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ASR’s hidden documentation

As part of trying to trace down a separate mystery, the folks in the ##osx-server IRC room made an interesting discovery: Apple’s asr tool has hidden documentation.

Normally, to access Apple’s documentation on a command-line tool, you would use man toolname_here or toolname_here help. asr has both of those, but it also has a separate command that reveals additional asr options not mentioned in the regular man or help pages.

With asr help, you get the following output:

Usage: asr  
   is one of the following:
    asr help | version
    asr restore --source  --target  []
    asr restore --source asr:/// --file  []
    asr server  --source  --config  []
    asr imagescan --source  [--filechecksum] [--nostream] [--SHA1]
   is in bytes but may end with a scale factor (b, k, m, g)

common  are any of:
      --source  path or url to disk image file, mountpoint, or
                        web accessible disk image
      --puppetstrings   print out messages in format good for machine parsing
      --verbose         display verbose output
      --debug           display debug output

restore  are any of:
      --target  path to volume or mountpoint
      --erase           formats target volume
      --format  target format when erasing (defaults to source)
      --noprompt        don't require confirmation on erase
      --noverify        don't checksum results
      --buffers    number of buffers to use in block copy
      --buffersize   size of buffers to use in block copy
      --csumbuffers   number of buffers for the checksum if different
      --csumbuffersize  size of buffers for the checksum if different
      --timeout      max wait for stream in multicast client mode

server  are any of:
      --interface  Use 'if' as the interface for the server's
                       outgoing stream
      --config  server configuration file in plist format

imagescan  are any of:
      --filechecksum calculate file checksum
      --nostream     don't reorder file for multicast streaming
      --SHA1         add a SHA-1 checksum to the image

Screen Shot 2013-04-30 at 3.52.21 PM

However, when you run FULL_USAGE=1 asr help, you get the following output:

Usage: asr  
   is one of the following:
    asr help | version
    asr restore --source  --target  []
    asr restore --source asr:/// --file  []
    asr server  --source  --config  []
    asr imagescan --source  [--filechecksum] [--nostream] [--SHA1]
    asr partition --target  [--testsize ]
                           [--retestsize ] [--recoverysize ]
    asr freeze --target  [--testsize ]
                        [--retestsize ] [--recoverysize ]
    asr thaw --target  [--recovery] [--modifyrecovery]
    asr adjust --target  [--settype ]
   is in bytes but may end with a scale factor (b, k, m, g)

common  are any of:
      --source  path or url to disk image file, mountpoint, or
                        web accessible disk image
      --puppetstrings   print out messages in format good for machine parsing
      --verbose         display verbose output
      --debug           display debug output

restore  are any of:
      --target  path to volume or mountpoint
      --hidden          restore to the hidden customer software partition
      --erase           formats target volume
      --format  target format when erasing (defaults to source)
      --noprompt        don't require confirmation on erase
      --noverify        don't checksum results
      --buffers    number of buffers to use in block copy
      --buffersize   size of buffers to use in block copy
      --csumbuffers   number of buffers for the checksum if different
      --csumbuffersize  size of buffers for the checksum if different
      --timeout      max wait for stream in multicast client mode

server  are any of:
      --interface  Use 'if' as the interface for the server's
                       outgoing stream
      --config  server configuration file in plist format

imagescan  are any of:
      --filechecksum calculate file checksum
      --nostream     don't reorder file for multicast streaming
      --SHA1         add a SHA-1 checksum to the image

Screen Shot 2013-04-30 at 3.52.44 PM

There are now four additional options listed:

    asr partition --target  [--testsize ]
                           [--retestsize ] [--recoverysize ]
    asr freeze --target  [--testsize ]
                        [--retestsize ] [--recoverysize ]
    asr thaw --target  [--recovery] [--modifyrecovery]
    asr adjust --target  [--settype ]

Screen Shot 2013-04-30 at 3.53.22 PM

The question I don’t know the answer to is “What do these options do?”

I’ve seen asr adjust used to correct an incorrectly set Recovery HD partition, but I’m not familiar with what asr freeze and asr thaw do.

Do you know? Let me know in the comments.

  1. cashxx
    May 1, 2013 at 1:30 am | #1

    Search for Freezing….http://lists.apple.com/archives/macos-x-server/2007/Mar/msg00937.html

    Not sure if this is related or not? Kinda sounds like it.

  2. FastGM3
    May 1, 2013 at 10:03 pm | #2

    Sounds like Faronics – Deep Freeze commands. I know in ARD Deep Freeze uses thaw and freeze commands specifically. I wonder if there are some ties to imaging a frozen or thawed partition

  3. Wayne Casey
    October 1, 2013 at 1:03 pm | #3

    Very interesting. I just started noticing this same thing recently. I didnt take notes as to which commands had these “hidden” options, but I will start! Thanks for posting about it.

  4. November 19, 2013 at 5:52 pm | #4

    I can give a hint as to what they’re for :) Apple Software Restore is also used during Apple’s manufacturing process to restore and uncover disk images when a system is being built and tested. The ‘puppetstrings’ option is specifically for use in that environment (‘XSTA’ – status, ‘PINF’ – progress information, ‘PSTP’ – progress stop, etc). If you use the freeze, thaw and adjust options (as root) you can cause real mayhem to your partition scheme, which is why I’m mentioning it here by way of warning!

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