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Merrill Aldrich

Technical content about Microsoft data technologies. All opinions expressed are purely my own and do not reflect positions of my employer or associates.

OT: Mac++

Mac++ | C:\macOSX > bliss

It’s been about eight years (!) since my wife and I bought a computer for personal use. Last week we took delivery of a new MacBook Pro 13 2.26. And it’s fantastic! Sometimes if I work on a machine that’s slightly newer than the previous -- at work, for example -- there’s a little bump but the novelty wears off pretty quick. But get this: we went directly from a much loved Power Mac G4 Cube built about 2001 to a brand new Intel-based MacBook. Bam!

Bye Bye Cube


Still runs! Picture of the Cube, taken with the MacBook’s iSight camera. Note the old iSight camera on top of the monitor…

The old machine has a 450 mhz one core PowerPC processor, and shipped with 64 MB RAM and an 18 GB hard drive. We got one of the early Apple LCD displays, an Apple Studio 17. I upgraded the memory a few years ago to a whopping 320 MB, and got a 60 GB external firewire drive. I also replaced the DVD ROM with a burner and bought a Microsoft Arc mouse. The thing is, other than those updates, the Cube has run flawlessly all this time. It was expensive when we bought it, but we got eight years of good use out of it. It upgraded without issue all the way from the original OS to Mac OS 10.3. It’s also one of the few computer models in the industrial design collection of the New York MOMA, and industrial design is a weakness of mine. I have a real, personal attachment to it, and I’ll be sad to give it up. In November we finally hit a wall in terms of software upgrades with a deprecated version of iPhoto. C’est la vie. I’ll want to keep it with all my relic Macs as a keepsake; I’m sure my wife will want to be rid of it :-). [Edit: she’s sitting right here and says “No,” she wants to keep the Cube and continue to use it as a second machine!]

Hello Mac OS X 10.6 + Windows 7


Picture of the new MBP from the old Cube’s iSight

The upgrade experience has been really exceptional. I can remember (dating myself here) when you had to worry, especially with Windows, about things like interrupts and drivers and autoexec.bat. Macs were better, but they had issues too (remember Extensions? MultiFinder? Classic?). I am not really an Apple fanboy these days, having developed a fondness for, and then a career around SQL Server -- though about 1995 I’m sure I was. On the other hand, we’ve always had Macs at home, from my first $4,700 Mac II in 1988 right up to the present. Today I try to be OS agnostic, so the prospect of running Windows 7 and OS X integrated together on Apple hardware is almost too good to be true. I am giddy. Here’s what we did, in case anyone else is headed down this road. There are other, equally good methods, but this was great:

  1. Mirrored the Cube’s original hard drive to our external Firewire disk drive using the shareware SuperDuper! (No joke – I’ve had this for years as our backup solution. It makes a complete, bootable image of the original hard drive.)
  2. Ejected and unplugged the external drive from the Cube and connected its USB interface to the new MacBook.
  3. On the MacBook, ran the Apple Migration Assistant to bring all the data, user profile information and vintage apps across. Here I picked the option to make renamed user profiles on the new machine from the old profiles, while keeping a “clean” native user profile on the MacBook. I just like to start from scratch, especially when I am imagining eight-year-old bits.
  4. Some old apps we have are PowerPC binaries, which won’t be as fast on the new hardware, but I installed Apple’s Rosetta to run them anyway. They still work.
  5. Copied a pile of other files such as music and pictures from another partition on the external disk to the MacBook’s internal drive.
  6. I then downloaded vmware Fusion and installed it.
  7. Atop that, I bought Windows 7, downloaded and installed it from .ISO.
  8. Virus Protection for the Windows side, Windows Update patches
  9. Installed apps from our CDs on both OS’s
  10. Hooked adapters up from Apple to continue using our vintage Studio 17, driven by the MacBook

What’s incredible and satisfying: it all works. First time, no hassle. Two operating systems, one integrated desktop/UI. Wireless, multi-touch trackpad, everything. Amazing. The very next day my wife took the MacBook on a trip, taking with her real work requirements that had to be accomplished in both OS’s. She came back happy and reporting 100% success. Wow.

I wonder if because I have been at this a while (30 years fooling with computers, but who’s counting?) I have a greater appreciation for the engineering that made this possible. All these components, hardware, software libraries, chips, interfaces and standards converge to make something elegant, powerful – amazing. Here I sit writing in Windows Live Writer, on my Mac, connected to – with no issues. High five to Intel, Apple, vmware, Microsoft, Adobe. Wow.

Published Friday, January 22, 2010 12:02 AM by merrillaldrich

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AaronBertrand said:

Seems like a typical Mac experience.  Glad you're liking the new hardware.  I bought a Mac Pro last year to complement my MacBook Pro 17", and now do most of my work on the Mac Pro.  I maxed it out, so it should last some time.  I'm probably a year out or more before I will be getting a new MacBook, but I'm already giddy about it.  And even though I still focus on SQL Server, using Mac OS as primary (then Win 7 or 2008 R2 in VMWare, as you do) doesn't get in the way at all.  In fact I get more interruptions, distractions and troubleshooting sessions from my Windows PC at work.

January 22, 2010 8:26 AM

Geoff said:

I got it because it was an Unix with a nice GUI. Not that I don't like SQL Server.

January 25, 2010 4:12 PM

RobMcC said:

Yeah - it's a fantastic working environment isn't it! And you just suspend your windows session, knowing it will all come back OK. And knowing that Fusion is squirrelling away a copy of your entire windows machine just in case. I got my MBP to set up a client-server MS-Access - SQL-Server testbed in a box. Used VMware to clone my old desktop W2K machine as well.

January 26, 2010 3:39 PM

Uncle Ron said:

You are 100% correct, the migration to MacOS became a no brainier when you can run VMware and integrate windows into MacOS. A very nice read..... BTW, I am just as please as can be to see a little of the man you have grown to be.

March 7, 2010 6:45 AM

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February 9, 2019 8:29 AM

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