Regarding issues of trust between shareware authors and users, an interesting discussion has developed over on the XRay 1.1 support forum.

It appears to be based on a difference of mindset between old-time Mac users and users coming in from Unix or Linux platforms. I’m squarely inside the first camp, of course, never having used Unix or Linux (nor Windows, either, except on a very few occasions).

XRay‘s original purpose, as regular readers well know, was to offer a user-friendly way to view and set file/folder attributes, including BSD permission flags – the latter being a completely new concept to me and, judging by the software’s popularity, most Mac OS X users. As such, both the installation process and normal use try to insulate the user from the details as much as possible; the rationale being that anybody knowledgeable enough to use various Terminal commands such as chown and chmod would prefer using them directly, while old-time Mac users would prefer using XRay as a graphic wrapper for these commands.

I think is this the second (or third?) time, in the 3+ years that XRay has been available, that a former Unix/Linux user has thought that XRay’s installation procedure is “suspicious”; either because it asks for an administrator password to copy stuff into /Library/Application Support, or because it sets world-writeable permissions on the folders it creates there, or something. I must confess I had a hard time even understanding those arguments at first…

Of course I’m concerned with that and will try to make the whole process more transparent, but I’m not entirely sure how to go about that. Should I ask the user first “are you an old-time Machead or a suspicious former Unixer?”… icon_lol.gif

So far the least disagreeable solution seems to be to list, on demand, all steps that are done – or perhaps before each one is done – and explain why, and offer the user a chance not to do that, and say what restrictions will result from cancelling. Seems an awful lot of work, though, to accomodate a very small proportion of users.