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Mac doesn't make it easy to stay a user. Every few years, most files stop being backwards compatible if not upgraded along the way. The change from 9 to 10 was the most extreme break, of course. But I certainly am having trouble settling into my new laptop, somewhere between the chip set change and the OS upgrade which came with it.

At first I tried just copying across files. That's what I'd normally do when swapping machines, right? I had all my files backed up on an external HD, and files, including preferences and mail and address book and all those good things, were all I needed. Right? If only...

Instead, the upgrade software only does whole user accounts at a time. Not files. Accounts. And I can't just copy/paste for most system-related files (like preferences and mail) to work with the new system - it has to go through the migration process.

Now consider that I needed the new machines because I had a faulty old one. What if my old one had entirely died? Then I'd be out of luck, for "all" I had backed up was my data, not in user account format. And then, because it always is, it was more complicated than that, for my files in active use - mail, address book, current work files - were all on a third machine, a loaner. The loaner didn't have all my data - I didn't need it in active use, and anyways, there wasn't enough free harddrive space for ALL of it - but the loaner did have all the most current files.

So, three machines: old, loaner, new.

I migrated the old accounts over. I migrated my own account over from the loaner. Between my two main accounts, I had a whole functional one. But the problem is, of course, that as soon as I need to merge system-relevant files from two accounts, it creates a passel of permission repairs to tweak. The fixes aren't all the same either, unfortunately.

Pre-migration, during my first copy/paste attempts, zAngband was the only program which worked successfully on transfer. BBEdit, my favorite text editor, died. Mail only imported the directory structure, not the messages themselves.

Post migration, zAngband still worked and now BBEdit did too, to my relief. The system files weren't fully processed. Each time I've opened a new Apple program, its had to reprocess all its related files yet again. Fine.

But it's more complicated than that, because I had no idea how aggressively the Migration Assistant would move over applications from the other machines. The Migration Assistant moved over all the old applications, extra preference panels, and other installed featuers. All of them. Including those I have no right to. Now I don't intentionally pirate software - but Apple's making it might difficult for me right now. I don't know quite what software came with the new machine. I can check what's on the old machine and the loaner, but Migration Assistant won't always port over software if it already knows it has a more recent version. So if I have one copy - well, what of it? Did it come with the new machine? Was it just the most recent version off of one of the old machines? Is it mine at all, or does the software belong to the loaner laptop's owner?

When there are multiple copies of the same software, it's still the same problem. At least two of them are really, truly mine, but which? If it's registered, but without obvious named registrant, how do I know? If the software doesn't work on the current machine, that's easy. If I recognize the product and am certain I don't know it, then it's probably not mine at all - unless it came with the new machine, which, in some cases, it could have. (In some cases, I'm certain it didn't and can safely delete, thank goodness. And a named registrant which is neither me nor Apple makes it easy too.)

So no, not everything is functional yet. And there are bugs - there always are on installs. The most irritating one I've found thus far is that the machine doesn't automatically reconnect to the wireless network after sleep or reboot. (After reboot, it doesn't even remember the password for the network.) I'm working my way through possible fixes, but it's not resolved yet.

Oh, and zAngband? It was working fine until 11 pm last night. As of 1 am last night, I could no longer save files. It can create new files, but not modify old one. This isn't as helpful as one might wish... I lost my use of it somewhere in the process of clearing out irrelevant system preference panes which didn't belong to me and repairing my key chain.

My new machine is a work in progress still.


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 30th, 2006 04:59 pm (UTC)
For a company that is actively touting how easy it is to switch to a Mac, that sounds staggeringly difficult, not to mention extremely unflexible! If it's "easy" to switch from Windows to Mac, one would have thought Mac-to-Mac wouldn't be an issue at all. How very interesting...
Aug. 30th, 2006 05:05 pm (UTC)
On the bright side, the laptop is capable of running or dual-booting into Windows, if I bought that OS.

This whole conversion would have been a whole lot easier if I'd only been migrating from one machine as, presumably, most people would do.
Aug. 30th, 2006 08:17 pm (UTC)
Yes - the migration from pone machine to another is much easier than this. I've done it something like 5 times in the last 5 years and it's always been painless.

You seem to be doing most of the right things - disk utility is very useful and there are a lot of permissions that might need sorting, so this could solve a lot of your problems.
Aug. 30th, 2006 08:28 pm (UTC)
Disk Utility fixed many permissions, none of them obviously affecting the things I've been having problems with. I'm trying other solutions.

You've been upgrading every single year? At work or on your own machines?
Aug. 30th, 2006 08:38 pm (UTC)
Lets see if I can get the chronology right...

First mac (powerbook) 2001

Powermac workstation 2004 - transfer powerbook to it

iMac at home 2004 - transfer powerbook to it

New powerbook Jan 2005 - transfer old powerbook to it

Disk failure on powerbook - transfer powermac to it

So maybe its only 4 times :-) All but one are work machines.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 30th, 2006 05:45 pm (UTC)
Re: Oh geeze
My preference files usually live in ~Library/Preferences, but dumping there didn't accomplish anything, even with fixing permissions on those files. Using the Migration Assistant to do the same thing did make them usable. Same with BBEdit - it errored until I imported it. Like most modern Mac programs with few requirements, the install is a drag-and-drop so I'm not sure how I could have otherwise messed it up by, well, dragging and dropping.

The zAndband problem I really don't get. It was working, and it's a game with very minimal requirements. It doesn't need any of the things I was changing when it stopped being able to safe. It's not a preference problem on any of the files I can think to look at for it - they're all just as they should be, and just as they were before I started having problems. It's hardly crucial software, but it's the game I'm playing right now, so I do sort of care.

Swapping between accounts is less of a big deal mostly, thanks to the very useful button which applies permissions to all contained files.

All three computers came with Apple-bundled software, not all the same. I figure if it's Apple bundled, though, I won't worry about it, regardless of which machine it came off of. File install dates sometimes help too, but not always.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 30th, 2006 05:56 pm (UTC)
Re: Issues
Thank you for the constructive advice. I'd been repairing permissions by hand out of habit - it's always worked before. I didn't actually know about the disk utility, and will see if that fixes some of my problems.

I'll work through your suggestions - hopefully they will fix my residual problems. At least I know have a laptop which is doing most of what I want it to!
Aug. 30th, 2006 10:33 pm (UTC)
Re: Issues
Anyways, Disk Repair doesn't deal with the sort of permissions I usually need to fix, i.e. who owns what files.

zAngband is fully functional again now - one copy too many of the program left on the hard drive after multiple migrations. I'm down to one copy and (quite sensibly) it works just fine now.

Scouring the net: lots of Plist diagnostics, not repairs. The repair advice is generally to trash and let the file regenerate it. Not all apps generate good xml anyways. The iCal prefs work fine, and they aren't good xml, but Apple apps are the only ones to have ever to touched it. If it ever goes screwy, however, it doesn't contain anything crucial that I can't recreate.
Aug. 30th, 2006 08:57 pm (UTC)
I'm just so glad all you Mac people are there, so that, if I ever have the money to buy a mac (and I would be interested in a used 12" G4 Powerbook), I have people to turn to!
Aug. 30th, 2006 09:50 pm (UTC)
I've found that it's often easier to manually copy files in Target Disk Mode than to use the Migration Assistant.

I know that it's silly, but it's one of the few assistants on the new Macs that don't work well.

If you keep having trouble, it might be worth restoring from the disks (without Swahili or Formal Chinese support) and then manually moving the files.
Aug. 30th, 2006 10:35 pm (UTC)
The first time I tried copying files to the new machine, I did it via copy/paste, manually, but so many files didn't take in a useful way, that it was clear I needed another solution. Happily, it's only things like mail, addressbook, and calendar which are so picky. Most other files really can be migrated the easy way.

But what if I want Swahili support? What better way to learn a foreign language than to get one's error messages in it? ;)
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )