that they have no new ideas anymore. When I say, IBM, I do not mean today’s IBM, but the IBM that could not establish OS/2 as a mainstream operating system, that IBM. So if Microsoft is IBM, then who is Microsoft? Most technews junkies would say any number of companies, but the favorite would have to be Google. There is this desire to see Microsoft fail and to have it toppled by Google, RedHat, or even Apple. Microsoft clearly is seeing a lot of competition these days, and in some markets Microsoft is just another competitor, not even a leading one. However Microsoft’s dominance has always been in operating systems and productivity software, the Windows & Office Suite are what Microsoft has always been about. One look at Windows 2006 and it’s Vista theme is all the reminder I need, to know that Microsoft is not going away any time soon.

I remember that Steve Jobs once said something about how Microsoft is the Wal-mart of the computer industry, meaning that if you want functionality without designer design, you buy Microsoft. At the time Apple was touting Mac OS X and its Aqua interface. It was evident then and it is still is now that Apple knows how to implement and design slick looking user interfaces. Comparing to will immediately tell you that Microsoft is all business and is designed by artists.

Which brings me to Vista, a radical new design for Windows which implements vector based graphics, a new Start Menu, and tons of other features that make WindowsXP look down right pedestrian. Vista is Microsoft’s Aqua interface. Some Mac users are probably thinking it is an outright copy of OS X, but it really is not. Microsoft has learned quite a lot about user interface and even though they have made some horrible mistakes like WindowsXP’s Start Menu, they have also made some nice implementations like the the Right-Click Properties option. Mac OS X’s Aqua has been a work in progress and even in 10.4, Apple is still changing it and modifying it here and there. Apple can do this cause it’s user base tends to upgrade OS X rather frequently, but Microsoft cannot have this luxuyry. A Windows release tends to last years, maybe even a decade. Windows95 anyone? Microsoft has to get the new interface just right on the actual release.

Over the coming months as Microsoft gets closer to actual release, Vista will become more well known and accepted as one of the most sweeping changes in interface design since Windows95. Although I am sure Microsoft will borrow and modify some ideas from its competitors, including Mozilla’s Firefox, Mac OS X, and maybe even the Linux distros out there, it will create in the end something which its market audience will find using for many years to come. I for one welcome a change from WindowsXP, the interface which makes me think is in really bad need of a makeover.

Will Vista and a new Internet Explorer look better than Apple’s Safari and Mac OS X, probably not, but they will be much needed improvements to the mainstream platform that millions of businesses use day in and day out, and that’s what matters to Microsoft.

Faster ATI Video on Mac OS X

If you bought OS X Tiger thinking that Apple’s new Quartz 2D Extreme would accelerate your Powerbook, you were surely disappointed when you found out that Apple had shipped Tiger with Quartz 2D Extreme disabled!

Perhaps some day in a future 10.4 update Apple will eventually enable it, but for now, even if I enable it, the accelerated video only lasts a few minutes and then my Powerbook locks up solid. However, I did try a different form of video acceleration that does work. If you have an ATI video card, you can try overclocking it with ATIcceleratorII.

I have tried it on both my Powerbook and G4 desktop and the results are very stable and the boosted video speed helps with almost every application, including the Mac OS X Finder, which is very much needed.

Since this is a form of overclocking, you will want to make sure that you overclock only in small increments and that your computer is adequately cooled and not operating in high-temperature environment.

ATIcceleratorII can adjust both video memory and gpu speeds. You can find multiple user reports on

Google Pagerank Widgets

Mac OS X 10.4 users have plenty of options for viewing Google’s PageRank. Here are three very colorful widgets for keeping tabs of your site’s PageRank:

The first widget is from Ran Aroussi. Entitled simply Google PageRank, Aroussi’s Dashboard widget allows you to enter any url and receive instant PageRank status.

Dashboard Google PageRank Widget

But if you want to monitor multiple sites at once, you should install Konfabulator and download PageRank.

Konfabulator PageRank Widget

This Konfabulator widget also works on Windows and Mac OS X 10.3.

Then there is’s PageRank Toolbar which is a Macintosh only widget for Konfabulator.

Konfabulator PageRank Toolbar Widget for Macintosh

Unlike the previous two widgets which require user input, this widget automatically checks what site is loaded in Safari and displays the PageRank.

Win2003 Server SMB Shares

Here is a good tip for Mac OS X computers trying to connect to a local Windows2003 Server that has ActiveDirectory running.

First go to Microsoft’s site and download the User Authentication Module, otherwise known as UAM for short. Install this for Mac OS X, and then you will need to make one change on the Windows2003 Server.

You will need to login as administrator and go to Administrative Tools and open Domain Controller Security Settings. From here go to Local Policies then Security Options. Scroll down to find the entry:

Microsoft network server: Digitally sign communications (always).

Set this to Disabled, so it looks like this. Then from a cmd prompt type: gpupdate and once that completes, reboot the server.

From the Mac client station, use the Go menu and choose Network. You should now be able to login via UAM with a domain account and mount the shares from Windows2003 Server on your Mac OS X desktop.

Apparantly the Connect To Server option defaults to Apple Authentication and will still not work with 2003 Server.