Restoring from Time Machine backup relocates home directories

Ryan Schmidt ryandesign at
Sat Sep 16 22:15:02 UTC 2017

On Sep 16, 2017, at 04:57, db wrote:
> On 15 Sep 2017, at 23:47, Ryan Schmidt wrote:
>> MacPorts and ports can add users, but MacPorts doesn't remove them. I'm not sure how we could change that. Suppose you install a port that has a user that needs to own some data, such as postresql96-server. You then uninstall the port, which then hypothetically removes the user. Now the databases you created with that port are owned by a userid that doesn't exist anymore. Now you reinstall the port, which creates a postgres user but with a new userid. This creates more work for the user: needing to reassociate files the port needs with the new userid.
> Shouldn't MP delete it if no files are owned by that user? In any case, it could notify during installation that a user was created and upon uninstallation that a user still owns files (and which) or not, and if not, it could give the option to delete it.

Maybe. But how would MacPorts know that no files are owned by that user? I wouldn't want a port uninstallation to introduce a several-minute delay while MacPorts checks the ownership of every file on disk. And as you found below, you may have unexpected files owned by such a user.

> I searched for files owned by users created by two ports installed not long ago (quagga is still installed, dbus uninstalled) to find the following (just an example of a mess I now realised it's in place and I don't have a clue how it happened).
> $ ls -l /Library/Screen\ Savers/Substrate.saver/Contents
> total 16
> -rw-r--r--@ 1 root    messagebus   692 Apr 12  2010 CodeResources
> -rw-r--r--@ 1 root    messagebus  1491 Apr 12  2010 Info.plist
> drwxr-xr-x@ 3 quagga  messagebus   102 Apr 12  2010 MacOS
> drwxr-xr-x@ 3 quagga  messagebus   102 Apr 12  2010 Resources
> drwxr-xr-x@ 3 quagga  messagebus   102 Apr 12  2010 _CodeSignature
> AFAIR, I installed that screen saver by dragging and dropping, no installer.

This is probably normal.

When a user is created on Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard and later, its group is set to "staff". But on Mac OS X Tiger 10.4 and earlier, each user got a group of its own, named the same as the user.

File ownership can be preserved on disk images, but that ownership is preserved by uid and gid, not by user name and group name.

Suppose that the person who packed up Substrate.saver was on a Mac running Tiger with two user accounts, one with uid 501 (alice) and gid 501 (alice) and another with uid 502 (bob) and gid 502 (bob), and that the person was logged in as bob. This person compiles Substrate.saver, which causes it to be owned by uid/gid 502, then creates a disk image with ownership preserved, and copies the screensaver bundle to the disk image and uploads the disk image to the Internet, where you download it.

You're on a Mac with Leopard or later and you only have one user account, with uid 501 and gid 20 (staff). You copy the screensaver from the disk image to your disk, and ownership is preserved. If you look at the ownership of the screensaver now with ls -l, you'll see it's owned by uid 502 and gid 502, even though you don't have a user nor a group with those ids.

Later you install the dbus and quagga ports. They each create their own user accounts, using whatever uids and gids are unused on your system. They may not be the same. For example on my system my messagebus user has uid 500 but my messagebus group has gid 504. On your system, the quagga user happened to get uid 502 and the messagebus group happened to get gid 502. When you now look with ls -l, you see that the screensaver is owned by user quagga and group messagebus.

It wouldn't matter if the order was reversed--if you installed the ports and MacPorts created the users and groups first, and then you copied the screensaver--the end result would be the same.

The problem should not have occurred if the disk image was set not to preserve ownership. In that case, when you copied the file from the disk image to your disk, it would have received the user and group of your user.

You can also run into this type of problem if you have multiple Macs that you copy files between while preserving ownership, such as using a USB or FireWire disk with owners turned on, or by using Apple file sharing, and the user accounts on the different Macs are not all using the same uid/gid.

> MP could also checked if the UIDs/GIDs are already in use, before a port creates a user/group.

MacPorts already does this, in that the MacPorts command to create a new user will use the first uid numbered 500 or greater that does not already exist in the directory service. Or did you mean something different by "already in use"?

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