Using FontExplorer X With Networked Home Directories

FontExplorer X has some really funky behavior when it comes to users with networked home directories. Normally, the application files for FontExplorer are stored in ~/Library/Application Support/Linotype/FontExplorer X/. Everything works fine and dandy…until a user with a networked home directory tries to open in.

When a user with a networked home folder tries to open the FontExplorer X, the file ~/Library/Application Support/Linotype/FontExplorer X/FontDatabase.db is made into an alias. Note that this is a rather important file. It appears to store the references to all of your fonts (not the fonts themselves, just the references). The alias points to a newly created FontDatabase.db file in /Users/Shared/Linotype/FontExplorer X/_/, where is the username of the current user and is the user id of the current user.

The end result of this behavior, is that FontExplorer behaves as if it’s the first time FontExplorer X has been opened, every time someone uses it. Of course, in a lab type environment this behavior is completely unacceptable.

Below are login/logout scripts that I wrote to circumvent this behavior. You can download the scripts and a readme.txt file here:

Update: I should point out here that this particular script has only been tested on OS X 10.4 (Tiger). It will work on 10.3, but the way that you set up the login hook is slightly different than what I describe below. I’m also using FEX 1.2.2 for this script and it should be noted that the way FEX stores it’s database changed slightly in this version. Previous versions of FEX should work with this script using only a small tweaking. As I have not gotten my hands on a Leopard yet, I have no idea if this will work with them. (added 11/8/2007)

Update #2: This script is still working like a charm using OS X 10.5.4 and FEX 1.2.3. (added 8/12/2008)

Update #3: This script still works using OS X 10.6 and FEX 1.2.3. (added 2/7/2011)

The Setup

  1. Start by setting up FEX on a test computer. Set all the preferences as you want them and make sure the fonts are imported into appropriate sets.
  2. Font Library: Make a copy of your entire font library and note the location it’s stored in. I use /Users/Shared/Font Explorer X/ so that everybody has access to it.
  3. FEX plist: make a copy of the FEX plist file located in /Users//Library/Preferences/com.linotype.FontExploereX.plist
  4. Application Support Files: Make a copy of the Linotype application support folder located in /Users//Library/Application Support/
  5. A copy of each of these must reside on the client computer (the one your running the login script on).

* Make sure that the entire font library is in the same location on the client computer as it was in the test machine (/Users/Shared/ in my case). * Copy the FEX plist and Linotype folder to a privileged location on the client computer. It doesn’t matter where they are, we just don’t want normal users to be able to modify them. I use an admin’s document folder.’ 6. Change the $backupprefs and $backupdb variables in login.sh to the correct locations. They should be lines 11 and 14.

Installation

  1. Copy login.sh and logout.shto client computers. Make sure that you limit access to the files. They will be run as root, so these permissions will work:
     sudo chown root:admin <pathToFile>/login.sh <pathToFile>/logout.sh sudo chmod 750 <pathToFile>/login.sh <pathToFile>/logout.sh 
  2. Add the login and logout hooks. Run these two commands in the terminal of the client computer:
     sudo defaults write com.apple.loginwindow LoginHook <pathToFile>/login.sh sudo defaults write com.apple.loginwindow LogoutHook <pathToFile>/logout.sh 
    Note: This works on 10.4. The syntax for 10.3 might be slightly different
  3. To test to make sure the hooks got set up correctly, run this command and ensure that the directories are correct:
    sudo defaults read com.apple.loginwindow

Adding to Existing Login and Logout Hooks

If you already have login and logout scripts running, simply append the contents of these scripts to your existing ones. Everything should still work fine.

Login.sh

 #!/bin/sh ### Modify these ### # change to location where you put FEX plist file backupprefs="/Users/admin/Documents/com.linotype.FontExplorerX.plist" # change to location where you put Linotype file backupdb="/Users/admin/Documents/Linotype" ### Start of Script ### # Get the shortname of user who just logged in username=$1 # create hidden file containing username for the logout script echo $username > /Users/.username # get the user id of user who just logged in userid=`su - $username -c "/usr/bin/id -u"` # set a variable for the FontExplorer folder in the format of _ userfolder=${username}_${userid} # get the path to the networked home directory of user userhome=`su - $username -c "/usr/bin/id -P | cut -f9 -d:"` # Make the prefs directory in /Users/Shared/ for networked users mkdir -p "/Users/Shared/Linotype/FontExplorer X/$userfolder/" # On the rare occassion that the logout script fails to copy the FontDatabase.db file back to user's folder, # this will copy in a default backup copy of the FontDatabase.db file if [ ! -e "$userhome/Library/Application Support/Linotype/FontExplorer X/FontDatabase.db" ]; then cp -R $backupdb "$userhome/Library/Application Support/" chown -R $username:$username "$userhome/Library/Application Support/Linotype/" fi # Copy the real FontDatabase.db file from user's home to the /Users/Shared location cp "$userhome/Library/Application Support/Linotype/FontExplorer X/FontDatabase.db" "/Users/Shared/Linotype/FontExplorer X/$userfolder/" # Set the ownership and permissions on the /Users/Shared/Linotype/ directory chown -R $username:$username /Users/Shared/Linotype/ chmod -R 700 /Users/Shared/Linotype/ # Copy correct user preferences (users can't break them) # Don't need to do this step, but helpful in making sure correct prefs are always set cp $backupprefs "$userhome/Library/Preferences/com.linotype.FontExplorerX.plist" chown $username:$username "$userhome/Library/Preferences/com.linotype.FontExplorerX.plist" chmod 700 "$userhome/Library/Preferences/com.linotype.FontExplorerX.plist" 

Logout

 #!/bin/sh # Get username of current user username=`cat /Users/.username` ### Start of Script ### # get the user id of current user userid=`su - $username -c "/usr/bin/id -u"` # set a variable for the FontExplorer folder in the format of _ userfolder=${username}_${userid} # get the path to the networked home directory of user userhome=`su - $username -c "/usr/bin/id -P | cut -f9 -d:"` # Remove the sym link version of FontDatabase.db in user's home rm "$userhome/Library/Application Support/Linotype/FontExplorer X/FontDatabase.db" # Copy version of FontDatabase.db from /Users/Shared/ back to user's home cp "/Users/Shared/Linotype/FontExplorer X/$userfolder/FontDatabase.db" "$userhome/Library/Application Support/Linotype/FontExplorer X/FontDatabase.db" # Make sure ownership is correct chown -R $username:$username "$userhome/Library/Application Support/Linotype/" # Remove all of the user's Linotype directories from the /Users/Shared/ directory rm -R /Users/Shared/Linotype 

Cheers.

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Comments

1. Beth Norconk

Thank you so much.

I can not tell you how crazy this program was making me.

I had to change the scripts for my environment but it is now working for the 2 student network ids that I have tried so far.

Now to deploy it into the lab.

Thanks, Beth

Beth Norconk

2. Alissa Miller

@Beth

I’m glad that the script helped you! Let me know how it goes and if you have any questions about using it. Questions, comments and improvements on the script are all welcome.

3. Paul

Hi,

Would this work on 10.6 Mac’s with Active Directory accounts, that have local home directories forced on login?

Thanks, Paul

4. Alissa Miller

Hi Paul,

The script does work on OS X 10.6 clients (and also ones that use 10.6 Server).

I’m not sure however that in your case you would need the script. If the home directories are local (as forced by AD), then FontExplorer likely wouldn’t does it’s funky setup behavior. It would probably just put it’s application support files in the user’s home directory. I don’t have this setup, but that’s my guess as to how it would happen. The weird behavior in FEX happens because the user’s home directory is not on the local computer in the case of Networked Home Directories.



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