MacOS Sierra Niggles

Posted by Piers Cawley on Sep 9, 2016

I shouldn’t be surprised. Every time I upgrade the OS on my Macbook a few little behaviours I’d taken for granted start breaking. It’s just the way of the world. Here’s a couple of things I’ve fixed already

Respect my .zshenv

MacOS comes with a tool called path_helper. It’s great. It sets up more or less sane PATH and MANPATH environment variables based on the contents of /etc/paths.d and /etc/manpaths.d respectively. This means that the install step of an application that includes some command line tools that really shouldn’t be dropped in the existing /usr/bin can keep those tools in, say, /opt/toolname/bin and drop a file in /etc/paths.d and /opt/toolname/bin will appear on everyone’s default path. Very handy.

The default shell rc files that get run when a shell starts up call path_helper and bam, you have a sane path.

Well… yeah… except in zsh. There are two global zsh startup files in /etc, /etc/zshenv and /etc/zshrc. When zsh starts up it sources a bunch of files to set up the environment. At the very least, it uses /etc/zshenv and $HOME/.zshenv. If the shell is interactive, it also uses /etc/zshrc and $HOME/.zshrc, but it always loads zshenv and ~/.zshenv.

So… Like a good zsh user, my PATH and other environment variables are set up in my ~/.zshenv. As well as all the system paths, there’s a bunch of stuff in my home directory that wants to be on the path as well, and .zshenv is the place to do that.

But, everytime I upgrade MacOS I forget that whoever is responsible for the global zsh startup files at Apple is, not to put too fine a point on it, a fucking idiot. Because as well as running path_helper in /etc/zshenv, where it makes sense, this upstanding member of society sees fit to run it again in /etc/zshrc. Which would be fine if it weren’t for the fact that the very first thing path_helper does is nuke the existing path. Which throws away all my path customisations from ~/.zshenv and leaves me wondering what on earth just happened until I remember the zsh startup sequence and fix /etc/zshrc by deleting the path_helper stanza.

If you’re being driven up the wall by this, then this is what my /etc/zshrc looks like now:

# Correctly display UTF-8 with combining characters.
if [ "$TERM_PROGRAM" = "Apple_Terminal" ]; then
        setopt combiningchars

disable log

I hope you find it useful (and even if you don’t, I’m sure I’ll find it useful come the next upgrade).

Making SSH and the keyring play together again

For some reason now, when my laptop wakes from sleep, my ssh-agent has forgotten some of my authentication keys that were added via the system keychain. After a while, I got bored of typing ssh-add -A every time I failed to ssh into a host and installed sleepwatcher via Homebrew like so:

$ brew install sleepwatcher
$ brew services start sleepwatcher
$ echo <<EOF > ~/.wakeup

ssh-add -A
$ chmod +x ~/.wakeup

which fixed that.

Further niggles

Those are the only two things that I’ve noticed so far in the Sierra change that have annoyed me enough to find out how to fix them. If any more crop up, I’ll update this page. If any more command line niggles crop up, I’ll update this page with any fixes I find.