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Caution: Do not rename a user's home folder
Authored by: JamesJM on Jul 20, '07 11:04:21PM

This bug wiped me out. I switched to Mac in March. I downloaded that list of the 10 most common mistakes Windows users make when switching and didn't make any of them.. HOWEVER... this one wasn't on the list.

It was SO exasperating I nearly returned the computer... I'm not joking. Some will try to justify it but the truth is that it's such an egregious bug that I consider it Mac's WORST failing, on a par... and this is nasty I know... with the WORST of the numerous Windows bugs. WORSE than most.

Don't misunderstand... I have fallen in love with my Mac... unless the world turns upside down I will never return to a PC, (Windows). Today I'm using the shortname 'user'... and I'm going to keep using it. I've read Apple's remedy and even saw a 3rd party application that will supposedly allow you to change the name... to HECK with it. I am taking NO CHANCES. That was the most frustrating bug I've ever had to deal with... Mac OR Windows. - JamesJM



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Caution: Do not rename a user's home folder
Authored by: beepotato on Jul 21, '07 12:03:17AM

This is *not* a bug. And it's really far from being on par with Windows' worst bugs, particularly since it doesn't make you lose any data and it is super easy to recover from (basically, just rename your folder to what it was).

However, it is bad design, and not consistent with the spirit of the Mac (it came from the Unix side of Mac OS X). A user should of could be able to rename his own home folder (as long as the administrator allows him to do so) with no bad consequences.
It would be easy for Apple to fix this situation (either by using aliases to the users' home folders instead of paths, or by asking a user if he wants to change his short name when he renames his home folder), and it's a shame that they haven't fixed it yet.

Still, not a bug and no danger for your data, AFAICT.



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Caution: Do not rename a user's home folder
Authored by: beepotato on Jul 21, '07 12:05:27AM

"A user should of could" --> "A user should of course"
Sorry.



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Caution: Do not rename a user's home folder
Authored by: JamesJM on Jul 21, '07 05:20:57AM

I concede that the use of the word 'bug' is most likely inappropriate. However, simply changing the shortname back to what it was is no guarantee... several sites have recovery steps listed when this doesn't go well... as I learned. There is no data loss, true.

Now picture yourself 'new' to Mac, as I was. Also consider the 'stability' of a Mac... when I made this error I didn't restart my computer for a considerable amount of time... when I did I had no idea what had happened or why. Basically I never did figure it out until long after I had made the 'new' home my home. So it may not be a 'bug'... I'll give ya that... but a rose by any other name... :) - JamesJM



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Caution: Do not rename a user's home folder
Authored by: DanFrakes on Jul 23, '07 10:12:45AM

I disagree. This is a major (and inexcusable) bug in OS X. And it's only "super easy to recover from" (for a typical user) if you immediately change the folder name back. If you log out and back in (or restart), a *new* user folder named after the actual account name is created and used as the account's home directory. Yes, the original data is still on the drive, but to the user, it looks as if it's gone. And the recovery process, at that point, isn't obvious to a typical user.


---
Dan Frakes / Senior Editor, Macworld / Senior Reviews Editor, Playlist



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Caution: Do not rename which files/folders?
Authored by: sjk on Jul 23, '07 03:59:37PM
This is a major (and inexcusable) bug in OS X.
Whatever you want to call it, I can't think of any good reason why it should be possible for anyone to rename their own home folder while logged in normally. At worst it seems there'd only be possibility of some minor, obscure inconvenience to restricting that, not widespread negative side effects.

I'm curious how you'd categorize (and handle, as much as possible) the general issue of someone understandably (and mistakenly) believing their data is irretrievably missing after they've unwittingly renamed any folders (or individual files, for that matter) primarily accessed and managed with specific apps like iTunes, iPhoto, Mail, etc. rather than Finder or some other file manager.

For instance, would it be (un)reasonable for certain user files/folders to be (un)hidden from "file manager" interaction, similar to Apple's policy of select system files/folders being hidden from Finder by default (which highly irritates some people while others are blissfully oblivious to it)?

This topic suggests many questions/ideas to me than don't necessarily have quick and obvious answers/responses (if any), which probably makes it better for interactive forum discussion (given enough interest) than getting into it too deeply here.

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Caution: Do not rename which files/folders?
Authored by: beepotato on Jul 23, '07 05:27:27PM
I'm curious how you'd categorize (and handle, as much as possible) the general issue of someone understandably (and mistakenly) believing their data is irretrievably missing after they've unwittingly renamed any folders (or individual files, for that matter) primarily accessed and managed with specific apps like iTunes, iPhoto, Mail, etc. rather than Finder or some other file manager.
I would call it badly designed apps, not a problem with the OS. Everything is present in the OS for these apps to behave correctly even if the user renames their files/folders: reference to these files/folders should be kept by the apps as aliases, not paths. Oh, and btw, everything is present in the OS to allow these apps to hide some files from the user if their developers wanted to. But they shouldn't do that.

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Caution: Do not rename which files/folders?
Authored by: sjk on Jul 24, '07 09:38:35PM
Everything is present in the OS for these apps to behave correctly even if the user renames their files/folders: reference to these files/folders should be kept by the apps as aliases, not paths.
If it were practical for all "these apps" to reference files/folders that way why isn't it being done? Seems to me one misbehaving app could spoil the party. Look how easy it is to remove a Finder (Spotlight) comments by using UNIX commands instead of Finder to manage files.
Oh, and btw, everything is present in the OS to allow these apps to hide some files from the user if their developers wanted to. But they shouldn't do that.
I picked file (in)visibility as one example of how to make parts of the system less vulnerable to disruptive changes because Apple's happens to do it. ACLs would have been another possibility. Oh, that And They Said the Mac Was Intuitive article about a guy deleting /usr thinking it was a duplicate of /Users just came to mind. ;)

Sure, OS X (and ever other OS) has capabilities that are abused and not being used advantageously enough. There isn't enough room here for should/shouldn't reasons and debates about (in)visibility, et.al. so I'm satisfied with the simple "it depends" consensus perspective. :)

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Caution: Do not rename which files/folders?
Authored by: jet59or on Oct 07, '07 09:02:04PM

Reading this too late, I have renamed a folder in the Apple Mail application. This was an older version on a friend's computer - I believe it is version 1.02 or maybe 1.2x.

Anyway, I renamed the folder and all of the messages disappeared. I'm praying they are not really gone. The .mbox file is about 280k so there is something there. I've tried repairing, renaming back to the old name, reimporting into mail with no luck.

I tried running File Salvage which is pretty good at finding missing or erased files, but it won't seem to run, maybe because she is running OS 10.2.

Any suggestions I can try before upgrading her OS and trying again?



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Caution: Do not rename a user's home folder
Authored by: beepotato on Jul 23, '07 04:15:43PM

> This is a major (and inexcusable) bug in OS X.

Nope. Not a bug, but very bad design.
Which is actually worse than a bug for the users, as it tends to take a lot longer to fix a bad design than it takes to fix a bug. :(

I agree that it is inexcusable, though. You would expect this kind of behavior from Windows, not from Mac OS.



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Caution: Do not rename a user's home folder
Authored by: Fairly on Jul 22, '07 09:47:20AM

Hey no one's ignoring your fright over this. And I've yet to see an explanation why Apple changed the perms on /Users. But I think many people are curious: why would you want to do this in the first place?



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Caution: Do not rename a user's home folder
Authored by: beepotato on Jul 23, '07 05:18:21PM

Actually, I can see very well why a user would want to change his user name and/or the name of his home folder (as long as the administrator allows it).
Both shoud be easily doable with no bad consequences. It is already the case for the (long) user name. It's a shame that it's not the case (yet?) for the name of the home folder.

The fact that the home folder uses the short user name is a very bad idea: it is exposing an implementation detail that the normal user should never see (a normal user should not even know there exists such a thing as a short user name; all he should know about is his long/real user name).

And the fact that the reference to a user's home folder in the NetInfo database is kept as a path is a shame. The problem described here would not happen if an alias was used instead.

Alternatively, in order to keep the current path-based implementation and/or ensure that the name of the home folder stays "simple" enough for compatibility with old Unix software, a solution would be to rely on the mechanism used to display localized folder names. This way, only the long user name would be shown to the user while the real folder name would still be the short user name.
Apple would then have to tweak this mechanism so that when such a folder is renamed through the Finder, only the displayed name changes, and not the real name of the folder. Then, of course, it would be a good thing and solve many problems with users renaming their library folder.

So, solutions exist. Let's just hope Apple will use one (and a good one) soon.



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Long name, short name
Authored by: MJCube on Jul 23, '07 09:51:47PM

"(a normal user should not even know there exists such a thing as a short user name; all he should know about is his long/real user name)"

I disagree. I have never once typed my long name into my own computer for login or authorization, since I established it 7 years ago. And why would anyone want to do that when the short name is easier? But I do like to see my full name displayed where appropriate.



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Long name, short name
Authored by: beepotato on Jul 25, '07 10:25:10AM

By "normal user", I meant a basic user who will log in by choosing his account from a list instead of having ot type his account name, or will even have autologin activated, and will never do remote login through a shell.
This kind of user won't use a separate admin account, so the name field of authorization dialogs will be pre-filled automatically for him with the right name (his).

For this type of user, having to type his user name happens very, very rarely (for the occasional AFP access to his computer, for example), so why confuse him with a short user name that he can't even change easily (but he is never told that during setup!) but will look ugly on his home folder?

Of course, power users will know about the short user name and use it, but it doesn't mean this implementation detail should be shown to all the other users.



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