New laptop

I’ve been working on a 2011 MacBook Air since Spring of 2012. A&M is really nice in having a program to subsidize computer purchases for faculty, but unfortunately I had do spend my faculty workstation funds a month or so before Apple updated the Airs, which meant that I got the version where 250G was the maximum SSD and the ports were USB2 instead of USB3. I’ve been meaning to replace it since I started getting close to filling up the disk. Plus I’ve actually worn the letters off several of the keycaps (as you can see in the picture)!


The SSD was so full that I moved my iTunes and iPhoto libraries to an external Volume using a Nifty Minidrive microSD card holder. But Time Machine keeps marking that Volume as one to not back up, even though I could have sworn that I changed that setting many times.

So, I finally decided to pull the trigger and order a new MacBook Air (spending my own money, as I’m not eligible for another workstation yet, and I don’t have the matching grant money right now anyway). It arrived today, so now I’m setting it up. This post is for notes on what worked and what didn’t

Migration assistant

The old Air was still running Lion while the new one came with Mavericks. I was running Lion because I didn’t want to deal with reinstalling MacPorts for the web development I do on my laptop, and I also figured that I was going to get a new machine anyway.  This meant that even though I attached the two laptops to each other using a thunderbolt cable, they didn’t handshake, so the transfer started using WiFi. Time estimate: more than 8 hours!  Attaching ethernet cables (I have one USB to ethernet and one thunderbolt to ethernet adaptor) during the transfer didn’t work, so I aborted the transfer and restarted it after I had created a temporary user on the new Mac. Using Ethernet the time was closer to 4 hours.

Interestingly, after the transfer, the old MacBook renamed itself because both machines had the same network names. The aborted transfer also did something very weird to the Applications folder. There is now a nameless folder with copies of all the Applications and a symlink to Applications. Deleted that.

Migration assistant seems to have moved my ssh keys.

iWork apps

Launching the App Store, I was prompted to accept the iWork apps. Cool. Got them.


Xcode does not automatically update, so I did that in the App store. Based on this post and the MacPorts documentation, it seems that I also needed to reinstall the command line tools, using

sudo xcode-select --install

but then I discovered that updating Xcode via the App Store isn’t good enough; it just updated to a higher version of 4.x instead of going to 5.x. I had to trash the old one and reinstall from the App store. The command line tools have to be downloaded from the Apple Developer Site. I really don’t understand why Apple took these outside of the XCode installation.


MacPorts recommends reinstalling, so I downloaded the package installer and installed it.  The migration guide suggests uninstalling everything. After confirming that

sudo port selfupdate
sudo port upgrade outdated

failed, I went ahead and did

port -qv installed > myports.txt  
sudo port -f uninstall installed  
sudo port clean all

and then reinstalled the things I think I need.  This was not straightforward as it should be. I think it turned out that I needed to reset xcode-select to use the Command Line tools that are separate from XCode.

xcode-select -r

This allows me to install the desired modules in MacPorts, even though every one of them gives a warning about how it will probably fail because XCode is not installed (even though it is).

On launching, it updated the database… badly for the IMAP account used by TAMU’s recent migration to Gmail. I’m seeing problems where messages have to be clicked multiple times in order to go to the trash, and worse, there are cases where the sender and subject of the email selected in the mail browser doesn’t match the one in the preview window. This has been seen by others.  Rebuilding didn’t help, but deleting the account and recreating it seems to have worked.

Time Machine

There isn’t anything in the Time Machine Preference Panel to set the backup to inherit the history from the old machine, but the first time I started a backup, it prompted me to ask if I wanted to do that.  I’m wondering how long the first backup will take… I started on Saturday afternoon and it’s been preparing backup for at least a couple of hours.

UPDATE: despite estimating that it would take much longer, the backup completed sometime earlier than 9:20 PM on Saturday. Sweet!

Microsoft Office

As expected, Word complained about needing a product key. Once I found it in my Amazon account, things seem to work.


I use MacPorts php with the Apple Apache2 to do web development (mostly in Mediawiki and WordPress). It seems that the Migration Assistant didn’t move files owned by the www user.  Rather than dig the desired files out of the old machine (by this time the new laptop and I were at work and the old laptop is at home), I downloaded new versions and installed fresh.