TweetFollow Us on Twitter

MacEnterprise: Command Line Goodies

Volume Number: 24 (2008)
Issue Number: 01
Column Tag: MacEnterprise

MacEnterprise: Command Line Goodies

New command line tools in Leopard

By Philip Rinehart, Yale University

More Tools for the Toolbox

Following last month's article, let's look at some of the more interesting command line tools that have appeared. The first tool, pkgutil allows manipulation of the package database. Last month I also talked about the addition of dtrace. New to Leopard, major parts of the Dtrace ToolKit by Brendan Gregg have been added. Some of them can prove quite useful in diagnosing and troubleshooting particularly thorny problems.

pkgutil

A new command line utility has been added to Leopard, pkgutil. What does it do? From the man page, "pkgutil reads and manipulates the Installer's receipt database and flat packages." A database? That's new to Leopard. Let's look at where it is located. Change to /Library/Receipts/db. This database contains a record of all packages installed. Let's look at some of the basic options.

Forget. This option discards all the receipt data associated with an installed package. However, it only forgets the information, it does not touch the installed files. If you want to reinstall a package, this option is very useful, as the files will be overwritten and reinstalled. It won't be an upgrade; it will be a full reinstall.

Unlink. This option removes any files associated with a package. Be careful when using this option though, as it does no dependency checking and will not remove any directories that are contained within the package. However, if a package is only files, this command is quite useful.

Pkgs. All packages known on the system are listed. Here's why this option is important. Look at the Receipts directory, and then run the command pkgutil -pkgs. Take close look. Note that if the 10.5.1 update has been installed, there is no pkg receipt. It is only contained within the pkgutil database.

Repair. This option will run repair packages to repair the specified package identifier. Note however, that this option only repairs packages if they are known to the repair_packages utility found in /usr/libexec. Let's look at this a little more in depth.

repair_packages will repair packages with that are recorded in the standard package list. Here's how to check the list, open /usr/libexec, and run

   repair_packages -list-standard-pkgs

Here's what is returned on my system:

System packages on '/':
   com.apple.pkg.BaseSystem
   com.apple.pkg.Essentials
   com.apple.pkg.BootCamp
   com.apple.pkg.BSD
   com.apple.pkg.iPodSupport
   com.apple.pkg.PodcastCapture
   com.apple.pkg.Directory
   com.apple.pkg.JavaToolsLeo
   com.apple.pkg.AdditionalEssentials
   com.apple.pkg.AdditionalSpeechVoices
   com.apple.pkg.AsianLanguagesSupport
   com.apple.pkg.MediaFiles
   com.apple.pkg.MigrationAssistant
   com.apple.pkg.Mail
   com.apple.pkg.AddressBook
   com.apple.pkg.iCal
   com.apple.pkg.Automator
   com.apple.pkg.DVDPlayer
   com.apple.pkg.iTunes
   com.apple.pkg.iChat
   com.apple.pkg.Java
   com.apple.pkg.Safari
   com.apple.pkg.OxfordDictionaries
   com.apple.pkg.X11User
   com.apple.pkg.ACL
   com.apple.pkg.VersionedDeveloperToolsSystemSupportLeo
   com.apple.pkg.DistributedBuildsSupportLeo
   com.apple.pkg.DeveloperToolsSystemSupportLeo
   com.apple.pkg.gcc4.0Leo
   com.apple.pkg.DeveloperToolsCLILeo
   com.apple.pkg.DevSDKLeo
   com.apple.pkg.X11SDKLeo
   com.apple.pkg.QuickTimeSDKLeo
   com.apple.pkg.OpenGLSDKLeo
   com.apple.pkg.WebKitSDKLeo
   com.apple.pkg.FireWireSDKLeo
   com.apple.pkg.BluetoothSDKLeo
   com.apple.pkg.CoreAudioSDKLeo
   com.apple.pkg.JavaSDKLeo
   com.apple.pkg.X11DocumentationLeo
   com.apple.pkg.ServerSetup
   com.apple.pkg.ServerAdminTools
   com.apple.pkg.update.os.10.5.1

Note all the packages, these are the only packages that are checked when verifying permissions. Packages can be added, but at this time, this command appears to only accept those that are known by the receipts database. One last thing, the repair_packages command allows individual verification of packages. Here's how:

   /usr/libexec/repair_packages -verify -pkg com.apple.pkg.ServerSetup

Imagine using Apple Remote Desktop to verify or repair permissions on any number of packages! That about sums up the power of pkgutil and repair_permissions. I've not gone into all of the options, but there are a number of additional options to pkgutil whichpkgutil, which could be used. Read the man page and have fun!

DTRACe and friends

Dtrace is quite powerful, but who has time to learn a new programming language? I don't,. that's for sure! Here's where some of the newly included programs can be explored and used when troubleshooting problems.

Snoop commands

Four "snooping" commands have been added, execsnoop, iosnoop, rwsnoop and opensnoop. I'll look at rwsnoop first. This command will observe reads and writes at the application level. It is really very verbose, and lists each and every read/write operation. It is also hooked in at the kernel level, so it is quite accurate. It's very simple to use to monitor a specific application. First, get the process id (PID), and then use the -p option. As an example, to monitor all Mail.app activity:

   rwsnoop -p PID

This command monitors any read/write activity for the Mail.app application. Of course, one does not need to specify a particular application, but it is far more useful to only monitor one.

Input output monitoring

Three commands are included to track disk input/output, iotop, iopending, and iopattern. The one I like here is iotop. When troubleshooting a slow system, iotop presents a listing much like the unixUNIXnix top command. On a sluggish system, one could track the drive activity to determine what was slowing a system down.

Included scripts written in d

Lastly, many new commands have been included in Leopard, all written in d, the dtrace programming language. They are all located in /usr/bin. A couple of commands are particularly interesting. The first is creatbyproc.d. Run it in the following way:

   dtrace -s creatbyproc.d

Note the output. It tracks files as they are created by process id. Let's look at another useful d script, filebyproc.d. This command will track files by process. How about yet another? Pathopens.d tracks files by the path, and the count. Here's what the output might look like:

 COUNT PATHNAME
     1 Leopard/.
     2 /dev/dtracehelper
     2 /dev/urandom
     2 /usr/share/locale/en_US.UTF-8/LC_COLLATE
     2 /usr/share/locale/en_US.UTF-8/LC_CTYPE
     2 /usr/share/locale/en_US.UTF-8/LC_MESSAGES/LC_MESSAGES
     2 /usr/share/locale/en_US.UTF-8/LC_MONETARY
     2 /usr/share/locale/en_US.UTF-8/LC_NUMERIC
     2 /usr/share/locale/en_US.UTF-8/LC_TIME
    24 /dev/

Open /usr/bin and explore some of the other d scripts. While not all of the dscripts are there, most are.

One last thing, Brendan Gregg has provided a whole range of one-liners, most of which work on Leopard. Here's their location: http://www.brendangregg.com/DTrace/dtrace_oneliners.txt. Troubleshooting problems with these tools is now so much easier. I've already solved some problems I previously couldn't seem to solve.

Well, that's about it for this month. Play with these new command line tools, as they really increase the arsenal available to any Macintosh system administrator. Until next month, I'll see you on the lists!


Philip Rinehart is co-chair of the steering committee leading the Mac OS X Enterprise Project (macenterprise.org) and is the Lead Mac Analyst at Yale University. He has been using Macintosh Computers since the days of the Macintosh SE, and Mac OS X since its Developer Preview Release. Before coming to Yale, he worked as a Unix system administrator for a dot-com company. He can be reached at: philip.rinehart@yale.edu.

The MacEnterprise project is a community of IT professionals sharing information and solutions to support Macs in an enterprise. We collaborate on the deployment, management, and integration of Mac OS X client and server computers into multi-platform computing environments.

 
AAPL
$102.24
Apple Inc.
+0.45
MSFT
$46.73
Microsoft Corpora
+0.05
GOOG
$591.40
Google Inc.
+2.13

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Attachment Tamer 3.1.14b9 - Take control...
Attachment Tamer gives you control over attachment handling in Apple Mail. It fixes the most annoying Apple Mail flaws, ensures compatibility with other email software, and allows you to set up how... Read more
Duplicate Annihilator 5.0 - Find and del...
Duplicate Annihilator takes on the time-consuming task of comparing the images in your iPhoto library using effective algorithms to make sure that no duplicate escapes. Duplicate Annihilator detects... Read more
jAlbum Pro 12.2 - Organize your digital...
jAlbum Pro has all the features you love in jAlbum, but comes with a commercial license. With jAlbum, you can create gorgeous custom photo galleries for the Web without writing a line of code!... Read more
jAlbum 12.2 - Create custom photo galler...
With jAlbum, you can create gorgeous custom photo galleries for the Web without writing a line of code! Beginner-friendly, with pro results Simply drag and drop photos into groups, choose a design... Read more
Quicken 2015 2.0.4 - Complete personal f...
Quicken 2015 helps you manage all your personal finances in one place, so you can see where you're spending and where you can save. Quicken automatically categorizes your financial transactions,... Read more
iMazing 1.0 - Complete iOS device manage...
iMazing (formerly DiskAid) is the ultimate iOS device manager with capabilities far beyond what iTunes offers. With iMazing and your iOS device (iPhone, iPad, or iPod), you can: Copy music to and... Read more
Xcode 6.0.1 - Integrated development env...
Apple Xcode is Apple Computer's integrated development environment (IDE) for OS X. The full Xcode package is free to ADC members and includes all the tools you need to create, debug, and optimize... Read more
Apple Safari 7.1 - Apple's Web brow...
Apple Safari in OS X Mavericks brings you all-new ways to find and enjoy the best of the web. It works with iCloud to give you a seamless browsing experience across all your devices. It looks out for... Read more
Delivery Status 6.1.2 - Check delivery s...
Delivery Status displays delivery status of packages for a variety of shipment services. Can't wait for your packages to arrive? Don't waste your time checking the site constantly, just open this all... Read more
Mavericks Cache Cleaner 8.0.9 - Clear ca...
Mavericks Cache Cleaner is an award-winning general purpose tool for OS X. MCC makes system maintenance simple with an easy point-and-click interface to many OS X functions. Novice and expert users... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

MUJO Review
MUJO Review By Campbell Bird on September 19th, 2014 Our Rating: :: ASSEMBLE THE GODSUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad This match-three game has collectible and role-playing elements that make it continually satisfying... | Read more »
Project Life (Photography)
Project Life 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Photography Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Imagine scrapbooking without scissors or adhesive or tools … or without having to print photos! Never before has... | Read more »
Skater (Games)
Skater 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: All of Skateboarding In The Palm Of Your Hand Designed by skaters for skaters, we teamed up with 17 of the most prominent brands in... | Read more »
Huerons (Games)
Huerons 1.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.1 (iTunes) Description: EXCLUSIVE LAUNCH PRICE! Huerons is 50% off until September 20th! Huerons are tiny colored circles. Merge them by clicking on an empty... | Read more »
Down Among the Dead Men (Games)
Down Among the Dead Men 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Avast! Take to the high seas in a fully interactive piratical tale of broadsides and buccaneers. From author Dave... | Read more »
Sling Adds Chromecast Support Through Sl...
Sling Adds Chromecast Support Through Slingplaye​r Mobile Apps Posted by Jessica Fisher on September 18th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
How to Completely Delete Your iPhone’s C...
The iPhone 6 is out tomorrow, and plenty of people are excited about it. So much so that they’re planning to – or already have – traded in their old iPhone to go towards it. The thing about trading in hardware is it’s very important to make sure... | Read more »
Dragon Quest I Review
Dragon Quest I Review By Andrew Fisher on September 18th, 2014 Our Rating: :: THINE QUEST AWAITETHUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Its historical significance aside, Dragon Quest 1 is a fun, campy, difficult, thoroughly... | Read more »
It Came From Canada: Overkill 3
Overkill 3 is like every trope of big modern gaming rolled into one. It’s a sequel to an action-packed military shooter. It’s flashy and scripted and flaunts its sophisticated graphics. And it’s a mobile game with a heavy emphasis on in-app... | Read more »
Down Among the Dead Men Review
Down Among the Dead Men Review By Jennifer Allen on September 18th, 2014 Our Rating: :: AHOY, ME HEARTIESUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Down Among the Dead is a pirate themed gamebook that’s quite delightful, if short... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Previous-generation 15-inch 2.0GHz Retina Mac...
B&H Photo has leftover previous-generation 15″ 2.0GHz Retina MacBook Pros now available for $1599 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $400 off original MSRP. B&H... Read more
21″ 2.7GHz iMac available for $1179, save $12...
Adorama has 21″ 2.7GHz Hawell iMacs on sale for $1179.99 including free shipping. Their price is $120 off MSRP. NY and NJ sales tax only. Read more
iOS 8 Adoption Rate Slower than iOS 7, 6, Hit...
Apple began pushing out iOS 8 updates to eligible devices around 1pm ET on September 17, 2014. However, unlike with iOS 7, which boasted a wide variety of differences from its predecessor iOS 6, in... Read more
LIkely Final Definitive OS X 10.9.5 Mavericks...
Apple has released what will almost certainly be the last incremental version number update of OS X 10.9 Mavericks (save for futire security updates) before OS X 10.10 Yosemite is released next month... Read more
Fingerprints, Apple Pay and Identity Theft Wa...
On Sep 9th, CEO Tim Cook unveiled Apple Pay, along with the new iPhone 6 and iWatch. Apple Pay is a newly developed technology that utilizes a near field communication (NFC) to enable customer... Read more
Amazon Introduces Two All-New Kindles
Amazon on Thursday introduced the 7th generation of its Kindle dedicated e-reader device: Kindle Voyage, its top-of-the-line e-reader, and the new $79 Kindle, with a 20% faster processor, twice the... Read more
Save up to $300 on the price of a new Mac wit...
Purchase a new Mac or iPad at The Apple Store for Education and take up to $300 off MSRP. All teachers, students, and staff of any educational institution qualify for the discount. Shipping is free,... Read more
13-inch 2.8GHz Retina MacBook Pro available f...
B&H Photo has the new 2014 13″ 2.8GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $1699.99 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. They’ll also include free copies of Parallels Desktop and LoJack for... Read more
16GB iPad Air on sale for $449, save $50
Walmart has the 16GB iPad Air WiFi on sale for $449 on their online store for a limited time. Choose free home shipping or free local store pickup. Their price represents a $50 savings over standard... Read more
13-inch 256GB MacBook Air on sale for $1099,...
B&H Photo has the 2014 13″ 1.4GHz 256GB MacBook Air on sale for $1099.99. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more

Jobs Board

Project Manager, *Apple* Financial Services...
**Job Summary** Apple Financial Services (AFS) offers consumers, businesses and educational institutions ways to finance Apple purchases. We work with national and Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.