Woes of Lion & Hardware Failures

It’s been a while since my last home desktop/workstation purchase, and I’ve just about maxed-out my upgrades on the old Mac Pro. I’ve been considering picking up a new computer for some time now, but torn over the cost/benefit. Listening to my podcasts it sounded like Apple’s looking to replace the Mac Pros for the most part, with the newer iMacs. I scoffed at the iMacs back when I bought my Mac Pro, but now they’re actually pretty nice. Plus, an iMac wouldn’t generate nearly as much heat, use nearly as much power, and weigh nearly as much as The Beast that is my Mac Pro. So recently, I decided to take the plunge.

I visited the Apple store one weekend for other reasons, and asked them about their iMac stock, you know, since I was already there. They don’t carry the upgraded model that I wanted (no surprise) so I’d have to order it online and wait. And that’s when the fun began…

When we returned home from the Apple store that day, it’s like the Mac Pro just knew. It seemed to retaliate and refused to boot up. Nothing I tried seemed to work – just the normal startup tone and a gray screen. Eventually, after I sucked it up and ordered the iMac, I realized that it was a system drive failure.

The iMac finally arrived and I was all giddy setting up my new toy. The screen is ridiculous. I just wish it was under better circumstances – I wanted to migrate my data over to it more gracefully, and at my own leisure…

I’ve learned a number of things during the setup of my iMac. First, I already knew that my most recent data backup was not really up to date (my bad), but at least I had something. Secondly, the Library folder is hidden in OS X Lion – so it takes just a little extra effort to migrate my data over to the new machine. And third, the folder structures in Lion have changed – significantly. I can no longer do a simple folder copy from one machine to another in order to “migrate” my data. It just won’t work.

I tried the migration assistant, which worked. Kind of. Since the iMac was already setup with a user account it needed to migrate the data over to a new user account. After that, I tested copying the Mail & Calendar folders over to the original user account now that they’ve been converted to the new folder structure – but that presented with a handful of permissions issues that I need to work through. The Calendar seemed to be mostly OK after that, but Mail just wasn’t quite right and, frustrated, I left it there.

I was actually able to get the old system drive working long enough to grab my Library & a few other folders off of it – so the data backup issue is no longer an issue. Now I just need to get everything Lion-ified.

So here’s my current plan of action (because I know that everyone’s just dying to know):

  1. I scavenged another drive and rebuilt the Mac Pro with 10.6 & installed all of the updates.
  2. I’ve started “restoring” my Mail, Calendar, and Address Book data back to the Mac Pro in 10.6 format.
  3. Once that’s confirmed OK, I need to install my older version of iPhoto, make sure the photo library is OK, then link my iTunes library to the proper location and make sure that’s OK.
  4. Then, I need to install the new version of iPhoto so that it’ll update the iPhoto library database. Apparently I decided at the wrong time to upgrade iPhoto – JUST prior to the failure. It didn’t actually install due to App Store connection issues…

That will be the end of the preparation phase. After that, I can go one of two routes:

  1. Upgrade the Mac Pro to Lion and migrate the data over from there.
  2. Reinstall Lion on the iMac and use the Migration Assistant to hopefully grab my data and migrate it over for me from the Mac Pro.

I’m going to reinstall Lion on the iMac anyway, because at this point I’ve tinkered so much that I don’t trust it’s stability. It’s already started throwing kernel panics. 🙁

This effort better be worth it! From what I’ve seen of the iMac and Lion so far, I think I’ll ultimately be pretty happy. If I can ever finish getting it setup.

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