Unchained malady

For once, I’m not going to concentrate my guts, Nothing has changed: various indicators (from samples taken a week or so ago) are all ok. There is still pain almost all the time – it just moves about – and it still takes me two or three minutes to stagger from one end of the flat to the other. However I slept all through last night, the first full night’s sleep in ages. Perhaps this was because I stayed awake all through yesterday.

I’m occasionally able to be productive for up to 30 minutes at a time, even though I spend a majority of the time in my nest. So far today has been relatively active: I’ve staggered to and from my GP’s surgery, and posted some items to a community council website. However, I then lay down and started this blog, then slept for a couple of hours. I’m not yet able to work on academic things but watch this space… (I’m unusually optimistic right now.)

The rest of this post is as tedious and unproductive as it was to live through the actual events.

One of my wishes has been to upgrade the OS on my main Mac to the current version (‘El Capitan’, aka 10.11). I don’t like some of the iOS-alike features in recent versions of MacOS but it’s becoming clear that some of the software I rely one will soon not work under older versions of MacOS. IGGY had been left at ‘Mavericks’/10·9 for quite a while, mostly because I didn’t want to disrupt a working system, and hadn’t had time or energy to spend a couple of days on a full nuke & pave.

My main mac and his back-up regime

IGGY is a 2009 Mac Pro, contains 5 lumps of storage:

  • 2 TB hard disk partitioned into
    • 1 TB: secondary backups
    • 0·5 TB: raw GoPro movie footage
    • 0·5 TB: unused before this upgrade
  • 0·6 GB hard disk: primary CarbonCopyClone nightly backup
  • 1 TB SSD: OS, apps & data
  • 0·5 TB hard disk: backup of GoPro movie footage
  • 0·5 TB SSD: previous installation of MacOS (10·8/’Mountain Lion’)

In addition, data is backed up hourly to two Time Capsules and on the fly to an offsite destination. (The Time Capsules are also used to back up my MacBook Air, which (thanks to Cubby) keeps its data synchronised with IGGY. The MacBook Air also has a separate nightly clone to an external hard disk.) These multiple on-board back-ups are why I don’t currently want a new Mac Pro – the dustbin design can only take one 1 TB lump of storage. Lots of external drives won’t be pretty or that practical. So I normally have seven current data back-ups and two back-ups of OS and applications. (Strictly speaking, a clone isn’t a back-up but it’s near enough for my purposes.)

Day 1: Preparation

I vastly prefer fresh installations – they get rid of cruft and ensure that if anything fails, it’s from what I’ve done just now. The drawbacks are that they take longer, lose preferences and require working back-ups of data. But my experience is that they work far better than installing new OSes over the top of old ones. (I don’t do this for point upgrades or upgrades to individual bits of software.) So earlier this week I ensured the CCC, Time Capsule and offside backups were OK, made a fresh CCC clone of the existing OS, apps and data onto the 1TB hard disk partition so that I’d be able to completely revert the changes I was about to inflict, then made the unused 0·5 TB partition into a stand-alone installer for the new OS. That took most of a day.

Day 2: Installation, data restoration and first new back-up

The next day I booted IGGY from the installer volume, fully erased the 1 TB SSD, installed the new OS on it and copying back my data – 500 GB of mostly music and movies. I then cloned the new installation to the 0·6 TB hard disk.

Day 3: ‘give me back my music!’

The next day I wanted to listen to some music while I fixed an issue with Elly’s iPad, but the music I chose had apparently been bought from the iTunes Store under an old AppleID, However, I had no record of that ID’s password. Neither did Apple’s systems – they didn’t even accept that this was an AppleID. I have no recollection of ever using it – I thought that all my dealings with iTunes were under my current AppleID, namely my current personal email address. I found that if I booted IGGY from the 10·8 installation, it would play its copy of this music. It knew this AppleID, and Keychain Access told me what this password is.

I rebooted IGGY from the new (10·11) ) installation and fed iTunes these credentials. No joy. I rebooted IGGY from the clone of the 10·9 installation. Still no joy. I checked Apple’s systems again – they still didn’t accept that this was a genuine AppleID, even though my iPad and iPhones were synced to that installation and play this music.

I rebooted IGGY from the new installation again and used Keychain Access to add the 10·8 Keychain data to the new installation’s Keychain. Again no joy. Having mucked about with the deep voodoo of KeyChains and iDevice back-ups including music I don’t own, I wanted to return this installation to a pristine state, so I booted IGGY from the 10·11 clone which hadn’t undergone this voodo, then cloned that to the 1TB SSD. That took ages, so I left it running overnight.

Day 4: it doesn’t work!

In the morning I found that Mail didn’t work – it claimed to be an old version that didn’t suit this OS. Mail doesn’t have the world’s best reputation, so I would have blamed that piece of software until I found the same was true of other key Apple software on this supposedly pristine installation. Victims included Preview, TextEdit, Disk Utility, iTunes, and AppStore. I’m unsure whether the usually bomb-proof CarbonCopyCloner had failed or whether the OS had corrupted itself. In any case, the new installation was now unusable. So I nuked the SSD again and reinstalled the OS, apps and data.

I’m left with a version of MacOS I don’t really like. (For me, the best version of OS X was ‘Snow Leopard’/10·6 – it was powerful, simple and fast – while the most aesthetically pleasing and functional MacOS user interface was MacOS9.) I can’t play some of my favourite music on my main Mac or laptop. I’m afraid to synchronise my iDevices to this installation in case they lose the ability to play it. I am not a happy camper!


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