Earlier this year I finally made a long-delayed switch to an Apple Mac system for my day-to-day office work. Having been left thoroughly disenchanted with Windows Vista, I opted for an iMac.
Of course, since making the switch I've needed to keep the system up to date and the installation of OS X 10.5 (Leopard) - launched only today - was a major update and one that has turned out to contain an interesting (and somewhat painful) bug.
If you're using or planning to install Leopard, you'll need to know about the potential headache this bug can cause.
As you'll realise, keeping backups of data is imperative in today's world - I backup over the network to a Thecus NAS box myself. But, as you'll also be aware - because you're constantly being reminded - network-attached storage should have strong, secure, passwords, ideally including non alpha-numeric characters, such as $ £ @ ^ &.
Of course, being a HEXUS reader you'll be the sort of person who'd take heed of this advice, just like a particular reader friend of mine, right?
Well, tonight that friend had no issues at all installing Leopard on his iMac. However, when he tried to connect the Mac to the NAS box on his network to access to his documents and porn, sorry family photos, via an SMB (Server Message Block) share, his user experience changed dramatically for the worse.
When he tried to launch a connection to the share, he was prompted for his username and password. But then Leopard appeared to hang every time he tried to connect, as you can see below.
First thing we do know is that a connection definitely was being made to the NAS box. That's because when an invalid password was entered, it was rejected immediately.
However, whenever the correct password was entered, the operating system just upped and hung.
My friend knew that I'd made the switch to Leopard earlier in the day and that I also had SMB shares. To try to track down the problem, he first wanted to establish if his iMac could connect to one of the passworded shares on my network - and it could, with no problem at all, even though this was happening remotely via a virtual private network (VPN).
After much head-scratching, muttered oaths against Apple and numerous attempts to fix things - checking system settings, trying different configurations, such as cross-over cables, connections to Windows-based PCs and even a clean install of Leopard - a moment of sheer inspiration struck.
'Could the password itself be the problem?'
The original network password was of the form "password%123". So what could Leopard be objecting to?
Astonishingly, when the password on the SMB host machine was change, so as not to include a '%' character, a connection to the SMB share was suddenly made!
To us, this indicates that not one of the huge number of Apple beta testers can have had a password made more secure by including one or more non-alpha-numeric characters. And, presumably, that applies to Uncle Steve as well!
I've grown very fond indeed of Mac OS X 10.4 in the few months that I've been using it full time. I've come to believe that it's exceptionally stable and user-friendly. Yet, the cynic in me still can't help wondering just how many more bugs will appear in OS X 10.5 Leopard in the days and weeks to come.
But whatever does turn up is unlikely to be any more incongruous than this particular bug in what is being touted as - and in most ways seems to be - a security-centric operating system.
Got any of your own Leopard experiences to report, good or bad? Let us know in the HEXUS.community - or via email if you're too shy!