What I'd Like to See in Tiger: Part 4, A Self-Repairing OS

by Hadley Stern

Every operating system has its quirks. OS 9 was marred by frequent crashes. A typical prevention regimen included running Norton Disc Doctor religiously (defragment, defragment, defragment). Other OS 9 fun included memorizing all your extensions and when you installed them. Looking back, Conflict Catcher, which would start up your Mac a bizzilion times with every conceivably combination of extensions turned on and off.

Thankfully we don't have to worry about this in OS X. When you install an application you need not worry whether it will conflict with another application. This is welcome relief.

However, as I said every operating system has it's quirks. And while OS X is a far superior operating system to OS 9 there are still troubleshooting issues that pop-up. These issues are inherently anti-user because they make no sense whatsoever. I appreciate that OS X is built on top of a rock-solid Unix foundation. But I don't appreciate that I have to run fix disk permissions every couple of weeks or so. Why isn't this function build into the operating system?

Permissions are one example, rebuilding the disk directory with third party tools in another. In 2005 you'd think we were beyond these issues. More than Dashboard users want a computer that does as much as possible to take care of itself. With Tiger, Apple should do everything it can to make the operating system more intelligent, and more able to take care of itself.

Do you think OS X should be self-repairing?


2005-03-07 10:55:41
Repair Permissions isn't necessary
I've been running OSX on multiple systems since 10.1. I've never once had to resolve a problem by repairing permissions. Can't quite understand why this is so necessary. There's also an excellent article by John Gruber over at www.daringfireball.com that dispells the myth of Repair Permissions.
2005-03-07 11:11:47
Repair Permissions isn't necessary
it's actually at daringfireball.net. here's a direct link to the article:


2005-03-07 11:18:00
Still not Self-Repairing
John's writing on this issue is sound, but it doesn't relate to the issue at hand. He writes that running permissions when there is no problem can cause problems.

However, I've had a number of instances where running fix permissions (and I take his point that its not really fix) and alleviated a problem.

My point here is that, either way, we need a more self-sufficient operating system.

2005-03-08 00:30:47
Bit rot?
Permissions don't change by themselves. The only thing that should affect them is de-/installing software with broken packaging. It certainly isn't a regular maintenance procedure.
2005-03-08 04:44:03
Repair Permissions isn't necessary
I know it does not make sense, An I have read and agree with most of the Daring Fireball article but! I have fixed many an issue by running Repair Permissions. Go figure. It should be part of OS X's maint cron jobs that it should at least check permissions and notify the user if it needs to be run.


2005-03-10 05:32:28
But it would be nice
I don't think permissions problems are much of a problem, but it would still be nice if permissions were self-repairing.

OS X 10.3 introduced Journalling. Before that, OS drives needed immediate fscking if the Mac was not shut down properly. It was a bigger problem than permissions issues, and we now have a self-repairing system. Now we don't really have to think about it any more. The only time I even see 'fsck' anymore is when people start a cussin'.

I hope Hadley gets his wish.