Steve Gibson (SpinRite creator, Anti-Spyware pioneer) liking the Mac

by Todd Ogasawara

One of my destination podcasts (one I try to listen to regularly) is Security Now hosted by Leo Laporte and Steve Gibson. Steve is the creator of the SpinRite disc recovery utility for the PC, anti-spyware pioneer, and former Infoworld columnist. As a well known longtime fan and critic of Microsoft Windows, it was really amusing to hear him explain to Leo why he had not tested the DOS-based SpinRite with an Intel Mac yet in SecurityNow episode 52:

Steve: I'm liking the Mac so much that first I cut the hard drive in half using Apple's Boot

Leo: Right.

Steve: So it was half Mac and half Windows.

Leo: Right.

Steve: And I got Windows installed and set up, and it all worked really well. It's like, okay,
cool. Now I've got, you know, Windows on this really nice Mac hardware. Then I was using the
Mac for a while, and I was thinking, I'm kind of liking this Mac side. So I wiped out the Windows
side, and I used Boot Camp again to repartition it. And this time I only gave Windows 10GB out
of my total of 80. And now it's gone completely.


Aaron Tait
2006-08-23 05:27:07
I almost shat myself when I heard that! I think the final straw for Steve is being able to keep programming in good old x86 assembler on an Intel Mac.
2006-08-23 06:34:06
It is an interesting phenomenon. A lot of people are looking to buy Macs so they can run Windows or because they think they need Windows. I think most of them will discover just like Mr. Gibson did, that Windows is an unnecessary part of their lives.
Shamyl Zakariya
2006-08-23 10:50:37
I had this same experience with linux on my powerbook. I came from running linux on my PCs, and dual-booted my powerbook. Within a few months, I was Mac only. It's a nice place to be.
2006-08-23 16:42:15
I know some people who have gone the other way - Mac OS X to Linux - for one reason or another. In the end, they return. While the ability to really get under the hood and play with things is fun, in the end, we need to earn a paycheck and things must met the It Just Works™ mantra.
shane blyth
2006-08-23 20:59:47
I remember spinrite from years and years ago on the PC side.. great app.
1 thing that is looking real interesting to me is I am aplha testing crossover office for the mac and it seems to work incredibly well.. Nice not to have to buy a copy of windows I think that this is going to be the way to go in the fututre as most windows apps run on it and if you are like me using less and less of them than having to boot windows or parrallels is just not necessary for me.. if it wasnt for the alpha testing i doubt I would need to run a windows app even once a month for 2 minutes

2006-08-24 01:01:10
So now OS X users have to endure Gibson's obnoxious network security idiocy?
2006-08-29 17:24:06
Regardless of your thoughts on his security expertise (I know many people in the field on both sides of that fence)... his SpinRite program has saved my bacon more than once and I would love to see him bring it to the Mac.
2006-09-13 15:31:41
I don't like his "your port 139 is open, you are doomed"' stuff but I would definitely pay for such an advanced,time tested piece of assembly/low level art.

I mean Spinrite.

Here is its page:

If you read the method of it you will understand the potential hassle of porting to Apple. It is _really_ low level, pure ASM thing deals directly with hardware, bypassing Smart mechanism even.

The "problem" is, yep... Closed hardware.

For Steve Gibson level experienced programmers, learning PPC assembly (I guess he knows) isn't big deal, e.g. Unsanity guys had to learn it very short time to convert their applications to universal.

Only the Application needs to be ported, there is a excellent licensable and pure Mac oriented Linux out there, Yellow Dog Linux. It even supports my Quad G5.

Audio/Movie professionals will love such tool since you can't rely on SMART and you generally use 15K RPM SCSI already which doesn't have smart at all.

Walter Cheng
2006-12-07 19:30:53
Just listened to Security Now on my iPod, in which it talked about "Internet Anonymity", and it mentioned Spinrite. Checked its corporate website and now decided to ask Mr. Gibson to do the Mac fans a great favor: We care so much about our data too; and for those graphic and multimedia designers, we grieve when we get to know that our hard drives don't spin right!
2007-02-01 13:04:41
Spinrite 6 works on mac-formatted drives.

Pull the drive out, put it in a pc. Don't put it in an external enclosure as the scan-time for spinrite over usb or firewire will take a month to do.

Also, gibson's research is spot on the majority of the time. If someone can port their own graphics to an assembly level program, gain low-level hd access, and has written an entire e-commerce system with advanced database storage and cryptography all in a .dll file, they know their shit.

Todd Ogasawara
2007-02-02 00:47:54
Charlie: Unfortunately, it is not always easy to pull an HD out of a Mac. The Mac mini, for example, comes to mind as one that most people would hesitate to crack open (literally) to get to the HD and then to place it back in. The iBook (the MacBook HD isn't too hard to remove) is another one. In both cases (pun intended) it would be much more convenient to stick in a bootable CD with a Mac version of SpinRite (if it existed).
2007-06-27 21:53:30
The Mac is no longer PPC. And since Steve was talking about Boot Camp, he is not using an old PPC Mac. He is using an Intel Mac. So, he doesn't have to port his assembly over to PPC/RISC. He only has to figure out how to get around the proprietary bios. It shouldn't be that hard for him.

Here is a fairly simple how-to on installing SpinRite (among other boot images) onto a USB thumbdrive. It uses one of 2 different *Nix kernels (to circumvent bugs in certain bioses) and boots the floppy img file that the SpinRite exe (ran via wine) created. As long as the Apple bios doesn't prevent SpinRite from getting to its needed resources, it should be more about testing, bug fixing, and documenting than porting.

I'm going to predict that the next major release of SpinRite will boot and run on Intel Apple hardware.

Stephen Cooper
2008-04-03 23:50:55
A friend tried his copy out on my Mac Mini, it boots OK, but wont respond to the Mac USB keyboards.
2008-05-23 13:09:41
I think he may like the Mac side because he doesn't have to do all the voodoo to make it "safer" like he does with WIndows.