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Something Else You Don't Get

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So what else do you get that you don't already have?

Xscan — Search All Your System

Apple's Spotlight is for punters. It's geared towards people who can't understand hierarchical file systems, keep losing things, and panic when they have to find them. And Spotlight neither searches everywhere nor picks up all relevant data when it does search.

[More on the latter part of the above later. Ed.]

There are a lot of areas of your system Spotlight assumes you're not interested in - which is fine if you're only a punter and never wander far from home. But it's certainly nowhere near satisfactory if you're a computer science student and not only want but must get into all nooks and crannies on your system.

But Xscan does get everywhere - Xscan does get into all the nooks and crannies. And it shows you and lets you control it all.

  • Xscan shows you precisely the same file data Xfile shows you. And a little bit more. You get columns for name, size, inode, number of links, owner, group, date/time accessed, date/time iblock changed, date/time modified, mode, and path. you get the additional 'path' column because files can be in different directories.
  • Xscan is integrated with Xfile and the other ACP tools. And with itself. Xscan is what's known as a 'document based application': directories can be dropped both on its own windows and its dock icon to open further Xscan windows and directories listed in Xscan can be directly dropped on Xfile to open new windows at the new locations and so forth.
  • Xscan 'recurses'. Give it a directory to start in and it finds everything from that point on downward - according to the paradigms you've chosen. The above illustration shows what happens when you drop the Unix directory '/usr' on Xscan. You get a listing of all 25,889 files. And in only a few seconds. See immediately below.
  • Xscan is blisteringly fast. The above listing takes but a few seconds on Mac OS X 10.4 'Tiger'. At least for Xscan. Again this is because Xscan like all Rixstep software uses the 'Unix' in the system for data processing.
  • Xscan uses regular expressions. Regular expressions are a chapter unto themselves (and an integral part of computer science) but with even your toes barely wet they'll afford you much more power than other techniques. For example it is possible to not only search for file names containing the character sequence 'foo' but to 'anchor' this sequence at either the beginning or the end of the file name.
  • Xscan lets you anchor characters/expressions anywhere. It's possible to search for file names with characters and expressions anchored anywhere you like. The illustration below shows Xscan finding files with names containing any of the characters given inside the square brackets.
  • Xscan flags resource forks. As Xfile Xscan immediately alerts you to the presence of resource forks in its listings. But Xscan goes further: for it can specifically scan for resource forks and other potential security weaknesses. See below.
  • Xscan scans for security holes. Unix file systems have a number of traditional sensitive points which must be checked continually. To this list must be added the Mac OS X resource fork which is a considerable security risk - all told the list is empty files, empty directories, hard links, resource forks, set group ID files, set user ID files, and world writable files. Xscan lets you scan your entire file system for these weaknesses.
  • Xscan doesn't litter your disk. There are no search indexes such as used by Apple's Spotlight. Meaning not only your system is cleaner but also you always get 100% accurate results. And no more Twilight Zone as your hard drive crunches and sounds like a harvesting machine.

Xscan makes its surveys eminently exportable in so called 'DSV' format - a common Unix database format easily picked up by the ACP tool Xbase or any flat database/spreadsheet utility.

So now you can manage your file system and inspect it and check for anomalies and even security weaknesses - what else is there you don't otherwise get with Mac OS X?

More info...

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