the death and re-birth of my macbook pro

Allow me to give you a brief summary of how the couple of last days have gone for me.

-1. playing with huge-6G-video files to create a video podcast and eventually ‘run dangerously low on disk space’
0. try erasing the big files lying around my disk
1. next morning the computer doesn’t start. just before getting to the login screen it sends me to a text-only full-screen console. I can login and access my data but that’s about it.
2. panic!
3. start in safe mode (pressing shift) – can’t repair things
4. start in single-user mode (pressing apple and S), faults are found on the disk using ‘fsdk’ and repaired but it still doesn’t start correctly
5. start computer as disk (pressing T) and connect via firewire to Randy’s hard-disk, all data in user folder is backed up. Thanks! (I have a hard-drive back at home in Brighton and was stupid enough to not consider bringing it with me, somehow I though you don’t need to do backups while you are away from your home, more realistically, i just didn’t think everything through before coming to bloomington).
6. Randy kindly runs disk utility on my hard drive from his computer – no more faults are found – says disk is Ok – but it still fails to start
7. start the computer using Randy’s Mac OS X install DVDs (because the ones that belong to this laptop are at Sussex! – not too much bright thinking here)
8. attempt to do a full install of Mac OS X while saving ‘previous system’
9. but after 2 hours of installation and 1 minute before ‘finishing up’ it can’t file some script to install Garage Band and (iWeb at a different point) and sits there doing nothing for at least an hour.. the log verifies that it is just sitting there.
10, 11, 12, 13,.. after trying the same thing about 3 times – adding up to around 6 hours.. the computer still does not start.
15. try re-installing again from scracth – again saving the previous system – this time making sure only the essential stuff is getting installed – and the rest of the bundled software i’m leaving out – including fonts and printer files, etc.
16. success! 11pm. computer re-starts. finally get to see the login screen. all of the applications seem to be there and working. the only application that has given me a bit of extra work is Mathematica because I had to re-enter the license and password. all of the data is still there too. Although I had to erase all 30Gig of music in order to fit the saving of the ‘previous system’ which are 15 Gig and 10 Gig, each. All of this music I have backed up at home in Brighton and in Randy’s hard disk.

for some odd reason the few things that are missing are silly things such as the wallpaper image and my settings for the menu meters – can’t notice anything else that has changed. fingers crossed.

one question that I have now is what are the ‘previous system’ files for? do I need them?


2 thoughts on “the death and re-birth of my macbook pro

  1. The “Previous System” folders contain backups of things like your settings and documents from before the reinstall. They were mainly needed during the reinstall process, but they’re kept around afterwards in case you need to manually recover anything from there. You may find things like the wallpaper in there, but you may also decide it’s not worth the hassle….

    My recommendation would be to try and do some task with each program you use, and if they all behave as you expect then compress the Previous System folders, and after a few days (just to make sure something doesn’t suddenly occur to you that you needed to recover) delete them.

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