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October 17, 2003

iTunes Authorization Problem Fixed

[non techy readers will probably want to just skip over this item]

Regular GE2 readers will remember that about two weeks ago I upgraded the little drive in my PowerBook to a BIG drive. The process hasn't been without complication.

One of the gotchas was that my Apple Music Store purchased songs wouldn't play. It kept asking me to authorize the machine, and when I entered the info, it would say something like "can't find the appropriate folder or have don't have right permissions." I've been struggling with this since the upgrade.


I've suspected all along that the problem was related to the fact that, on the new drive, I have my Users directory on a different volume than the main OS. I did this as a result of yet another difficulty with the upgrade.

Digression: It turns out that my ancient PowerBook (G3 266 Wall Street) has a weird hardware limit in the hard disk circuitry. An OS X boot volume must be less that 8 gig in size. To be more precise, the boot volume must reside completely in the first 8 gig of hard disk address space.

Well this was no prob with my old 3 gig drive, but it's a bitch with my new 40 gig-er.

It took me a bit to figure this all out, but when I finally got OS X booting off the new drive I ended up with it partitioned into two volumes: 5 gig and 32 gig (OK it's actually a 37 gig drive).

Now the question was, how to utilize this odd partion mix.

Long-story-short, what I decided was to put the Users and Applications folders on the bigger volume, and all the OS stuff on the smaller.

I found some notes on the net about how to configure the Users directory on the second volume so the System knew where to find it. It seemed to work OK. Until I tried to play one of my purchased songs.

End of digression, back to the iTunes problem...

When I went to play one, it asked for authorization, and I got the "can't find the appropriate folder or have needed permissions."

Now it seems that Apple doesn't want the hackers figuring out exactly how authorization works, so there's very little info out there about what folder or permissions they might be talking about.

I tried all sorts of things.

I repaired permissions. I reinstalled iTunes. I checked with Apple to make sure I had the right password. I bought new music to see if it was only the old songs that wouldn't play. I tried lots of other things that I can't remember now. No joy.

This morning I sat down to work with it some more. I found an Apple tech note that talked about a missing Shared Folder being an authorization problem. While exploring this I realized something.

Back when I created the external Users folder, I made an alias to this new folder in the place of the original folder. This made it easier to navigate to it. But now I discovered that (apparently) since I created this alias with the Finder, it didn't work right in Terminal. I couldn't use the 'cd' (change directory) command on it in Terminal.

"If 'cd' can't resolve the alias, maybe other system services are having trouble too," I thought.

So I deleted the existing alias (no mean feat since it's in a protected location so I had to do it in Terminal with sudo), and created a new one with

sudo ln -s /Volumes/Yikes/Users/ Users

Eureka! That did the trick. When I tried to play a purchased song it asked to be authorized, it succeeded, and the song played. Other purchased songs now played without asking for further auth.

So there you go. Mac OS X, it's an adventure.

Disclaimers: 1. If I was a real *nix head. instead of a pretender, this all might have been obvious from the start. 2. I'm not 100% that I'll never be able to boot OS X of a larger partion, I'm still looking into that one (suggestions and fixes welcomed, put 'em in a comment).

Posted by jghiii at October 17, 2003 10:12 AM
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