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Make OS X re-run the initial setup assistant
Authored by: jconnolly on Jan 12, '05 05:46:59PM

When a colleague inherited a laptop from another user, a new admin account was created and the old account deleted. After a while, OS applications (like iCal, DiskUtil, etc.) wouldn't run at all. Repairing permissions sometimes fixed the problem for a day.

We used this trick to persuade the OS that the new user was the "rightful owner" of the computer with the following additions:

1) once rebooting into System User mode (command-S), we performed an fsck on the disk. Since it was a Panther system, the command line was:

/sbin/fsck -y -f

Everything was fine, but we would have run it two or three times if necessary to fix problems. The "-f" option is necessary on Panther to force the repair of a Journaled file system.

After a full system restart

shutdown -r now

we experienced the joy of the Setup Assistant and recreated the SAME user we had before. This being Unix, the same user name is not the same userid (numeric). The new user was "shocked" when we finished the assistant and none of his files were visible on the desktop.

A quick trip to the Terminal allowed us to go into the file system and repair the two system folders likely to have caused troubles for the new user:

sudo chown -R shortuser /Applications /Users/shortuser
sudo chgrp -R admin /Applications /Users/shortuser

Finally, we logged out of Mac OS X (command-shift-Q) and logged back in.

Everything returned to normal. His files were his. His applications all worked. The computer now believes that all is well.

If this hadn't worked, the next step before a complete reinstall of the OS would have been to rename the short user name and put it back following the advice of Dan Frakes at:

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