This week I finally moved Ayrton (the iMac) to Snow Leopard and also managed to find the time to move up Diego (my 5+ years and still going strong Powerbook) to Leopard. Here’s a quick primer for someone looking to upgrade their Mac.
First, I prefer clean installs. No installing over the previous OS and carrying over stuff for me. I like to use this is an opportunity to wipe the stuff and clean up house. If you are anything like me, you keep around a lot of things thinking you’ll need them, but never do. This is the time for you to break free.
So here’s how I do it:
1) Create a bootable copy of the existing Mac using Carbon Copy Cloner onto an External USB/ Firewire drive. USB drives do fine for Intel Macs like Ayrton but a Firewire drive is needed to boot a PPC machine. Via Disk Utility ensure that your drive is using the correct partition scheme to be able to boot your Mac:
If you want help partitioning your disk, refer this page.
Note: If you can live with non-bootable backups and would just like to have access to your old files, don’t worry about USB/ Firewire/ Partition Schemes and just backup to any drive that your existing Mac can write to.
2) Once CCC tells you that the cloning is complete, reboot your Mac and hold the option while it boots up. It will show you the list of drives you can boot off. You should see the external drive you just backed up on as one of the options. Select it and boot into that drive to make sure the backup you have works fine. This will serve as a fail-safe just in case something goes wrong with the new install and also gives you an option to boot into a full functional OS if you ever feel nostalgic! You’ll also be using this backup to copy back the stuff you need on the new install.
3) Once you’ve verified everything is as it should be, put in the Snow Leopard DVD (or Leopard or whatever) and reboot your Mac. Again, press the option key while rebooting and this time select the DVD drive. When you reach the Welcome Screen, from the “Utilities” menu, choose “Disk Utility”. Erase your current Mac drive – this is the part where you make a clean break. Then proceed with the setup as usual until it’s complete.
Note: I actually used Target Disk mode to install Leopard on Diego, since it doesn’t have a dual layer DVD reader. Will do a follow up post on how to do that.
4) There’s no step 4. You should have a faster, cleaner Mac!
Update: Remember to run “Software Update” on the first boot. Install all updates that are available and reboot your machine (if necessary). After reboot, run “Software Update” again. Repeat, rinse until there are no more updates available. If you are wondering why all updates aren’t available in the first shot, it’s because some updates are dependent on others.
Copying your old stuff
The first time you boot into your Mac you’ll be greeted by the Migration Assistant. Select “From a Time Machine backup or another disk”:
Select the hard disk you backed to. On the next screen, I like to select only “Settings” – this is part of the breaking free routine. This will copy your WiFi/ Network settings, time zone etc. Anything else I would need I like to copy manually.
Now you can manually copy the Applications you really need from your old Mac drive (or download latest versions from the Internet) onto the new. You can also copy the preferences for the same application from the Library/Preferences folder under the previous use to the current one, but most people won’t need that. The only preference file I remember bringing over was the one for Safari Stand and that’s cause I had configured a bunch of quick search shortcuts which I didn’t wanna do all over again.
Other things to note:
- Passwords/ Keychains – If you want to carry over your saved passwords without any problems, I suggest you create a user with the same user-name and password as the previous Install. With that, you can simply copy the ~/Library/Keychains folder from the previous user folder to the current one and use them normally without any problems.
- iTunes/ iPhoto – Simply copy the iTunes folder (~/Music/iTunes) and the iPhoto Library (in ~/Pictures) to the same location under the new user/ OS and you should be set.
- Mails/ Calendars – Simply copy the folders Mail (~/Library/Mail) and Calendars (~/Library/Calendars) to the same location in the new OS and they should work without any problems.
- This time I also created an Applications folder in my home folder where I keep all Applications I install. So that /Applications stays clean like the day I installed my OS. Not necessary, just an alternative way to organize your stuff.
If you’re curious, here’s a list of Applications I installed immediately after install (in the order they appear in my Applications folder right now):
- Acorn – Image editor (Shareware, I have a license)
- Adium – Multi-protocol chat client (Free)
- Burn – CD/ DVD burning software for the rare occasions (Free)
- Clip Menu – Clipboard manager allows you to have multiple items in the Clipboard. Recently switched to this instead of the Quicksilver plugin (Free)
- Dropbox – Client for the easy to use file sharing service (Free)
- Firefox – Not my primary browser, but need it for development (Free)
- LittleSnapper – Image grabber, great for snapshotting entire web-pages (Shareware, I have a license)
- Oilcan – PostgreSQL client. Pretty basic but does the job (Free)
- Quicksilver – the grand daddy of all apps (Free)
- Sequel Pro – awesome MySQL client (Free)
- Skitch – another screen grabbing + quick sharing app (Free)
- Skype – Voice Chat/ Calls (Free)
- Transmit – Trying it out over Cyberduck for my SFTP needs (Shareware)
- Socilate – A new Facebook/ Skype/ Twitter client, still in beta
- Textmate – The best text editor on any platform – vi(m)/ emacs fanatics stay away (Shareware)
- The Unarchiver – Does what is says, throw almost any format at it (Free)
- Transmission – Torrent client (Free)
- Tweetie – Twitter client (Shareware/ Free with ads)
- uTorrent – Giving it a try, over Transmission above (Free)
- VLC – Media Player that plays practically anything (Free)
Plugins/ other stuff I installed:
- ClickToFlash – Safari plugin that disables all flash items until you click on them! (Free)
- Flip4Mac – To play those pesky WMVs in QuickTime (Free)
- Growl – Notifications, Mac ishtyle (Free)
- iStat Menus – An overview of the Mac in your menu bar (Free)
- Letterbox – Outlook style 3 column view for Apple Mail(Free)
- Macports – Allows you to install various *nix utilities in a hassle free manner (Free)
- Perian – Allows QuickTime to play DivX and various other formats (Free)
- SafariStand – Plugin for Safari that adds various goodies (Free)
- USB Overdrive – I had some troubles with the software/ drivers Logitech shipped for Snow Leopard and found this one to be much more stable. Allows me to program the gazillion buttons on my mouse to various custom actions (Shareware)
I also installed all three of Parallels, VMWare Fusion and VirtualBox – still not sure which one I am going to keep for the rare occasion I need to dip into the dark side. You can simply copy the image file over from your previous OS and reinstall the software in case you have an image you want to carry forward.
Okay, that’s more than enough information – I’ll update this post and/ or do a new one in case I think of anything else.