Gatekeeper and OS X 10.9.5

By Alastair on Sept. 12, 2014

Using the auto-update functionality to update to version 3.4.5 of iPartition, version 2.2.8 of iDefrag, version 1.0.7 of VMOptimizer and version 1.0.4 of Zipster sadly will not work; you’ll need to download the new versions from the My Account page instead. Why?

Most end-users are likely unaware of the changes Apple is making to Gatekeeper (aka code signing) on Mac OS X 10.9.5. Developers, on the other hand, have been cursing almost since the moment it was announced. For most developers, their applications need to be re-signed, and that’s about it; that could still be a pretty painful process in some cases, but at least it’s straightforward. For us, however, the changes create bigger problems.

Until just the other day, when you downloaded one of our applications from our website, our web server inserted a file called “License.plist” into the application containing your license details, which was then used to avoid having to show you a registration window, so that in most cases you could just download and use the software without being pestered for hard-to-enter license keys and the like. We came up with this idea well before code signing was even on the horizon, and we were pleased to note when Apple originally introduced code signing that it was possible to tell the system what should and should not be signed (which meant that our scheme was compatible with code signatures). Of course, initially, there were few benefits (and few downsides) to signing our applications, but we went ahead and did it anyway, thinking that it would be good for our customers.

Then in OS X 10.7.5, Apple started preventing users from running applications unless they were signed either by the Mac App Store, or by “identified developers”. Yes, you can change this setting if you want, and yes, you can still open unsigned applications (by right-clicking and choosing Open from the menu, which gives you an option to override the security setting). But, by default, they won’t run. That was fine, however, because our applications were signed, by now with a signing identity from Apple, and everything just worked.

So what’s changing in 10.9.5, and why is it a problem? Two things. The first thing that’s changing is that “old” code signatures will no longer be recognised; everything has to have been signed by a machine running Mavericks (OS X 10.9) or later. That’s why everyone is having to re-sign their applications. The second thing, which doesn’t affect many developers but does affect us is that Apple is removing the ability for developers to control which items form part of the signature and which do not. Our guess is that this was being abused somehow on iOS or maybe on the Mac App Store to get around the store restrictions. The upshot is that inserting the file we mentioned earlier will break the code signature. And that breaks our software (which is why we made it give the message about corruption that some of you may already have seen, usually as a result of broken resource stripping software; that isn’t there for copy protection purposes as some have surmised — it’s to protect you against running a disk utility in a broken state).

We did ask Apple not to do this, and commented that all we need is the ability to exclude a couple of files from the signature. Apple’s response was to close our bug report and tell us that it had no plans to offer any exclusion mechanism, and that we could do whatever we wanted, except changing the bundle after it was signed.

So, you might think, it’s easy — we just have to stop inserting the license file on download and everything will be fine. If only.

The problem is that the software update mechanism we use has never inserted this file on download. Instead, it copies it from the existing application into the new one as it’s installed. And the code that does this is part of the existing application; it isn’t run from the new version. What does that mean? It means that the software update mechanism will break the code signature when you update to the new 10.9.5 compatible versions of our products. And that means you’ll be told the application is corrupted.

We would love to tell you that there was a way we could solve this, but there really isn’t. Yes, we could ship updates with a wrapper application of some kind, but that wrapper wouldn’t be able to install the new version because it would need to be code signed to do that. At one point we thought we could solve it by shipping a blank “License.plist” file with the new version, but it turns out that, because of where that file is placed in the bundle, it prevents the signature from being valid in the first place, even if the application is signed with the file in place.

Worse, the way the applications auto-activated using the “License.plist” file means that the license key files that were generated will now be invalid. So even if we could fix this (and we really don’t see how we could), you’re going to see that registration window.

Anyway, after a long head scratch about this, we’ve decided that the best thing to do is to explain why this has happened and to tell our customers that when updating to version 3.4.5 of iPartition, version 2.2.8 of iDefrag, version 1.0.7 of VMOptimizer and version 1.0.4 of Zipster, it’s necessary to download from the My Account page on our website. If, before doing so, you delete the license key files from your Application Support folder, and if you use the new Coriolis Downloader that you will find there, you won’t be bothered by the registration window — otherwise, please remember that you need to use the username and password option when asked to activate the software, and enter the details we gave you to log-in to our website.

We’re sorry that this has happened. We only came up with this scheme in the first place as a way to make life easier for our customers, but because of some design choices we made that — at the time — were perfectly reasonable choices, we’ve ended up in a situation we never wanted to be in.

iPartition 3.4.5

By Alastair on Sept. 8, 2014

We are pleased to announce the release of version 3.4.5 of iPartition.

Changes in this release (from 3.4.4):

  • Compatible with upcoming Gatekeeper changes in 10.9.5 update.
  • Fixed a hard-to-trigger bug in our HFS code that might have caused a crash.

You can get the latest version by selecting “Check for updates…” from the iPartition menu, or you can download this update directly from our website.

Zipster 1.0.4

By Alastair on Sept. 8, 2014

We’re pleased to announce the release of version 1.0.4 of Zipster.

Changes since 1.0.3:

  • Changed eject behaviour so mounting zip files within zip files then ejecting the outer zip file does an orderly unmount. This also avoids triggering a kernel panic.
  • Compatible with upcoming Gatekeeper changes in 10.9.5 update.

We’re aware of the problems with kernel panics on Mavericks; these are caused by kernel bugs, not by problems with Zipster (which works fine on 10.8). We have reported them to Apple and if you experience this problem we suggest you do the same.

If you have left automatic updates enabled, Zipster should update automatically when you next run it. You can also check that you are running the latest by selecting “Preferences…” from Zipster’s menu.

As always, please let our support team know of any issues.

VMOptimizer 1.0.7

By Alastair on Sept. 8, 2014

We’re pleased to announce the release of version 1.0.7 of VMOptimizer.

Changes since 1.0.6:

  • Fixed warning about unsigned kernel extension.
  • Fixed a spelling mistake in one of the error messages.
  • Numerous bug fixes.
  • Compatible with upcoming Gatekeeper changes in 10.9.5 update.

You can get the latest version by selecting “Check for updates…” from the VMOptimizer menu, or you can download this update directly from our website.

iDefrag 2.2.8

By Alastair on Sept. 8, 2014

We’re pleased to announce the release of version 2.2.8 of iDefrag.

Changes since 2.2.6:

  • Minor change to the behaviour of the “Check for Errors” option.
  • Compatible with upcoming Gatekeeper changes in 10.9.5 update.
  • Fixed a hard-to-trigger bug in our HFS code that might have caused a crash.

N.B. This version is not compatible with Yosemite (10.10). This is an update for existing users so that iDefrag will run on 10.9.5 when it’s released.

You can get the latest version by selecting “Check for updates…” from the iDefrag menu, or you can download this update directly from our website.

SSDs and OS X

By Alastair on July 22, 2014

We’ve had a number of people ask about SSDs, and in particular whether we could write a utility that would send TRIM commands to, or perform low-level formatting on, third-party SSDs that have been installed by end users. There have also been claims on the MacUpdate page for iDefrag that iDefrag version 3 is “nearing release candidate status” and that it somehow could generate a 1.3x speed improvement over Apple’s usual code. These claims, we must emphasise, are false and do not originate from us.

The current state of affairs on OS X is this: it is impossible, for all practical purposes, for a disk utility to send raw ATA or SCSI commands to a disk. Historically, the kernel developers at Apple appear to have decided that allowing the use of raw disk commands opened, or had the potential to open, a security hole. As a result, there has never been any interface available, from userland code, that would allow utility vendors like us to send such commands.

There is, if you review the developer documentation, a suggested workaround (mainly applicable to device vendors), namely that it is possible to subclass the logical unit or protocol services drivers and to send commands from there. There are two issues with this advice; the first is that it only works for legacy ATA devices and SCSI devices. On modern Macs, most SATA devices are actually accessed not via the legacy ATA stack, but via Apple’s AHCI stack, and since Apple does not publish the necessary source code for its AHCI stack, it is impossible to subclass the relevant driver. The only way around that would be to write a whole new AHCI stack to replace Apple’s code!

The second issue is that it is, in practice, not an option for utility vendors in any event. In order to use this technique, we would have to attach our driver instead of the default one. And instead of any of our competitors’ drivers. And instead of any device manufacturer supplied drivers. Essentially, by doing this, we would break compatibility with other disk utility products and with some devices. The situation would be worse still if we supplied a custom AHCI stack.

We think Apple has made the wrong decision here. Aside from causing a problem for us — we simply can’t implement features we’d like to be able to implement — this decision also means that e.g. device firmware updates cannot be installed from OS X (instead, you are often told to boot into MS-DOS — not kidding — or find a PC). Device vendors are not going to write special drivers for their hardware just to let you install updates, and even if they were willing to do so, if the device is attached via AHCI, they can’t. We think the security argument is suspect; the super user can already read and write data on the disk directly via the BSD disk device interface, and we honestly cannot see how the ability to send other ATA or SCSI commands creates any kind of additional security concern over and above that already present.

We’ve previously filed bug reports in this area, but because this is obviously a hot topic for some customers, we’ve filed some more. rdar://17723913, which asks for the AHCI headers to be published so that it’s at least possible to use the workaround, has been immediately closed. We have also filed rdar://17760456, asking for the ability to send raw SCSI or ATA commands. We anticipate that that, too, will be quickly closed by Apple. Again, we think this is the wrong decision.

How can you help? If you have a developer account, file a bug report asking for the ability to send raw SCSI or ATA commands. To help Apple’s bug reporter staff, please quote our Radar numbers (above) so they can easily mark your requests as duplicates.

Zipster 1.0.3

By Alastair on May 7, 2014

We’re pleased to announce the release of version 1.0.3 of Zipster. Changes since 1.0.2:

  • Fixed a crash that can happen if Zipster has problems mounting a zip file.

We’re aware that some versions of OS X are still causing problems with kernel panics. We should emphasise that this isn’t a bug in Zipster — it’s a problem with the OS X kernel itself. Unfortunately, we only have two options:

  1. Complain at Apple (which we have done), hoping that they fix it, and
  2. Change the way Zipster works to avoid the part of Mac OS X that seems to be broken.

The latter is going to be quite a bit of work, but it’s probably the way we’re going to have to go at this point.

If you have left automatic updates enabled, Zipster should update automatically when you next run it. You can also check that you are running the latest by selecting “Preferences…” from Zipster’s menu.

As always, please let our support team know of any issues.

Heartbleed

By Alastair on April 10, 2014

If you follow the press, on-line or off-line, you are most likely aware of the recently announced “Heartbleed” vulnerability in OpenSSL, in which case you may be wondering whether or not we are vulnerable.

The answer is that we are not. We have already patched our servers and issued them with new private keys. The paranoid among you may wish to check that the certificate being used on the secure parts of our site has the following serial number and thumbprint:

Serial07:d2:a5:b0:06:ef:df:b0:8b:9f:f5:01:e7:7c:68:43
SHA-1 Fingerprint95:1D:E9:C6:04:01:11:A9:C6:7F:C2:6B:62:E8:03:20:F9:54:E4:74

The previous certificate, for those who care, had the following details:

Serial0e:99:94:ca:9e:ea:7f:13:98:9f:9b:a4:47:89:6e:6b
SHA-1 Fingerprint12:65:62:36:C9:69:F5:70:5C:79:17:24:37:D2:B4:8B:8B:FC:87:10

If you see that one being used, something fishy is going on. We’re talking to our certificate authority about getting the old certificate revoked (this may or may not require another change of certificate — we’ll see — but the one we’re now using is safe).

We’ll end with an observation: this bug is a serious one mainly because it affects the ubiquitous OpenSSL library. It is, however, the case that there are hundreds of vulnerabilities published every month that could allow someone to break into a server and steal e.g. private keys, and furthermore some of these vulnerabilities are in software that is very widely used. Generally speaking, this doesn’t get much press and people don’t worry about it all that much.

There are two sides to this; perhaps on the one hand we should all worry a bit more about people who don’t regularly patch their servers (we do, but we know others do not). On the other hand, it’s arguable that the people who discovered this bug have somewhat over-hyped it. Yes, it’s serious, but so are lots of other bugs. Yes, it lets people get the private keys, but so do lots of other bugs. Yes, we can probably assume that the intelligence agencies have all the private keys as a result of this leak, but if government funded intelligence agencies are your enemy, frankly you have bigger problems.

Update

The old certificate has now been revoked. However, do note that some software does not check certificate revocation status!

New support system

By Alastair on March 11, 2014

We’ve switched to using Zendesk for customer support; this has a few implications for customers:

  1. If you are currently having an e-mail conversation with us, you may find that the next reply you send generates a message indicating that you’ve submitted a new request. This is nothing to worry about, and we’ll still be able to see the rest of your conversation with us so hopefully there won’t be too much confusion.

  2. There is a new support page on our website (actually it’s hosted by Zendesk, but it’s where you go if you click “Support”, above). This includes much of the information that was on the old support pages, as well as a few new articles. It’s much easier to update than the old pages were, so there’s a greater chance that you’ll be pointed at a support article relevant to your query.

  3. The new support page has a community section. We’re still unsure as to whether we want this turned on, but we’re prepared to give it a go. In a few months’ time, if anyone is actually using it, we may start asking for help to moderate posts there; we’ll see.

Server outage

By Alastair on Feb. 15, 2014

We’re sorry to report that there was a server outage this weekend, and as a result our site was inaccessible for some hours.

We believe the problem began around 10:00am today (Saturday 15th February); we’re aware of one customer whose transaction wasn’t processed properly, and have already issued a refund in that case.

We believe we have rectified the fault and everything should be running smoothly again now; please accept our apologies for this issue.

Update 17 Feb 2014

After carefully reviewing the transaction records for the weekend, we believe we have identified two other customers who were affected. We have refunded their money and have contacted them to inform them of the problem.

Zipster kernel panics on Mavericks (OS X 10.9)

By Alastair on Jan. 23, 2014

Some customers have been reporting that they see kernel panics on Mavericks when unmounting zip files from Zipster. We’ve been seeing similar symptoms here, and we’ve reported the OS X kernel bug in question to Apple; unfortunately, because it’s a bug in Mavericks itself and has no obvious workaround, we’re all stuck in the same boat — waiting for Apple to fix it.

Thankfully, we are led to believe that the next update to OS X Mavericks, 10.9.2, will contain a fix. So, if you’re running OS X Mavericks 10.9.0 or 10.9.1 and are seeing this problem with Zipster, please update to 10.9.2 when it becomes available.

Stripping Language Resource Files

By Chris on Dec. 12, 2013

We’re getting quite a few reports of customers encountering the message “iDefrag/iPartition has become corrupted.” In most cases, this is caused by third party applications (such as Clean My Mac and possibly Monolingual) incorrectly stripping language resource files from the application. The solution is simple: if you get this message don’t use these applications on iDefrag and we suggest you contact the developers of these applications to make them aware of the problem.

If you’re not technically inclined, you can stop reading here.

Some of you might be wondering why it appears to be only our applications that suffer from this problem. The reason is that our applications perform a consistency check when you first run them to specifically check for corruption whereas most other applications don’t. We do this because we have had reports from people who have used buggy third party Zip utilities to decompress our applications and we have also had the occasional report where customers have copied our applications from one disk to another and something has gone wrong in the process. We perform this check using the code signature support that is built into OS X (and is the same thing that Gatekeeper does). The code signature checks will detect deleted files, added files and modified files but they also allow you to omit whole portions of an application and that is how third party programs are allowed to strip language resource files.

The rules for what files can be omitted are defined in a file within the application and the default is to allow language files to be deleted, but only at a certain level in the application. Note also that it is perfectly possible for the rules to say that you cannot strip any language files. The problem with iDefrag and iPartition is that we include help resources within the application and these contain different languages. Unfortunately, the default rules don’t allow you to delete these language files (they are at a different level to other language resources), but the programs that cause problems delete these files and so you end up with the corrupted message.

To properly strip language files, these programs need to check the rules for an application and then strip accordingly. It would be possible for us to change the rules for our applications so that we allow the stripping of these language resources (and we may well do that), but the danger with that is that it hides the real problem. It is important to note that these third party stripping applications may be corrupting other applications, but you won’t know about it because other programs don’t perform the consistency check like our software does.

Stellar Drive Defrag

By Alastair on Nov. 18, 2013

A company going by the name “Stellar Data Recovery” has been advertising its product with advertisements like the following:

Stellar Drive Defrag Advert

Not only is it using our product name, iDefrag, which is a registered trademark in the United Kingdom, but Stellar appears to have attempted to rip off our user interface as well:

Stellar UI 1

Stellar UI 2

We originally spotted this obnoxious behaviour some time ago, and complained to Google about the advertisement. Google took ages to do anything about it, but eventually stopped the ads from running in Google search. However, they are apparently still running in the Google Display Network — a fact that Google’s trademarks people both neglected to mention and neglected to do anything about.

I should add that we attempted to contact both Soft City, who appear to be the site linked to by the advert, and Stellar themselves. Soft City is nigh on impossible to contact — none of the details we found on their site would work, while Stellar refused to let us talk to anyone who could or was prepared to do anything about either the advert or the UI rip-off.

We’re concerned about this on two fronts — first, there may be people out there who think that Stellar Drive Defrag has something to do with us. It does not; it’s a poor-quality rip-off of our product, and we don’t want our reputation to be damaged by association with it. Second, people might have intended to purchase iDefrag and ended up buying this software by mistake. Clearly we don’t want that either.

We would be very interested to hear from anyone who has been confused by this advertisement into purchasing Stellar Drive Defrag rather than iDefrag, or who thought that Coriolis Systems was in some way associated with this product. If you’re in that position, please e-mail us using the address on our Company page.


Update: I was wrong; this is not just a Display Network ad that was missed by Google last time. It’s a new ad that runs on Google search as well as the Display Network. Apologies to Google for saying they missed something when they did not, though it still begs the question why Stellar has been allowed to repeat the same behaviour.

iDefrag 2.2.6

By Chris on Nov. 15, 2013

We’re pleased to announce the release of version 2.2.6 of iDefrag.

Changes since version 2.2.5:

  • Fixed cause of Kernel Extension warning.
  • Fixed an intermittent problem with creating a recovery partition.

You can get the latest version by selecting “Check for updates…” from the iDefrag menu, or you can download this update directly from our website.

Mavericks Update

By Chris on Nov. 11, 2013

This is a just a quick post to let you know about some issues that some customers are experiencing with our products and Mavericks:

  • There is a bug in OS X that Zipster is triggering Kernel Panics. We have reported this to Apple but have not heard back from them yet. Apple don’t typically tell us if or when they will release a fix; you can rest assured we will let you know when we know more. Unfortunately, we don’t think we can add a workaround to Zipster for this bug. Until this bug has been fixed, we do not recommend using Zipster with Mavericks.

  • A number of customers have reported crashes when trying to run iDefrag at start-up who are using Flavours, a third party theming app. We believe the problem lies with Flavours.

  • There are warnings about unsigned Kernel Extensions for iDefrag and VMOptimizer. We have now got the required certificates from Apple and will be releasing updates shortly.

As always, please direct comments and questions to our support team.

UPDATE: We have released an update to iDefrag that addresses the warning message about Kernel Extensions.

CNET Adware

By Alastair on Nov. 7, 2013

There are reports on the Internet that CNET’s download.com website, which I know one or two customers have used or are using, is wrapping applications in an adware installer, such that attempting to download software will

  • Change your home page to Yahoo
  • Change your default search engine to Yahoo
  • Install various browser toolbars and add-ons

It is completely unacceptable to us that CNET is abusing our customers (or potential customers) in this unethical manner and we have asked them to either stop this practice immediately or to remove our software from their site.

In the meantime, we strongly recommend that you download our software from our website rather than from third-party sites. We won’t install adware, spyware or other malware; we won’t alter your browser settings; and we won’t install unwanted browser plug-ins or toolbars. We think doing so is unethical, and we’d like to see an apology from CNET for their actions.

VMOptimizer 1.0.6

By Chris on Nov. 7, 2013

We are pleased to announce the release of version 1.0.6 of VMOptimizer. Changes in this release (from 1.0.5):

  • Fixed a crasher that you would get if you used folders to organise your virtual machines in VMware Fusion.

To get this update, select “Check for Updates Now…” in the VMOptimizer menu, or you can download it directly from our website.

VMOptimizer 1.0.5

By Chris on Nov. 5, 2013

We are pleased to announce the release of version 1.0.5 of VMOptimizer. Changes in this release (from 1.0.4):

  • Added support for VMware Fusion 6.
  • Fixed issue with Mavericks.
  • Fixed a bug where VMOptimizer would not work on volumes that did not have a /tmp folder.
  • VMOptimizer will now pick up Virtual Machines that are shared between users.
  • Other minor bug fixes.

To get this update, select “Check for Updates Now…” in the VMOptimizer menu, or you can download it directly from our website.

iDefrag 2.2.5

By Chris on Oct. 29, 2013

We’re pleased to announce the release of version 2.2.5 of iDefrag.

Changes since version 2.2.4:

  • Added support for Mavericks.
  • Other minor bug fixes.

You can get the latest version by selecting “Check for updates…” from the iDefrag menu, or you can download this update directly from our website.

Automatic Mounts

By Chris on Oct. 28, 2013

A customer of ours recently contacted us and it transpired that he was preventing volumes from being automatically mounted by making the partition a boot partition (changing the type to Apple Boot).

A better way to do this is to edit /etc/fstab. Add something like this to /etc/fstab:

UUID=05116FC2-BE7D-3B47-8F1A-C266173D75E5 none hfs noauto

To get the UUID (Universal Unique Identifier) you can use iPartition. Look in the Inspector on the Filesystem tab. Note that this is not to be confused with the GUID that a partition might have for disks which use the GUID scheme. You can also see this UUID if you bring up the Info for a volume in Disk Utility. Alternatively, you can match on name, e.g.

LABEL=Backup none hfs noauto

But that will obviously break if you change the name of the volume and forget to update /etc/fstab.

Paying for reviews

By Alastair on Oct. 23, 2013

Some time ago, we were contacted by a well-known Mac magazine who told us that one of our products had been given a good review. This is always pleasant, and when it happens we generally ask if they have a graphic we can put on our site to show that they’ve given us a good review. We were flabbergasted when the magazine in question replied that they’d put us in touch with their licensing department, who informed us that they wanted money in order for us to put a graphic on our site linking to theirs, which, of course, we would only want to do if we had a good review. Essentially they were attempting to charge us money because they’d given us a good review.

Well, that’s too close to paying for reviews for our liking, so we said no. The magazine in question, I might add, has its logos on a large number of products, and to our mind, the fact that those vendors have paid for the privilege is something that their customers would probably find surprising.

Today, though, someone went one step further. We received an e-mail from LeMagTechno.com, asking if they could review iDefrag or iPartition. We get review requests like this from time to time, and often the answer is “yes, of course”. Surprisingly, however, the person making this request then went on to inform us that we would need to pay for the review. We don’t think much of this idea; we think customers would be upset to discover, having purchased a product on the basis of a good review, that the company who made the product had paid the reviewer money. This kind of financial relationship should not exist between reviewers and the makers of things they review; it’s unhealthy, it isn’t transparent, and even if the reviewer makes people aware of it there will always be a suspicion that they are likely to dish out good reviews in order to encourage others to pay them to review their products.

Anyway, we wanted to highlight this practice because we think it’s disgraceful. We will not pay for reviews, even indirectly. If you are a reputable magazine or a well-known website and you give us a good review, we may put your logo on our site with a link to your article. But we aren’t going to pay you money, either to review our products in the first place, or because you have given us a good review.

Zipster 1.0.2

By Chris on Oct. 15, 2013

We’re pleased to announce version 1.0.2 of Zipster. Changes since version 1.0.1:

  • Fixed an issue with users who have French has their preferred language. (Note that Zipster does not currently have a French localisation.)
  • Fixed a character encoding issue.
  • Fixed a crash that you could get if you used Zipster under very heavy load.
  • Added a workaround for an OS X issue that would manifest itself in a way that is too complicated to explain here.
  • Other minor tweaks.

If you have left automatic updates enabled, Zipster should update automatically when you next run it. You can also check that you are running the latest by selecting “Preferences…” from Zipster’s menu.

As always, please let our support team know of any issues.

Server fault

By Alastair on Sept. 30, 2013

Over the weekend there was, unfortunately, a server fault. While at the time it didn’t seem serious, we think it may have caused us to drop some e-mail on the floor; if you have tried to contact us over the past couple of days and haven’t received a reply from a human being, it would be well worth getting in touch again just in case. Looking at our logs, it seems that problems started to occur at around 16:50pm on Friday 27th. The underlying issue was fixed on Saturday 28th, but it apparently created a secondary problem that was only resolved this morning (Monday 30th).

If you’ve been affected by this, or tried to get at our website this morning while we were fixing things, please accept our apologies for any inconvenience caused.

Zipster 1.0.1

By Chris on Sept. 25, 2013

We’re pleased to announce version 1.0.1 of Zipster. Changes since version 1.0.0:

  • Fixed a crash that could occur in some circumstances (too complicated to describe here).
  • Fixed minor memory leak.
  • Other minor fixes.

If you have left automatic updates enabled, Zipster should update automatically when you next run it. You can also check that you are running the latest by selecting “Preferences…” from Zipster’s menu.

As always, please let our support team know of any issues.

Mavericks

By Chris on Sept. 24, 2013

Some of you may be wondering about our support for Mavericks. Currently there are two issues that we know of (based on the developer previews that we have access to):

  • iDefrag: there is a problem with the exclusive restart feature. We have a beta version that fixes this that you can try that should fix this. You can download it here. When you follow that link you will be prompted for the username and password that you use for our site.

  • We have heard a report that creating a recovery partition from the Mavericks’ recovery partition doesn’t work but we have not investigated this yet.

We will not be releasing updates specifically for Mavericks until after Mavericks has been released.

As always, please let our support team know if you spot any issues that you think we should know about.

Zipster 1.0.0

By Chris on Sept. 12, 2013

We are very pleased to announce the launch of a new product, Zipster. Taking the pain away from modifying Zip files, Zipster makes Zip files look just like another folder in Finder. Windows users have long had the ability to do this, and now with Zipster, Mac users can do the same. And it’s not limited to Finder; any application gets full read and write access.

We have a fully functional trial so please head over to our Zipster product page to find out more and give it a try.

If you’ve got any questions, comments or problems, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

iPartition 3.4.3

By Chris on Sept. 2, 2013

We are pleased to announce the release of version 3.4.3 of iPartition.

Changes in this release (from 3.4.2):

  • Fixed a crash or hang that you could get in rare circumstances when iPartition was trying to compute which partitions need moving.
  • Fixed an issue where the visibility of the utility windows would not be saved correctly when iPartition terminated.
  • Fixed an issue where you might see an “Unable to change partition type” when you first run iPartition.
  • When converting to a different partition scheme, iPartition will now preserve Apple Boot partitions.
  • Fixed an issue where you might see “Unable to resize partition” when you shouldn’t.
  • Fixed a bug where iPartition would crash with an Apple partition map that had invalid entries and the first operation you try and commit is a move operation.
  • Fix where iPartition would not recognise recovery partitions that use the HFS partition type rather than the usual Apple Boot partition type. It seems some older installations use the Apple HFS partition type.

You can get the latest version by selecting “Check for updates…” from the iPartition menu, or you can download this update directly from our website.

iPartition 3.4.2

By Chris on Aug. 13, 2013

We are pleased to announce the release of version 3.4.2 of iPartition.

Changes in this release (from 3.4.1):

  • You can now set case sensitivity via the Inspector.
  • Fixed handling of bad blocks so you will be prompted whether you want to skip or retry.
  • Fixed a problem where the Create Boot Disk feature would fail in some circumstances.
  • Fixed a hang that you could get when iPartition encounters a bad MBR partition table.
  • iPartition will now try harder to preserve the order of boot partitions in GUID partition tables.
  • Fixed an issue that would prevent iPartition from being able to recover on disks with sector sizes greater than 512 bytes.
  • Other minor improvements.

You can get the latest version by selecting “Check for updates…” from the iPartition menu, or you can download this update directly from our website.

May 2013 Server Maintenance

By Alastair on May 7, 2013

We have been advised that there will be some maintenance activity at our hosting provider, starting today (7th May) and ending some time on Thursday (9th May). If everything works as it is supposed to, there should be no visible disruption to our website, but there’s always a chance that something might happen during the maintenance period that causes problems.

Site maintenance (Friday 19th October)

By Alastair on Oct. 17, 2012

We’re planning some maintenance on our website on Friday of this week; things should be back to normal again by first thing Saturday, but it is possible that there could be some disruption this weekend also.

Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.

VMOptimizer 1.0.4

By Chris on Oct. 4, 2012

We’re pleased to announce the release of version 1.0.4 of VMOptimizer.

Changes since version 1.0.3:

  • Fixed issue with list of machines not updating from VMware Fusion 5.
  • Fixed a crasher that could occur if VMOptimizer detected inconsistencies with the file system.

You can get the latest version by selecting “Check for updates…” from the VMOptimizer menu, or you can download this update directly from our website.

iDefrag 2.2.4

By Chris on Sept. 20, 2012

We’re pleased to announce the release of version 2.2.4 of iDefrag.

Changes since version 2.2.3:

  • Improved error message when Quick (on-line) algorithm encounters Time Machine backups.
  • Some accessibility improvements.
  • Fixed running on 10.5 and some 10.6 configurations.
  • Fixed a crasher that you could get if you tried to create a recovery disk on certain disks.
  • Fixed a hang that could occur in some rare error scenarios.
  • Fixed a farily rare hang that you could get whilst running in the exclusive restart mode.

You can get the latest version by selecting “Check for updates…” from the iDefrag menu, or you can download this update directly from our website.

iDefrag 2.2.3

By Alastair on Aug. 16, 2012

Unfortunately we’ve discovered that the recently released version 2.2.2 will only run on 10.7 and later due to a problem with code signing and a bug in the script we use to work around it.

We’ve fixed this issue at our end, and as a result we’re releasing version 2.2.3 of iDefrag. There are no changes for users on 10.7 or 10.8; this fix only affects users on earlier systems.

The auto-update feature is broken in versions 2.1.0 and 2.1.1 so if that applies to you, please get the update directly from our website.

Changes since version 2.2.2:

  • Fixed code signature requirements to work with 10.6 and earlier.

You can get the latest version by selecting “Check for updates…” from the iDefrag menu, or you can download this update directly from our website.

iDefrag 2.2.2

By Chris on Aug. 15, 2012

We’re pleased to announce the release of version 2.2.2 of iDefrag.

The auto-update feature is broken in versions 2.1.0 and 2.1.1 so if that applies to you, please get the update directly from our website.

Changes since version 2.2.1:

  • Updated artwork for Retina displays.
  • Significant speed boost to the initial reading of the disk.
  • Fixed the exclusive restart feature so that it works on wrapped HFS+ volumes again.
  • Fixed a crash that could occur if you click the Info button in the early stages of using the Quick algorithm.
  • Fixed a crash that you could get if iDefrag encountered an error whilst using the on-line algorithm.

You can get the latest version by selecting “Check for updates…” from the iDefrag menu, or you can download this update directly from our website.

Mountain Lion

By Chris on July 26, 2012

We have been testing iDefrag and iPartition on the released version of Mountain Lion for the last couple of weeks and have not found any problems, so we’re happy to say that our products are compatible with Mountain Lion. That said, there’s always a chance that we’ve missed something so please get in touch if you do spot anything that’s not quite right.

There is an issue with VMOptimizer at the moment which we have fixed, but we just need to release it; expect to see that update very soon.

We are working on some updates to add some high resolution artwork to support the new MacBook Pro retina displays, along with some other minor improvements. Those updates should be available fairly soon.

iDefrag 2.2.1

By Chris on May 29, 2012

We’re pleased to announce the release of version 2.2.1 of iDefrag.

The auto-update feature is broken in versions 2.1.0 and 2.1.1 so if that applies to you, please get the update directly from our website.

Unfortunately there were a couple of problems with the new recovery partition feature in version 2.2.0. The code for the new feature came directly from iPartition but some mistakes were made integrating it and so it only worked for the limited test cases that we tried. We’re very sorry for the inconvenience this might have caused customers.

We have also got to the bottom of the issue we mentioned regarding FileVault and 10.7.4. It turns out it didn’t have anything to do with FileVault and was in fact a problem with machines running 32 bit kernels and Lion. Lion defaults to running the Kernel in 64 bit mode on most machines which is why we missed it here.

Changes since version 2.2.0:

  • Fixed issues with recovery partition feature.
  • Fixed problem running on 32 bit machines and 10.7.4.
  • Fixed issues with using the online algorithm or disk verification whilst running from the recovery partition.

You can get the latest version by selecting “Check for updates…” from the iDefrag menu, or you can download this update directly from our website.

iDefrag 2.2.0

By Chris on May 15, 2012

We’re pleased to announce the release of version 2.2.0 of iDefrag. NOTE: The auto-update feature is broken in versions 2.1.0 and 2.1.1 so if this applies to you, please get the update directly from our website. For earlier versions, the auto-update feature should work fine and you can simply select “Check for Updates…” from the iDefrag menu.

In this version we have added support for creating a recovery partition and running iDefrag from it (just as we did with iPartition). You can read more about that particular feature here. To use this feature, simply select “Create Boot Disk…” from the iDefrag menu and follow the instructions.

We also fixed a number of bugs and we sincerely apologise if any of them affected you. You can read full release notes here.

We are aware of some customers who have had problems using iDefrag’s exclusive restart feature with FileVault on 10.7.4. We’ve been unable to reproduce it reliably here. If you do encounter problems with this version and you have trouble booting your machine after trying, simply hold down the “Shift” key soon after you power on your machine and then your machine should boot normally. As with any problem you encounter, we ask that you let us know about it so we can improve our software. As an aside, we’re not convinced that you will see a big benefit from defragmenting volumes that are encrypted using FileVault because it has it’s own fragmentation which iDefrag doesn’t tackle and any performance benefit that you might see from using iDefrag is likely to be insignificant compared that incurred from using encryption.

Please contact or support team with any feedback or support requests.

iPartition 3.4.0

By Chris on March 13, 2012

We’re pleased to announce the release of iPartition version 3.4.0.

The major new feature in this version is the ability to create a recovery disk with iPartition on an external drive (including USB flash drive). This feature is Lion only.

There are also a number of other bug fixes.

This update can be downloaded either from the My Account page on our site, or via the “Check for Updates…” option within iPartition 3 itself. You can find the release notes in the iPartition 3 Atom feed. (You will need an Atom enabled browser such as Safari to make sense of that page.)

As usual, if you have any problems or feedback, please contact our support team.

New password change form

By Alastair on Feb. 29, 2012

When we first set up our website, we didn’t allow user-specified passwords; we just generated one, and that was your password (rather like a registration key, in a way). This was obviously not ideal, so pretty soon we started allowing customers to specify their own passwords but we wanted to make sure that the passwords were reasonably strong as we do occasionally see attacks on our systems.

Rather than re-inventing the wheel, we started out using cracklib, an Open Source password checking library. Over time, two things became apparent:

  • The checks that cracklib does are in some cases too onerous.

  • When the check does fail, cracklib does not give error messages that are understandable or useful to end users.

Now, we prefer to spend our time working on our products rather than our website, and this was a relatively minor issue (some of you didn’t think so, I accept, but you were in the minority) and had an easy workaround of using a somewhat more secure than necessary password and storing it in Keychain (or in your chosen browser’s password database). As a result, while we were aware of the problem, it took us a while to get around to doing anything about it.

Attempt number two was based on another piece of Open Source code, pwtools, which is a port of the algorithm from the OpenWall Project‘s passwdqc to Python. This was a distinct improvement, and we’re actually still using it to generate and suggest passwords, but it still ended up with some customers puzzled as to why it was rejecting their passwords when they felt they were perfectly good enough. We didn’t always disagree.

Anyway, I’m pleased to let everyone know that we are now on attempt number three. This time, we’ve written the code ourselves rather than borrowing from others; fewer passwords should be banned, and because we have a Javascript implementation of the checking code it’s now possible to see in real time in the Change Password form how strong we think your chosen password is.

I’m sure there will still be people who want to use a password that our form doesn’t like. Hopefully, though, this should now mean that the password they’ve chosen is genuinely bad as opposed to not meeting some unusual rule that someone else has come up with. If you were one of the people who wanted to set their own password but found it too tricky, please do try again and let us know how you get on.

p.s. Please don’t use the same password on multiple websites. While we’ve implemented our site in such a way that we can’t tell what your password is, not everyone does, and some database administrators and website operators will, as a result, have access to the text of your password. It’s much better to use Keychain Access or 1Password so that you can have separate passwords for each purpose.

OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion) Developer Preview

By Alastair on Feb. 19, 2012

We’ve received a number of queries (and a few bug reports) relating to the OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion developer preview, some in under 24 hours from the developer seeds becoming available. To be clear:

  • We do not&nbsp_place_holder;recommend running disk utility software (anybody’s, not just ours) on pre-release versions of Mac OS X. For all we know, Apple has made changes to the filesystem that require updates to our code.

  • We do not&nbsp_place_holder;provide support for use of our software on developer preview versions of OS X.

  • Developer pre-releases of OS X have been known to contain serious bugs, some of which could result in data loss. While we are aware that some end-users like to run the developer previews, they are really intended for developers to test their products in advance of the release of the new version, and Apple does not even recommend that developers&nbsp_place_holder;run the seed releases on their main development systems.

Finally, please remember that, no matter how many people have access to it, developer preview software is covered by a non-disclosure agreement. We will accept bug reports (though it may be a technical breach of the NDA on your part), but under the terms of the Developer Agreement the only place we can talk to you about the developer preview release is the Apple Developer Forums website, and that isn’t an appropriate place for us to provide support.

iPartition 3.4.0 Beta 1

By Chris on Jan. 11, 2012

UPDATE: Beta 3 is now available.

We’re pleased to announce the availability of a beta for the next update to iPartition. This beta version is available to all existing owners of iPartition. It can be downloaded here. If you’re not already logged in, you’ll be asked the username and password that you use for our site.

So what’s new?

As owners of iPartition will know, you cannot manipulate the disk that you have booted from which has meant that, to repartition your main start-up drive, you need to either boot from an external drive, or create a bootable DVD. To help with creating a bootable DVD, we have a feature in iPartition that allows you to create a bootable DVD, either from a template that you download from our site, or from the DVD installation media that came with your machine. Unfortunately, newer machines no longer come with DVD installation media and the latest downloadable template that we have (which is supplied by Apple), will not boot newer machines. We have asked Apple for updated templates but we don’t have them yet.

With Lion, Apple introduced Lion Recovery. This works by having a separate partition on your hard drive that includes a base system allowing you to reinstall Lion over the Internet. Internet Recovery is a related feature but is supported within the firmware of the machine (and therefore is only present on the latest machines).

In this version of iPartition, we’ve added support for creating a duplicate of your Lion recovery partition containing our applications. Obviously, to use this new feature you will need to be running Lion and you will need to have a recovery partition present (which should usually be the case, but we have heard of cases where the recovery partition is missing).

You will also need an external drive or USB flash drive to install the partition on (since the restriction of not being able to manipulate the disk you booted from still applies). The partition takes up a little over 650 MB (at time of writing), so you don’t need a very big drive. Cheap USB flash drives are readily available.

The duplicate recovery partition should operate in exactly the same way as your existing Lion Recovery partition (i.e. you can reinstall Lion and run other utilities) but you will also have the option of running iPartition. We’ll soon be adding support for iDefrag too.

If the external drive already has data on it, the data should be preserved (iPartition will shrink existing partitions to make room) so long as it uses the correct partition scheme (GUID). It will warn you if that’s not the case and you can, of course, use iPartition to change the partition scheme non-destructively.

After creating the recovery partition, you can boot from it by holding down the Option (⌥) key when you power on your machine.

We are particularly interested in hearing from customers who received their machines with Lion pre-installed. If that applies to you, please give this Beta version a try and let us know how you get on.

This version of iPartition also has a number of bug fixes and other minor improvements. Those of you who have reported issues with the current shipping version should find them all fixed with this release.

As always, please send feedback/queries to our support team.

iDefrag 2.1.1

By Chris on Oct. 20, 2011

Yesterday I released version 2.1.1 of iDefrag. Unfortunately, I’ve just discovered that there is a problem with the auto-update feature in version 2.1.0 which means you cannot update automatically. It is intermittent and it can sometimes succeed on faster machines which is why we did not notice it initially.

The bug was introduced in version 2.1.0 when support for quick termination was added. Quick termination means that when you quit an application it will quit much more quickly (but only when the application isn’t doing something). Regrettably, it broke our auto-update feature.

If you want to update to version 2.1.1, you can download the update directly from our website. If version 2.1.0 is working well for you, there is no need to upgrade to version 2.1.1 since the changes are relatively minor (see release notes).

Sadly, when we release version 2.1.2, the same problem will exist and upgrading to that version will also have to be done manually (if you’re running version 2.1.0 and 2.1.1).

We’re very sorry for the inconvenience this has caused our customers.

iPartition 3.3.2

By Chris on Oct. 18, 2011

We’re pleased to announce the release of iPartition version 3.3.2.

This update contains a number of bug fixes, and can be downloaded either from the My Account page on our site, or from the “Check for Updates…” option within iPartition 3 itself. You can find the release notes in the iPartition 3 Atom feed. (You will need an Atom enabled browser such as Safari to make sense of that page.)

As usual, if you have any problems, please contact our support team.

Steve Jobs, 1955-2011

By Alastair on Oct. 5, 2011

Without Steve Jobs, we might not have had the home computer. The graphical user interface and the now ubiquitous mouse might have remained in a lab at Xerox PARC. Pixar might have come to nothing, and we might still be waiting for high quality 3D special effects and animated films. NeXT computer might never have existed, and with it Objective-C (and possibly Java too), never mind the Cocoa frameworks and modern Mac OS X. We might not have had Truetype fonts, or Unicode, the tablet computer (the first, of course, being the Newton, though the iPad is the one everyone will remember) or the iPod. It might not have been possible to buy music, movies or TV shows easily online. And let’s not forget the impact the iPhone has had and continues to have on the mobile telephony market. The influence that Steve has had on our daily lives, both directly and indirectly, is hard to overstate.

Today is a sad day, for we have lost a great man.

Here’s to Steve.

iDefrag 2.1.0

By Chris on Sept. 21, 2011

We’re pleased to announce the release of iDefrag version 2.1.0.

This update contains full support for Lion and some other minor bug fixes, and can be downloaded either from the My Account page on our site, or from the “Check for Updates…” option within iDefrag 2 itself. You can find the release notes in the iDefrag 2 Atom feed. (You will need an Atom enabled browser such as Safari to make sense of that page.)

As usual, if you have any problems, please contact our support team.

DigiNotar certificate security issue

By Alastair on Aug. 30, 2011

We’ve been made aware of a security issue caused by the Netherlands-based CA DigiNotar, who mistakenly issued a valid SSL wildcard certificate for google.com. The existence of this certificate, coupled with the implied lack of proper verification at DigiNotar, means that we consider it inappropriate that our systems continue to trust DigiNotar to issue SSL certificates.

As a result, effective immediately, we have instructed our machines (including our servers) not to trust the DigitNotar root certificate. This should not have an impact on customers unless you are (or your mail server admin is) using DomainKeys (aka DKIM) to certify outbound e-mail and the certificate you are using was issued by DigiNotar; in that specific case, there is a slightly increased risk that your e-mail will land in our junk filter. The fix, should you be in this situation, is to use a certificate issued by someone other than DigiNotar.

Microsoft has already removed the DigiNotar root certificate from its list of trusted certificates, and Mozilla has indicated that the same will happen with Firefox. Users of Safari (and indeed Mac OS X in general) may wish to take the following steps to disable trust of the DigiNotar root CA:

  1. Start Keychain Access (you can do this from the Spotlight menu by entering “Keychain Access” in the search field, or by going to “/Applications/Utilities” in Finder).

  2. Enter “digino” in the search field at the top right.

    Keychain Access (before)

  3. Double-click the “DigiNotar Root CA” certificate.

  4. Open up the “Trust” settings.

  5. Change the “When using this certificate:” setting to “Never Trust”.

    DigiNotar Certificate

  6. Close the certificate window. You’ll be prompted for an admin username and password.

  7. Ensure that the DigiNotar Root CA now looks like this in Keychain Access:

    Keychain Access (after)

In particular, check that it says “This certificate is marked as not trusted for all users”.

Update (14:35 BST)

Owing to an apparent deficiency in the way Safari behaves with respect to root certificate trust (about which I’ve already filed a bug report), it may be better to simply delete the DigiNotar Root CA certificate altogether, since this will result in a more obvious response from Safari when visiting a site that depends on it.

To do that instead, select the DigiNotar Root CA certificate in Keychain Access, and choose “Delete” from the “Edit” menu.

Over the past day or so, we’ve spotted a couple of worrying messages on Apple’s support forums and mailing lists about a possible filesystem bug in Lion (10.7), in particular:

http://lists.apple.com/archives/Macos-x-server/2011/Aug/msg00195.html

and

https://discussions.apple.com/message/15933171#15933171

While we haven’t yet been able to reproduce or verify these reports, if they are real, it is possible&nbsp_place_holder;that they might be triggered by the “Quick (on-line)” defragmentation option in our iDefrag product. They will not occur with the off-line algorithms as those use our own code rather than Apple’s for accessing the disk.

Note that, if&nbsp_place_holder;these reports are to be believed, the bug is in Apple’s implementation of HFS+ itself, and not in any of our products. We’re drawing attention to the problem primarily to warn our customers of a possible problem, and not because we or any of our customers have seen or reported the problem ourselves.

VMOptimizer

By Chris on Aug. 10, 2011

We’re very pleased to announce the release of VMOptimizer, a new product that optimizes VMware virtual disk images.

For more information, please see our product page and give the demonstration version a try.

Lion Compatibility

By Alastair on July 22, 2011

Many people are asking whether or not our products work with Lion. As of today, the current versions of both iDefrag (2.0.5) and iPartition (3.3.1) are compatible with Lion, with the following caveats:

  • iDefrag’s “Reboot and defragment” mode does not function with Lion (yet… we are working on this). As a result, to run an off-line defragmentation algorithm you will need to boot from a different partition or disk, or from a bootable DVD, which you can create by choosing the “Create Boot Disk…” option from the “iDefrag” menu.

  • iPartition will display the partition type for Core Storage partitions as 53746F72-6167-11AA-AA11-00306543ECAC, which is the GUID (Globally Unique IDentifier) that Apple is using for Core Storage. This is expected behaviour, but we will be adding a name for this partition type in the next update.

  • iPartition is not able to format or non-destructively resize Core Storage (i.e. Lion FileVault) partitions. As far as we are presently aware, there is no documentation for either the Core Storage volume format, or for the associated library that ships with Mac OS X, and it is therefore unlikely that we will be able to support Core Storage in iPartition any time soon.

We intend to release updates for both iDefrag and iPartition in due course to address some of these issues.

UPDATE: We have now released version 2.1.0 of iDefrag and version 3.3.2 of iPartition which have full Lion support.

iPartition 3.3.1

By Chris on Nov. 1, 2010

We’re pleased to announce the release of iPartition version 3.3.1.

This update contains a few bug fixes, and can be downloaded either from the My Account page on our site, or from the “Check for Updates…” option within iPartition itself. You can find the release notes in the iPartition 3 Atom feed.

Please contact our support ream if you have any problems with this new version.

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