The Value Of A Clean Install

I have a new Macbook arriving today. I’ve always had a policy of doing an erase-and-install on a new computer, because… well, I guess that’s my question. Is there a reason to do this, or is it a massive waste of time?

depends on who supplied the laptop (at least in the US).

If it was apple then all that has been done is a preload of the os prior to config. Don’t waste your time.

If it is a third part (say Mac mall) then you are best off doing the clean install. I have had nothing but trouble with third party crap installs not that folks are using me for “support” (which means I get to call them names [keep in mind these are self-proclaimed “tech savvy” types]). The biggest problem seems to be that the preload uses some non-root user and any ordered software is installed only for that user id. More of a vanity thing, but the easiest fix is the erase install and reload.

For the record I do the same with ANY system I buy including the $3M+ sun cluster I just bought. Lean, clean and mean. Just the way I like my systems. My friends on the other hand … they pretty all could stand to lose 30 pounds, need to organize their desks, and like to buy me drinks.

Just my opinion though. I am sure some folks have no issues with any preload.

Well if it is a NEW one with a virgin install from the factory then there is no need. I would though plug it up and check for any Apple software updates and install those first before beginning to install 3rd party programs.

Myself I like to run all the Apple updates (if any) then use Disk Utility to repair permissions before installing third party programs (force of habit). I sometimes find that some Apple Updates (like iTunes) sometimes tend to have permission issues after an update. Many people practice repairing permissions after there is a problem because of the way OSX works (since 10.3). So if you asked around some people practice the old way of repairing permissions before installation, some repair after installation, and some only repair as a trouble shooting method if a problem arises. (Whatever you decide will be ok)

Now if it was a used computer then I would do a fresh install so you know exactly what is installed on the computer by any third party.

If that makes any sense?

Ahh Jaysen you beat me to it.
:slight_smile:

the other option was just to beat you. I couldn’t find my club …

don`t chase after him with a club!! Just shoot the fecker!! :open_mouth: jeeezzz!!!

Fluff

“Pilot to bombardier. We have the target in sight. Aim for the limping dog. I repeat, aim for the limping dog.”

a waste of time against my, ‘Splat’, deflecting force field.

I stopped by a Mexican Burrito Stand and I am now equipped with ground penetrating radar…

Easily my favorite thing about L&L is the thought – no, the near certainty – that my most innocuous question will, within a few short posts, take a turn for the surreal. No, the daft. It’s like reading a really helpful User Guide, peppered with random Led Zeppelin lyrics. :smiley: <-- That means I think this is a good and admirable thing.

Well if it is a NEW one with a virgin install from the factory then there is no need. I would
We come from the land of the ice and snow,
though plug it up and check for any Apple software updates and install those first
from the midnight sun where the hot springs blow.
before beginning to install 3rd party programs.
The hammer of the gods
Myself I like to run all the Apple updates (if any) then use Disk Utility to repair
Will drive our ships to new lands,
permissions before installing third party programs (force of habit). I sometimes find
To fight the horde, singing and crying
that some Apple Updates (like iTunes) sometimes tend to have permission issues after
Valhalla, I am coming!
an update. Many people practice repairing permissions after there is a problem because
On we sweep with threshing oar,
of the way OSX works (since 10.3). So if you asked around some people practice the old
Our only goal will be the western shore.
way of repairing permissions before installation, some repair after installation, and some
Ah, ah,
only repair as a trouble shooting method if a problem arises. (Whatever you decide will
We come from the land of the ice and snow,
be ok)
from the midnight sun where the hot springs blow.

Now if it was a used computer then I would do a fresh install so you know exactly what
How soft your fields so green,
is installed on the computer by any third party.
Can whisper tales of gore,
If that makes any sense
[size=200]We are your overlords.[/size]
:smiling_imp: :smiling_imp: :smiling_imp: :smiling_imp: :smiling_imp:
:mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
:laughing: :laughing: :laughing: :laughing: :laughing:

Wock:

Oddly, if I read your last post backwards, it tells me how to install Microsoft Word.

To return to the original theme, when I buy a new machine I prefer to clone the contents of the old one. It has the latest system and application updates, and my preferences. Apple does not make this an easy process, however. For anyone interested, here are the details:

Cloning two machines
Situation: you have an old machine (A) and want to clone the system/files to a new machine ©.

Assumptions:
(1) (A) and © are both desktops, or both laptops.
(2) you want identical system software on both (Leopard/Leopard or Tiger/Tiger)
(3) you have made all the latest Software Updates to (A).

Warning: don’t use Apple’s Migration Assistant. It misses many files.
Instead, between (A) and © place an external hard drive (B).
Use two Firewire cables that have identical USB plugs (sorry, called A/A).
Connect cables from (B) to (A) and © Firewire ports.

  1. Prepare external drive by erasing its contents.
    Turn on (A) and (B), leave © turned off.
    Open Disk Utility.
    Select (B). Click Erase tab. Select Volume Format: Mac OS Extended (Journaled)
    Drag (B) icon to Name. It should copy. If not, re-name (B) and try again.
    Now click Erase… button. To the query that appears, click OK.
    That will erase all previous data on the external drive (B).

  2. Make a disk image of the old machine software (A)
    Click on Restore tab.
    To the Source box, drag disk (A). To the Destination box, drag disk (B).
    Click Restore. To the query that appears, click OK. A progress bar indicates time till completion.

  3. Prepare new machine by erasing its contents.
    Leave (A)and (B) on, turn on © an hold down the T key, to start in Target Mode.
    If that fails to happen, check all connections, turn off ©, restart with T key held down.
    A Firewire icon appears on the screen of ©, and it mounts on the desktop of (A)
    In Disk Utility, click the Erase tab. Drag drive icon © to Name.
    Click Erase… button. To the query that appears, click OK.
    That will erase all previous data on the new machine ©.

  4. Restore data from (B) to ©
    Click on Restore tab
    To the Source box, drag disk (B). To the Destination box, drag disk ©.
    Click Restore. To the query that appears, click OK. A progress bar indicates time till completion.
    When process is complete, dismount drive © on machine (A), then turn off ©.

  5. Start up the new machine ©
    You should see an exact copy of the system/files that are also on (A).
    Some software may require new registration; some preferences may need updating.

Last successful cloning: two iMacs on Wed 14 May 2008.

Beware though if the two machines are different models or different versions because many times the OS will install certain files based on the model type and could cause “gremlins” if cloned to another machine that is differnt in model or build type.

Almost there were a few instructions left out that are viable in installing word.

(1) Buy all new hardware that has Vista pre-installed.
(2) Downgrade Vista to XP then install all 6,572 updates and patches rebooting after every single one.
(3) After installed you must purchase at least two more Microsoft products in order to authenticate Word to run.
(4) If it is Mac OSX then Word will attempt to delete all earlier versions of Office forcing you to buy a more expensive version of Office which will fail to run on your hardware (leading you back to (1) )

There are a few more but if I list them I will violate the EULA with Microsoft and I will have to pay them extra money to breathe.

I use Synchronize! Pro X – overkill, I know, for a single user, but I have found it to be absolutely rock solid, fast, and the people at Qdea have always been extremely helpful, even to the extent of emailing me copies of updates because their download server is one which the Chinese system in its infinite wisdom it considers necessary to block! – and have it set to do a bootable system back-up every night at 3 a.m.

If I was wanting to clone one laptop/desktop onto another, rather than going through druid’s lengthy process, I would simply reconnect my external HD to the new computer, boot the new computer from that and then use Synchronize! Pro X to do the reverse process and “back-up” from the external HD to the new internal one.

But I also agree with Wock about possible gremlins if the two machines are not the same model. After all, you can’t use the system disk that came with one model to boot a machine of a different model, so I presume that even when you install from a generic system DVD, it will still install model-specific code.

Mark

I beg the forgiveness of all normal people who read this post.

Backup theory is a point of considerable tension in the IT world for the very reasons mentioned so far in this thread. Primarily:
a) System space is machine specific
b) User space encroaches on system space.

The glory of OS X (and to a much lesser degree other unices) is that to a large degree it eliminates item b unless you “do silly”. Here is how.

  1. app space is not in OS space except for highly specialized apps (like parallels).
  2. user space is entirely self contained. You never need to do anything outside your home directory IF YOU CHOOSE.
  3. keys/preferences are in user space, not OS space. Power users will object to this as we may edit /etc/* and other system files. I would argue that you are a POWER user and are INTENTIONALLY violating this point.

Now to the point. In a perfect world backups would only consist of
• User space data
• OS level variable changes (host name, network settings, etc).
What this means is that we would not do a “full backup” due to potential gremlins, but only backup user modified files.

Big freakin’ deal. Actually it is. If we can do backups using this method, migration becomes pretty simple. First we have to do the following on the running system (note these are “standard” best practices).

  1. Keep ALL your files in your home dir.
  2. Back it up.
  3. Keep all your software keys in soft and hard copy. Make sure all copies include URL.
    Now on the new system all we need to do is
  4. Basic config (create your user account, network, etc)
  5. install software.
  6. Restore home dir backup
  7. register any keys that were not restored with step #3.

I use a 1TB LaCie and a 300GB home brew array for backups. I can go from bare metal to up and running in about 2 hours (less than 30 minutes once the OS is installed). On windows it takes 6. On linux 4.

I hope all this makes sense. If not, and you want me to elaborate let me know.

Then again, you would need to confess that I have some usefulness. That would be hard to do, so feel free to just ignore the whole post.

Jaysen, great post. Maybe my method is overkill; maybe I was lucky. The machines were fairly near in age, but one was a PPC and the other an Intel, and the cloning worked. No instability or gremlins on the new one, after 6 months of use.

xiamenese, your nightly backup is sensible, in my view. I backup my home folder via Synchronize X Plus and create a bootable system backup as well, with SuperDuper! I do that every night, plus often send ZIP files of critical data to remote servers, three at the last count. These moves take about 6-7 minutes at most. You live in earthquake country, not to mention a very big dam that might tumble down one day. Can’t be too careful. An early gung how fat chow to you, me lad.

@Druid: I guess Synchronize X Plus + SuperDuper must = Synchronize X Pro, but I don’t know how the money adds up. SXPro was the first back-up system I found when I moved to OS-X, so I’ve continued with that … if I was starting over now, I might go for SuperDuper and save myself a few bawbees, but peace of mind is worth more than bawbees.

I also have DropBox and a .me account, as well as a 1TB TimeCapsule, though I’m in the process of trying to sort out how best to use the first two, and the TimeCapsule proved problematic over a wireless link, and I haven’t yet found the time/energy to re-set it to run over Ethernet … and I want to get rid of “under-the-desk-spaghetti”!

And you’re right, most of the back-up work only takes a few minutes … so well worth it.

As for earthquakes, we didn’t even feel the Sichuan quake here, though apparently they did in Beijing and Taiwan! The latter is very curious, as a) we’re in a more or less direct line between Wenchuan and Taiwan, and when they have one in the latter — about 5 since I’ve been here — we’ve had a very mild tremor that the majority of people didn’t even notice. But some 70 years ago, a Chinese scientist predicted 4 big earthquakes for China in different parts, the third being Sichuan and the fourth Fujian Province. The first three have happened … over the last 50 years, there have been major earthquakes in those three areas, so we must just hope!

As for that dam, we should be safe here; on the one hand we’re some 300 miles south of the Yangtze delta, and in between are all the mountains of northern Fujian — the average speed of trains in Fujian is only 25 Km/hour because of them. Xiamen to Yingtan in Jiangxi, the big railway junction city that acts as a rail-hub for southern China, is about the distance of London to Paris but it takes 17 hours! Not only that, but Xiamen is actually an island — I believe it is part of a volcano that blew itself to bits about 60 million years ago — so I don’t think any flood resulting from the bursting of the 3-Gorges dam will affect Xiamen … apart from the flood of refugees, that is.

But thanks for your wishes. :slight_smile:

Mark

Regarding those system level “power user” violations of ethic number three. :slight_smile: I keep record of everything I touch (or the nearest top-level if extensive edits exist below a directory) outside of the user and application area. I keep this record as a list of absolute path names in a text file, one resource per line. So an example file might look like:

/etc/apache2/httpd-amber.conf
/usr/lib/ruby/site_ruby/1.8/time.rb

Then as part of your backup script, execute:

cd /;DATE=`date +%Y%m%d-%H%M`;tar czf /Users/username/.system_backup-$DATE.tar.gz -T .backup_system_files.txt

Assuming the above text file is the hidden file named .backup_system_files.txt, this will create a hidden tar archive called system_backup.tar.gz in your home directory. If this is run prior to every routine backup, you will have a complete copy of all system level modifications in your user folder for safe keeping. If any of the system files are things you would not want to migrate in the future (for example, hardware related launchd scripts or something), you can keep a separate exclusion list in the same format as the backup list, listing each file or top-level you do not wish to migrate.

Then once you get your user space migrated to the new machine, assuming backup file name .system_backup-2008-12-09-1001.tar.g:

cd /;sudo tar xzf /Users/newusername/.system_backup-2008-12-09-1001.tar.gz -X /Users/newusername/.system_exclude_migration.txt

You’ll need to type your administrator password for this command to work. Naturally, you would probably want to test these commands in some area other than ‘/’ before actually committing them. This procedure works only as well as you maintain it, obviously. If you didn’t want serial archives being created every time you back up, you can remove the $DATE bit from the first command and replace the DATE= command with a rm to wipe the old archive before writing a new one. Then you’ll just have a copy of the latest files in one place. If you do not need an exclusion file, you can remove everything after and including the -X parameter.

This does not address things like the installation of complex software like TeTeX or MySQL. Honestly, it would probably be easier to just download and install things like that again, than to try and backup every single file involved in them (not to mention a huge waste of backup media space). But definitely mark down the TeX files you change and add, to this file.