Formatting and Reinstalling Mac OS X Lion

March 06, 2012

Last week I rebuilt my work desktop, a 27" iMac, in an effort to get the new SSL VPN client from Cisco to work without causing a kernel panic. This was successful and so I repeated the process on my personal laptop as it also panciked after 30 seconds of connection via AnyConnect.

Rebuilding a TimeMachine supported work computer is one thing. Rebuilding your personal computer -- home to all your pictues, documents, and other assorted bits of digital flotsam -- is a vastly more stressful endevor.

I started by making a bootable copy of my hard drive using Carbon Copy Cloner. Knowing that a complete copy of my hard drive would take hours I started the process late Saturday evening and went to bed after making sure it was running properly. Sunday morning the process had completed.

Next I verified that the clone was bootable. Restarting my MacBook Pro while holding down the Option key I was able to select which drive to boot from. The clone booted perfectly, if a bit slower than the regular hard drive. After rebooting again to the internal hard drive, I made sure I could mount the FireWire drive and access its contents.

Inserting a DVD I made for the iMac project, that contains a bootable copy of Mac OS X Lion, I rebooted the computer again, this time holding down the C key to boot from the optical drive. Using Disk Utility I crossed my fingers and formatted the drive. Having crossed the Rubicon I then spent the rest of Sunday and a good chunk of Monday rebuilding my machine.

The process, while time consuming, as been straight forward and relatively easy. As I noted yesterday, having a Github repository with my primary configuration files made getting much of my daily use environment reestablished far easier. Having learned from past experience I kept notes in Evernote as I went along -- should I ever need to repeat this process I'll have a recipe to follow.

Here then, for posterity, are my notes.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Monday, March 5, 2012

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Epilogue

There are a few more tasks yet to complete. I need to install Portal and Portal2 again, and set up Sibelius. And I'm still tweaking various fonts sizes, Growl notification settings, et cetera.

Wiping my hard drive and starting over has resolved the issue of kernel panics when running AnyConnect. However this solution didn't solve the problem. I don't know what was common to both the iMac and MacBook Pro that caused the crashes. I've got another MacBook Pro that also has Lion installed and it works perfectly with the new AnyConnect client. My best guess is that there was some low-level residue left over from installing/removing software, and or from migrating from Snow Leopard (and Leopard before that). It was a heavy handed solution that ends the problem.

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Mark H. Nichols

I am a husband, cellist, code prole, nerd, technologist, and all around good guy living and working in fly-over country. You should follow me on Twitter.