“If there’s one adjective to describe a brand new 15″ Powerbook, ‘slow’ should not be it.” And so, with those words of wisdom from an Apple tech, I rebuilt my 2-month old system this weekend.
What had originally gone wrong, I surmise, is the migration of data and applications from the older iBook. Instead of doing a direct transfer, I was using a GUI interface for the Unix
rsync utility called RsyncX which allowed me to perform incremental backups instead of transferring gigs of data every evening as I backed up my system.
Sounds good in theory, but where it went wrong was when I originally set up the Powerbook with a different default account name than the iBook. Because rsync preserves permissions (which are far more important in the world of Unix than in the land of Microsoft) and the permissions were mapped to the old account, data and settings were inaccessible until I dropped into the Terminal and
chmoded my way free.
Okay, so, this also should have worked, in theory. But I suspect my fumbling through the data transfer and subsequent repair efforts caused problems that manifested in the following way: a 1.5Ghz G4 felt slower than an 800Mhz G3 with a similar amount of RAM. The system diagnostics CD told me the hardware was fine, so something a little more subtle was happening.
After using Windows for ten years I’m used to using a hammer where a screwdriver is better suited. The old standby when nothing else works is reinstalling your OS from scratch, and since I’m new enough to Mac ownership that I don’t yet know a better method, that was my way out.
Gritting my teeth and making gratuitous use of my external Firewire drive (there is nothing greater than blazing transfer speeds; we’re talking gigs per minute) I buckled down to re-partition the hard drive and install a fresh copy of the OS. Two hours of waiting for status bars, clicking the odd button, inserting new CDs, downloading essential third-party apps and I was back up to speed. Just about everything is back to the way it was before, with the minor exception of my NetNewsWire list. Whoops, forgot to save out my 130-odd subscription. Oh well, at least the important stuff is covered; it’s time to find some new sites and prune the cruft anyway. (side note: if you don’t have RSS auto-discovery happening on your site, I’m very annoyed with you at the moment.)
It will be a few days before I know for sure whether this made the difference, but it feels way, way faster already; enough so that a smile of relief has been plastered on my face all afternoon. Lesson learned: permissions are a cruel mistress. Treat them kindly.