Quick Tip: Unsigned Apps On OS X 10.8.2 Mountain Lion

Screenshot of System Preference to all all app installs

Apple implemented application signing as a security measure with Mountain Lion. The default setting is to allow all Mac Store Apps and all apps from identified developers (signed apps). This is a reasonable setting that balances security and ease of use. And to be honest, I rarely encounter a problem but I occasionally want to install an unsigned app (that I trust). While I often see tips about how to enable this they all imply this change must be permanent. I loosen the settings, do the installation, and then restore the old setting. I’ve never had a problem doing this and I continue to be protected from unintended installations. So my process is:

1. Go to System Preferences -> Security & Privacy -> General tab and change the “Allow Applications…” setting to “Anywhere”.

2. Install the software

3. Return to system preferences and change the setting back to “Mac App Store and identified developers”

Screenshot of System Preference to all all app installs


So for now, despite the wording, only app installs are blocked. The apps themselves still run once installed. At least for now.

Software Notes: VirtualBox

VirtualBox has become my desktop virtualization software of choice for both Windows and Mac hosts. I’ve used it on Windows for years but stuck to VMware Fusion on the Mac, only recently replacing it. It’s not as polished as VMware Fusion but gets the job done. This post is a collection of notes and tips I’ve collected. It will be updated over time, rather than creating new posts. The last update was Nov 17, 2012.

These all worked for me on Windows and OS X with VirtualBox 4.2. They should work on Linux too, but I haven’t tried them. On OS X run the commands from a terminal windows. On Windows run them from a command prompt.

Click on any image to see it full size.

Converting a Virtual Disk type

I converted several VMs from VMware Fusion. While the VMware VMDK disk format can be used to run a VM, not all features are supported, such as resizing. This command line can be used to convert the disk. NOTE: The command line below doesn’t properly display the double-dashes in the command. the format and variant parameters are both preceded by two dashes.

vboxmanage clonehd  “/path/to/source/disk/image.vmdk” “/path/to/destination/disk/image.vdi –format VDI –variant standard

The VMs using the disk will not be automatically updated. After the conversion remove the old disk image from the VM and attach the new one.

Expanding A Virtual Disk

I started getting low disk warnings on a couple VMs so needed to expand the virtual disks. Note: Again, the resize parameter is preceded by two dashes.

vboxmanage modifyhd “/path/to/disk/to/expand.vdi” –resize 30720

The new disk size will be reflected in the VM properties:

The new disk size is show in properties
New Disk Size Shown

It’s not reflected on the running Virtual Machine for Windows VMs.

Screenshot of drive properties

It is available but not allocated in Disk Manager.

Disk Manager Screenshot
Newly Added Space is unallocated

Expand Drive C: to use the new space. Right-Click the drive C: partition and select ‘Extend Volume” and run the wizard to use all the available space. The default values work for this.

Screenshot showing expanded drive Screenshot of drive C in Computer

Recently Published VirtualBox Articles

Moving a VirtualBox virtual machine

Manually installing guest additions

All VirtualBox articles have the VirtualBox tag.

Moving A VirtualBox Virtual Machine

Virtual Box Logo

As part of a recent PC reorganization I wanted to move some existing virtual machines and duplicate some others. Both Windows and OS X are used as hosts and VirtualBox 4.2.4 is used all around. The process is the same whether the host OS’s are Windows or OS X although all the screenshots here are from an OS X host. Since I’m moving from VirtualBox to VirtualBox this is all pretty straight-forward. Be aware that if you are moving Windows VM’s you may have to activate Windows again once it runs on the new host.

Clone The VM To Be Moved

I always clone the VM as a first step. This makes sure all the files are in one spot and leaves unnecessary files behind. So I do this even if the plan is to delete the original VM. This also provides a nice backup for the inevitable mistake.

1. Open VirtualBox Manager, right-click the machine to duplicate and select “clone”.

Clone Menu Selection


2. Enter in a machine name if you do not like the default provided. Select “Reinitialize the MAC addresses of all network cards” if you plan on using both the old and new machine at the same time.

Clone Virtual Machine Dialog


3. Wait for the clone to finish

4. Locate the cloned VM on the disk. It will be located in the default location and be a folder with the same name as the cloned machine. This can be found in preferences

Default VM Location
Default Location In Settings
VM File Location
The VM Directory

Copy this entire folder to an external disk or other central location so that it can be transferred to the other machine.

Now it’s time to setup the new VM.

Setup The New Virtual Machine

VirtualBox doesn’t create the default folders until the first virtual machine is created. If no virtual machines have been created since VirtualBox was installed either create a dummy VM or create the default directory specified in settings. You can use any location, it doesn’t have to be the default. Just be sure to remember the location if it’s not the default. Copy the Virtual Machine directory from step 4 to your selected location on the new machine.

1. Select Machine -> Add from the VirtualBox Manager menu.

Add a New Virtual Machine


2. Browse to the newly copied directory and browse into it to locate the *.vbox file and select it.

Select the VBox File

3. The machine will be loaded and may be ready to use. If you want to run this machine in addition to the original machine you will have to change the machine name. You’ll also need to have selected “Reinitialize the MAC…” in step 2 of the cloning process. You can optionally rename the Virtual Machine. You may also have to do some of the additional tasks listed below.

Additional Tasks

You may have to:

  •  Change the network adapter used in the VirtualBox settings for the machine. If so a warning will be displayed and you’ll be brought to the correct preference setting and VirtualBox will have put in a valid entry. If you have multiple network cars you may want to change VirtualBox’s choice.
  • Activate Windows (again)
  • If you use Windows Home Server AND duplicated the machine (meaning both old and new will run) uninstall and re-install the connector software on the new VM.


Patch Tuesday – Now With Windows RT Included!

Patch Tuesday list for Windows RT

While there were patches waiting when we all first got our Microsoft Surface RT, today was the first “Patch Tuesday” since it’s release, and it was invited to the party. It brought a firmware update and 7 other patches, although one of those was a Windows Defender definition update and probably shouldn’t count.

Patch Tuesday list for Windows RT

Some bloggers and others were reporting a performance improvement. Personally, it seemed the same for me. My slowest app (MetroTwit) is still frustratingly slow but now crashes much faster. I don’t blame the patch for this as MetroTwit was a devil of an app from the time I installed it.

SurfaceGeeks.net has a thread going to discuss the patching experience and results. Check it out before you update and add your two-cents after the update.



Tip: Manually Installing VirtualBox Guest Additions

I’ve done a bunch of VirtualBox installs, upgrades and VM migrations recently. I’ve found that the automated Guest Additions installation hasn’t always kicked off. Typically the installation can be started by selecting Device -> Install Guest Additions from the menu when the VM is running. But this wasn’t working for me, so I needed to manually install the additions. This was done with both Windows and OS X hosts with Windows guest OS’s.

This procedure gets down to the basics. In most cases I did not have to locate the Guest Additions ISO as it was already available in the library and just needed to be mounted. You can skip to “Installing Guest Additions” and see if the ISO is already available.

Locate the Guest Additions ISO

Mac OS X is a little more involved. First locate VirtualBox in the Application folder, right-click it and select show package contents.

Right-Click and select Show Package Contents






Then browse to Contents/MacOS/VBoxGuestAdditions.iso. Copy it to a location that accessible when browsing for files.

Browse to the guest additions ISO












On Windows PC hosts the VBoxGuestAdditions.iso file is located in c:\program files\oraclevirtualbox. It can be accessed directly and does not need to be moved.

Installing Guest Additions

Start the VM that needs the guest additions.

Click the CD icon in the bottom task bar.

Click the CD icon





If it’s listed, select VBoxGuestAdditions.iso. If it’s not listed select “Choose…” and browse to the ISO file identified in “Locate Guest Additions ISO” above.

If autorun kicks in then run VBoxWindowsAdditions.exe. If autorun is disabled then browse to it in file explorer and run it. You’ll need to reboot when the installation is done.

For the record, this was with VirtualBox 4.2.4.


Surface Geeks Podcast Episode 4

Episode 4 of the Surface Geeks Podcasts has been released. I was a co-host again this week  as we discussed the roller coaster that is Microsoft Surface RT.

Subscribe and rate in iTunes. Personally I’d love to see a Microsoft Surface podcast top a iTunes popular tech podcast list. But then again, I fire up IE to go to Apple.com and Safari to go to Microsoft.com.

The OS Quest Trail Log #77: Microsoft Rising

Photo of my Microsoft Surface RTThis trail log covers the last two months since September was too slow to justify a recap. But even in October, the bug news was at the end. Microsoft released Windows 8 to the world on October 26th. For me, the big news here was the release of Microsoft Surface RT. I jumped on the bandwagon and pre-ordered the 64GB version with the touch cover. We’re still in the honeymoon phase but I still like it. I forced myself to use it the first couple of days since change is never easy. But now I’m reaching for it by choice, I wrote about my first 24 hours on this site, but most of my Surface RT and Windows RT writing is on SurfaceGeeks.net along with great content and tips from others. Bottom line, annoying at times but I still use and like it.

I’ve been less eager for Windows 8 on my home PC. It’s not that I don’t like or want Windows 8. I’m surprised about how much I like it on Surface. But I think I’ll be happier running it on Windows 8 hardware such as a touchscreen. I’ll keep trying Windows 8 in a Virtual Machine, at least until the trial runs out. If I was buying a new PC I’d go with Windows 8, I’m just not convinced of the upgrade benefits.

Apple released iOS 6 in lates September and I upgraded both my iPhone 4S and iPad 3. It didn’t provide much of a noticeable change. I did have problems with wireless syncing but eventually came across a solution. Although I continue to have wireless problems with my iPad. It drops my 5 GHz connection every day or so although it eventually comes back. The 5 GHz band does have a shorter range but it was working OK before the iOS6 upgrade.

Even though I have a iPad 3 I wasn’t ticked off by the iPad 4 only 7 months later. My iPad 3 is unchanged and the iPad 4 was just a faster processor for me and hardware upgrades happen all the time. If I was outside the U.S. I would be ticked off if I was in a country that had newly installed LTE support in the iPad 4. The side effect of this is that if I don’t upgrade when a new iDevice is released I won’t buy one a few months later since it’s likely to be obsolete soon.

The iPad Mini was also a “meh” for me. Finally, a gadget I don’t have an urge to buy. Maybe after I touch one and the reality distortion field kicks in I might consider one when it’s time to replace my iPad. Although right now I think Microsoft Surface RT is my iPad replacement.

I updated What I Use before Windows 8 and the Surface RT release. It was time for an update and I wanted to get it on the record in case Windows 8 triggered additional changes. It didn’t, at least not beyond the Microsoft Surface RT.

Hurricane Sandy (or Superstorm Sandy) blew through the northeast a few days ago. For me it was just a minor inconvenance, unlike for many others. I have to compliment Linode. Despite my server being in their New Jersey data center, and their main offices being in New Jersey, there wasn’t any service interruption or drama around keeping the servers running, They lost phones for a while but still provided support through their ticket system (not that I needed it). Good job.

This wraps up this edition. Not much going on even though it was a two month recap.

Surface Geeks Podcast Episode 3

Episode 3 of the Surface Geeks podcast, with yours truly as one of the co-hosts, is available in both audio and video. This is the first SG podcast since Surface was released so there’s some hands on discussion. Dave also shares his line experience. Almost makes me wish I joined a line. Almost. Hit this link for the various audio and video options, or the subscribe to future episodes.