Scrawls from Preston...

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Mon 01 June 2009

Will iTunes 8.2 lock out the Pre before it arrives?

The iTunes 8.2 update came out today with some curious details that, when you squint hard enough, suggest that Apple is trying to lock out the Palm Pre even before it launches.

John Gruber recently [discussed]( the likely coming battle around Palm's bold claims that it syncs with iTunes just like an iPod or iPhone.

Some details were turned up by the Mac IT community (users of a tool called Radmind, that have to consider how each new file effects plans to manage hundreds to thousands of Macs across an enterprise)

It was observed that the installer creates a new user and group named _usbmuxd

and a new, for now empty, folder at /private/var/db/lockdown

these alone might suggest something about locking down iTunes USB use - but another clue that this might have been added rather late is that the post install script that creates this user sloppily creates the user with a line of script:

$CMD -create $CMDGROUPS/_usbmuxd passwd '*'

This sets the password not to a literal asterisk, but to a shell glob/wildcard listing of /

root# dscl . -read /Users/_usbmuxd

AppleMetaNodeLocation: /Local/Default


NFSHomeDirectory: /var/db/lockdown

Password: Applications Library Network System Users Volumes afs automount bin cores dev etc home mach_kernel mach_kernel.ctfsys net private sbin tmp usr var

Not that this password glitch is not likely a hole in however Apple plans to use this.

I haven't yet tried watching these areas of the filesystem when I connect an Apple device to see if there is any interpretable activity in these areas - but that could certainly yield further clues.


[usbmux]( does in fact relate to iTunes communicating to devices over USB - these changes could also be about throwing more walls up in front of the jailbreakers - or of course these could be completely inconsequential.