Configure DynDNS client ddclient for use with all-inkl

You can try ddclient, if you don’t have a Router or NAS, which updates a DynDNS account. I’m using it on Raspbian and all-inkl as hosting service.

Create a new dyndns account in kas.all-inkl.com. Go to Tools, DDNS Settings and create a new entry. You’ll need the information from this page for the configuration of ddclient.

On your Raspberry pi:

$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install ddclient

Select other as DDNS service provider. Use dyndns.kasserver.com/ as update server with dyndns2 as protocol. Configure username and password as provided by all-inkl. Use eth0 as network interface (we’ll change this later on) and add your DynDNS Domainname.

$ sudo nano /etc/ddclient.conf

Change the file accordingly to your needs:

# Configuration file for ddclient generated by debconf
#
# /etc/ddclient.conf

protocol=dyndns2
#use=if, if=eth0
use=web
web=checkip.dyndns.org/
web-skip='Current IP Address: '
daemon=900
syslog=yes
pid=/var/run/ddclient.pid
mail-failure='email@domain.com'
server=dyndns.kasserver.com
login='yourlogin'
password='yourpassword'
subdomain.domain.com

This config will use checkip.dyndns.org to get your currently used external IP address. If you’ll use eth0, it will probably report the internal IP address of your eth0 interface instead.

If it encounters any errors, it will send an failure email to the provided email.

Now reboot the service and you’re done

$ sudo service ddclient restart

Howto avoid resets of default Apple Music media folder when using a NAS

I’m a longtime fan and user of automount. Automount mounts automatically my Apple Music media folder, once the Music app tries to access it.

I’ve recently updated to a Macbook with apple Silicon running Big Sur. It looks like the default behaviour changed, because I’m often adding songs to Apple music, just to see that they are copied to my SSD instead of the automounted NAS media folder.

This is incredible annoying and is probably caused by a race condition between Apple Music and automount not mounting the volume fast enough. So from time to time I’ll need to check my configured media folder in Apple music. I’ll end up changing the folder back to the automount folder and need to wait for Apple music to finish a complete scan of the library:

Waiting for Apple Music to update its library…

“Limnos” pointed me to a potential workaround for this behaviour:

  • Create a symbolic link to the Apple Music app on your SSD and place it on the automounted volume.
  • Create a second symbolic link from the first link back to your SSD applications folder.
  • Start Apple Music app only by using this link.
  • If the volume isn’t mounted, the link will point nowhere and Apple Music won’t start. This will hopefully stop it from rewriting the media paths.

This can be done in the terminal with just two commands:

ln -s /System/Applications/Music.app /System/Volumes/Data/mount/music/Music.app
ln -s /System/Volumes/Data/mount/music/Music.app /Applications/MusicOnNAS.app

You can now add that link to MusicOnNAS.app to your dock, but it can only be placed in the area next to the recycle bin.

You can test this now by unmounting the volume manually on the terminal. If you click now on the link in your dock, it won’t start Apple Music. However, if you’ll click it a second time, it will start since automount has successfully remounted your volume containing the link.

Nevertheless, Apple Music forgot its media path and I’ll have to change it again to the folder. So this is just a bad workaround. Even when you’ll change the media’s path after this test, it will be reset on the next iTunes startup.

So ultimately I’ll end up with a the instructions of “Make a split library portable“, which basically says you shouldn’t separate the Apple Music library and its media. Always put the library next to the location of your media.

Also you’ll need to make sure that you’ll manually open the right .musiclibrary file. You can define the library to open when you hold the alt key before you’ll start the Apple Music app:

Apple Music asks for a library to use when you’ll open it with alt key pressed.

If you’ll just double click, it will most likely not open the right library. Somehow macOS still knows where you’ve moved your local library file (e.g. to the NAS in the automounted folder) and will open it from the new location.

With moving the library next to the media I’m somehow happy about the outcome. Looks like Apple did not consider moving the Apple Music library to any external volume and expects it to be always present in a reachable location.

Slow SSDs in MacBook Pro 13″ 2012

A friend asked me to check her MacBook Pro 13″ from 2012. It is running unbearable slow. So I’ve made a bootable copy with Carbon Copy Cloner and TimeMachine and tried to start with a fresh installation.

I’ve created an external Bootdisk with macOS 10.15 and tried to repartition and wipe the SSD. This process took already very long and I started to wonder what might have caused this delay.

This MacBook was running fine for almost two years when I’ve replaced the internal HDD with a SanDisk SSD Plus SDSSDA-480G. All the more I was wondering why it started to be so slow without warning.

I’ve found this post on ifixit.com where someone replaced the HDD with an SSD in the same model and it started to be very slow. The culprit should be the internal SATA cable, which isn’t either SATA3 compatible or has broken data lanes due to mechanic stress from bending or itching on sharp edges caused by the CNC milling of the MacBook case:

I’ve checked the cable and did not see any damages to the cable. So I’ve tried an old HDD on the same cable and repartitioning and installing was reasonable fast again.

I was still not convinced that the cable should be the problem, but decided to order a new cable including the IR receiver as well as the standby LED. There’s some sort of confusion about the right model number, but looks like 821-1480-A is the right one. I’ve ordered the cable from iFixit.com as I intended to avoid quality problems. However, you’ll get the same cable with the HDD bracket for less money from Amazon.

Replacing the cable is quite easy and can be done in less than 10 minutes.

After I’ve replaced the cable, I’ve tried the SanDisk SSD again. The installation was still very slow so I’ve cancelled the installation. Luckily I’ve had another SSD which I could test and this one installed quite fast.

So I’ve decided to replace the exchanged cable with the original cable and rebooted the Mac. I was surprised by a login screen where the default user was unknown. I’ve only created one user on that machine and it should’ve been automatically preselected. Ok, I can type that username by myself and typed the password, but I’m unable to login at all. Either password or username are wrong?!

I’ve rebooted to the recovery partition of the currently installed SSD and tried to repartition the SSD. Deletion was now slow again and failed with this error I’ve never seen before (got the error message only in German, sorry 😞):

Das Entfernen der Volumedaten zum Verhindern zukünftiger unbeabsichtigter Überprüfungen ist fehlgeschlagen (-69825).

Searching for this error lead me to a German forum, where a user has also the same MacBook and problems with his SSD. Looks like changing the SATA cable helped in this case.

After I’ve replaced the faulty SATA cable with the new one, I was able to repartition the SSD which wasn’t deletable before.

Howto install macOS El Capitan on a 2009 MacbookPro

I’m trying to sell a 2009 MacbookPro. It’s the model MacbookPro5.5 and Apple supports macOS El Capitan 10.11 as latest available version.

I’ve wiped all data from the installed SSD and had to boot from an external disk. Now I’ve got two problems:

  1. I’ve only got a Mac with Big Sur and Apple Silicon. I cannot use the package installer from the download provided by Apple to create the installer App for El Capitan. However, I need access to the installer so that I’m able to use the createinstallmedia command.
  2. The 2009 MacbookPro is already wiped and has only access to the recovery mode. You cannot execute the package installer in Recovery Mode to extract the media.

Luckily I’ve found this blog post from Chris Warrick who explained how to extract the installer App from the package:

  1. Attach an external Disk which contains the downloaded pkg from Apple. You’ll need enough space on that Disk to extract the pkg and it needs to be writeable
  2. Open the Terminal from inside the Recovery Mode
  3. Go to the mounted volume
  4. Extract the package:
$ pkgutil --expand InstallMacOSX.pkg elcapitan
$ ls -F elcapitan
Distribution*       InstallMacOSX.pkg/ Resources/
$ cd elcapitan/InstallMacOSX.pkg/
$ tar -xvf Payload
x .
x ./Install OS X El Capitan.app
x ./Install OS X El Capitan.app/Contents
…

Now we can try to create the install media from the installer app. Make sure you’ve attach another disk which can be overwritten by the installer. In this example its named “MyBlankUSBDrive”:

# "Install OS X El Capitan.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia" --volume /Volumes/MyBlankUSBDrive --applicationpath "Install OS X El Capitan.app"
Install OS X El Capitan.app does not appear to be a valid OS installer application.

The InstallESD.dmg image is missing, which we’ll need to add to the right location:

$ mkdir "Install OS X El Capitan.app/Contents/SharedSupport"
$ mv InstallESD.dmg "Install OS X El Capitan.app/Contents/SharedSupport"
# "Install OS X El Capitan.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia" --volume /Volumes/MyBlankUSBDrive --applicationpath "Install OS X El Capitan.app"
Ready to start.
To continue we need to erase the disk at /Volumes/MyBlankUSBDrive.
If you wish to continue type (Y) then press return:

Now we’ll have a valid installation medium which can be used to start the installer from. You can reboot from that disk and should be able to install El Capitan.

However, I’ve encountered another annoying issue which caused the installer to fail:

El Capitan Installer cannot be verified

Oh great… On to the next commands you can try from the Terminal inside the Recovery OS:

  1. installer -pkg /Volumes/Mac\ OS\ X\ Install\ DVD/Packages/OSInstall.mpkg -target /Volumes/"XXX" where XXX is the name of the disk you’re installing to.
  2. Wait for the installation to say it’s complete. You will not see any sort of progress display.

Great, you’ve got El Capitan installed! Apple had some issues with certificates and people found a way to either use the above commands for installation or you’ll have to tinker with your Macs time settings so that the signature is valid again. I would have expected that Apple resigned all installers so I wouldn’t have to use these commands at all but doesn’t look like they did.

My Review of the MacBook Pro 13″ (2020) with Apple Silicon

Introduction

After careful considerations and watching a lot of YouTube videos about the new Macs with Apple Silicon hardware, I’ve decided to order myself a shiny new MacBook Pro 13″ with 16GB RAM and 512GB SSD. I could compare it to my works MacBook Pro 16″ as well as my older MacBook Pro 15″ from mid 2014 and I must say, I’m really impressed.

General Things

The hardware is just great. I like the overall form factor and its small size compared to my wife’s MacBook Air 13″ 2015. The MacBooks internal speaker sound reasonable, but cannot compare to the awesome sound of the MacBook Pro 16″. But since I don’t use the internal speaker that often, I can live with the current quality.

The temperature of the MacBook is always cold, regardless of the current workload. This means, you cannot use it anymore to warm your hands in winter but also its totally quiet, even when it has an internal fan! This is a huge plus, as I’m finally having a quiet desktop again!

Another thing I like is the instant on/wakeup. This machine feels like it is an iPad. That also affects the battery life which is just crazy and unparalleled. If you’ll attach a screen it will turn on immediately. There’s no fade to black first.

M1 compatible apps

Apple Silicon is using arm64 as new architecture compared to Intel. That means all existing Intel Mac Software is run in Rosetta 2, the emulation layer for software which is only compiled for the Intel architecture. There’s already a huge list of supported software. Some apps are not working and even Homebrew has its ongoing issues, but is already useable.

Software left to check at a later time

Docker preview is already available for Apple Silicon, but is not a final stable version.

LuLu Firewall for outgoing connections is currently compiled for the Intel architecture. However, there’s already work going on in that area and I’m looking forward to it.

Visual Studio Code – Insiders available for Apple Silicon, but not a final stable version. Crashes since its last update and I’ve replaced it with the Intel version again.

Thunderbird is still compiled for Intel, whereby Firefox is already available for Apple Silicon.

StarCraft 2 is still compiled for Intel, whereby World of Warcraft is already available for Apple Silicon. Works in FullHD on external screen without sync on low Settings but high texture settings around 60-80 FPS.

Other Software I use but which is still compiled for Intel:

  • TextMate
  • Tunnelblick
  • Jdownloader 2
  • Spotify
  • Logitech Options

Using Safari as new default browser

I’ve read somewhere that Safari is so much faster on Apple Silicon compared to Chrome, so I’ve decided to use Safari as my new default browser for the time being. However, as it turns out, this was only true until Google published an Apple silicon version of Chrome enabling much faster performance.

I’ve upgraded my 1Password license from 6 to 7. This enabled the extension in Safari again, as my previous 1Password 6 license was not supported anymore.

There’s a new webfiltering extension used in Safari > 14. My Adblocker needed  updates to support this. I’m currently using Wipr from the App Store for 1,99$

Wipr’s looking good so far. It filters even most of the YouTube ads, leaving only from time to time a “Skip ad” but without content.

Issues so far

External Screen was not recognized

This is a thing I’ve witnessed on almost all my Macs I’ve used in combination with Thunderbolt docks. I’m using my Macs in Clamshell mode and only rely on wakeup by typing on external keyboard or clicking on my mouse. The Mac did not wake up and I did not have any picture visible on the screen. However, once I’ve opened the MacBook it waked instantly up and detected all external hardware including the screen.

Internal Screen resolution is wrong

The MacBook Pro wakes up after it was connected via USB-C to an external monitor with WQHD resolution. The screen flickers a little bit and the displayed resolution doesn’t fit the screen. Changing the Display options in System Settings doesn’t change this behaviour and the right side of the desktop is invisible as well as the lower part. If I take a screenshot, it will show all details. Looks like this is a Big Sur problem with external wide screens.

Bluetooth connectivity

This seems to be a well known bug. I’ve connected a Magic Trackpad and it keeps on disconnecting, regardless the real distance to the MacBook Pro. You can manually disconnect, but it will try to reconnect, even when it isn’t touched and will show a lot of annoying system notifications.