The Mac(trix) Reloaded

Well, it finally happened. I knew it would be too good to last… I had to reload the operating system in my Mac. Noooooo!!!

Actually, it was a complete non-event. Let me give you a little history.

So far since I bought my Macbook Pro, the laptop has worked flawlessly. It always worked when I needed it, never when I didn’t and generally was the best behaved laptop I’ve ever owned. However, after a couple of major OSX revisions, stuff started to go a little haywire. First my sleep wouldn’t always work. Sometimes my laptop would fail to go to sleep, and sometimes it would fail to wake. This was a real problem once when I threw my Macbook Pro into my laptop bag before it had completely shut down, and when I got home I pulled it out to find it scalding hot. Thankfully, nothing was open, and after I let the thing cool off I powered it back on and was thankfully met with the familiar “chime” of Mac startup. Disturbing, but started me waiting until my MBP has completely gone to sleep before throwing it in my bag.

Anyway, that was the start of it. Then things started to get progressively worse, with my .Mac integration breaking entirely to the point where it would peg one of the CPU cores on boot and wouldn’t let it go. This required me to remove the .Mac sync extension entirely from the system; not a friendly way of breaking really.

Anyway, I also noted that something was running and had a memory leak. My memory was vanishing at a significant rate, so I made the decision to reload.

This was not a decision made lightly. Both Windows and Linux when they reload are quite destructive, so having never done it before with OSX I expected the worst, purchased a 100Gb external Firewire drive and backed up everything, plus a compressed drive image for good measure. Then I popped in the install DVD, rebooted holding down ‘C’ on the keyboard and hoped for the best.

An hour later, my machine rebooted and I started trying to figure out how many applications I would need to reinstall… when lo and behold my desktop popped up with the same custom wallpaper I’d had before. At first I suspected a failed reload, but when I poked around the Macintosh HD, I found my old system was completely backed up and a new one existed. Wow… now color me impressed!

OK, so it gets better! 95% of my applications just worked. No problems, no muss, no fuss… every app I double-clicked popped up like I’d never left. Sure, I knew that the way OSX packages applications meant this should happen, but I’m enough of a pessimist that I didn’t really expect it to work.

So what about the other 5%? Well, those were applications like Parallels Desktop, and some desktop items I have configured (like Menumeters) that require system extensions to run or install custom drivers. A quick reinstall of those applications and I was pretty much back where I started except my system now slept and woke properly.

Then I hit “Software Update” and pulled down all the latest updates. One reboot later, and my system was completely up-to-date and no problems. Wow, now I’m impressed. This was the easiest system reinstall I’ve ever done in my life, and the first I’ve ever done with OSX. This is the way every operating system should work!

The more I use OSX the more I find lots to love. I definitely think my next computer I buy (probably Rebekah’s next laptop) is going to be a Macbook… it just works so well that I can’t really resist. And if you REALLY feel the need to run Windows, there’s always Boot Camp… but that’s a blog posting for another day.

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