Using Time Machine to Migrate from PowerPC to Intel

I ran a very interesting experiment last night… and I didn’t even mean to do it.

As you probably know by now, my PowerMac G5 died last Friday.  (Apple *still* hasn’t figured out why).  In any case, the new Mac Pro arrived yesterday, and it was my first opportunity to really put Time Machine to the only test that counts – restore.

When I booted the Mac Pro for the first time, it asked if I wanted to restore the machine from a Time Machine backup.  I said yes, without thinking, because it seemed like an obvious way to get back up and running as soon as possible.

It took about 3+ hours to restore over 200GB, but after the long install, I had my computer largely working as I left it.  The last Time Machine backup was literally maybe 37 minutes before the final crash, and everything was restored.  Documents I expected.   Applications I expected.  Then I noticed it also migrated System & Library files… uh oh.

The Mac Pro is Intel-based.  The PowerMac is PowerPC-based.  I suddenly became very aware of the problems that I might have caused.

I was able to easily walk through my applications one by one to check whether they were Universal or PowerPC.  Most were already Universal, but a few were PowerPC, like older versions of Acrobat Reader, Stuffit Expander, and some video applications.  I deleted them, and downloaded new Intel versions… likely a good housecleaning anyway.  (I even found a few Mac OS Classic applications in there!)

Unfortunately, the world of extensions and bundles loaded by Mac OS X was a little mysterious to me, especially with regard to things like control panels, menu extensions, background services, etc.  I was worried I would need to do a clean install to fix everything.  Of course, the system seems fine, but I was worried nonetheless.

Well, I have good news.

It looks like there are limitations to the Mac OS X Rosetta technology that prevent Intel-based applications from loading PowerPC bundles.  As a result, most extensions, etc that are not Universal won’t load.  Harmless.

I also found a great tip on Mac OS X Hints, which I wanted to share here.  You can use the Activity Monitor application to tell which processes are running PowerPC or Intel.  Here is how you do it:

  1. Launch Activity Monitor.  It’s in your Utilities folder, which is in Applications.
  2. Right-click on the title of the table, and check off “Kind”
  3. You will now have a column that says “PowerPC” or “Intel”

The good news for me tonight is that only two processes running are PowerPC:  Quicken 2007 (which I guess I need to replace), and the Disk Warrior Hard Drive Daemon (likely an upgrade issue).

In fact, the only bad news I’ve gotten so far on the migration is that the TWAIN driver for my scanner, an Epson Perfection 1660 Photo is PowerPC only, so it requires me to set Adobe Photoshop CS3 to Rosetta-mode.  Hello, Epson, I upgraded to CS3 specifically so it could run natively on Intel…

I’ll likely be hitting people up for suggestions on either native drivers, or a new photo scanner pretty soon.

Gripe Post #2: Apple SuperDrive Stopped Reading DVD Video

Weird.  It’s as if my PowerMac G5 knows that I want to replace it, and it’s starting to rebel.

Last night, it just stopped reading DVD Video discs.  Still reads data DVDs just fine, as well as CDs.  But DVD Video spins a few times, fails to mount, and self-ejects.

I thought it was some special disc-protection dreamt up by the MPAA, but nope.  It’s every DVD movie disc.

I found about 100 threads on the topic from the last month on the Apple discussion boards, which are great, BTW.  Unfortunately, many of them date back to late March.  All of them claim the 10.5.2 release broke the drive for certain types of disc with a firmware update.  Strangely, instead of fixing the software, it seems that Apple is going with a hardware-based solution.  This is the best thread so far, which also has pointers to a manual hack to restore firmware for Matsushita drives.  (mine, unfortunately, is a different brand)

I guess I’m making a trip to the Apple Store this weekend.  Until then, no DVD movie discs for this G5.  Thank goodness for AppleCare.