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18 + One

What do they use? A look through eighteen ACP updates this past week, and a bit of a detour.

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KNIGHTSBRIDGE (Rixstep) — No fewer than eighteen (18) ACP applications were given a cosmetic makeover this past week, and, in the process of reviewing these makeovers, a number of seemingly unrelated questions surfaced.

ACP users received two updates in five days. So did Xfile users, who, in addition, got two brand new applications.

√ ACL. ACL is the ACP access control manager.

Below is ACL perusing /private/var/db and singling out an item with an access control list.

The directory reportmemoryexception has an allow access control entry, so it can be entered ('Execute') by users belonging to the right group.

Access control entries normally supersede ordinary file permissions and flags. The way this works is as follows.

√ The type of entry is either 'allow' or 'deny'. The entry applies to either a user or a group.
√ The group 'everyone' is very common. In this case, the group _nsurlsessiond is specified.
√ The filesystem first determines the user, group, and request being made for a user or group.
√ Perusal of the access control list stops as soon as the system knows it should allow or deny.

(The access control entry (ACE) is reinforced by the mode 0750. No access for 'other' is granted.)

√ Chex. Chex stands for 'change extension'. This is a utility that changes file extensions. As seen below, Chex is about to change the extension of four PLIST files to 'strings'. (Parsing courtesy the Foundation framework.)

√ Classes. A diagnostic tool for developers. Reveals internal information about NeXTSTEP (macOS) classes.

√ GD. Gunga Din. The app that keeps guard for you.

Displayed are the connecting protocol, the local and remote addresses, the transmission queues, and the overall status of each connection. The list is updated in realtime. (GD also keeps a history of all your connections.)

√ GDE. The 'get dir entries' mini file manager. Akin to 'Red Pill' Xfile. For things not seen by even low-level utilities.

√ Lightman. Named after Matthew Broderick's character in 'War Games'. Here displaying protocols, ports, and RPC servers.

√ macTag. And it only works on a Mac. A system for cataloging your files (not just media files) that works hand in hand with the default Mac setup. Stores a lot of information - pull away the columns you don't need, kick back and relax. Apple finally admitted of the same thing, but they didn't follow through, so macTag did instead.

Here's how you manage your tags. Type them in, add them. (Or use drag-and-drop.)

√ Rixcomp. Hailed by Phrack Magazine as the premier hacker tool. Compares files, directories, anything. Reports on devices, file sizes, inodes. And enumerates diffs when appropriate. Results exportable. Pull up to full height. Start comparisons at any offset.

√ RxDefaults. All ACP applications (Xfile applications are a subset) inherit a unique proprietary mechanism for managing application behaviour. RxDefaults manages the settings.

You can dump the settings. (PlistEdit can also be invoked.)

√ SPX. For shredding files perfectly. (You shred disks perfectly too.)

√ TMI. Too much information can at times be too much, but having it all spelled out in plain language (English) can help in understanding the 'simple' Unix world of file ownerships and permissions.

√ Xfile. The hub. The file manager, the app launcher, the everything. Keep the columns you want. Add another if you want. Data for items with 'peculiar' properties is flagged and displayed in an 'off-colour' to bring it to your attention.

This is where it all comes together. Also the sponsor of the system's unsurpassable 'super file info' facility.

√ Xfind. For searching in files. For searching case-sensitive - or not. For finding files that have what you're looking for - or not. For computing aggregates in file sizes, allocation blocks, extended attributes. For recursive searches. All is exportable.

√ Xscan. Uses filename regular expressions and Hacking Exposed filters to find your system's weak points.

√ Xstrings. Searches in files (and in their extended attribute streams) for telltale strings.


And, in the midst of all this high-brow, high-power, surveillance, suddenly the question:

What do the Apples do?

Because some of them, but clearly not all, both inside and outside One Infinite, use these same tools.

What can the others accomplish with their brand-name, factory-default, tools?

Their 'factory-default' tool is Finder.

Other than that, all they have is Terminal.

Do they really, after all these years and scrapes with Microsoft, go back to a command line they famously eliminated?

This isn't even about how Finder bugs and limitations continually irk and upset users - what do they use in Cupertino?

Do they use the command line? Anno 2019?

Do they have their own toolset? Did they write it? Did they buy it?

Their Finder still can't get into places on its own filesystem.

And you can't do anything when you get there anyway.


Resuscitating old bones of course means retiring them again and sanitising afterwards.

For all those twenty-six millions of bytes, it still couldn't take care of the most rudimentary of tasks...

So what do they use in Cupertino? Terminal?


Several of the '18' were not included here. Such as Xrename and XX which both turned out great.

As per an excellent client suggestion, Tracker will undergo a further makeover to make it even more customisable.

'Show them the hardware and their eyes go moist. Show them the Finder and they walk away.'

About Rixstep

Stockholm/London-based Rixstep are a constellation of programmers and support staff from Radsoft Laboratories who tired of Windows vulnerabilities, Linux driver issues, and cursing x86 hardware all day long. Rixstep have many years of experience behind their efforts, with teaching and consulting credentials from the likes of British Aerospace, General Electric, Lockheed Martin, Lloyds TSB, SAAB Defence Systems, British Broadcasting Corporation, Barclays Bank, IBM, Microsoft, and Sony/Ericsson.

Rixstep and Radsoft products are or have been in use by Sweden's Royal Mail, Sony/Ericsson, the US Department of Defense, the offices of the US Supreme Court, the Government of Western Australia, the German Federal Police, Verizon Wireless, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Microsoft Corporation, the New York Times, Apple Inc, Oxford University, and hundreds of research institutes around the globe. See here.

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Media Contact
ACP/Xfile licences
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