Category Archives: MacBook Pro

Mac OS Upgrade Saga: Moving to Yosemite

I recently upgraded my Retina MacBook Pro to Mac OS X Yosemite and had several issues with the upgrade. The OS upgraded fine; the applications I normally use, however, had some issues. Not many, to be sure, but the ones I did have were very interesting in that they dealt entirely with communication. They also had something to do with previous upgrades causing issues with the latest upgrade.

Continue reading Mac OS Upgrade Saga: Moving to Yosemite

Mac OS Upgrade Saga: Adding ownCloud for cardDav & calDav

I have gone through many Mac OS upgrades with no issues. However, the upgrade to OS X Mavericks caused quite an issue. I lost the ability to use sync services to sync calendar and contact information with my iPhone. To gain this back, I would either have to use iCloud (not something I am willing to do) or put in my own iCloud-like service. There are several to choose from, including Baikal-Server, ownCloud, and even functionality that is part of my Synology device. I chose to go the route of ownCloud.

Here are the steps I followed:

Step 1: Set up a VM just for ownCloud

I first tried to use ownCloud on my Synology device, but it was just a little too slow for my tastes (which is apparently a common complaint about ownCloud on top of Synology). So instead, I created a RHEL 6.4 VM to run ownCloud within it.

Step 2: Download and install the community edition of ownCloud

The download and everything went smoothly, but the install is somewhat special. You use yum to install ownCloud, as this will install not only ownCloud, but also all the dependencies, such as PHP. Start your web server, and then point a browser at http://vm-ipaddress/owncloud to configure. The website will walk you through every step required to get ownCloud up and running.

Step 3: Enable Active Directory integration

ownCloud-MenuFor this to work, you need to first install the mod_ldap package via yum. Since I was installing additional packages, I went and installed mod_ssl as well. To finish the integration, you need to log in as the ownCloud admin, visit the Apps menu item in the upper right (as seen here to the left), and add the LDAP user and group backend app.

Once that is done, you need to visit the Admin menu item to configure LDAP for use with Active Directory. This can be a bit tricky, but there are clear and concise instructions all over the web for it. I made my settings match the following; note that the domain information has been removed to preserve security.

First, set up the LDAP Basic settings; the user login filter is the most important setting.


Second, set the Connection settings, nothing should change here.


Third, set the Directory Settings. Once more these should be filled in for you.


Fourth, set the Special Attributes. I had to add the sAMAccountName; without it, everything shows up as a UUID associated with Active Directory. Rather difficult to parse for the real users.ownCloud-LDAP-4Lastly, set the expert elements. The crucial element is to ensure that these fields are blank.

Test your configuration, and then look at your user lists. All Active Directory users should show up. Interestingly enough, there is no need to use the domain name to log in, as LDAP integration already uses the domain name for you.

Step 4: Configure LDAP Users and set up sharing groups

Under the Users menu item, you can create groups for sharing data. This is incredibly important for those who need a shared calendar: families, for instance, or perhaps those who use shared space within an office, such as a meeting room. Sharing within a group allows many users to view the shared calendar and contacts. It is possible to allow every user to share with every other user, but utilizing groups helps with security issues.

Step 5: Set up CalDAV on OS X Mavericks, Linux, iPhone, etc.

Pick one device as the initial master. In my case, I chose OS X Mavericks. Using the OS X Calendar app, I exported my calendar. Now, set up a CalDAV server entry, but do not override your original calendar. Then, import the previously exported calendar into the CalDAV server. The calendar, even shared calendars within ownCloud, works flawlessly. Be sure to read the Mac OS/iOS-specific documentation, as URLs for CalDAV differ from other devices.

Set up sharing within ownCloud instead of subscribing to calendars, as you can then have one place for managing all sharing of calendars.

Step 6: Share calendars as needed

Sharing calendars is very useful for family calendars, shared work calendars such as those for meeting rooms, and the like. To share a calendar, the owner of the calendar clicks on the gear to open up an informational dialog and then clicks on the sharing icon. Once that is done, the owner specifies the group with which to share and exits the dialog (see below).ownCloud-calDav-SharingStep 7: Ensure calendars work as expected: test, and test some more

Test calendar updates by updating entries from your smart device, desktop, Linux, etc.: whatever you are using. We saw updates show up on all devices within thirty seconds of an update. This timing will depend on how often your device fetches data.

One thing to note: On my OS X Mavericks, I thought there was an Alarm issue with ownCloud, but the problem turned out to be the Do Not Disturb (DND) built into the OS X Mavericks Notification Center. If you mirror displays (as if you were presenting a slide show), DND disables notifications. Nice feature, but it caused me some issues.

Step 8: Set up CardDAV on OS X Mavericks, Linux, iPhone, etc.

First, export all your contacts from OS X Mavericks as a vCard (select all entries, then select Export). Next, import these into ownCloud’s contacts. I imported this way because the Address Book  app with OS X Mavericks did not work. However, iPhone picked up the changes quickly. Note that the URL used for CardDAV, like the one for CalDAV, is different for each tool in use.

Step 9: Fixes for OS X Mavericks

Adding a CardDAV account to the Address Book for OS X Mavericks actually creates a system account. That account should be accessible at all times. However, when you attempt to click on it within the System Preferences -> Internet Accounts, it asks once more for the password you initially used to create it. This is due to the way Internet Accounts attempts to talk to a CardDAV server. It goes to the IP in question and looks for /.well-known/carddav  instead of the address you originally used to connect to the account. In addition, it attempts to communicate over SSL regardless of how you specified the URL. So, we need to fix these items first:

  • SSL: I installed mod_ssl already so all we need to do is add a certificate and configure SSL within Apache per normal means. I however make several additional changes to the ssl.conf file we edit for the purpose of adding SSL to Apache. I add the following to meet any necessary PCI requirements:
    SSLProtocol -ALL +SSLv3 +TLSv1
    RewriteEngine on 
    RewriteRule .* - [F] 
    TraceEnable off
  • /.well-known: Create the necessary redirect so that OS X Mavericks Internet Accounts can login into ownCloud’s cardDAV application. You can add these into the /etc/httpd/conf/httpd.conf but I found it much easier to add them to the .htaccess file in the document root directory of the web server. Ensure, the web server can read the .htaccess file.
    Redirect 301 /.well-known/carddav /owncloud/remote.php/carddav
    Redirect 301 /.well-known/caldav /owncloud/remote.php/caldav

Now, the Internet Accounts logins just fine so you can modify items, however, ownCloud has an error 32: Broken-Pipe when attempting to read the contacts from the ownCloud server into the OS X Mavericks application. This was tracked down to a faulty ‘Expert’ of the LDAP setup. All Expert fields should be blank.

Unfortunately, while address books work perfectly for my iOS devices, they do not work as well for my OS X Mavericks laptop. Only one contact list is allowed, and that is the first by alphabetical order. So, if you have several address books that are shared, such as an organization phone book, it could override your personal contacts within OS X Mavericks address book. Which basically means that I need a better contact manager that also integrates with OS X Mavericks email, etc.

One key thing to remember is to always back up your data using the native export functionality of what you consider to be your master information source, and to always test everything, including updates, alarms, edits, etc. If you do both of these, then you will not lose any data, and you can ensure that the features you require for ownCloud (or your chosen cloud service) are available for your use.

Yet, my iOS 7 and other systems work just fine and as expected

Update: Just recently my OS X Mavericks email decided to hang, I traced this down to one more iCloud invasion on my system. I removed the following file after forcing to quit: ~/Libary/Mail/V2/MailData/SyncedFilesInfo.plist. What is interesting is that I never enabled iCloud for email, so why was this there, telling to use iCloud? iCloud is pervasive and if you do not use it but enable it for one item but not all you end up with quite a few artifacts.

Retina MacBook Pro with Extra Security

I recently upgraded my 2 generation old Mac Book Pro to a new Retina Mac Book Pro and inadvertently found a way to increase security of the device. I thought it was originally a bug, but after discussing with several Apple Technicians, what I did, while inadvertently is by design.  In essence, I added a secondary login screen to my Retina Mac Book Pro with each requiring a different set of credentials. But how did this happen and is it worth the extra layer of protection? Continue reading Retina MacBook Pro with Extra Security

Upgrade: MacOS X Lion and Tool Upgrades

I recently upgraded my MacBook Pro from Snow Leopard to Lion as well as a Mac Mini which I did using Apple Remote Desktop ($80 well spent in my mind but that is another story). The upgrades on both went quite smoothly and I am pleasantly impressed with the new look and feel as well as how the tools I use once more ‘just worked’. There were a few tools I upgraded but not much. I had to upgrade the following tools:

  • Tunnelblick to access my VPN, I had to go searching for the upgrade
  • Oxygen Cloud, received an email about the upgrade, but the tool itself did not auto-upgrade
  • Codeweavers Crossover Office, received an email about this upgrade
  • Little Snitch, I did not receive an email nor did I notice it was not running, but once it started it said it needed to download a new version.
  • Livescribe Desktop, just required me to start the application and the download was ready. Which required an Adobe AIR update.
  • Flipshare, just required me to plugin my Flip and all was upgraded.
  • IOmega Storage Manager for my IX2, I had to check for the upgrade
  • Apple Remote Desktop, required an update that showed up in the AppStore

Given the upgrade just occurred, this is pretty good, all but one of my tools that required an upgrade actually emailed me that there was an upgrade available. I find that very helpful. However, the fact that Little Snitch, which is very useful security software did not start to tell me there was a download, I find to be a particular failure. Granted, I did notice it was not available and manually restarted the program.

The other tools I use, just worked, as expected.

  • Twitter
  • Growl
  • Fusion
  • RDC
  • SnagIt
  • Camtasia
  • arSync
  • Skype
  • Trillian

There is also an update to MacOS X Lion’s version of CUPS so that printing works properly for my Epson R1800 shared printer as documented in the article MacBook Pro: Update on Integration: Printing.

So far it has been a relatively painless upgrade with great new features such as the launchpad. While I personally cannot make use of the gesture computing mechanisms everyday, they are very cool to use. I just wish they had more pictures of Lions for the background. The Snow Leopard pictures were pretty amazing.

As for the Mac Mini, I did that upgrade using Apple Remote Desktop and that also while slower due to lack of SSD, also upgraded without a hitch even over quite a distance. Download, upgrade, reboot, reconnect, viola, successful remote upgrade of a Mac Mini.

Hurray for Apple, the upgrade Just Works.

MacBook Pro: Update on Integration: Printing

I use a 90-95% virtualized environment and here is a brief update of how I integrated my Mac Book Pro into this environment. Specifically about printing. Some notes first:

Print Server: Windows 2008 R2 running as a VM (why windows, because I needed an AD server so this is a AD/Print Server combination)

Printer connected to a Belkin FL5009 USB over IP device

This configuration seems fairly straight forward, but since I use passwords and heightened security I had to setup MacOS to properly communicate to the remote windows print server using some form of security.

To do this I first went to the following URL:

Printing Issues: CUPS/FL5009 –

This solution spoke about connecting to CUPs directly to configure the print queue to use a proper password. I did this by connecting directly to http://localhost:631 using the ‘root’ user password. Once into CUPs click on the Administration tab and then add printer. You will need to specify the printer in the form of smb://username:password@Host/printerName.

This finally allowed me to print from my MacOS desktop to my print server running as a virtual machine. However, this lead to a different problem with printing. Because I was using the Gutenprint and not the Epson R1800 driver all the printouts were faded and for months I wondered why. I did not find a solution until I went to print some graphics and photos. The problem is that the Epson would rather you used their driver but their driver is not setup to work via a print server.

After many hours using Google I found one article that helped by explaining what is happening. The issue is that this particular Epson R1800 printer, requires direct control by its driver to work properly and its driver does not work when you have shared the printer. At least not on the remote host, it works fine local to the print server.  All this boils down to is that I either print hose high quality required jobs direct from the print server or look for a printer that does have the concept of sharing its print driver.

Another option that does work is to connect the printer to the MacOS system via a USB over IP device as well and I know that works, but does not help others much when my MacBook Pro is on the road with me.

UPDATE: MacOS X Lion supports the EPSON SP R1800 driver which prints things as expected, without faded output. Very nice update! In essence, their now exists a CUPs driver that speaks the proper Epson language for shared printers.

Moving from Windows 7 to Mac OS Snow Leopard (Updated)

Originally posted on March 26th. Updated for the Holiday Season!

I was in the market for a new Laptop, given that mine is at least 3 years old and starting to show its age with non-working USB ports, one blown power supply, and failing batteries. My requirements are slightly above the average:

Any laptop must be able to run the following at the same time within a hosted virtualization solution such as VMware Workstation or Fusion.