Tag Archives: OS X

A dev’s MacBook from scratch

I’ve been a long time Apple user. I hate a lot about the company’s policy and how they treat their power users, but I love the tight integration between their software and hardware. Another thing to love is their migration tools. You buy new hardware, you click Restore from backup and you are done. Safari even opens up the tabs you had open on the old device. However recently, I’ve splurged on a new MacBook 12” and decided to set it up from scratch. For the fun of it. Here are some notes of how I’ve set it up for myself, for future reference and if someone is in a similar position.


  • Don’t sign into iCloud during installation as that starts syncing everything to iCloud and you might not want that.
  • I moved over some files manually from a Time Machine external disk and they got “locked” i.e. I had to enter the admin password for any change to them. This is how I “unlocked” them: xattr -c -r FOLDER_WITH_LOCKED_ITEMS/ && chmod -RN FOLDER_WITH_LOCKED_ITEMS/

System configuration:

  • First off, update to the latest version of OS X, since every major update overwrites some system configuration and you don’t want to duplicate your work.
  • Turn on auto updates. Doh.
  • Go through all System preferences panes and see what works for you. Take your time to see what’s there, it pays off.
  • I disabled Location services, because I use VPNs a lot and then Location Services get totally confused.
  • Enable sending/receiving SMS and calls on OS X — a killer Apple feature for me.
  • Disabled Document Handoff because I don’t want all my docs in the cloud by default.
  • On a MacBook 12″ moving the Dock to the right makes the most sense in my eyes.
  • Set a nice “return for reward” message to be displayed on Locked screen. Something along the lines of “If you have found this laptop, please call me on MY NUMBER or send me an email to MY EMAIL and get a sweet reward! Thanks!”
  • Check Require an administrator password to access system-wide preferences. Doh.
  • Turn on FileVault and Firewall. Double-doh.
  • Firewall -> Advanced -> enable Stealth Mode. Though need to remember to turn it off when diagnosing network problems.

Finder preferences:

  • Show extensions.
  • When performing a search: Search the Current Folder, otherwise it searches the entire computer by default and almost kills Finder.
  • New Finder windows show: my home folder. I hate the “All My Files” default view. Absolutely hate it.

Various tools and apps:

  • Resilio Sync: fantastic app for sharing files among team members, based on bittorrent.
  • Slack: team communication, we use it religiously.
  • Crypho: secure team communication. I’m looking forward to the day when we can replace Slack with Crypho, so we have all communication secure, but as it is, Slack is just way more convenient for everyone to use.
  • LittleSnitch: allow/disable connections per app/port/protocol/address. Fantastic to prevent apps from contacting ads/tracking services and getting more insight into what goes on in the background.
  • Alfred: great productivity app, “replaces” Spotlight and then some!
  • Bartender: get that Menu Bar under control!
  • Flux: same as Redshift on Linux, adjusts screen colours for late night hacking sessions.
  • AppTrap: automatic cleanup of files that apps leave laying around after you delete them
  • iStat menus: to always be able to see what my system is doing with a glance.screen-shot-2016-10-05-at-20-44-24
  • Seashore: GIMP/Photoshop clone with a Mac-style UI. But seems an abandoned project, need to find a replacement …
  • Calibre: eBook management.
  • iBank: keeping my finances in check.
  • LibreOffice. And removed Apple’s Numbers & Pages.

Development environment:

  • Homebrew: the quintessential package manager for OS X.
  • Twitter: funny as it sounds, but Twitter is a great way to stay on top of latest patches/releases/news in tech.
  • Colloquy: a lot of Open Source still happens on IRC and this is how I keep in touch.
  • Chrome: been using it a few years now for browsing and development, but I want to switch back to Firefox soon. Extensions I cannot live without: BackStop, The Great Suspender, Send to Kindle, StayFocusd and Full Page Screen Capture.
  • Tunnelblick: the OS X OpenVPN client.
  • ExtFS for Mac: so I am able to mount ExtFS volumes (Linux drives, Raspberry PI SD cards, etc.)
  • pgAdmin3 and pgweb: admin interfaces for PostgreSQL, lately pgweb sees way more usage than pgAdmin3. Also sqlite browser for SQLite.
  • dotfiles: I keep a private git repo with all my “dotfiles” so history is tracked.
  • travis-cli & heroku-cli: working with Travis and Heroku from the comfort of the terminal window.
  • Vagrant: for simple virtualization needs, when I want to test out something without polluting my main environment.
  • Shush: a vital tool for any remote worker, to keep unwanted background noise from polluting teleconferencing.
  • Sublime Text: I’ve been a TextMate user for quite a while but I jumped ship when I saw how much faster ST is. That was years ago and I’m sticking with ST for now, got used to it and it works for me. I did migrate to ST3 recently though. The list of plugins I use:
    • GitGutter
    • SideBar Enhancements
    • Requirements Txt
    • Color Highlighter
    • CSS3
    • jQuery
    • SublimeLinter
    • SublimeLinter-annotations
    • SublimeLinter-pydocstyle (sudo pip2/3 install pydocstyle)
    • SublimeLinter-flake8 (sudo pip2/3 install flake8)
    • SublimeLinter-jshint (npm install -g jshint)
    • SublimeLinter-shellcheck (brew install shellcheck)
    • SublimeLinter-pyyaml (sudo pip3 install pyyaml)
    • SublimeLinter-json
    • BracketHighlighter
    • Jedi – Python Autocompletion
    • theme: SoDaReloaded Light.sublime-theme
    • pdb snippet: https://gist.github.com/phalt/72117041fbb7cf4c4697
    • starting ST from the current dir in console by typing subl -n .: https://www.sublimetext.com/docs/2/osx_command_line.html

Plone 4 dev on Lion


Recently I upgraded to OS X Lion and here are my notes on how I got my working environment working.


First things first, you need to setup build tools (gcc, make and the like). On OS X these come as a part of XCode. Even if you had XCode installed on Snow Leaopard before upgrading to Lion, do take time and reinstall it completely. Stuff changed since the white cat and it’s safer to have your build tools up-to-date.


Same story as with XCode. Remove your collective.buildout.python directory entirely and recreate it from scrach. It takes a while, go make yourself some nice tea.

UPDATE: In OSX 10.7.1 readline does not get built because it’s configuration script does not correctly recognizes the OS. You can fix this by appending the following two lines to the bottom of src/readline.cfg in your local checkout of collective.buildout.python and re-running buildout.

make-options =

egg cache

If you are using a local egg cache it might get tricky. Some people report everything works fine, but several people also report that things were randomly breaking until they had removed all eggs from their egg cache and re-ran buildout. My suggestion? Clear the cache! It takes a while to download all those eggs again, but it beats losing a day chasing readline related SEGFAULTS causing Zope crashes on seemingly random requests:

Program received signal EXC_BAD_ACCESS, Could not access memory.
Reason: KERN_INVALID_ADDRESS at address: 0x0000000000000000
0x00000001131ccf09 in call_readline ()


If you are using z3c.recipe.staticlxml you are in more trouble. The latest version uses libxml2-2.6.32 and libxslt-1.1.24 and these two break in a very nasty way when you try to access a Plone site themed with Diazo. Zope crashes with no traceback. Attaching gdb to the process spits out the following error:

Program received signal EXC_BAD_ACCESS, Could not access memory.
Reason: KERN_INVALID_ADDRESS at address: 0x0000001400001c4f
[Switching to process 89119]
0x00007fff8dbcd403 in strncmp ()
(gdb) bt
#0  0x00007fff8dbcd403 in strncmp ()
#1  0x00000001088e5830 in __xmlParserInputBufferCreateFilename (URI=0x1400001c4f <Address 0x1400001c4f out of bounds>, enc=163580032) at xmlIO.c:2412
#2  0x00000001088bc951 in xmlNewInputFromFile (ctxt=0x10985e5b0, filename=0x10407fd30 "/Users/zupo/work/example.project/eggs/diazo-1.0rc3-py2.6.egg/diazo/defaults.xsl") at parserInternals.c:1462

One solution is to add the following two lines to the [lxml] part of your buildout.cfg:

libxml2-url = ftp://xmlsoft.org/libxml2/libxml2-2.7.8.tar.gz
libxslt-url = ftp://xmlsoft.org/libxml2/libxslt-1.1.26.tar.gz

These tell lxml to build against newer versions of libxml2 and libxslt making those nasty errors go away.

UPDATE: You can just as well use the latest version of z3c.recipe.staticxml which includes URLs to newer versions of both libxml2 and libxslt.

The other solution is simply to not use z3c.recipe.staticlxml at all. It seems that you can now use your system’s libxml provided to you by XCode (located at /usr/include/libxml2). To do this, remove [lxml] from your buildout.cfg and re-run buildout.

Multiple configurations for Tunnelblick

A while ago I wrote about configuring Tunnelblick OpenVPN client for OS X. Here is how you can have multiple OpenVPN configurations with TunnelBlick:

1. Open ~/Library/Application\ Support/Tunnelblick/Configurations/ with Finder.

2. Rename openvpn.conf to openvpn-location-a.conf.

3. Duplicate openvpn-location-a.conf and rename the duplicate to openvpn-location-b.conf.

4. Open both of these configurations and change values such as server IP, etc.

5. Restart Tunnelblick.

This should be it. Now you should be able to choose between configurations when clicking Tunnelblick’s tray icon.

Finding bad blocks on USB flash drives

After a recent thorough cleaning of my office desk I found a handful of USB sticks. I knew some of them were more or less broken and some should be OK. But which are whic

The solution that first came to mind was to scan USB drives for corrupted sectors / bad blocks. After some Googling around and reading through comments I came up with a process using ‘badblocks’ from ‘ext2fs’ package to scan for bad blocks:

1. Install ext2fsx.
2. Insert USB drive.
3. Backup data from the USB drive because ‘badblocks’ removes all data from the stick.
4. Identify USB drive in console.

$ mount
... snip ...
/dev/disk1 on /Volumes/NO NAME (msdos, local, nodev, nosuid, noowners)

5. Unmount USB drive so we can run ‘badblocks’ on it.

$ sudo umount -f /Volumes/NO\ NAME/

6. Run badblocks to identify and mark bad block

WARNING: badblocks removes all data on drive. Make sure you have a backup and that you don’t mistype the drive’s i

$ badblocks -vw /dev/disk1

7. Use ‘Disk Utility’ to format the drive so you can actually use it.

Secure IM for internal communication

During this summer we finally got some time to review our internal working processes. One thing clearly missing was a solid IM solution for quick communication when working remotely. After trying out several different approaches we decided to use the old and well-proven one: IRC.

Very important feature we were looking for was secure communication. Domen mentioned something about FISH, a blowfish implementation for IRC chats. One google search away we had exactly what we needed.

Kubuntu users get Konversation installed on their system by default and Konversation has built-in support for FISH. Nice.
Those of us using Colloquy on OS X, however, needed to install a plugin – FISHy. Download, copy to Plugins folder and we were set. Simple and effective.

I like it when things just work.