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February 07, 2004

Software Update Glitch

I got bitten by a strange bug yesterday while running Software Update on my Server: a bunch of updates where available, so I accepted to install them and went back to my desktop. After a while, I was ready to click the "restart" button when I noticed that a red exclamation mark was next to all the updates instead of the green checkmark, and a dialog box was displaying the following

"None of the checked updates could be installed. Make sure you have permission to write to /tmp/501/TemporaryItems/com.apple.SoftwareUpdate, then try again."

Hmm. I was running as administrator. Anyway, it was a while since I'd repaired the permissions on this machine, so I launched Disk Utility, repaired and rebooted, just to be on the safe side. But to no avail, the same symptom occurred again. I used Fast Switching to login as root and tried again - no luck. I checked the permissions and they where fine 700 and 755. I decided to 777 the whole tree just to see if that changed anything - nope.

It seemed time to check the net for similar problems. In case like this, I usually start with Apple's Discussions. Checking the Server forum didn't help. Searching the 10.3 one yielded several pertinent threads.

First, I wasn't the only one with this problem. Many had tried what I did, and were just as unsuccessful as me.

But a thread attracted my attention more than the others because it mentionned that Apple Remote Desktop was installed on those computers displaying the problem. I had installed ARD earlier in January to test how well I could drive my server from home (not very well actually, but that is another topic). I had never uninstalled it.

One of the fixes suggested was related to XCode, or rather uninstalling XCode than removed essential apps from the system (tar, zip, unzip, etc.) and prevents many operation from completing successfully - including Software Update.

I had never installed nor uninstalled XCode from my server, so I decided to install them to give it a try. My server runs on a B&W G3 with a 8Gb primary partition. Just over 2Gb were free, so I had to be cautious in my installation. The fulls XCode package installs over 1.9Gb of software .. I didn't want to replace one problem by another. Using custom install, I avoided the installation of documentation, various SDK, etc. - and Bob's my uncle! It solved the problem!

Now what was wrong, I don't know. I shall uninstall ARD and other unused software to save space, and check those threads to see if someone puts his finger on the problem. A worrying one if you ask me.

PS: funnily enough, just after that episode, I received the new version of XCode in the ADC February mailing.

10:19 AM in FYI, Frustration | Permalink

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Comments

I get this once in a while when the installer file doesn't get downloaded completely and Software Update tries to install from the incomplete file. This happens usually with a large file like the recent Java 1.4.2 update.

Posted by: Kristian at February 9, 2004 03:12 AM

Here's my fix to this exact same problem. After much glomming over web pages and documentation, and looking at my install logs that failed because of this /tmp/501 permissions problem, I noticed one thing. I was getting errors trying to install anything, be it Software Updates or 3rd party applications. Nothing would install, and Software Update kept giving me the "Make sure you have permission to write to the /tmp/501 blah blah blah folder". The one thing common with all my failed installs was the failure to write to a temporary file or folder.

I found a website that listed some of the default symbolic links for OS X. I logged on as Root from the command line (sudo su), and did a CD / to get to the root folder. From there, I did an "ls -l" to see all the files and symlinks in the root folder. And there it was. What was supposed to be a symbolic link called "tmp" was actually a FILE called "tmp". That's what was causing me all the temporary folder issues. There was no link to the real folder.

I did an "rm tmp" to delete the file. Then, recreated the proper symbolic link by doing an "ln -s /private/tmp tmp".

To see if this would help, I stayed on the command line and did the command line version of software update (softwareupdate -a -i). Voila! Success! No more "Make sure you have permission to write to /tmp/501/TemporaryItems/com.apple.SoftwareUpdate, then try again."!!!

By the way, as a comparison to your situation, I did the last Apple Remote Desktop update back in December, and hadn't tried Software Update until this week again. That's when I began investigating and ran across your blog with the same error message I was getting.

I couldn't try the XCode thing because I couldn't install ANY software at all.

So, this may or may not be the *fix* for this problem for everyone, but it certainly bears checking out if you're having this damn message crop up.

Posted by: Rick at February 26, 2004 04:22 AM

This won't solve your problem as you haven't installed Xcode on your server. But for those who did:

From mango:

Well, I found out what was preventing Software Update from working. Apple's uninstaller for Xcode also uninstalled "tar" and "gnutar" from /usr/bin. I had to use Pacifist to manually extract and install those two components from the base package on my Panther disk. Thanks, Apple. Nicely done with that uninstaller.

http://www.macfixitforums.com/php/printthread.php?Cat=&Board=Forum35&main=604099&type=thread

Posted by: tyio at May 5, 2004 09:28 PM

thanks to tyio for the tip...i had installed Xcode and later uninstalled it b/c it ate too much disk space. however, even after i removed it, my updates worked for a while. go figure. i have to download and manually install updates at the moment. while it's a bit of a pian, as long as that's the worst problem i have, i'll be ok

Posted by: Krewe Maynard at May 28, 2004 04:54 PM

no idea what the above means really (sudu etc) but i did it and it worked. have now installed 10.3.4 without this prob. thanks!!

Posted by: adam at May 29, 2004 11:07 PM

I had the same problem installing on my son's B&W G3. Then I remembered I had installed Dansguardian which is a Net Nanny kind of thing that prevents the lad from visiting pornographic web sites (accidentally, of course). Dansguardian works by installing a proxy server on the local Mac (on his B&W G3). I disabled the proxy server in the Network preferences, installed the updates, and then re-enabled the proxy settings. Voila! HTH.

Posted by: Tim at August 29, 2004 06:46 PM

I had the same problem when using automatic update, I checked all above tips and I found no problems. A reboot & running softwareupdate -a -i as root seemed to fix the problem on 3 out of 4 machines. I assume that it was a faulty download? anyway more interesting is that I had moved my sever admin tools folder (after installation) from Applications/Server to Applications/Utilities/Server just to tuck it away from curious students. Software update continually tried to update the Applications/Server (noted by a folder named "server" magically applearing after repeated updates) I have since moved it back to the Applications folder and all seems well.

Posted by: Joe at September 1, 2004 04:54 PM

Thanks tyo and Mango, it was tar and gnutar :P

Posted by: Milhouse at September 8, 2004 12:15 PM

great tip - thanks! I run ARD to admin several machines and ran into this issue while doing a remote software update. admittedly the tip posted by Rick was the one that worked - just running software update from the command line:

% softwareupdate -a -i

but thanks for providing the thread!

Posted by: tatlar at September 29, 2004 07:20 PM

Kristian,

Thank you so much for your post at http://www.macinblog.com/2004/02/software_update.html.

After much wading through endless discussions and recommendations, your suggestion ACTUALLY WORKED!!!

I don't understand terminal too well but I am grateful for your post.

I hope that others will benefit from this.

In my case, I did not encounter that particular error message "make sure you have permissions to write to /tmp/501/ ..." until I tried to install Apple's Security Update 9-30-2004 on my G4 running10.3.5. And then other apps wouldn't install either.

But your fix worked and no problems since.

Thank you.

-Greg

Posted by: Greg at October 10, 2004 04:56 AM

I had the same problem with Software Update giving me the "make sure you have permissions to /tmp/501/TemporaryItems/com.apple.SoftwareUpdate" and after trying numerous possible solutions, I finally figured out what was wrong! When I did softwareupdate -a -i, I noticed that update was trying to download from akamai.net. I had akamai servers blocked in my router/firewall when I was trying to gid rid of adware servers. Come to find out, it's the server Apple uses to distribute software! I unblocked the server, and now everything works fine again. *sigh*

Posted by: Big B at November 7, 2004 12:16 PM

What were the problems with Apple Remote Desktop and software update? The old to the apple forums have died.

Posted by: Ben at November 18, 2004 05:57 PM

I am running System Panther 10.3.6 on a G-4 Dual 500 Mhz. When I try to install a new piece of software, either through an installer or just dragging and dropping, I get the following message: "The finder cannot complete the operation because some data in 'fdi0rcv.3me' could not be read. (Error code-36).
Does anyone have a solution to this problem? I am not computer literate enough to do the solutions as proposed above.
Thank you.

Posted by: David Ritter at December 13, 2004 04:22 PM

You don't know how long I've been frustrated with this! Thanks for the help...I used Pacifist to install gnutar and tar. Voila--Software Update is back!

Jason

Posted by: Jason Luros at January 12, 2005 07:46 AM

Having same problem. Looking over the suggestions it seemed that this was easiest to implement (thanks Greg):

"When I did softwareupdate -a -i, I noticed that update was trying to download from akamai.net. I had akamai servers blocked in my router/firewall when I was trying to gid rid of adware servers. Come to find out, it's the server Apple uses to distribute software! I unblocked the server, and now everything works fine again."

I use Little Snitch to block some apps from unauthorized communication. I freed up Software Update from connection restrictions and immediately had some success where the error msg had previously prevented installation. Some success. Some programs still didn't load.

So I tried Software Update again, and more updates were installed, but again not all. Once more did the trick.

Doesn't make any sense to me, but that's not unusual. You'd think there would be a common thread among these solutions...

Posted by: Tom at January 24, 2005 02:26 AM

A quick sudo su and softwareupdate didn't do it - but going back to Software Update after sudo su worked.

Weird.

Posted by: Mortimer at January 31, 2005 09:04 AM

I had a similar problem to what Kristian posted on February 9, but my /tmp simlink was completely gone. I first noticed the problem when I couldn't print--at all!

For non-UNIX types, the shareware app Printer Setup Repair from Fixamac Software really did the trick for me. No, I don't work for them--didn't even buy the app because I'm a poor grad student, but I would recommend it to anyone with this problem or something similar.

Posted by: Sam at March 31, 2005 04:52 PM

Hi:

I'm having similar problems. I've tried the solutions posted here, but none work. None of the updates will install. Here's what happens from the command line. Any help would be greatly appreciated. - Pete.

[shadow:/usr/bin] pete% sudo softwareupdate -a -i
Password:
Software Update Tool
Copyright 2002-2003 Apple Computer, Inc.


QuickTime: 0...10...20...30...40...
Java 1.4.2 Update 2: 0...10...20...30...40...
Security Update 2004-09-16: 0...10...20...30...40...
Security Update 2004-10-27: 0...10...20...30...40...
iTunes: 0...10...20...30...40...
AirPort Software: 0...10...20...30...40...
iCal: 0...10...20...30...40...
iPod Updater 2005-03-23: 0...10...20...30...40...
Mac OS X Update Combined: 0...10...20...30...40...
QuickTime: 0...10...20...30...40...50..2005-03-31 10:05:01.137 softwareupdate[15462] Exception raised during posting of notification. Ignored. exception: Some files for QuickTime652 may not have been written correctly. (code 11)
.60...70...80...902005-03-31 10:05:03.725 softwareupdate[15462] NSInstallFailedNotification: {
Message = "Some files for QuickTime652 may not have been written correctly. (code 11)";
},
Failed


To try again, choose Download Only from the Update menu, then open the package from the Finder.
2005-03-31 10:05:03.727 softwareupdate[15462] didn't delete /tmp/0/TemporaryItems/com.apple.SoftwareUpdate/QuickTime652.pkg, failed safety check

Java 1.4.2 Update 2: 0...10...20...30...40...50.2005-03-31 10:05:05.838 softwareupdate[15462] Exception raised during posting of notification. Ignored. exception: Some files for Java142Update2 may not have been written correctly. (code 11)
..60...70...80...902005-03-31 10:05:07.869 softwareupdate[15462] NSInstallFailedNotification: {
Message = "Some files for Java142Update2 may not have been written correctly. (code 11)";
},
Failed


To try again, choose Download Only from the Update menu, then open the package from the Finder.
2005-03-31 10:05:07.871 softwareupdate[15462] didn't delete /tmp/0/TemporaryItems/com.apple.SoftwareUpdate/Java142Update2.pkg, failed safety check

Security Update 2004-09-16: 0...10...20...30...40...50..2005-03-31 10:05:09.858 softwareupdate[15462] Exception raised during posting of notification. Ignored. exception: Some files for SecUpd2004-09-16Pan may not have been written correctly. (code 11)
.60...70...80...902005-03-31 10:05:12.518 softwareupdate[15462] NSInstallFailedNotification: {
Message = "Some files for SecUpd2004-09-16Pan may not have been written correctly. (code 11)";
},
Failed


To try again, choose Download Only from the Update menu, then open the package from the Finder.
2005-03-31 10:05:12.520 softwareupdate[15462] didn't delete /tmp/0/TemporaryItems/com.apple.SoftwareUpdate/SecUpd2004-09-16Pan.pkg, failed safety check

Security Update 2004-10-27: 0...10...20...30...40...50..2005-03-31 10:05:14.224 softwareupdate[15462] Exception raised during posting of notification. Ignored. exception: Some files for SecurityUpdate2004-10-27Pan may not have been written correctly. (code 11)
.60...70...80...902005-03-31 10:05:16.888 softwareupdate[15462] NSInstallFailedNotification: {
Message = "Some files for SecurityUpdate2004-10-27Pan may not have been written correctly. (code 11)";
},
Failed

Posted by: Pete at March 31, 2005 08:29 PM

I just fixed mine, a similar situation to what Greg posted above, my company blocked akamai.net

I had them unblock it and ran update from the command line, all is well. I first tried the Symlinks and that didnt work,. but the blocked site did

Posted by: Chris at July 7, 2005 03:43 PM

Yet another problem which calls this symptom is if your /Library/Packages or /Library/Receipts have incorrect privileges.

Posted by: Tom Ierna at July 18, 2005 09:32 PM