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Move your swap file to another drive System
By default, Mac OS X uses a swap file (for virtual memory) which is installed on the same drive as your operating system. For best performance, the swap file would ideally be located on the fastest drive in your machine, which may or may not be the same disk as your OS. Unfortunately, there's no built-in GUI for changing a swap drive location.

A few days ago, there was a help request on swapping on another hard drive and subsequent comments that figured out how this could be done. I asked if patpro, one of the users involved, would mind writing a step-by-step instruction set on how to transfer swap. Read the rest of this article to see what he had to say ... well worth the time if you have a spare, fast hard drive in your system!
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Easily work with remote files Apps
Many OS X users will probably be connecting to other remote systems frequently. I do so every time I want to upload new images or features to this site, or to transfer a file to or from the office. There are a number of ways to do this using either the command line (ftp, ssh, scp) or graphical FTP clients (Transmit, NetFinder, Fetch).

There is an alternative program available known as RBrowser, which has one unique advantage that I really like. Although it will function as a normal graphical FTP client, it can also do the same for ssh (secure shell) and scp (secure copy) connections. Basically, it will present a finder-like view of your remote host, but it does so using ssh to make the connection, and scp to copy files. This is great for me, as my ISP has a three-minute timeout on FTP connections, but no limit on ssh connections! No more reconnect delays after a more-than-three-minute local editing session! Read the rest for some more features and pricing both now and post-beta.
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Adding users from the shell UNIX
"JasonB" has written two shell scripts which enable the addition and deletion of users to your OS X system from the command line. Normally this would be done in Netinfo, but the command line option is nice if you ever want to do this remotely.

His scripts and instructions can be found on this page of his web site.

I have not tried these yet personally, but there's no reason to believe they won't work.
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Speed, RAM, and OS X PB System
The stated requirement for OS X PB is 128mb of RAM. To really make it perform best, however, more seems to be much better. This is especially true if you run a number of large Classic apps, such as GoLive, Excel, Word, Photoshop, etc.

The amount of disk swapping that goes on drops dramatically with increased RAM, making the system much more responsive overall. There was even a notable difference between my home (192mb) and work (320mb) machines, which are otherwise identical G4's, so I decided to upgrade the home machine.

I ended up adding 256mb (for about $150), and the differences are dramatic. I hardly ever hear my hard drive now, unless I'm accessing it. Read the rest if you want the details on where I bought my RAM...
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Installing mysql and PHP Apps
[Editor's note: Revised to reflect new links on Matt's own site]

PHP and mysql, when used together, provide a rich environment for creating dynamic database driven web pages. PHP is a script-like programming language that contains features that make it quite easy to pull data from mysql databases and integrate them into web pages. As an example of what they can do together, this site is created dynamically by PHP serving data from a mysql database (using a prewritten program known as GeekLog). Unfortunately, PHP support is not included in the standard Apache install that ships with OS X PB, and mysql is not part of the UNIX core installed by the PB.

Matthew Vaughn has created pre-packaged versions of both mysql and PHP which are easily installed via the Apple installer. He's also got the original Apache compressed online, in case you want to reverse the install. If you're truly adventurous, he also has a page of instructions on how you can build both components by yourself.

Matthew points out a couple of minor glitches with mysql, but everything works. There are also a couple of good threads on the MacNN boards about installation and autostart scripts for mysql.

I've found that the PHP site is a great place to get a handle on the language, and I've picked up the "SAMS Teach Yourself PHP4 in 24 hours" book as a reference.
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How to make Aqua-esque buttons Desktop
So you want to get in on the latest Aqua craze and liquify your life? There are a few ways to create Aqua buttons, ranging from hard but rewarding (Photoshop files from scratch) to somewhat easier (copy/edit an existing Apple button). However, this is by far the easiest way I've found to do it.

A Japanese author, whose home page only hints at what his/her name might be ("Hide's Room"?), has developed Liquid Buttons. The button in this posting was created in about 10 seconds in Liquid Buttons.

You can download the program from "hshioura's" page on and try it out for yourself.

The biggest problem with the program (for us English speakers!) is that it's in Japanese, and you'll either get gibberish or Japanese text in the dialogs and menus. However, it's very simple to use, and trial and error will quickly lead you to the right way to create and save your buttons. A quick hint to get you started: design the words and colors you want, click the lower-left button, and then click the lower-right button to save your work.

Quite fun! If anyone knows more about the author, I'd love to provide more details...
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Additional screensavers Desktop
If you don't like the basic screensaver that's included with OS X PB, epicware has made a number of additional modules available. These are free and easily installable, and you can find them all, along with installation instructions, over on Epicware's site.
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Customized login panels and buttons System
Jordan Miller has created some custom login buttons and images to replace the standard OS X PB versions. This is a very easy hack that lets you further customize your OS X experience, and he has some nice looking images!

You can find the images and instructions on Jordan's site.

Note that there is a small typo in the screenshot area for the filenames, but they are correctly listed further down the page.
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A GUI for system management Apps
Surfing randomly the other day, I happened upon webmin, a collection of Perl scripts that are designed to help manage a UNIX system via a web-based front end. Webmin includes a mini web-server which serves up browser pages designed to help you visually manage a number of basic UNIX tasks, such as process management; scheduling tasks (including a visual scheduler, quite cool!); viewing system logs in real time, managing servers such as apache, dns, sendmail, and mysql; installing custom commands; and a numer of other key tasks.

You can get a flavor for the front-end from this screenshot of the Apache management panel. As you can see, it can customize nearly every piece of the Apache configuration file.

I downloaded and installed webmin just to see if it would work. It supports a huge number of UNIX variants, including freeBSD and Mac OS X Server. I told it I had OS X Server, and found that some modules worked, and some did not. The important ones (the scheduler, Apache configuration, system log browsing) all seemed to work fine. I had to edit a couple paths in the webmin settings, but this was easily done via the web browser.

One note of caution - this is a large package, consisting of over 4,000 files and 17+mb of disk space. It comes with a very nice installer and uninstaller, both of which worked as advertised ... with one exception. Make sure you install it on a volume with no spaces in the volume name, otherwise the installer will complain and fail.

Read the rest if you'd like to see how to install it.
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Sound stopping in Classic Classic
User taylore posted on the MacFixIt forums (and gave permission for me to recreate here) a problem he noticed with Classic and sound output. Here's what he wrote:

"As users of Classic may know, you stop hearing sound output by Classic if you are playing sound from OS X simultaneously. This, for example, may explain why you're not hearing Eudora's New E-mail warning--particularly if you are playing MP3's through OS X.

Here's one I just discovered though:

If you have an MP3 selected in the frontmost window of the OS X Finder it will have the same effect!

The MP3 file doesn't have to be playing, the mere fact that it is selected will stop all sound output in Classic. Grrrr. Anyways, if you're having trouble getting sound to play from Classic (and it has been working previously), there's another thing to add to your checklist while troubleshooting."

The glitch has been reported to Apple...
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