Lingon - what is it?

In our tour on practical applications that can help with troubleshooting we are going to look today at Lingon from Peter Borg.

On macOS you can automate at lot. You don't want to start half a dozen applications when you start your computer. You expect that the computer does this itself. You also expect that your back up runs automatically. On the Mac this is done by Login Items and Launch Agents or Launch Daemons. You can see the Login Items in the System Preferences. You can do some not-so-nice Terminal commands to see or edit the Launch Agents and Launch Daemons.

But even I as developer sometimes prefer a nice interface without typing commands. Lingon gives you such an interface. You can use Lingon for troubleshooting without paying. If you need to edit anything you need to pay the reasonable price of 14.99$.

Launch Agents vs. Launch Daemons

What's the difference between Agents and Daemons? The location and the user. The Launch Agents are for the logged-in user or all users and the Launch Daemons are for the root user.

User Launch Agents are in the folder user/username/Library/LaunchAgents:

location launch agents

The other Launch Agents and the Launch Daemons are in the top level Library folder.

Interface Overview

Lingon has a simple interface. Here is the main window:

Lingon Launch Agents

The screenshot first shows the user Launch Agents followed by the Launch Agents for all users. The last red bubble shows the Lauch Daemons.

The different areas of the interface:

Lingon interface

I'm going to use Lingon 6 because I really dislike Mojave and higher. The basics of the interface are the same in Lingon 7.

1: You can change between 4 views. The first one has icons. The second view as shown in the screenshot gives you a nice hierarchical list of every Login Items with the Launch Agents and Launch Daemons. Then there is a flat list and a list for the next events.

2: If you don't find an app then you can use a filter.

3: You can edit either directly or use the toolbar items for editing and checking the logs.

4: The list of items. You can see Mail Archiver is started whenever the computer starts. Then there is a Launch Agent for the helper app. I need to check what DrUnarchiver is doing there. That was the creepy app that "accidentally" uploaded parts of your browser history. Seminar Pro needs to be removed.

5: The details area gives you detailed information about the selected app or LaunchDaemon. The screenshot above shows an application so there isn't much interesting to see.

Interface Details

Now are going to have a look at the details of a Launch Agent - again with Mail Archiver:

1: The Launch Agent is enabled. If you have a license and Mail Archiver is misbehaving then click on the checkbox to disable the app.

2: You can see that the Launch Agent is just for the current user.

3: The name of the Launch Agent.

4: The path to the application and not the path to the Launch Agent. The Launch Agent is the reason why the path of Mail Archiver is fixed. If you move the app then the path in the Launch Agent to the app also would need to be changed.

5: The When area shows you when a Launch Agent is run. The Mail Archiver helper app is started when the computer is started. It's also restarted after a crash. The latter option is very practical and can be a total nuisance. If you quit the app in Activity Viewer macOS restarts the app automatically.

What else is there?

You can create and edit scripts yourself which isn't part of today's article.

You get notifications if a Launch Agent or Launch Demon is changed. I consider this to be a more sensible security measure than any of those wonderful dialogs in Mojave or Catalina.

The screenshot shows notifications (in German) when I stop VMWare that some LaunchDaemons were deleted. Similar notifications show up whenever a Launch Agent or Daemon are installed. Only set the notifications to banners or you will have to click them away.

Lingon - the verdict

Lingon is a nice little app. It's not for everyone. But if you think that something is running amok on your Mac or you want to check if there is a suspicious app then Lingon is a good place to check.

In spring I was experimenting with Valentina Server. I must have installed something wrong. When I noticed something I already had more than 100 k log files created. With Lingon I was easily able to tame the unruly server.