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#Correction: Mac Pro, Clean Installs vs. Deleting Users, Create Installers with Terminal


When I was first hired at Small Dog, my position was but that of a humble retail salesperson. Every week, I’d eagerly read Tech Tails in order to glean new tricks and wisdom from our senior technicians, who reminded me of street-toughened cops but actually ate more donuts. It amused me that Liam Flynn, a former senior tech, would open every single issue by commenting on the weather. Barry isn’t quite as ardent a weatherman, but I myself am just going to come out and say — IT’S FREAKIN COLD THIS MORNING!

I’m sure plenty of you are quite used to our mercurial New England weather though, so let me move on to warmer topics, like surfing, which is fun to do in popular places like Mavericks in California. Since we’re doing segues, Mavericks is Apple’s new OS as many of you know, named after the aforementioned surfing spot, and I have it on my home computer. It was the easiest OS upgrade I’ve ever encountered, it was free, and I’m expecting a very low volume of customer issues.

After a weeklong vacation in New York City, I’m back in the saddle here in the Waitsfield service department. I eagerly await the new R2D2-looking Mac Pros and have stocked up on napkins in anticipation of drooling. In a larger sense, I’m interested to find out what quirks Mavericks will present and ponder the future of OS X, computer architecture, and life.

Christopher B.

  Corrective article to "Mac Pro PCI Express Slots"  

Editor’s Note: The article, “Mac Pro PCI Express Slots”, featured in the last issue of Tech Tails was incorrectly attributed to Kyle S. Sorry about that, folks! This week, he offers some notes and corrections to the article that ran.

I want to take some time to make a few corrections to last issue’s Mac Pro article that I noticed and some that several customers have emailed to me. First: Thunderbolt displays won’t work with the 2008/2010 Mac Pros. The display requires a machine with a Thunderbolt port, and the display mentioned in the article was an Apple Cinema Display, which is the predecessor to the Thunderbolt display. Cinema Displays feature Mini DisplayPort monitor. I have actually had a similar repair to the one mentioned in the article, but it’s been a while since then, and the details are probably too fuzzy to write about at this point!

Mac Pros circa 2008 have two logic boards rather than a singular main board; one is called the Backplane, and the second is called the Processor Board. The Backplane holds the hard drives, the PCI-E cards, memory and all inputs that you can connect externally. The Processor Board is exactly that, a board that connects to the Backplane that houses the processor(s) and the required heat sinks. Some models from different years vary, some have individual facing boards that house the memory apart from the Backplane, and come to think of it, I believe most have individual boards that house the memory except for a few of the oldest models.

The Mac Pro is described as the workhorse of the Mac lineup and is due for improvement to keep up with its smaller counterparts. The new model is more cylindrical with a rounded top that flattens out, rather then conical. It is a very interesting design, completely compact in comparison to the previous model which allowed for a lot of customization and upgrades. This new model is essentially built to work. From what I can tell, you need to connect any hardware you want to add via the external connections on the machine, i.e. through the Thunderbolt port or USB ports. These will start shipping in December, and I’m excited to put them to the test.

Have thoughts about the new Mac Pros? Email me or come in to the S. Burlington location (I haven’t yet been to our Key West store!).

  Clean Install vs. Deleting Users Accounts  

Multiple customers approach our service counter weekly, requesting that their Mac be “completely wiped.” Normally, this means they would like their hard drive erased of all its content, and the appropriate operating system re-installed. I’m glad to perform this procedure or give the customer instructions on how to do it, but in many cases, it’s not necessary.

The majority of customers are requesting this service because they are planning on giving their Mac to a family member or friend, and for the most part, don’t want to share their personal data with the recipient. This is perfectly understandable, but in this specific situation, a clean install of the existing operating system is not required. Creating a new user account, and deleting your old account, will serve the purpose of removing any of your personal user data and most certainly save you some time.

Creating a new user account is done in “Accounts” located in “System Preferences.” Make sure the new account is an Administrator if you will be deleting your old account, as there always needs to be at least one administrative account at all times. Once the new account is created, you can log into it, and delete your old user account. When deleting a user account, you will receive a confirmation window. This window asks if you are sure you would like to delete the user account, and gives you three choices for erasing the data. The last option, “Delete the Home folder”, will successfully remove all user data from the account that’s being deleted.

Please note: While this does delete existing user data, it does not remove any installed applications. If the Mac was being sold to a stranger, you may not want to hand over any installed applications, and if the operating system is being problematic (e.g. slowness or certain applications not functioning properly), you could benefit from a re-install of the system software.

  HOW TO: Create an External 10.7-10.9 Installer with Terminal  

Sometimes it comes in handy to have the ability to reinstall your OS without an active internet connection, which is required by the built-in recovery partition of your Mac. I have found a Terminal command that allows you to do just that.

First, you will need the install image. This is available for download from the App Store. Once you download the image, all you need to do is open Terminal and enter the following command:

sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ —volume /Volumes/Untitled —applicationpath /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ —nointeraction

In this example, I am using the default download location for these, which is your Applications folder. If you have the image saved somewhere else, you will need to create the path to that. Also, “Untitled” is whatever the name of the drive you will be installing this image to, so make sure to adjust that accordingly.

What this does is takes the files from the installer and images them to your flash drive, allowing you to create an external installer. This will come in handy if your hard drive ever fails and you want to reinstall the OS and you don’t have the recovery partition. To my knowledge, this command will only work in 10.7 or higher.

Note: Be sure to follow all of the normal Terminal warnings before trying!

Feedback? Email me!

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