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Home » Products » Reviews » The Very Ugly

OnyX 1.4.1

Titanium Software (Joel Barriere)
Rating:@

In a word: an emphatic 'no'.

First off, it comes as a DMG full of .DS_Store files nobody wants, only bloating the download. Second, it uses the hideous (and dangerous) Apple Installer. Third, it doesn't tell you where it's going to install (time to break out the excellent Pacifist and put the bastard where you want).

Fourth, it immediately asks for your administrator password (but doesn't say why) and if you don't surrender, it rudely exits.

[The audacity is unparalleled: while we may in theory be certain this particular software author wishes us no harm, how can anyone feel safe in the face of an anonymous program from an anonymous source?

If the author had at least explained why a password is needed - to even look at the application (and it's not), then users might feel more secure. But OnyX offers two buttons only, modally blocking the main application window, the one of which is 'Cancel'. You don't even get to look at the wretched thing without opening your portcullis to the enemy.]

Fifth, it uses the incredibly ugly metal interface, and surpasses anything heretofore seen in pure ugliness, even putting 'metal on metal' with sheets.

That's quite an impressive list of software crimes, but the fun has just begun.

Sixth, the tabs give you fifteen zillion options each, and you can't separate the one function from the other. If you want one, you have to take them all, and if you aren't sure of some, then you can do nothing. If you go ahead anyhow, count on some serious disk crunching as the program wreaks havoc on your Preferences directory.

Seventh, it uses the hopeless Apple help system and offers nothing substantial in the way of teaching you how the program really works.

The opening tab ('OnyX') is fine enough. Nice layout.

For more infos, select Help from the menu...

Ah well, you can't have everything. Lots of cool stats, the machine and model number, processor model and speed, system bus speed, installed RAM, Darwin and OS X versions and revisions, build numbers, the uids and gids, and so forth.

Next tab is 'Finder'. A lot of this stuff is already available in System Preferences, so it's totally redundant and has no place here.

And there are errors already in the documentation for this section, referring to a plist file in /Library/Preferences which doesn't exist (it's in ~/Library/Preferences). And this misnomer occurs in two separate sections of the help file.

Force empty Trash regardless of privileges

This is too rich for words, given that the first thing this program did was shake your administrator's password out of you before consenting to run at all, and given that any maintenance program, written properly with a Unix interface, would have no problem getting at the Trash or anything else on your disk.

And the cool thing about the popups at the top is that although they're supposed to show you what your current selections are, they don't. So again, you really do not know how to proceed.

Preferences: Hidden Files .DS_Store

Huh? What does this mean? You have to read the so-called 'documentation' to find out. And then you wonder: for if the author has this fantastic function to delete all .DS_Store files (which is what he means with his makeshift English), then why doesn't he do it himself before shipping his wretched program?

Dock

'Dock' is next. But wait - what's this? A hidden window? Out of nowhere a 'sheet' pops up (and that's right - sheets are not supposed to pop up).

It's metal, and it's ugly, and it says

Disable the DVD Player Debug menu...

And there's a progress indicator - a barber's pole - and the indicator is STUCK, and the window is just sitting there... BEHIND the main window...

It only comes out when the main program window is active (it's a sheet, so it's a panel, and it's supposed to be like that - but not in this way, for sheets are modal).

But then it's a treat...

So uh, OK - how did a sheet, which is supposed to come out of a window, get stuck hanging off in the middle of nowhere?

This is a good program? Says who?

And did you ever see a barber pole for saving settings? (This is another barber pole now, not the one for the DVD Player fiasco.) This one takes ages. Want to know what takes so long to save to disk? Here it is - complete. All 504 bytes of it. Takes half a minute for this program to write less than one disk sector.

<dict>
    <key>NSDefaultOpenDirectory</key>
    <string>/Library/Logs/CrashReporter</string>
    <key>position</key>
    <array>
        <integer>114</integer>
        <integer>168</integer>
    </array>
    <key>splashScreen</key>
    <integer>1</integer>
    <key>transparency</key>
    <integer>1</integer>
    <key>verbose</key>
    <integer>1</integer>
</dict>

(Note that OnyX had nothing to do - and has nothing to do - with the CrashReporter directory, not now, not ever - it just pulled this out of its ass like so many other things in this fine stellar program.)

Brushed Metal Transparency?

Anyway, back on track with the review of this thrilling product (sigh).

Now suddenly OnyX is showing transparency (doesn't say how much like Terminal, that would be way too advanced to program for this sorry crew) and if you've never seen transparency on metal windows before, you're in for a real treat. Something almost as good as poking yourself with a sharp stick.

We're still at the 'Dock' tab. Turns out we can relaunch this program too.

Woopee. And many - but not quite all - of the settings are already available in System Preferences.

So what are they here for? To fill out the otherwise empty interface? To give substance to something that can't stand on its own?

Redundancy; reinventing the wheel. So we move on.

Next tab: 'Optimize'.

Verify and Repair permissions

Apple themselves refuse to do this on the system disk - and this program is now going to do what Apple advise against?

You can run the daily, weekly, and monthly scripts. (You can also wait for the system to do this at the times the system has already chosen for these tasks. Redundancy; reinventing the wheel again.)

Caches

'Caches':

delete the Virtual Memory files (swapfile)

Huh? HUH? Why? Why risk making the system unstable when you can safely reboot? Anybody can delete the swapfiles - especially if they've already got your password... Thanks but no thanks, amigo.

Removing browser caches seems very thorough, recognising the following browsers: Safari, Internet Explorer, Omniweb, Camino, Netscape, Mozilla, Firebird, Opera, iCab and WamCom. That's thorough! One point.

Clean removes only a few files.

This has got to be the classic in this already classic application. 'Which files are you going to destroy?' 'Uh, only a few.' 'Yeah, but WHICH FILES?' 'Uh, only a few.' This is brain-dead taken beyond its logical conclusion.

'Automate':

Optimize the System

It's getting too much. What the F is this supposed to mean? Back to the egregious so-called 'help' system again.

The launching of this operation is not really necessary, because Mac OS X does it as soon as it's necessary, in the background.

Which about sums up this entire program.

Fishing

Ah. What an ordeal. Not to speak of a cleanup ready to run after this destructive 'cleanup' program has ruined the system.

It would be easier to go inside this monster package's script file (it was written in AppleScript, what else) and just pluck the SECRETS.

Unfortunately, the file is corrupted - deliberately or otherwise - and Apple Script Editor can't handle it.

But Jim Bumgarner's excellent HexEdit can.

Herewith all the 'secrets' of OnyX - which, not surprisingly, are all SIMPLE COMMAND LINES (using the NeXTSTEP 'defaults' program) which will save you megabytes of storage on disk and dollars in your pocket - not for this program, which is free, but for the significant reduction in outlay for headache tablets.

Just click here.

[You can for that matter get the excellent (and free) CLIX which will supplant any and all variations of OnyX, with not a mere 50 but over 1900 (one thousand nine hundred) such 'system tweaks'.]

http://rixstep.com/clix

The direct download is here - and it's only 160 KB.

ftp://rixstep.com/CLIX.tar.bz2

And it's free, and it's 'extensible', meaning you can add to the program yourself.

And most importantly, it doesn't hide things you should rightfully know - it teaches you instead.]

The entire program OnyX can, in other words, be summed up in fifty or so 'defaults' commands which, together, take less than 3 KB on disk - whereas the DMG for OnyX is almost 1,000 times that size.

If the author had simply published a list of the commands as done here - but then you wouldn't have needed the program...

Now that they're published, there's even less chance.

See Also
OnyX 1.4.1: The Wizard Behind the Curtain

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