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The Cult's 'Catalina Fix'

There's another fix that may be easier still.

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CITY BY THE BAY (Rixstep) — 'macOS 10.15 Catalina is ruthless about launching unknown apps.'

So writes Charlie Sorrel at Cult of Mac, which, despite its name, has over the years shown quite the healthy scepticism towards many of Cupertino's questionable moves.

The article begins with a photo of what may be a decrepit or bombed-out city building somwhere in Europe, with a big 'do not enter' road sign.

'You can double-click the app, but all you'll see is a warning - and nothing else', writes Charlie.

'There's no option to say you trust the app and launch it despite Catalina's warnings.'

'But you can still launch those apps. It's just that Apple hides the controls in the hope that you'll give up. It's petty, and it shows a lack of respect for you, the user.'

Punch Line

Then Charlie delivers the punch line.

'I'd like to note that this app comes from a developer I trust. It's just that he hasn't gone through Apple's process to get the app blessed. And in return for writing excellent software for the Mac, this developer (or any developer) gets his app slapped with a scary warning.'

This is all very true. The initial diagnostic is indeed misleading, deliberately so, one may easily conclude. And it can't be explained away easily either. This can be an indication that, at Apple of today, management and marketing are more concerned with their shareholders than the people who provide their revenues.

Which essentially means that two random people cannot - ceteris paribus - engage in sharing software without going through considerable hoops and expenses. It's a bizarre situation that the people at the top at One Infinite seem comfortable with.

But Charlie has a solution. (There's always a solution.) And he details it in his article. And that's certainly a solution. But it seems to be oblivious of the obvious.


But there would seem to be a further solution, much closer to home, much easier to implement, a solution that exposes the entire hoax. Something we called 'The Burbank Diet', after the Truman Show antihero.


Given that your downloads will always be to your default downloads directory ~/Downloads, you just keep a Terminal window open and issue this command every time you complete a download.

xattr -crsv ~/Downloads

The entire Gatekeeper / 'quarantine' system seems built and predicated on Apple being able to put 'Post-Its' on your downloads which otherwise would run without a murmur.

These Post-Its are extended attributes, first introduced with 10.4 Tiger as a (welcome) replacement for the whiskered 'Finder info' and 'resource fork'. But, as with most everything, good can be turned to other than the good.

Remove the extended attributes that Apple's gargoyles plaster on everything you acquire online, and there are no more hassles.

But Why?

One may of course ask why Apple would go through such trouble. Is it just to protect you?

No, that's hardly likely, given the propitious choice of a POSIX system to replace their old 'beige' OS to make you adequately secure - as evidenced in their famous 'Mac vs PC' adverts.

For even as the ongoing danger of Microsoft Windows remains indisputable, so does the relative safety of the Mac - way before Catalina.

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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