Submit Hint Search The Forums LinksStatsPollsHeadlinesRSS
14,000 hints and counting!

A fix for disappearing locations and network prefs System
This is a bug I have seen on the Discussions on Apple's website. I encountered the same problem, but luckily I was able to figure this out while I was away on a vacation in Europe.

Anyone with a PowerBook who frequently switches network locations may have come across this problem in Mac OS X 10.2.1. When you are trying to switch locations, you suddenly you realize that ALL of the locations you have set up are now gone! What's more strange with this problem, is that when you try to recreate the locations you had before, they do not save anymore! I'm not sure what causes this problem, but it appears to be an issue with the permissions getting switched on the "preferences.xml" file to "read-only"...

In order to cure the problem of disappearing network preferences in the Apple menu's Location submenu, I successfully performed the following instructions to repair my "preferences.xml" file. In the Finder, select Go -> Go to Folder. In the dialog box that appears, paste in /var/db/SystemConfiguration/ and then click "Go".

When this window opens, there is a file called "preferences.xml". The permissions on this file must have been changed by some software that you recently installed. To fix the permissions on the file, click on preferences.xml one time and do File -> Get Info. The Get Info window will appear; click on the "Ownership & Permissions" drop down arrow within the dialog. All of the options are probably grayed out if you are logged in as yourself. The "Access" option under "Group" has probably been changed to "Read" or else "No Access". You need to change this back to "Read & Write". To change this back, click on the lock icon so that it is unlocked. Change the "Owner" of the file to your login name. Next, change the "Group" to the group your user ID belongs to, mine was "staff (Me)". Next, change the "Access" drop down menu under Group to "Read & Write". When you're done modifying the permissions. Go back up to the "Owner" of file, and change this back to "System".

When you're done performing these instructions, close this window and try opening your System Preferences to add in some new "Locations" to the Network Preferences Pane. They should now add in, and be visible under the Apple Menu-> Locations submenu again! Woohoo!

[Editor's note: I haven't had this problem myself, but I have had others ask me about it; this is the first fix that I've seen. If you try this fix, please post a comment to let us know if it worked for you.]
  • Currently 2.00 / 5
  You rated: 1 / 5 (3 votes cast)

A fix for disappearing locations and network prefs | 6 comments | Create New Account
Click here to return to the 'A fix for disappearing locations and network prefs' hint
The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
filemode is -rw-r--r-- root wheel by design
Authored by: mervTormel on Nov 13, '02 01:04:49PM

hmm, dunno about that... permission repair sets that file to its owner/group and mode...

$ find /Library/Receipts/ -type f | grep | \\
xargs -n1 -i lsbom -p fMUG \"{}\" | grep preferences.xml

./private/var/db/SystemConfiguration/preferences.xml -rw-r--r-- root wheel

[ Reply to This | # ]
-rw-r--r-- root wheel has always worked for me
Authored by: googoo on Nov 13, '02 01:32:45PM

I have a PowerBook G4 with 10.2.2 that has never had this problem. When I go to the /private/var/db/SystemConfiguration directory in the terminal and enter "ls -l preferences.xml", the permissions are "-rw-r--r--", the owner "root" and the group "wheel". The configuration you suggest may also work, but I would recommend going with the default.

I would guess that the Network Preference Pane can write to the file as long as root has write permission. You allow the Preference Pane root-level access to the file by clicking on the unlock button and giving the admin name and password. This is an untested hypothesis, though.


[ Reply to This | # ]
Authored by: Peganthyrus on Nov 14, '02 12:09:39AM

I have never used locations on my tower. This is what the Finder says the permissions are set to on this file:

Owner: System
Access: Read & Write

Group: wheel
Access: Read only

Others: Read only

[ Reply to This | # ]
Lost Locations, but for a different reason . . .
Authored by: rsnyder on Nov 14, '02 01:57:19AM

Recently, I was having problems with the Cisco VPN client and found the only solution to getting to work under 10.2.x was to do a truely clean install of the OS (I had done an upgrade install the first time and was tired of hearing how doing a clean install fixed so many problems--which it did).

After setting a clean version on my system I brought back my user folder via ditto, and all was good. Except that I had to recreate all my Locations. Now this is not a bug, but as the fokes in Redmond might say, "it is a feature."

Unlike the Mac OS that proceeded OS X, there is no way (that I can find) to export and import Network Locations. This was great feature of the "Classic" Mac OS (not that I am pining for that OS one bit). Being able to export a master TCP/IP configuration and then import it into other systems on set up was a great time saver, not to mention a big save when having to do a reinstall (I have currently have six Network Locations on my Powerbook).

Well, now I know where the information is stored, but for the life of me, I cannot make heads or tails of the way in which specific, individual Network Locations are stored, such that I could comfortably copy and past a dictionary or set of dictionaries from one system's /private/var/db/SystemConfiguration/preferences.xml to a new system and hope to have it work correctly.

Has anyone developed a technic for doing this?

Frankly, this looks like linguine to me.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Fixed my problem
Authored by: dsquared on Dec 14, '02 11:55:59PM

Thank you Schwie! All of my locations disappeared this evening. And your fix
restored them with no muss and no fuss. I am now a member and support
Mac OS X Hints.

[ Reply to This | # ]
Too obvious?
Authored by: ewieland on Feb 07, '03 05:48:36PM

Repair Permissions in Disk Utility fixed this on my ibook.

[ Reply to This | # ]