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Desktops (Apple) Operating Systems Apple

Hidden Wi-Fi Diagnostics Application In OS X Lion 116

Posted by samzenpus
from the keeping-an-eye-on-things dept.
WankerWeasel writes "The latest version of Apple's operating system, OS X 10.7 Lion, has a hidden Wi-Fi Diagnostics application that allows the user to view information about their wireless network performance, record performance and also capture raw frames. Hidden away in the System folder the application is meant for Apple tech diagnostic use but is also very useful for any user interested in diagnosing wi-fi problems or checking network performance."
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Hidden Wi-Fi Diagnostics Application In OS X Lion

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  • by hcs_$reboot (1536101) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @02:06AM (#37336920)
    Most of the users would not understand the signal / noise graph and data anyway ; that feature would not contribute to the user-friendly interface image the Mac OS X has.
    Any true admin should have a look in this "hidden" directory anyway.
    • The interface resembles the Logs/Statistics view in the Airport Admin Utility. The capture and debug logs features are new though. Good find, just the other day I was trying to figure out which of the couple public networks available was giving me better throughput.
    • I've downloaded and used a couple of Wifi diagnostics applications, but it's never occurred to me to look in System/Library/CoreServices for applications. So yes, hidden. It should be in Applications/Utilities, along with other apps that not every user would understand like Console and RAID Utility.

      • by thegarbz (1787294) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @03:40AM (#37337408)

        It should be in Applications/Utilities, along with other apps that not every user would understand like Console and RAID Utility.

        I could not disagree more. By putting all those utilities in a folder you essentially create a clusterfuck equivalent just doing a directory listing in the system folder. None of this is hidden by the way. It doesn't occur to you to look System/Library/CoreServices? Does it occur to you to look for ping.exe in c:\windows\SysWOW64\ ?

        Why should any of this be linked? It's important to you so Google would often suffice. Look at a typical Windows 7 machine. There are 300 (exactly) applications in the SysWOW64 directory, the vast majority of them powerful, and the vast majority of them no one will ever have a need to execute.

        • You wouldn't need to know where ping.exe is because the system directory is always included in PATH. It's also a console application so I'm not entirely sure how that comparison works. I have absolutely no experience with macs so I don't know how this application is launched, but can it be launched from the console without knowing its exact directory structure? If not then the only way to find this on your own is by complete chance, playing explorer in the file system hierarchy.

          Given the nature of the appli

          • Given the nature of the application and its usefulness...

            ...which leads me to wonder what this program provides that we can't already get from Wireshark. It's a trivial matter to compile this for OS X (Macports was my preferred path while I was playing with Macs, but whatever rocks your boat).

            • Well to be fair that's kind of like saying "why use notepad when you can download notepad++"

              The usefulness isn't in competing in feature sets. The usefulness is that it comes with your operating system and is available immediately without needing to download (and potentially compile) anything.

            • by Hes Nikke (237581)

              the packet sniffer feature makes a pcap file. wiresharek happily reads said pcap file. What does it give you that wireshark doesn't already? It's preinstalled on every mac running lion.

            • by Guy Harris (3803)

              ...which leads me to wonder what this program provides that we can't already get from Wireshark. It's a trivial matter to compile this for OS X

              It's an even more trivial matter to download a precompiled binary from wireshark.org [wireshark.org], but, as another response already noted, one thing Wi-Fi Diagnostics provides is that you don't have to download and install it, much less compile it. It also offers a pane to get information about Wi-Fi networks your machine is seeing and a signal-and-noise graph, and to report that information to Apple for troubleshooting, and it can report various Wi-Fi network events.

              In addition, if you're not the person who's going t

            • Given the nature of the application and its usefulness...

              ...which leads me to wonder what this program provides that we can't already get from Wireshark. It's a trivial matter to compile this for OS X (Macports was my preferred path while I was playing with Macs, but whatever rocks your boat).

              "Monitor Performance displays a graph of network signal strength, noise level, transmit power, and data rate. " AFAIK that's a little bit more complicated with Wireshark: See pages 73-93 of http://www.chipps.com/5/TroubleshootingWireless.pptx [chipps.com].

        • Off-topic advice (Score:5, Informative)

          by Samantha Wright (1324923) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @04:21AM (#37337524) Homepage Journal

          Just a pedant's note: looking in SysWOW64 shouldn't occur to you at all. Despite the name, it's the 32-bit version of the 64-bit files, which actually live in the awkwardly-named system32. When a 32-bit program runs, SysWOW64 is mapped onto system32, just like Program Files (x86) is mapped onto Program Files, and parts of the registry are remapped (although I don't have the exact key name on hand, it's something like [HKCU|HKLM]\software\wow64node).

          • Wow, you just reminded me why I love Microsoft. Their designs are so simple and logical. [sarcasm]
            • Wow, you just reminded me why I love Microsoft. Their designs are so simple and logical.

              And how would you implement transparent backwards-compatibility for 32-bit apps?

              • How about we start by not putting all your 64-bit files in a directory called, system32? The way they've done it, with all that remapping, is just asking for bugs. And furthermore, I cite your sig.
              • by clarkcox3 (194009)
                The way that Apple did. A single binary (whether executable or library) can contain code for multiple instruction sets. There is no need for separate areas on the file system for 32- or 64-bit support, there is no need for separate 32- or 64-bit builds of the OS, etc.
          • by thegarbz (1787294)

            Interesting. I did not know this, cheers.

      • Look at the other entires in that folder. It's basically entirely apps. Apparently, a good admin would have known about this.

      • by Guy Harris (3803)

        I've downloaded and used a couple of Wifi diagnostics applications, but it's never occurred to me to look in System/Library/CoreServices for applications. So yes, hidden. It should be in Applications/Utilities, along with other apps that not every user would understand like Console and RAID Utility.

        Is there a menu item in the menu for the Wi-Fi menu extra (either when you click on it or when you option-click on it) that starts the Wi-Fi diagnostics? If so, that might be why it's stuffed under CoreServices - the intent is to run it that way, not by double-clicking on it or running it from Launchpad.

        • by Guy Harris (3803)

          Is there a menu item in the menu for the Wi-Fi menu extra (either when you click on it or when you option-click on it) that starts the Wi-Fi diagnostics?

          Yes. [appleinsider.com]

          If so, that might be why it's stuffed under CoreServices - the intent is to run it that way, not by double-clicking on it or running it from Launchpad.

          Yes.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by c0lo (1497653)

      Most of the users would not understand the signal / noise graph and data anyway ;

      After all, it should just work, ain't it? (except when you keep your Mac in your hand the wrong way).

      <duck>

  • This article has two sentences. One of these sentences is redundant, and the other one is uninteresting. Merging them would make the whole thing uninteresting, so this is a textbook example of self-preservation through redundancy.

  • yawn (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pbjones (315127) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @02:37AM (#37337082)

    undocumented is not hidden. There is also a bucket load of standard UNIX apps there for you to play with too.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    in the System folder? How obscure!

  • by thegarbz (1787294) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @03:46AM (#37337430)

    So there's an application in the System folder that isn't in the manual and this makes the news? Are we going to run an article tomorrow about this beauty that I just found: C:\Windows\SysWOW64\ping.exe, entitled "OMG we just found an application capable of sending ping request hidden deep in the directory structure of windows?

    How about the 299 other Applications in the system directory in Windows that may not be as well known as ping.exe? Should we run an article on powercfg.exe, the application which is great for diagnosing a vast array of powermanagement issues in windows?

    I'm waiting for tomorrow's shock article: terminal program hidden in /bin/bash, will open another bash prompt for your bash prompt, this may double your productivity!

    *yawn* Slow news day.

    • Windows console applications have always been in the windows system directory since the early days, so I'm not really seeing your brilliant point here. If anything, I'd say that directory is almost the console equivalent of Applications/Utilities.

    • What he meant to say:

      "I found this article to be such a waste of the time of the author, poster, server, RSS aggregator, RSS client, and (of course) me that I thought I'd waste even more of my (and their) time by posting a scathing reply condemning the tiny grain of sensationalism injected into the summary instead of just skimming over it in the index of the general news channel and then not opening it or reading it."

      Some of us do find this stuff interesting. I do tech support for a large number of Mac-base

    • You seem not to get he point? You must be a windows user then.

      The Mac application is at a wrong place, it is at simple as that. The /Library tree and the /Users/user/Library tree is not supposed to hold any applications (except you want to call executeables like "java" or "python" applications.

      As one of the parents pointed out it belongs into /Applications/Utilities

      Your analogy about the Windows System folder is completely flawed anyway. As everyone who has a clue about operation systems will tell you: you

      • Breaking news: This isnt unix, and Windows doesnt use the Unix design philosophies. Details at eleven.

      • by keytoe (91531)

        The Mac application is at a wrong place, it is at simple as that. The /Library tree and the /Users/user/Library tree is not supposed to hold any applications (except you want to call executeables like "java" or "python" applications.

        As one of the parents pointed out it belongs into /Applications/Utilities

        /System/Library/CoreServices is full of little utilities that user facing GUI components will leverage to actually to do low level work, but the work they perform is abstracted out in a nice little unix-p

        • by Guy Harris (3803)

          My guess (I don't have Lion) is that this new little utility is designed to be launched from some other user facing application

          Well, more like from the user-facing Wi-Fi menu extra (the Wi-Fi icon in the menu bar on the right side); option-click on that and you get some additional stuff even in pre-Lion releases, such as signal information; as the AppleInsider article on this app [appleinsider.com] notes, it's launched by the "Open Wi-Fi Diagnostics..." option+menu item for that menu extra.

      • by mr_zorg (259994)

        The Mac application is at a wrong place, it is at simple as that. The /Library tree and the /Users/user/Library tree is not supposed to hold any applications (except you want to call executeables like "java" or "python" applications.

        Really? Says who? There's a ton of apps in the /System/Library folder. Try this:

        find /System/Library -name "*.app" -print | wc -l

        I get 179 on my system...

        • And all but one or two are Apps you never want to start directly but are started via System Preferences, e.g.

          Having a truely app ment for the user there makes no sense. Most apps there are services like: /System/Library//Services/ChineseTextConverterService.app

          Sorry, a useful "utility" is wrongly placed there.

          • by Guy Harris (3803)

            Sorry, a useful "utility" is wrongly placed there.

            Better tell Apple about that hidden "Finder" app there, then. Anybody tried launching it to see what it does?

            (And, yes, there is a way to launch the Wi-Fi Diagnostics app from the UI; option+click the Wi-Fi menu extra and select "Open Wi-Fi Diagnostics...".)

            • You know that the finder starts automatically?

              Well, yo only want to nitpick it seems.

              Nevertheless thanx for the hint with the option key ;D

              • by Guy Harris (3803)

                You know that the finder starts automatically?

                Well, yo only want to nitpick it seems.

                No, I just want to point out that not all applications, in the sense of "programs that offer a UI and that are inside an app bundle", need to be in /Applications or ~/Applications, whether it's because they're launched automatically (as, yes, I knew the Finder was) or are launched from a menu item or....

                • And i wanted to point out that random (useful) programs that no one seems to know about are hard to find in /System/Library/CoreServices/bla/blub

                  It is only a coincidence that you can use (as you claim, I did not verify it) the program with an option click into the WiFi icon on the menu bar.

                  Fact is: I did not even know about it. You won't take it serious, but it pisses me off!

                  This is my computer, everything that is not directly obvious is "non existing" for me. And I'm tired to be treated by Apple just the s

                  • by Guy Harris (3803)

                    It is only a coincidence that you can use (as you claim, I did not verify it) the program with an option click into the WiFi icon on the menu bar.

                    Actually, no, it is not even remotely a coincidence; it is entirely intentional - Apple intended that to be the way you can invoke it, they did not intend it to be invoked by browsing to /System/Library/CoreServices and double-clicking it. It's unfortunate that option+click is not as well known as it should be to the subset of the users of Mac OS X for whom it's useful, but that's a separate matter.

                    This is my computer, everything that is not directly obvious is "non existing" for me. And I'm tired to be treated by Apple just the same every one else is treated by MS.

                    Then perhaps Mac OS X is not the right operating system for you; it is, as you note, your computer, so perha

                    • The OS is fine. But the attitude of Apple to make things more and more obscure is not. E.g. the firewall is on 10.6 and also was on 10.5 much worse to configure than it was under 10.4.

                      In fact except for standard services you can not configure ANYTHING with the GUI anymore.

                      Instead of letting me define a port as open I have to start the application and answer the question of the system. Which is pretty annoying as for some reason the system does not remember my decision and is asking every time again. I mean

    • by wzinc (612701)
      Funny, there's a whole sketch about a machine that only goes ping. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arCITMfxvEc [youtube.com]
  • I fail to see how one user's discovery of a little network utility in their proprietary operating system of choice is really worthy of being on the front page of Slashdot... If this were a Mac-centric blog, then I suppose I could understand it, but not here...

    • The Apple section of Slashdot -which is where this was posted- as a Mac-centric blog.

      But yeah it's such a trivial piece of information that I agree with your basic point.

      Slashdot is far from being 'news for nerds, stuff that matters' anymore. It's more 'anything that will get the clicks or get the trolls trolling'.

      • Now that CT is no longer editing, the only thing that makes it to the frontpage through my filter is Unknown Lamer. Frankly, that's been rather helpful since it really makes /. look like the wasteland that it has become.

      • The information might be trivial. But I appreciate to know about it know. Very likely I had not discovered it on my own when I upgrade my OS in a few weeks.

    • Does Slashdot have anything other than a front page? I thought all articles were listed in chronological order.

    • by itsdapead (734413)

      Well, it is apparently interesting enough to slashdot the TFA's server.

      Plus, they mentioned Apple, so the fanbois vs. haters flamewar will be starting in 3, 2, 1...

    • by donstenk (74880)

      Correct - but as an owner of a new Macbook Pro with Lion I find the news interesting because it single biggest problem is related to wifi performance.

      My Macbook regularly drops (Apple Airport) connections, will not connect when resuming and refuse point blanc to connect to some public hotspots.

      • My Macbook regularly drops (Apple Airport) connections, will not connect when resuming and refuse point blanc to connect to some public hotspots.

        You should get a newer MacBook. They haven't been white for ages....

  • so you can capture network packets in iOS does that mean no more Apples for the germans ?
    http://politics.slashdot.org/story/07/05/31/1629259/Germany-Declares-Hacking-Tools-Illegal

  • by GrahamCox (741991) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @06:23AM (#37338124) Homepage
    In the same location I found a hidden app called "Finder"! I wonder what it does?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      It certainly is useless for finding things.

  • by ilsaloving (1534307) on Thursday September 08, 2011 @06:41AM (#37338228)

    It amazes me how many sourpusses are logged in right now whining about how this isn't news, doesn't belong on the front page, etc etc. If you see an article that you are not interested in then, and I accidentally stumbled upon this amazing technique after much trial an error, you can SKIP over that article! I know I know, I'm sure you're as shocked as I was when I discovered this!

    Meanwhile in the real world, those of us who work in a moderately noisy EMF environment now have a fantastic way of diagnosing exactly why the Wifi suddenly cut out during a download when it was Working Fine Before(tm). I'm glad someone made this discovery because it wouldn't have occurred to me to look for it myself.

  • With all the complaining here about this being useless info not worthy of the front page, the site is slashdotted. Can someone please post the path to the application?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Go under System/Library/Core Services/Wi-fi Diagnostics.app (or something similar to that-- not in front of it right now).

    • by Sez Zero (586611)
      /System/Library/CoreServices/Wi-Fi Diagnostics.app There are 65 other "apps" in there; as you'd imagine they are system apps like Finder, Problem Reporter, iCalAlarm, and VoiceOver.
    • by mephistus (217351)
      The application can be found at "/System/Library/CoreServices/Wi-Fi Diagnostics" along with some other fun tools that are hidden there.
  • This is probably the App that runs when you are on the Network pane of System Preferences, click the "Assist Me" button and pick Diagnostics for your Wi-Fi network.

    So, not really hidden.
  • Having a quick way to determine signal/noise ratios in a wifi-impacted building is a useful trick for those of us building out wifi :)

  • As the AppleInsider article [appleinsider.com] says, you launch it by holding down the "option" key and clicking on the Wi-Fi "menu extra" and selecting the "Open Wi-Fi Diagnostics..." menu item. It's "hidden" because it's in an option-click menu, not because it's in /System/Library/CoreServices (it's in /System/Library/CoreServices because it's intended to be launched from the aforementioned menu).

    In a number of cases, option+click will bring up a menu with more items than the menu you get by just clicking has. I'm not su

  • by guruevi (827432) <evi AT smokingcube DOT be> on Thursday September 08, 2011 @08:19PM (#37347386) Homepage

    Many Mac/Win sysadmin may not know that you can control just about any Mac application using LDAP or Active Directory.

    You can add /System/Library/CoreServices/Managed Client.app to WGM and you'll gain access to a lot of the MCX which you can then modify and apply to your groups. A lot of other Applications can be added as well and the settings managed like AD's Group Policy but a bit easier to use.

    There are also Kerberos Ticket viewers, you can run security on command line to manage SSL Certificates.

    Also install the Developer Tools for some nifty utilities, BlueTooth sniffers, Audio Lab which with you can fairly simple create a little application that can capture and send system audio over the network to another computer.

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