Mac OS X system migration

by Michael Alderete on 4/21/2003

As part of my hard disk replacement, I decided to do a complete reinstall of the operating system for my Mac G4. This is different from the Archive & Install project I undertook last year with the release of Mac OS X Jaguar. In this case I’m taking the most extreme approach, I actually installed Mac OS X 10.2 onto an erased hard disk, created my account from scratch, and have been re-installing all my software, and copying over settings and documents as I need them.

I am specifically not copying over my Users directory entire, because I want to leave behind all the cruft that has built up on my original installation, now more than two years old. I’ve installed so much software, some of which I now consider unsafe (Norton SystemWorks, for example), and some of which has become unnecessary, that it’s impossible to “undo” the changes they’ve wrought. The only way to get away is a completely clean installation, and deliberate installation of tools I actually use or need.

Of course, the downside is I lose much of the hundreds of hours that I’ve put into tweaking my system. Redoing the important stuff is a huge enough task that you have to ask, if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

The thing is, some things are broke. I have a downloads folder where all the items jump around in icon view, and the window shifts the scroll positions whenever I unmount a disk image. Weird stuff, that’s more annoying than a real problem. But because it’s unexplainable, and impossible to eliminate (and lord knows I’ve tried), it makes me worry about overall system correctness.

Anyway, I’m taking a similar approach as the one I took when I first migrated from Mac OS 9 to Mac OS X: move my e-mail and web browsing to the new system; everything else will follow.

It’s amazing, but those are my most constant, most important activities. Once those are migrated, there’s no going back, so I may as well head forward. There’s quite a bit still in front of me, so I’m sure I’ll post more on this topic as I run across helpful tips or interesting lessons.

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