I seem to get new Macs often enough that rather than doing it for fun, I actually need a list of softwares and tricks to get a new one up to speed to make it easier. I’ve crossed out things I used in the past but not any more.
Most recently I stepped up to Lion with clean installs (one copy is good for all your Macs) using the purchased USB stick. There’s a wee trick to it.
- Run software update
- set shell to zsh in System Preferences (restart to take effect)
- DropBox to pull all your stuff together over multiple computers, link various common preference files like .zshrc etc.
- Google Drive (you might want to think about the terms and conditions first… it’s pretty hopeless anway)
- AeroFS is another file syncing thing you could try
- MySQL and Sequel Pro (wee fix for the pref pane to work here)
- stilts to put stuff in and out of MySQL databases (need /Library/Java/Extensions/mysql-connector-java-5.1.8-bin.jar, just google it and copy it there)
- iStat Pro
- add google account for mail and calendars
- turn of IPv6 so I can send mail from school (networksetup -setv6off Ethernet)
- Quicksilver from Blacktree
- IDL (do sudo idl to get rid of some Time Machine error message, need to get old help files to work with IDLWave for Emacs, see instructions) I’ve not been able to compile 64bit external routines on Lion, but 32bit ones can be made to run by invoking idl in 32bit mode as idl -32.
- Xcode from the
OSX DVD App store (install command line tools in XCode preferences)
- Firefox (and add-ons such as AdBlock Plus)
- homebrew for unix stuff, I’m trying this instead of fink or macports. Edit /etc/paths to put /usr/local/bin first
- LaTex (then do: texconfig paper a4)
- add /etc/hosts.deny and /etc/hosts.allow files to block all but a few select IPs from ssh’ing in
- sesame name resolver
- set up web sharing to serve this website, bit of a saga to move everything over…
Stuff below here not actually installed on Lion yet…
There will be plenty more, I haven’t even thought about the Perl modules I need or Python yet, but this is enough to get me started…
The stuff below is probably starting to get a little out of date since it goes back several computers, I expect it’ll still work fine…
I’ve managed to save probably 10Gb on my mac by getting rid of a few things that get put on by default. Aperture example projects, Garageband stuff, iPod photo thumbs, there are probably plenty more if you go looking…
Upgrading to Leopard 10.5 was easy. Just a few simple steps to get my fav apps up and running again…
- X11: The macsingularity.org site has a note and link to the macosforge X page, where I downloaded the X11 installer. I got 2.1.3 and it works nicely. The only trick was to remove a line setting the DISPLAY environment variable, which is not redundant in X11.
- Growl: I didn’t have to do anything with growl, but the mail notification stops working. There is a workaround here that I haven’t gotten around to trying yet. More info in the forums.
- .mac thingy in menu bar: Leopard has a .mac sync icon in the menu bar by default. You can get rid of it by ctrl-dragging it out of the bar.
- Boinc: I use a few spare cpu cycles to look for alien signals from outer space. I had to reinstall boinc to continue doing so.
- Gimp: I realised I was way out of date with my gimp installation, so got the latest copy.
- Onyx: To keep my mac nice and tidy I use onyx to clean things up every once in a while. There’s a new version compatible with Leopard.
- Aperture: I value my Aperture library a lot (A LOT) so don’t include it in my time machine backups. I don’t actually use time machine anyway (I do my own thing) so it’s not a problem.
I had some battery issues briefly, but fixed them with a reset of the power management system. See this post. Now the battery is screwed again, beyond the help of resetting etc… Time for a new one, and I’ll be suggesting to my local apple store that I shouldn’t have to buy one since I only got my computer less than a year ago.
The other day I wandered down there and got it replaced. Free. No worries.
The problem is likely that I use my mac for school, so it sits on my desk charging all day. And night when I take it home. The recommendation: cycle it properly every once in a while. I learned that you can actually remove the battery while the computer is asleep (and while its charging). Thus you can get to school/work/wherever, take the battery out, plug the power in, and fire it up. Just don’t trip on the power cord while its running.
If you take the battery out while the mac is already sleeping it will enter ‘safe sleep‘ mode, which I believe is like windows hibernation, and doesn’t require any battery power. The pulsing sleep light will go out, and it’ll look a little funny when restarting. Googling ‘mac safe sleep‘ gets a bunch of useful information…
If your new macbook doesn’t have 2Gb of RAM it probably isn’t going as well as it might… this was my experience anyway.
One of the cool things about macs is that with an external firewire hard drive, one can make a bootable backup drive. I learned how to do this from several sources on the web, and put them together into a nice automated system that ensures I’m always safe from disasters. The backup takes about half an hour for about 100Gb of stuff. I happened to notice the Sophos slows it down massively so I turn it off.
The heart of the backup is rsync, a unix utility that makes a duplicate of the mac’s hard drive on the external drive. There are many ways to do this, such as GUI apps like rysncx etc. I prefer to do it the old fashioned way with a shell script, copied from this macresearch.com article. It also requires a file of backup-excludes. When upgrading to Leopard I had to include two new excludes, /home and /net/*.
The script rsync’s my hard drive and copies a few other bits and pieces, just to be on the safe side. See the article from where I stole it for details… There’s a little trick you can use to avoid having to type your password every time the script does something with sudo. The script ‘blesses’ the external drive so that it becomes bootable. My script also does some networked rsyncing so I have to give my password to SSHKeychain anyway.
It also creates a file so spotlight doesn’t insist in showing me things that are on the external drive. Hence the line “touch /Volumes/OSX/.metadata_never_index”, which creates a file to avoid indexing. The link I think I got it from is in my bookmarks but isn’t working right now, try searching “spotlight external drive never index” or something.
For scheduling, I use launchd. With Tiger (10.4) launchd didn’t count time when the mac was asleep, and hence a half hour sleep meant any scheduled job would run half an hour late. This problem has been fixed in Leopard (10.5), so that jobs meant to run during sleep run when the computer is woken. Here is my version of the xml file that goes in ~/Library/LaunchAgents/ to make it happen. To let the computer know its there enter the command “launchctl load file“. Typing “launchctl list” tells you which agents you have loaded as a check. Alternatively you can log out and in again.
The final ingredient is growl, which I use to notify me of what the script is doing. Growlnotify has some issues with Leopard at present, but mostly does ok.
Finally, to boot from you hard drive hold down the option key when you push the power button to start your mac…
python and pylab
I recently upgraded to Leopard, and had to reinstall everything to get this all to work again, see this post.