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.

The OS Quest Trail Log #74: New Software Edition

The Future Is Now graphic

July brought a lot of new software even though it was a slow month as far as the post count goes. The beginning of the month was all Synology. Soon after I started looking at some of the Synology apps (not impressed) Synology released the DSM 4.1 beta and I’ve been running that ever since. But not to be forgotten, Apple released Mountain Line (OS X 10.8) and I installed it on my MacBook Air. Sandwiched between those events was Microsoft’s Public Preview for their latest Office Suite. I decided to give Office 365 Home Premium a look.

Like the earlier DSM 4.0 beta which was released shortly after I bought my first Synology NAS, the DSM 4.1 beta has been stable for me. I don’t use a lot of the features, sticking with file storage as it primary purpose. It’s been fine as an iSCSI destination along with basic file  shares. I have been using Photo Station and like it, although I’m still trying to figure out exactly what role it will fill.

Mountain Lion has also been stable on my MacBook Air. I’m still unable to browse my Windows Home Server for shares but can connect to them directly. As I’m writing this my Mac Mini Mountain Lion upgrade just finished and it too has the same share browsing problem. And like the Air, the Mini can browse shares on my Windows 7 machines and the Synology NAS. So I’ll have to plan some time on that problem although I’m not the only one with the problem according to this forum post. I suspect I’ll wait until the first Mountain Lion update to see if it’s resolved then.

I’m still not sure what to think about Mountain Lion. It continues the trend of computers becoming part of an ecosystem. While it’s not real lock in, the Gatekeeper security feature and iCloud file system make the ease of use a tempting benefit, but it erodes interoperability. I don’t think Apple’s goal is lock-in, I just think it’s a side-effect of their ease-of-use goal. My own history with Apple’s cloud services makes me hesitant to commit to the iCloud file system but I am giving it a try. I’m just dipping my toe in – a year from now I may find a better app and find I need need a forklift to get a years worth of data out of iCloud.

Out of all the new software I have to admit that Office 365 Home Premium (and the whole new Office product line) intrigues me the most. I’m skeptical, and expect disappointment, but Microsoft may have done it right this time. And at the right price it may be something I subscribe to personally. I like that SkyDrive is the cloud file system and unlike iCloud it’s easy to get the files out (just sync to a local disk) and do my own backups.

I used the Office 365 Blog template for my previous post. It’s clearly an attempt to replace Live Writer which I still prefer. Word did more than I expected. What I expected was a simple template. Instead it provides blog specific features and can publish the post (or a draft of it) to the blog. The bottom line for me was Live Writer had more polish but the Word blog template has promise.

Which new software are you excited about – Windows 8, Mountain Lion, DSM 4.1, Office, Microsoft’s new servers, none of them?

Mountain Lion On My MacBook Air

Mountain Line Install Screen

Mountain Line Install Screen

I wasn’t very excited about Mountain Lion but an upgrade was inevitable. So with my vacation starting Saturday I decided to kick it off by upgrading my MacBook Air. Actually, I decided to take the opportunity to wipe the slate clean and do a fresh installation.

Creating a bootable USB drive with Mountain Lion (OS X 10.8) on it is easy enough and there are numerous how-to’s out there.

I started off by making a backup image with SuperDuper. I also removed all the Time Machine folder exclusions so everything would be backed up to Time Machine without exception. This gave me two backups before I flattened the hard drive.

Installation was straightforward. I did make the same mistake I always seem to make. Booting from the USB and doing an install straight-away finds the existing install and upgrades it, rather than replaces it. So the second time around I did a drive format first with disk utility (available on the boot/install USB). The actual installation only took about 30 minutes. I installed both Chrome and Firefox since I knew I’d be using them, But the rest of the software gets installed when I actually need it.

The only system issue I’ve had is connecting to my Windows Home Server 2011 box. I can connect to a share if I type the full name directly, but I can’t browse for shares. When I try to browse the server I get a no shares found error. I can browse for shares on my Windows 7 boxes and my Synology NAS so there’s no problem there. So for now it’s manual typing and setting the shares to automatically connect at login. Once I upgrade my Mac Mini I’ll see if it has the same problems or if it’s machine specific.

The only app I have a problem with is Mailplane (A Gmail client). The current version was flagged as incompatible and I was pointed to the beta version. I installed it but bugs make it unusable for me. That drove me to configure Apple Mail. I’ve been away from it for a long time. It took a little tweaking to get along with Gmail, but its been OK. I typically view email on my iPad or iPhone anyway.

I haven’t encountered any other issues in my limited use of Mountain Lion. I did have to download the latest full installs for a couple of my apps so that I had signed copies from “identified devlopers”. So far I haven’t had to loosen security by allowing apps from anywhere, just from the app store and known developers. I suspect I’ll eventually have to open up, but I’ll see how far I get.

The software I’ve installed includes the latest versions of:

  • Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox
  • VMware Fusion
  • Bento
  • Acorn
  • Caffeine
  • Evernote
  • Amazon Kindle
  • Arq Backup (by Haystack Software)
  • PinPoint (by Lagente Software)
  • Wx (by Hunter Research and Technology)
  • DVDPedia

Those are the only apps I’ve needed so far. Roaring Apps has a comprehensive list of app compatibility for Mountain Lion.

It’s been less than 24 hours but all the important stuff works so I won’t be going back and I’ll be going all Mountain Lion when I upgrade my Mac Mini later this week. Anyone else running Mountain Lion yet?