November 22, 2005
Over the weekend I installed Mac OS X release 10.4 on my two Macintoshes. Overall the experience was a good one. Apple includes a nice "archive and install" option that makes a copy of the current OS installation just in case. Selecting this option also enables the more important, in my estimation, "preserve users and network settings" option. Which does exactly what it claims to do: preserves your home directory.
When we updated from 10.2.x to 10.3 I made good use of the preserve option on both machines. The only lost data was my fault. I have lots of open source software that I use for J2EE Web application development, and it all lives in the "/usr/local" directory on my machine. Naturally, "preserve users" isn't setup to backup this directory, and I wasn't paying close enough attention in my haste to upgrade. So I lost all the packages temporarily until they could be downloaded and installed again. The only real damage was to my ego.
As I recently upgraded my hard drive, and installed the original into a FireWire/USB enclosure, I thought that this upgrade would go very smoothly, without even losing the /usr/local directory tree. The funny thing about having a backup device is that now your focus shifts slightly. Without a backup you kind of ignore the potential to lose your entire digital life, damn the backups, full speed ahead!
With a backup potential at hand you suddenly face the possibility that you'll lose all your data and that the backup had better be good. And that the restore process had better work as well. Adding to the pressure was my very real awareness that the documents on Michele's computer were now truly irreplaceable.
However, as I said at the start, the experience was a good one. Both installs worked with out a hitch. And restoring my development libraries worked flawlessly as well. So now both computers are
Tiger, tiger burning bright, In the forests of the night...