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launchd: Judge, Jury, Executioner

Volume Number: 21 (2005)
Issue Number: 6
Column Tag: Programming

Mac In The Shell

launchd: Judge, Jury, Executioner

by Edward Marczak

The Changes Apple Has Wrought

Apple, Apple, Apple. Where to start? We've all now heard about different kinds of transitions, and launchd marks a huge one. For a Unix-head that was comfortable with the systems that launchd consumes, I had to ask: why?

Introduction

My wife is an artist. When we were just dating, I bought her a set of markers that she had used before, and wanted for herself. As far as she was concerned, they were perfect: the angles of the nib, the size of the smaller side and the way they stacked up: perfect. She got about a year-and-a-half out of them. Naturally, markers run dry after use, and we needed to replace these markers. We went back to the art supply shop to find that the manufacturer had shipped new markers. Version 2-point-oh, if you will. Well, my wife disliked just about everything about the way these markers had changed. Change for change's sake. Is this the story with launchd?

Investigation

When I got my hands on Tiger during the beta period, I wanted to test how things in my then-current environment would work. I backup my PowerBook every night: a perfect job for cron. After clean-installing Tiger, and moving some data over, I went to go add my nightly backup to cron. What's this? A little note?

# The periodic and atrun jobs have moved to launchd jobs
# See /System/Library/LaunchDaemons

That piqued my interest. I had to follow that trail. Of course, during the beta period, you can't just post to your closest mailing-list asking, "what is this launchd thing?" Over in /System/Library/LaunchDaemons, I found the following file listing:

bootps.plist
com.apple.KernelEventAgent.plist
com.apple.atrun.plist
com.apple.mDNSResponder.plist
com.apple.nibindd.plist
com.apple.periodic-daily.plist
com.apple.periodic-monthly.plist
com.apple.periodic-weekly.plist
com.apple.portmap.plist
com.apple.syslogd.plist
com.apple.xgridagentd.plist
com.apple.xgridcontrollerd.plist
com.vix.cron.plist
comsat.plist
eppc.plist
exec.plist
finger.plist
ftp.plist
login.plist
nmbd.plist
ntalk.plist
org.isc.named.plist
org.postfix.master.plist
org.xinetd.xinetd.plist
printer.plist
shell.plist
smbd.plist
ssh.plist
swat.plist
telnet.plist
tftp.plist

Looks like familiar stuff, but presented in a new way. Is there a man page for this thing? Sure enough, there is. The man page says simply that launchd is the "System wide and per-user daemon/agent manager". A little further down, it hits me: "During boot launchd is invoked by the kernel to run as the first process on the system and to further bootstrap the rest of the system."

Kaboom

Run as the first process? Don't be silly, that's initd's job! Look, I'll just go find initd in my process list and...hmmmm. No initd. OK...breathe slowly.

First cron, and now initd. This launchd thing is ravenous! What else has it taken over? As it turns out, launchd now takes the place of several tried and true systems, namely:

init
Startup Items
inetd/xinetd
watchdog (on OS X Server)
cron
rc (almost)

The rc structure still exists, but there is a note in the (very short) launchd man page, that states, "At some point in the future, we hope to completely phase out the use of rc." Six time-honored, tried-and-true subsystems that get the job done, and are in use on other systems. Again, it makes me ask "why?"

Why

Why take these well-known subsystems and replace them with something unknown and untested? One thing I thought I might find the answer to while at WWDC this year was the reason for the change. Turns out that there was nary a mention of launchd in all of the sessions I attended. There was so much other good content, that I didn't think about it all too much while I was there, but then I got home and looked at all of the non-WWDC e-mail that had accumulated during my trip. I had three requests all looking for more information relating to launchd (though, they just didn't know it yet). While I still don't have the exact answer to "why?", I have been using launchd and it's related programs for various tasks, and it seems to work reasonably well.

Apple's OS X web page (http://www.apple.com/ macosx/features/unix/) makes a mention of launchd thusly:

    "Since Mac OS X rarely requires you to reboot, you'll hardly ever notice it, but Tiger takes less time to start up, thanks to launchd. Launchd provides faster startup through a unified framework for starting, stopping and managing daemons, and incorporates inetd, init, mach_init, System Starter and related services. Administrators have a single mechanism for auditing, configuring and setting resources limits on services."

Well, OK, that explains a little bit...or perhaps even more than a bit. Look at what's happening here. Instead of this (10.3):

$ ps ax
PID  TT  STAT      TIME COMMAND
  1  ??  Ss     0:00.85 /sbin/init 
  2  ??  Ss     5:35.22 /sbin/mach_init
...

Tiger gives us this:

PID  TT  STAT      TIME COMMAND
  1  ??  S<s    0:04.40 /sbin/launchd
...

launchd is now responsible for pretty much everything. All your bases belong to launchd!

P to the L to the I-S-T

When you read the man page for launchd, you may notice under the 'see also' section, that it mentions launchd.plist. If you go looking on your system for launchd.plist, you're not going to find it. They're actually referring to the concept of launchd plists.

For the uninitiated, 'plist' stands for "Property List." Plists provide a standardized way for applications to store data, and then later retrieve this data. You can think of it like a better Windows INI file. However, there are three kinds of plists: old-style ASCII, XML and binary. The ASCII format has been inherited from NeXT, and still supported for legacy reasons. The binary version was introduced with 10.2, but has only really been pushed by Apple in Tiger. launchd stores its plists in XML format. XML plists are plain-text files that can be read by a text editor. Even better is to use an editor that understands plists. Apple's GUI-based Property List editor is one such editor. I also hope to have a curses based (TUI) editor finished by the time this goes to print (life, however, may get in the way of that deadline). So, for now, copy /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/ssh.plist to your desktop or some other out of the way place, and open it with "Property List Editor" (which, under Tiger is in your Applications directory. Panther users need to have the developer tools installed, and will find it under /Developer/Applications/Utilities, however, if you're on Panther, you don't have launchd...but it's a nice exercise. A double-click on the plist should launch Property List Editor also, if installed). Figure 1 illustrates how the hierarchal key/value system is displayed.


Figure 1. Property List Editor displaying sshd.plist

Property lists are able to store several Core Foundation types (CFString, CFNumber, CFBoolean, CFDate, CFData, CFArray, and CFDictionary), and are really aimed at storing values of 100kb or less. You'll notice that all of the types are basically strings and numbers. Also, in addition to simple flat list of key/value pairs, parameters in a plist can be structured hierarchically. So, what are the parameters of a launchd plist, and how do we write our own? Right this way, my friend...

DIY

The first thing to notice from Figure 1 is the 'Label' key. This is a way to uniquely identify a job to launchd. You'll see a little later on why launchd needs to do this. 'Label' can be any value you wish, however, it's easiest to name it something resembling the job, or stick with the domain scheme Apple has adopted (yes, 'adopted', not 'created'). The next thing to do is to specify the program that you want to run. Interestingly (or frustratingly), there are two ways to specify this. One way, like the example in Figure 1, is to use the 'Program' key, and specify the value as the full path to the executable. If the program has any parameters, those can be specified in the 'ProgramArguments' array key. The second way to specify the program to run is to forgo the 'Program' key altogether, and simply use 'ProgramArguments'. Using this method, the first value in the array is taken as the executable, and the remaining array elements are the arguments. Let's make a sample plist. First, we need something to run. How about a script that speaks the current time? Here it is:

~ $ mkdir bin
~ $ cd bin
~/bin $ vi speakdate.sh
#!/bin/bash
say `date "+%H:%M"`
:wq

(note that this is in my home directory, and I'm running as a regular user, not root)

Make sure it's executable:

~/bin $ chmod 750 speakdate.sh

...and test it:

$ ./speakdate.sh

You should hear the current time (in 24-hour 'military' designation) spoken. Now we can create our plist for launchd. I'm going to recommend using Apple's Property List Editor for the simple fact that you'll get all of the DTD tag info right, and the editor will write proper XML without you breaking a sweat. We'll look at it after the editor gets through with it.

Once the editor is up, click on the 'New Root' button. Knock the disclosure triangle down on the newly created root node, and then click on the 'New Child' button three times. Change the key names, classes and values to the following values:

Name: Label
Class: String
Value: speakdate

Name: OnDemand
Class: Boolean
Value: Yes

Name: ProgramArguments
Class: Array

Once again, highlight this array, drop the disclosure triangle and click on the 'New Child' button in the toolbar. Simply change the value of item 0 in this array to be the full path to the script - mine's at /Users/marczak/bin/speakdate.sh and your's will vary based on your user name.

Save this plist as '~/Library/LaunchAgents/speakdate.plist'. The final plist, as seen in Property List Editor is shown in Figure 2. (Please note that like everything else on OS X, you should follow the system hierarchy: per user files go in ~/Library/Launch*, system-wide additions go into /Library/Launch*, and you should never touch /System/* !)


Figure 2: Our plist for launchd, version 1

Just for completeness sake, let's see what the file really looks like:

$ cat speakdate.plist 
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple Computer//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" 
      "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
<plist version="1.0">
<dict>
  <key>Label</key>
  <string>speakdate</string>
  <key>OnDemand</key>
  <true/>
  <key>ProgramArguments</key>
  <array>
      <string>/Users/marczak/bin/speakdate.sh</string>
  </array>
  </dict>
</plist>

Again, we see that by using an editor that understands the plist format, a lot gets filled in for us. Of course, one could do this by hand, but you risk more errors that way.

How do we control this launchd thing? By using a CLI utility named 'launchdctl'. launchdctl can do many things, but for now, let's look at loading a plist into its environment. To load speakdate, issue the following command:

launchctl load -w /Users/marczak/Library/LaunchAgents/speakdate.plist

The 'load' verb instructs launchctl to tell launchd to add the plist to its list of jobs. The '-w' flag removes the disabled flag from the plist, and updates the plist itself. We can see that it has been added to our per user list by using launchctl with the 'list' verb:

$ launchctl list
speakdate

It's really beautiful that launchd operates on a per user basis. It wouldn't surprise me if we see launchd taking over user login items in the future. Now, on to the magic - making it run! The 'start' verb tells launchctl to have launchd start a job. The second parameter is the label you gave the job in the plist. It's as easy as:

$ launchctl start speakdate

In a second or two, your Mac should speak the current time (make sure your volume is up!). All in all, that was pretty lame, right? For all that work, you could manually run the script and have your Mac speak the time. Faithful readers of this column know that I'm all about automation, so let's get to it. First, we'll unload the plist:

launchctl unload -w /Users/marczak/Library/LaunchAgents/speakdate.plist

The 'unload' verb does what you expect. Like the 'load' verb, there's a '-w' flag. This time, it marks the plist as disabled, and writes that flag into the plist. Before we run Property List Editor, we need a test folder for this example. Create /Users/Shared/watch. Now bring up Property List Editor and open up our plist (use the handy 'File->Open Recent' menu for quick access. See? Sometimes it's the little things that count!).

Tilt down the disclosure triangle on 'Root', then click the 'New Child' button. Name the key 'WatchPaths', make it an array, and then click 'New Child'. Change the value for item 0 to '/Users/Shared/watch'. Save it, load it, and invoke it:

$ launchctl unload /Users/marczak/Library/LaunchAgents/speakdate.plist 
$ launchctl load -w /Users/marczak/Library/LaunchAgents/speakdate.plist 
$ touch /Users/Shared/watch/temp1

Tell me you don't think that's pretty cool! Really, go on. Have fun and do that again:

$ touch /Users/Shared/watch/temp2

The value for "WatchPaths" can also be brought down to the file level (watching a particular file). Another way to watch an entire directory is with the use of the "QueueDirectories". It differs from "WatchPaths" by running the program until the queue is cleared. I'll illustrate this with our example, once again. Unload speakdate, first. Load up the plist into Property Editor. Change the "WatchPaths" key name to "QueueDirectories". Save, quit and load it with launchctl. You'll notice that...uh...hello? You can stop now. Really. Please, stop telling me the time. I'm begging you! The quick and easy way to keep the script loaded, but make it idle is to clear the queue directory:

$ rm /Users/Shared/watch/* 

Ahhhh, peace and quiet. "QueueDirectories" is a great way to have a script process items that come into a directory and need to be dealt with. Of course, you'll need to move or remove them once you've processed them.

Just like cron! Kinda...

As mentioned, in Tiger, launchd has taken the place of cron...mostly. cron does still exist and will run jobs that you put in the various crontab files (thankfully - see "Utopia, it's not", below). If you want to do it the launchd way, there are two separate keys that will help. "StartInterval" takes a numeric value ("n"), in seconds, and causes the job to fire every n seconds. This one's simple. So simple, that I even want to introduce an additional key: "RunAtLoad". "RunAtLoad" takes a boolean that determines if the program runs once when loaded, or not. Just so this does what you expect, we'll use it in our example. Do the 'launchctl unload' and edit dance once again. Delete the "QueueDirectories" node. Add a new Boolean key called "RunAtLoad" and make sure its value is 'yes'. Add another key, this time numeric, called "StartInterval". Make the value 10. Save it, and go load it. You should immediately hear the time spoken, and then every ten seconds after. StartInterval: says what it does, does what it says. Unload it when you've heard enough.

According to the man page, the "StartCalendarInterval" key is supposed to cause "the job to be started every calendar interval as specified. Missing arguments are considered to be wildcard. The semantics are much like crontab". Well, it's supposed to - please see "Utopia, it's not," below. Let's run our example again. Edit the plist once again.

Delete the "StartInterval" key, and create a new one named "StartCalendarInterval". Make its class a dictionary, and then add two children. Each child should be a number. Name the first child key 'Hour' and the second 'Minute'. 'Hour' is the hour number, from 0 to 23, and minute is the minute, from 0 though 59. Just so you can hear this job run, choose something in about 5 minutes from the current time. I want my list to run at 8:30pm, as you can see in figure 3.


Figure 3. Our sample plist, now using <StartCalendarInterval>

Save the new version, and then use launchctl to load it up. When the clock strikes the appropriate hour and minute, the script will run and you'll hear the time spoken. Any values that are left out, are considered cron-like wildcards. In our case, this script is intended to run at 8:30pm every day, of every month.

Didn't you mention xinetd?

Yes, launchd also takes over for xinetd, and there's a whole host of ways that it stays compatible. The interesting thing is the way launchd handles this. In Apple's quest to speed up boot times, launchd basically fakes the fact that there's a bunch of programs to start, and it doesn't really start any of the ones that would traditionally be started. It does read the plists and figure out which ports to reserve and listen to.

Since you've probably had enough editing of plists for now, let's look at two services that Apple had been running through xinetd, and how they made the transition to launchd. The first of those being sshd (which, on other platforms I've dealt with, usually runs standalone), and the second, ftpd.

We saw the plist for sshd back in figure 1, and there's a lot going on in there! Try looking at the file itself:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple Computer//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" 
      "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
<plist version="1.0">
<dict>
        <key>Label</key>
        <string>com.openssh.sshd</string>
        <key>Program</key>
        <string>/usr/libexec/sshd-keygen-wrapper</string>
        <key>ProgramArguments</key>
        <array>
                <string>/usr/sbin/sshd</string>
                <string>-i</string>
        </array>
        <key>SessionCreate</key>
        <true/>
        <key>Sockets</key>
        <dict>
                <key>Listeners</key>
                <dict>
                        <key>Bonjour</key>
                        <array>
                                <string>ssh</string>
                                <string>sftp-ssh</string>
                        </array>
                        <key>SockServiceName</key>
                        <string>ssh</string>
                </dict>
        </dict>
        <key>StandardErrorPath</key>
        <string>/dev/null</string>
        <key>inetdCompatibility</key>
        <dict>
                <key>Wait</key>
                <false/>
        </dict>
</dict>
</plist>

You've already seen 'Label', 'Program' and 'ProgramArguments'. Here's the goodies: "SessionCreate", "Sockets" and "inetdCompatibility".

"inetdCompatibility" is really the thrust of this whole thing, so I'll start there. This tells launchd that this program thinks that it's being run though inetd/xinetd. The 'wait' subkey is the analog of xinet's wait parameter. Basically, we need to know if this program is single or multi-threaded. If it's single-threaded, you want to set 'Wait' to true. This way, launchd runs the program, and then stops answering for it. If set to 'false', launchd will continue to accept connections for the program, and spawn new copies as needed. Somewhat undocumented is the fact that a separate program, 'launchproxy', handles programs that need inetd compatibility. 'launchproxy' has a short little man page, but isn't mentioned in launchd's other man pages.

"SessionCreate" is also mostly undocumented. Undocumented as far as the man page, Apple Developer docs and that little thing called Google. Of course, there's always the source. Defining this key reaches into Apple's security framework and creates a security session for the launched program. Now, this only works if "inetdCompatibility" is not configured to wait.

"Sockets" is an optional key that tells launchd to use on demand sockets to trigger the job. The job can check-in and get a copy of the file descriptors in use. There are several sub-keys that go along with "Sockets", such as:

Listeners/SockServiceName - Important one: determines the service that the program 'bind's or 'connect's to, based on /etc/services. (This can get a little frustrating. For example, if you want to run ssh on an alternate port, you need to add it in /etc/services, and then tell the plist that the "SockServiceName" should bind to that alternate name. Goofy).

Listeners/Bonjour - This is an incredibly easy way to register the service with the mDNSResponder. Brilliant.

Quick example: on a server, look at the process list before anyone tries to access it over ssh:

# ps ax | grep ssh
15922  p1   S+    0:00.01 grep ssh

No permanent sshd is running. Once someone gets in via ssh:

# ps ax | grep [s]sh
15939  ??  S      0:00.11 /usr/sbin/sshd -i

launchd is doing its job. As promised, here's ftp's launchd.plist:

# cat /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/ftp.plist 
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple Computer//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" 
      "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
<plist version="1.0">
<dict>
        <key>Disabled</key>
        <true/>
        <key>Label</key>
        <string>com.apple.xftpd</string>
        <key>Program</key>
        <string>/usr/libexec/xftpd</string>
        <key>ProgramArguments</key>
        <array>
                <string>xftpd</string>
                <string>-a</string>
        </array>
        <key>Sockets</key>
        <dict>
                <key>Listeners</key>
                <dict>
                        <key>SockPassive</key>
                        <true/>
                        <key>SockServiceName</key>
                        <string>ftp</string>
                        <key>SockType</key>
                        <string>SOCK_STREAM</string>
                </dict>
        </dict>
        <key>inetdCompatibility</key>
        <dict>
                <key>Wait</key>
                <false/>
        </dict>
</dict>
</plist>

The key differences from sshd's plist are the keys "SockPassive" and "SockType":

SockPassive - Is this a 'listen' socket, or connect? Default/true is 'listen'.

SockType - what kind of socket to create (stream - the default, dgram and seqpacket).

Again, these are part of the "Sockets" key.

Avertissement !

There are certain ways that launchd expects a daemon to behave. Specifically (and this is right from the man page):

    A daemon or agent launched by launchd MUST NOT do the following in the process directly launched by launchd:

               -   fork(2) and have the parent process exit(3) or _exit(2).
               -   Call daemon(3)
    
         A daemon or agent launched by launchd SHOULD NOT do the following as a part 
         of their startup initialization:
    
               -   Setup the user ID or group ID.
               -   Setup the working directory.
               -   chroot(2)
               -   setsid(2)
               -   Close "stray" file descriptors.
               -   Change stdio(3) to /dev/null.
               -   Setup resource limits with setrusage(2).
               -   Setup priority with setpriority(2).
               -   Ignore the SIGTERM signal.
    
         A daemon or agent launched by launchd SHOULD:
    
               -   Launch on demand given criteria specified in the XML property
                   list.  More information can be found in launch(3).
               -   Catch the SIGTERM signal.

Those are some pretty important guidelines. Mind them as you're writing your scripts!

Utopia, it's not

While launchd has a lot of great features, it can still be a little rough around the edges, somewhat typical of a 1-dot-oh release. In particular:

Sometimes, nothing happens. I've had problems with launchd that, after loading a plist, I can't get the job to start. However, after a reboot, the same plist runs just fine. Can't explain that one just yet.

Sometimes, something happens, just not what I expect. Again, a reboot seems to fix it. Case in point: while testing the plist for this article, I wrote the sample and loaded it. I could start it just fine. But asking for a list gave me:

com.apple.launchd.firstborn: execve(): No such file or directory

...and then launchctl needed to be killed to get my prompt back. After a reboot, the same, untouched plist loaded and listed just fine.

It's the intended replacement for cron, however, there are two problems:

It doesn't fully encompass everything cron can do. Such as run a command in a limited scope, such as every 3 hours, Monday though Friday, only between 8am and 8pm ("0 8-20/3 * * 1-5 root /path/to/program", for example.)

<StartCalendarInterval> doesn't work! Well, it does...once. After which, it never fires again. Not fixed in 10.4.1. (hopefully, 10.4.2 nails this issue down).

No graceful way to unload a daemon. Now, some hard-core Unix folks will yell at me about this one. That's just how some Unicies work. OS X has SystemStarter to deal with this, and it's still in place. I imagine that launchd will someday overtake this system as well. However, if you have services that need to be started or stopped a very specific way, you may find that writing a StartupItem is, for now, the way to go.

The workarounds for now seem to be the use of the 'old' systems: cron and SystemStarter. If you need some very specific way to shut down a process (fmserver users, I'm looking in your direction), make it a StartupItem. I have OpenBase running on some Tiger systems this way. Works just fine.

As for StartCalendarInterval, well, just use cron. You can simply copy over any crontab entries you had been using on Panther, or create new entries, and put them in the appropriate place. Apple was kind enough to make sure that launchd calls cron to run any jobs that it should. Of course, you can use launchd to unload and re-load cron:

# launchctl unload /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.vix.cron.plist
# launchctl load /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.vix.cron.plist

cron also remains the more flexible of the two in terms of scheduling flexibility. That's life on the edge, I suppose.

What about watchdog?

Yes, I did mention that launchd replaces watchdog. This takes place thanks to the "OnDemand" key. When this Boolean key is set to 'false', launchd watches the process and restarts it if necessary. Try this plist:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple Computer//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" 
      "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
<plist version="1.0">
<dict>
        <key>Label</key>
        <string>iCalForever</string>
        <key>OnDemand</key>
        <false/>
        <key>ProgramArguments</key>
        <array>
                <string>/Applications/iCal.app/Contents/MacOS/iCal</string>
        </array>
</dict>
</plist>

Load it into launchd:

$ launchctl load /Users/marczak/Library/LaunchAgents/icalforever.plist

There's iCal! Now, try to quit it. Back it comes!...and again tell it to quit...there it is again! Unload the job to rid yourself of iCal for a bit:

$ launchctl unload /Users/marczak/Library/LaunchAgents/icalforever.plist

If you really were quitting it quickly, and you still had your terminal visible, you'll notice a series of messages:

launchd[1447]: iCalForever: exited: Terminated
launchd[1447]: iCalForever: respawning too quickly! throttling
launchd[1447]: iCalForever: 9 more failures without living at least 60 seconds will 
               cause job removal
launchd[1447]: iCalForever: will restart in 10 seconds

This is really nice protection against some job going bonkers and taking down your system.

Conclusion

So, is launchd really like my wife's situation with her illustration markers? Is it really just change for change's sake? In this case, the answer is no. Just as the Unix world went through the transition from stand-alone daemons to inetd, and ultimately xinetd, we're ready for launchd. The real question is if launchd is ready for us. Fortunately, cron and xinetd are still in place and are called by launchd. cron continues to do the right (and more flexible) thing, so use it if you need to. Launchd is extremely version one-dot-oh, but I expect that it will come up to speed very quickly. All in all, launchd has the right motivation: a unified way of launching and managing daemons, no matter which stage of system operation they're run at.

I think that most people's gripe with launchd is simply the scarcity of documentation. The Tiger server docs briefly mention launchd, and even in those cases refer you to the man page. Actually, that's something that even I haven't done yet! If you do want to dig into launchd, you should read the man pages. While you will still be left with some questions, it does get you going.

The "Utopia it's not" section above lists a few workarounds to launchd's bugs. Even in the source code, there's a TODO list. One of the items on the list? "cron". Another? "Documentation". Indeed.

I was just about to package this month's column up, and get it in for print when I was made aware of a plist editor specifically for launchd items. I haven't used it, so I can't vouch for it, but it looks nice. It's called (amazingly), "Launchd Editor", and can be found at <http://www.codepoetry.net/products/launchdeditor>. Worth a mention.

Dig in and experiment with launchd - it's probably the best way to learn its many ins and outs. I'll certainly be following the development of launchd pretty closely, and will be updating you as I know more.


Ed Marczak, owns and operates Radiotope, a technology consulting company that tries its hardest to avoid bad puns regarding launchd, such as 'time for launch' or '3, 2, 1, launch!'. Get launched at http://www.radiotope.com

 

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RetroArch is most popularly known for being a program with which you can play many emulators and games, which have all been customized and tailor-ported to the libretro API. It is designed to be fast... Read more
NetNewsWire 5.0.4 - RSS and Atom news re...
NetNewsWire is the best way to keep up with the sites and authors you read most regularly. Let NetNewsWire pull down the latest articles, and read them in a distraction-free and Mac-like way. Native... Read more
EarthDesk 7.4.5 - $24.99
EarthDesk replaces your static desktop picture with a rendered image of Earth showing correct sun, moon, and city illumination. With an Internet connection, EarthDesk displays near-real-time global... Read more
BetterTouchTool 3.401 - Customize multi-...
BetterTouchTool adds many new, fully customizable gestures to the Magic Mouse, Multi-Touch MacBook trackpad, and Magic Trackpad. These gestures are customizable: Magic Mouse: Pinch in / out (zoom)... Read more
Vienna 3.5.6 :e12c952d: - RSS and Atom n...
Vienna is a freeware and Open-Source RSS/Atom newsreader with article storage and management via a SQLite database, written in Objective-C and Cocoa, for the OS X operating system. It provides... Read more
WhatsApp 2.2031.5 - Desktop client for W...
WhatsApp is the desktop client for WhatsApp Messenger, a cross-platform mobile messaging app which allows you to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS. WhatsApp Messenger is available for... Read more
Day One 4.16 - Maintain a daily journal.
Day One is an easy, great-looking way to use a journal / diary / text-logging application. Day One is well designed and extremely focused to encourage you to write more through quick Menu Bar entry,... Read more
VMware Fusion 11.5.6 - Run Windows apps...
VMware Fusion and Fusion Pro - virtualization software for running Windows, Linux, and other systems on a Mac without rebooting. The latest version includes full support for Windows 10, macOS Mojave... Read more
Alfred 4.1 - Quick launcher for apps and...
Alfred is an award-winning productivity application for OS X. Alfred saves you time when you search for files online or on your Mac. Be more productive with hotkeys, keywords, and file actions at... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

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Motorball is a car football game from No...
A few years back Noodlecake Studios announced that they would be dipping in the multiplayer gaming realm with two different games. The first of those, Golf Blitz, released a while back and has proven to be very popular. Now, the second has arrived... | Read more »
SINoALICE's latest update introduce...
SINoALICE's latest update has now arrived, adding several fan-favourite characters from popular RPG series NieR. Young Nier, Kaine, and Young Emil are available in-game as part of a limited-time crossover event set to run until August 20th. [Read... | Read more »
Rocat Jumpurr is an intense roguelite pl...
Rocat Jumpurr is a roguelite platformer from developer Mousetrap Games. You might already be familiar with it if you follow the Big Indie Pitch, where it won first place during this year's Pocket Gamer Connects London competition. Following its... | Read more »
PUBG Mobile's Play As One campaign...
Back in mid-July, we reported that PUGB Mobile had teamed up with Direct Relief to help raise money for the charity's COVID-19 response project. It focused on an in-game running challenge for players, which lead to the PUBG Mobile donating $2... | Read more »
Marvel Contest of Champions' latest...
Marvel Contest of Champions' latest motion comic has arrived, and it shows off new fighters Air-Walker and Dragon Man. Both characters are set to arrive in-game this month. [Read more] | Read more »
Clash Royale: The Road to Legendary Aren...
Supercell recently celebrated its 10th anniversary and their best title, Clash Royale, is as good as it's ever been. Even for lapsed players, returning to the game is as easy as can be. If you want to join us in picking the game back up, we've put... | Read more »
Global Spy is an intriguing 2D spy sim f...
Developer Yuyosoft Innovations' Global Spy launched last month for iOS and Android, though if you missed it at the time, we're here to tell you why it's well worth a go. This one's all about international espionage, tracking down elusive spies,... | Read more »
Distract Yourself With These Great Mobil...
There’s a lot going on right now, and I don’t really feel like trying to write some kind of pithy intro for it. All I’ll say is lots of people have been coming together and helping each other in small ways, and I’m choosing to focus on that as I... | Read more »
Hyena Squad is sci-fi turn-based strateg...
Wave Light Games has just revealed its latest release, Hyena Squad, a turn-based RPG set in a space station infested by gross aliens and the living dead. The announcement was first reported on by Touch Arcade. [Read more] | Read more »
Idle Guardians: Never Die is a pixel art...
SuperPlanet has been fairly prolific with game releases so far this year with both Evil Hunter Tycoon and Lucid Adventure releasing earlier this year. Now, they've released another idle RPG called Idle Guardians: Never Die, which you can download... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Sale! Apple’s 16″ MacBook Pros for up to $349...
Apple Authorized Reseller Adorama has new 2019 16″ MacBook Pros in stock on sale today for $100-$349 off Apple’s MSRP, each including free shipping. Their prices for 8-core models ($349 off) are the... Read more
Save hundreds of dollars on a custom-configur...
Save up to $920 on a custom-configured 16″ MacBook Pro with these Certified Refurbished models that Apple has restocked today. Each MacBook Pro features a new outer case, free shipping, and includes... Read more
New 2020 12.9″ iPad Pros on sale for up to $8...
Apple reseller Expercom has new 2020 Apple 12.9″ iPad Pros on sale today for $60-$85 off MSRP, with prices starting at $939. These are the same iPad Pros sold by Apple in their retail and online... Read more
Woot offers numerous 2018-2020 MacBook Pros a...
Amazon-owned Woot has many open-box return MacBook Airs and MacBook Pros available today at prices starting at $879. Shipping is free for Prime members. Here’s what they have as of this post, and... Read more
Apple restocks refurbished 2020 13″ MacBook A...
Apple has restocked Certified Refurbished 2020 13″ MacBook Airs starting at only $849 and up to $200 off the cost of new Airs. Each MacBook features a new outer case, comes with a standard Apple one-... Read more
Apple restocks clearance 2019 13″ 2.4GHz MacB...
Apple has restocked Certified Refurbished 2019 13″ 2.4GHz 4-Core Touch Bar MacBook Pros starting at $1359 and up to $560 off original MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is included, shipping is free,... Read more
Apple restocks refurbished iPhone XR models s...
Apple has restocked Certified Refurbished, unlocked, iPhone XR models in the refurbished section of their online store starting at $539. Each iPhone comes with Apple’s standard one-year warranty,... Read more
Price drops! $100-$200 off clearance 27″ 5K i...
B&H Photo has dropped prices on clearance, previous-generation 27″ 5K iMacs by up to $200 off Apple’s original MSRP: – 27″ 3.0GHz 6-Core 5K iMac: $1699 $100 off original MSRP – 27″ 3.1GHz 6-Core... Read more
Woot offers Apple Watch and iPhone models fro...
Amazon-owned Woot has refurbished Apple Watch and iPhone models available from $99-$749 through August 6th. According to Woot, the items may show some wear, but they have all been fully tested and... Read more
Apple’s Phil Schiller Steps Down As SVP OF Wo...
NEWS: 08.05.20 – Former Apple senior Vice President of worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller, is stepping down from his long time role at the company in order to focus on spending more time with family... Read more

Jobs Board

Cub Foods - *Apple* Valley - Now Hiring Par...
Cub Foods - Apple Valley - Now Hiring Part Time! United States of America, Minnesota, Apple Valley New Retail Post Date 5 days ago Requisition # 122305 Sign Up Read more
Blue *Apple* Cafe Student Worker - Fall - P...
…to enhance your work experience. Student positions are available at the Blue Apple Cafe. Employee meal discount during working hours is provided. Duties include food Read more
Cub Foods - *Apple* Valley - Now Hiring Par...
Cub Foods - Apple Valley - Now Hiring Part Time! United States of America, Minnesota, Apple Valley New Retail Post Date 4 days ago Requisition # 122305 Sign Up Read more
Cub Foods - *Apple* Valley - Now Hiring Par...
Cub Foods - Apple Valley - Now Hiring Part Time! United States of America, Minnesota, Apple Valley New Retail Post Date 3 days ago Requisition # 122305 Sign Up Read more
Executive Team Leader GM Sales (Assistant Man...
…(Assistant Manager General Merchandise and Operations) - Apple Valley, CaliforniaApply NowJob ID:R0000082364job family:Store Managementschedule:Full Read more
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