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Multiple user problems
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Mac Enthusiast
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: Somerville,MA; USA
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Nov 20, 1999, 12:21 PM
I have configured two users in Mac OS 9. I'm having a problem with basic things not working like a multiple users interface should work.

For instance...the desktop picture on my account will come up properly if I log into my account first. I log out and go into the other person's account their desktop picture shows up. Everything is working normally up til now. Then I log out of their account and back into mine. Well that's when the desktop picture remains as the other users not mine. Along with that a lot of the control panel configurations persevere as well. For instance. I had the thing configured where if you double click on the title bar the window collapses. The other user did not. When I went back into my account after going into theirs that particular setting persisted along with the desktop picture.

Is anyone else having these problems? I'm on an iMac DV/SE.
Mac Elite
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Nov 22, 1999, 01:28 PM
Not exactly, but I have experienced problems also. With two users (me and a limited acct), when I went to type my password, the backspace key would delete the whole line and not just one character. When I hit reurn after typing my password, the screen would "jiggle", the password field would go blank and the dialog box would just sit there. I had to disable the mutiple user option. I don't know what's up. I also have a iMac DV/SE. I liked 8.6 better than 9.
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Nov 22, 1999, 09:45 PM
MAlan: I've had similar problems. The way I see it, the Multiple Users thing is just a "hack". Different programs expect files to be in specific locations, and when Multiple Users is activated, those files might get moved around. It seems even some portions of the MacOS are not Multiple Users aware.

deedar: The system is supposed to delete the whole password line when you hit backspace. And the dialog box jiggles because you have entered an invalid password.

Dedicated MacNNer
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Dec 10, 1999, 01:35 PM
Hi all:

The multiple-user feature is amazingly well-behaved for me, but then again I'm not running on new hardware (I have an older beige G3/266/128MB). I also have a relatively simple configuration with just four User accounts (three Normal, one Limited).

There are some tips & tricks for multiple-user setups posted in this Forum as well as other websites' Forums -- e.g., see Multi user environment and Multiple users & Appearance/Res settings in the MacFixit Forums.

Here're a few other things to try regarding the "mixed preferences" problem...
  • Double check that there are separate copies of all Appearance-related preference files in each user's personal Preferences folder. These should include at least 'Custom Desktop Patterns', 'Desktop Pictures Prefs' and 'Mac OS Preferences'. (Just for testing purposes, it might be easiest to temporarily backup a user's personal Preferences folder, and then copy all of the Owner's preference files into the user's personal Preferences folder.)
  • If you’re running with a non-Base extensions set, check whether the problem occurs even with just the "Mac OS 9.0 Base" extensions set.
  • If you currently have Virtual Memory turned on, check whether the problem occurs with VM off (remember to reboot for the change to take effect).
  • As a last resort, you can temporarily “reset” your multiple-user setup as follows:- log in as the Owner and move the 'Multi-User Items' folder and the 'Multi-User Prefs' file out of the Owner's Preferences folder (in the main System Folder) to the desktop; then, reboot. (This will automatically turn off Multiple Users, so you won’t even need to log in. But don’t worry, all existing users' personal folders will still remain intact in '<HD>:Users:'.) Now, turn back on Multiple Users, create a test user with a name different from any of the original users (to avoid overwriting some user's personal folder), and re-test the Logout/Login sequences to see whether the problem goes away. If still no luck, try trashing the 'User Prefs' file from the test user’s personal Preferences folder. If *still* no luck, then restore your original setup as follows:- reboot with extensions off, move the two saved 'Multi-User' pref items back into the main Preferences folder (replacing the test versions); then, reboot again. At least you'll be no worse off than before. ;-)

I'll also try to recall if there are any other significant checkpoints.

Good luck.

[This message has been edited by Paul Crawford (edited 12-10-1999).]
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Dec 18, 1999, 11:28 PM
Hi again:

I just remembered one more thing... If you haven't been saving each user's Appearance settings as a separate *named* theme, try doing that (via the 'Save Theme...' button on the 'Themes' tab, or the equivalent command in the File menu). As you know, although individual appearance settings are supposed to be stored separately in each user's own personal 'Mac OS Preferences' file, a custom theme can also encapsulate those settings as a group. For better or worse, custom themes are global; this can be a problem with unnamed custom themes.

Recall that any modified appearance settings automatically become part of a generic unnamed 'Custom Theme'. Apparently, there is only one global file to store custom themes (whether named or unnamed) -- viz., the 'Custom Themes' file (in '<HD>:<System Folder>:Appearance:Theme Files:'). So, if all users are implicitly referencing an unnamed 'Custom Theme', the system can easily become confused.

Unfortunately, named custom themes have problems of their own. E.g., whenever you change any settings in a named theme, the system automatically activates a new generic 'Custom Theme', so you must remember to re-save this new 'Custom Theme' under whatever name you had before.
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Jan 19, 2001, 02:48 PM
Hi again:

Sorry, I'd all but forgotten about this ancient thread until someone e-mailed me recently about it. Since my last post, there have been quite a few updates from Apple, including Mac OS 9.0.4, Multiple Users (MU) 1.2.x, MU 1.3, and Mac OS 9.1 (MU 1.3.1). Some of the info & speculations mentioned in my previous posts are no longer applicable to the newer versions of MU.

In particular, in MU 1.3, it seems that a user's having an unnamed custom theme is not really an issue. The global 'Custom Themes' file (in the '<HD>:<System Folder>:Appearance:Theme Files:' subfolder) stores only *named* custom themes. Unnamed custom themes are not stored at all, and there is therefore no possibility of them overwriting each other. (Actually, this might also have been true in earlier MU versions, despite what I'd claimed in my post of '12-18-1999 10:28 PM'.) Instead, an unnamed custom theme's settings are simply stored into the appropriate user's Mac OS Prefs (MOP) and Desktop Pictures Prefs (DPP) prefs-files as usual, just as is done when a named theme is selected.

In any event, there are still two main problems with MU 1.3.x for many people, especially for non-Owner users -- viz. the increasing tendency to lose Appearance settings, and the stubbornly "shy" behaviour of the Control Strip (CS). I'll try to summarise the workarounds for each problem below.

1) "Disappearing" Appearance settings:-
Some folks have recommended "downgrading" to the earliest MU version that's compatible with your system. However, this is probably not a suitable option for people who really need the fixes provided by the later MU versions (e.g., the patches for Login's "unexpected quits", or for the "thousands of garbage User folders" issue, etc.), as they might not be able to even use the older versions at all, particularly the older Login app.

[Update 2001/02/09:- Well, for anyone who cares, I'm now safely back from my business trip. :-) I just wanted to add that another frequent suggestion has been to create an AppleScript applet in each user's personal Startup Items subfolder to reset the desired Appearance CP settings. This approach also has its caveats, since explicit privileges to run the applet, and possibly the Appearance CP, must be set up for each Limited and/or Panel account (if any) on the machine. In addition, some users claim that such applets just do not work properly for them under Limited, Panels or occasionally even Normal accounts. Nevertheless, with that said, a particularly interesting example of this approach is provided by Evan's post of '02-05-2001 08:36 PM' later on in this same thread, and especially by the extended version of the script in his similar post of '02-05-2001 08:22 PM' in the Appearence settings do not stick after logout thread, over in MacFixIt's 'Troubleshooting Mac OS 9' Forum. The latter version includes tips on extending the script to implement useful and cool behaviours; however, note that giving the applets different names, as described in the first tip, would also exacerbate the issue of having to grant privileges for the renamed applet(s) in any Limited/Panels accounts.]

Alternatively, for those adventurous souls out there, it turns out there is an extremely clumsy way to "hack" the MU prefs-files to make Appearance settings persistent again, at least for a given set of changes made at one time. [I finally spent some time today investigating how MU 1.3 uses (or rather, misuses) the various MU-specific prefs-files such as Client Prefs (CP) and User Prefs (UP), and how these CP & UP prefs-files interact with the standard MOP and DPP prefs-files.] In MU 1.3, the special CP prefs-file is signifcant for the Owner, whereas the UP prefs-file is significant for non-Owner users. Nevertheless, they both contain an all-important 'scen' resource (ID=0), among many other resources. This 'scen' resource is a kind of "all-in-one" encapsulation of various separate resources in the MOP and DPP prefs-files. It also happens to have essentially the same format as the other 'scen' resources which are used to store named custom themes in the global 'Custom Themes' file (in fact, this latter coincidence is what allows the hack to work). In general, when a non-Owner user logs out, the system (e.g., the Login app or its proxy) is supposed to "package" the MOP and DPP resources into the 'scen' resource in the UP prefs-file. Similarly, when a non-Owner user logs in, the system is supposed to do the reverse -- i.e., "unpackage" the UP 'scen' resource back into the MOP and DPP resources, and also actually apply the settings before the Finder/Panels app gains control. It seems that, in MU 1.3, the system always synchs from the UP prefs-file to the MOP and DPP prefs-files at login, but it does not always synch to the UP prefs-file from the MOP and DPP prefs-files at logout; this latter failure is what causes problems when logging back in. The hack described below simply performs this synch, manually, for non-Owner users. Thus, it will only work until the user changes Appearance settings again, in which case the hack would need to be repeated.

NOTE: The procedure below is intended for those who're familiar with ResEdit or another resource editor. As always, please make *BACKUP COPIES* of the files being changed, and save the originals in a safe place in case the hack goes awry and you need to restore them. Okay, here goes:-
  • Login as the Owner (or under the appropriate user account).
  • Open the Appearance control panel, and select your desired settings, then save them as a *named* custom theme. Close the Appearance control panel.
  • In the resource editor, open the global 'Custom Themes' file, and locate the 'scen' resource which corresponds to the custom theme you just saved. (Unfortunately, the Appearance CP assigns a random ID, but each 'scen' resource's data always has the corresponding theme's name at the bottom.) Copy this matching 'scen' resource to the clipboard.
  • Still in the resource editor, open the desired user's (or just the current user's) UP prefs-file. If it already contains a 'scen' resource (ID=0), delete it. Next, paste the new 'scen' resource (that you copied in the previous step) into the UP prefs-file. Then, change this new 'scen' resource's ID to 0.
  • Quit the resource editor, saving your changes.
That's it! You should logout and try logging in as that user several times, to verify that the hard-coded Appearance settings now "stick".

2) "Disappearing" Control Strip:-
Unfortunately, I do not know of any prefs-file-related workaround for this issue. There doesn't seem to be any problem with each user's Control Strip Preferences prefs-file itself. It's more likely that, in recent MU versions, the system isn't sending the correct notification or "signal" to background-only apps (BOAs) such as the CS Extension, whenever a new user logs in.

For now, many folks (including the members of my household) have switched to using the CS's built-in "hotkey" feature (configurable via the CS control panel), which at least allows quickly showing (or hiding) the CS.

Well, I hope that this info will be of use to at least some adventurous people :-), until Apple provides a more permanent fix.



P.S.: This is a sort of "hit and run" post, as I'm leaving on an overseas business trip this weekend for two weeks, and I probably won't have time to read these Forums. So, again, please be really, really, really careful if you do decide to try my MU prefs-file hack described above.

[This message has been edited by Paul Crawford (edited 02-09-2001).]
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Jan 20, 2001, 05:15 PM
here's an alternate hack...

Login as the Owner and remove these three files:
(Save themÉ do not throw them away you will need them later!)

[Multi-User Startup] Extension version 1.3 or 1.3.1 from the
extensions folder
[Login] version 1.3 or 1.3.1 from the system folder
[Panels] version 1.3 or 1.3.1 from the system folder

Replace them with the version 1.1 files of the same name.

I found the files here: http://members.nbci.com/robo_x/MU1.1.sit

and here: http://hem.passagen.se/robo/MU1.1.sit

Now Restart your system. Once restarted login as each user and set their
appearance preferences. Now as the Owner remove the three version 1.1 files
and save them (you will need them later if you wish to alter the UserÕs
appearance preferences again in the future). Now replace them with the
version 1.3 or 1.3.1 files and Restart. Hopefully you will find as I have
that each userÕs desktop picture has been saved according to the way it was
set. The down side is that you still cannot change any of the UserÕs
appearance preferences without following these steps again.

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Feb 5, 2001, 09:36 PM
Edit and save this AppleScript (as a Classic Applet with "Stay Open" unchecked and "Never Show Startup Screen" checked), and place one in each user's Startup Items folder...
set my_theme to "Mac OS Default" -- In the line above, replace "Mac OS Default" -- with the name of the (SAVED) theme to load. set n_string to "-128" tell application "Appearance" launch if name of current theme is not my_theme then try set current theme to theme my_theme on error mess number numb set n_string to numb as string end try end if quit end tell activate if n_string is "-1731" then beep display dialog ("Error " & n_string & return & return & ¬ "The theme called “" & my_theme & "” wasn’t found.") ¬ buttons {"Good Grief"} default button 1 with icon note ¬ giving up after 55 else if n_string is not "-128" then beep display dialog ("Error " & n_string & return & return & ¬ mess) buttons {"Rats"} default button 1 with icon note ¬ giving up after 55 end if



To avoid repeated trips to Script Editor every time a change is needed, replace the first line of my script with the following 2 statements

set my_path to path to me tell application "Finder" to ¬ set my_theme to name of file my_path
Save the script and quit. Now — in Finder — simply name the applet exactly the same as the desired theme. Want another theme or more applets for other users? Just (use Finder to) duplicate and name the applets appropriately.


Want a "daily" theme? Replace the first line of my script with the following statement

set my_theme to (weekday of (the current date)) as string
Then, go to Appearance and save (or rename) 7 themes — one for each day of the week (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc.). Well... you get the idea.


[This message has been edited by Evan (edited 02-15-2001).]
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Apr 3, 2001, 12:32 AM
Hi all,

Just wanted to note that, for those who might have been reluctant to try Apple's recent Macintosh Manager (MM) 1.4 Update, it does offer quite a few pleasant surprises for local Multiple Users (MU) configurations!

In particular, the MU Appearance amnesia problem does seem to have been fixed for most people, as described in several postings in the discussion boards of the various Apple/Mac websites (e.g., see my second post of '03-23-2001 02:24 AM' in the multiple users thread over in MacFixIt's TS Mac OS 9.1 Forum).

However, note that the MM/MU 1.4 Update apparently still does not resolve some outstanding issues, such as the "shy" Control Strip behaviour for non-Owner users.


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Apr 8, 2001, 06:07 AM
I'm having the same problems here. Just bought a Flower Power for my parents, but upon logging out, it doesn't save the appearance settings for other accounts (ie only admin gets saved) and the control strip disappears. Double checked the prefs, trashed them in case they were corrrupted, to no avail. Applied the update, still nothing. Any clue?

edit : using 9.1
Soyons realistes, demandons l'impossible.

[This message has been edited by SYN (edited 04-08-2001).]
Soyons Réalistes, Demandons l'impossible
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