Why doesn't my computer trust me anymore?
October 12, 2006 5:04 PM   Subscribe

Even though I'm the admin, my Mac OS 10.3.9 suddenly wants me to authenticate common actions. What the hell happened?

This evening when I turned on my Macintosh and began working, it begin asking for authentication every time I tried to move a new app to the Applications folder or tried to delete a file. Everything else seems to work fine, like it did before.

Anyone know a reason for this strange new behavior?

Mac OS X 10.3.9, G4 Mac, yeah, i'm the admin and sole user account.
posted by Brandon Blatcher to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Sounds like a job for "repair permissions". I know, I know, it's often used as a voodoo incantation to fix anything that goes wrong, but this sounds like the sort of case where it would really apply.
posted by jjg at 5:10 PM on October 12, 2006

Actually, it sounds like something borked a major permission.

This might be fixed via Disk utlities's "Repair Permissions..."

But it could just as easily be something at the system or library level whose permission isn't yours (it probably used to be yours) and now requires authentication every time you make a change/launch an application.

Defintely run Disk Util., repair permissions and check back.
posted by filmgeek at 5:17 PM on October 12, 2006

Failing that, try creating a new user account giving it admin permissions. Log into that account and see if you can replicate the problem. If not, then you know something's borky in your user setup.
posted by runningdogofcapitalism at 6:09 PM on October 12, 2006

Response by poster: Well, I ran repair permissions and attempted to repeat the problem via deleting files or moving a new app into the Application folder. No authentication problems.

How do permissions get messed up anyway?
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:17 PM on October 12, 2006

Response by poster: but this sounds like the sort of case where it would really apply.

Really, why's that? I'm curious...
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:19 PM on October 12, 2006

Really, why's that? I'm curious...

Mac OS X asks for an administrator's password when you try to do something for which you don't have permission. If every minor action triggers the alert, it's likely that permission settings on some crucial file or folder were changed to disallow normal access by the owner. "Repair Permissions" changes the permission settings for certain files (system stuff, library stuff) to what it believes is right & normal for typical use, so it makes sense for this case.
posted by migurski at 6:25 PM on October 12, 2006

Permissions don't "mess up" on their own. Outside a user directly changing the permissions, the most common cause is a badly written software installer. The second most common cause is drive or directory corruption.

Best practice for Mac OS X is to have all your applications owned by the root user and the admin group, with rwxrwxr-x (775) permissions.
posted by pmbuko at 6:34 PM on October 12, 2006

FWIW, you can inspect and edit this stuff using the humble "get info" window. I'd get info on the Applications directory and see what it says—disclose the "details". On my machine (at least) it is "owner: system (read write) /group: admin (read write) / others (read only)"

I agree that this sounds like one instance where running "repair permissions" might help.
posted by adamrice at 8:15 AM on October 13, 2006

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