Many Installer packages are appearing for Mac OS X. That’s good right. Not necessarily. Scott Anguish — WebObjects and Cocoa developer and the Web master of the
— said that the Installer has some serious issues that could wipe out your installation of Mac OS X.
When Apple released Mac OS X Server there were two major updates made to the Installer.app that the next generation operating system “inherited” from its OpenStep ancestor. One of the changes was the use of pax as the archiver instead of a tar derivative.
“OpenStep versions of Installer used a modified version of the standard UNIX installer tar,” Anguish said in an
online article. “The modern archiver, gnutar, has fixed the long filename problems that the older version of tar had, however Apple still felt the need to go ahead with the change to pax. This is unfortunate because virtually every serious problem encountered in this article could have been avoided by using an archiver that functioned appropriately. Apple re-wrote Installer.app for Mac OS X. However, the basic issues all still exist. You still have serious issues with pax, and users should be aware of the ownership issues as well.”
Without going into all the technical issues involved (read the Stepwise article for that), just note that Anguish reports that those issues can have a “serious impact” including preventing your system from booting, or applications from running, or even disabling your system completely.
“Unfortunately, I’ve brought this particular issue to Apple’s attention on at least a dozen separate occasions, in articles on Stepwise and in direct communication,” Anguish said. “The fact that they are still a concern in Mac OS X is a serious issue. Until Apple does respond to these issues, you should treat every installer .pkg as having the potential to disable your Mac OS X installation, and cost you time, money and data.”