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Troubleshooting Mac OS X 10.3 Panther #14: Unmounting FW drives; HotSync/Fast User Switching; Fax problems; 10.3.1 fixes; more

Troubleshooting Mac OS X 10.3 Panther #14: Unmounting FW drives; HotSync/Fast User Switching; Fax problems; 10.3.1 fixes; more

Unmounting FireWire drives requires authentication: follow-up Yesterday we reported that under Panther, a user attempting to unmount a FireWire drive that was connected/mounted by another user, or connected/mounted at startup before the user logged in, will be asked to authenticate the action using an admin username and password. However, we've since received reports from other users that the request for authentication sometimes occurs even if a non-admin user mounts connects a FireWire drive when logged into their own account. Reader Richard Jenkins writes:

"I have mounted my LaCie external firewire drive as a non-admin user and it still wants an admin password to unmount it. There are with no other accounts open on this machine: I mounted it after logging in to this account, and permissions are set to 'ignore on this volume' by default."

We've also received a workaround for the issue, for those circumstances where a non-admin user actually needs to be able to unmount such a volume. Simply launch Disk Utility, select the volume from the list on the left, and click the Unmount button in the toolbar (or choose File -> Unmount Volume). This action doesn't require admin authentication. (Some might also say that this is a security hole in OS X.)

Note that we've also received a few reports from users who experienced this behavior under Jaguar.

Palm HotSync and Fast User Switching We previously covered a few issues with Panther and Palm Desktop, and provided a few workarounds for getting Palm Desktop installed and functioning. However, we've received a report from a reader claiming that if you take advantage of Panther's Fast User Switching, and multiple accounts have HotSync monitoring active at login, only one account will actually be able to sync with a Palm handheld. In fact, if another user attempts to sync, it's possible for the Palm handheld to sync with the wrong account. (This situation only appears to happen if more than one user is logged in simultaneously -- via Fast User Switching -- and more than one of those users has HotSync monitoring active at login.)

We haven't verified this report ourselves. If you've experienced such an issue, please drop us a note.

Fax problems may affect other apps besides Word Yesterday we reported a problem with Panther's fax functionality in Microsoft Word, where attempting to add a recipient from Address Book results in a "freeze" of the Addresses palette. A few readers have reported that this problem isn't limited to Word; other applications, such as Camino nightlies and TeXShop, are also affected.

Fix for some printing issues has been rolled into 10.3.1 Update We've reported on a number of issues with printing in OS X 10.3. We've also heard from two sources -- and the developer of a popular Mac OS X printing utility -- that one reason for some of these printing problems is a bug in the Panther installer itself that can occur when performing an "Upgrade Install" and later running Disk Utility's Repair Disk Permissions function. (We briefly mentioned this issue in one of our daily articles on OS X 10.3.)

According to these reports, when you install Panther, the installer is supposed to create two system-level users, lp and postfix. However, when performing an Upgrade Install of Panther over an existing version of Mac OS X, these users may not be created. If you subsequently run the Repair Disk Permissions function -- which many users do after a system install -- existing printer queues may be damaged. posted a page describing this issue, and provided an installer package that purports to fix this problem by running an "Apple provided script in order to create the needed users." It also deletes existing printer queues, restarts the print server, and tries to recreate the previous print queues.

We've now verified that the OS X 10.3.1 Update installer creates these users if they don't exist, thus rendering the fix described above unnecessary.

Incomplete Java Installations fixed by 10.3.1 update? On a related note, according to a Technical Note on Apple's Developer website, dated October 31, some Mac OS X 10.3 "Upgrade Install" installations fail to properly update the JavaVM.framework. If your installation of Panther is affected by this issue, Java applications may hang/freeze after being launched.

The Technote provides a "developer" solution, stating that the solution "is not meant to be an end-user document. A fix from Apple suitable for end-users is pending." However, as we noted yesterday, the Mac OS X 10.3.1 Update includes an updated JavaVM.framework, so it's quite possible that the 10.3.1 Update is indeed this "fix suitable for end-users."

Microtek scanner workaround Reader Mark Cohen reports that since installing Panther, he has not been able to use his Microtek 4800 scanner:

"Not only does the main ScanWizard 5 (v7.10) app hang or crash, but the the Microtek Scanner Finder app also hangs."

His solution has been to use his scanner via the Classic Environment. The only caveat is that "you may have to manually launch the ScanWizard app rather than use the Photoshop plug-in launcher."

Panther problems? Drop us an email at

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