Apple keeps messing with my head.

Once again Apple is using their SINISTER MIND RAY on me.
My mom gets back from Florida next week, so, naturally, I wait until THIS WEEKEND to complete prepping the new Mac Mini for her return. See this article for some of my chatterings about it. In order to make sure everything is in place, I needed to copy all her bookmarks, files, documents, and games off the old iMac gumdrop and onto the new machine.
Now, for a machine that has no removable writable media, this may be problematic. I suppose I could find the files in the directories, ftp them up to my server, and then down again. Or I could set up file sharing between the two, and copy across that way. I groaned at this option. Nothing makes me want to flee to the antarctic faster than “Oh joy! Lets learn aNOTHER way a company redefined network access!”
But several folks said “Wait, just firewire the machine.” “Uhh, what?” – I knew what Firewire was – it was that cable / bus system that USB was spanking six ways from Sunday. But I also knew it was tremendously fast, and that Macs used it. Okee, fine. “But the drive in the iMac isn’t a Firewire drive.”
“Nonono. Just hook the 2 macs together with a firewire cable. On the iMac, hold down ‘T’ when booting. It’ll come up as one big Firewire drive. Trust me.”
So I did. I borrowed a cable from Thud, cabled them up, held down the ‘T’ key on the imac, and hit the power. Lo, the mac turns on, and quickly starts bouncing the little Firewire symbol around on the screen. Going over to the Mac Mini, I see… an icon grinning evilly at me that says ‘Firewire drive’. Double-clicking it, indeed, it was the other mac’s drive.
Copying files over was trivial – just drag n drop.
Now, doing this procedure on a PC or a Linux box is… well, not possible. The hardware issues alone would cause anyone trying to write this to go quite insane. But Apple has the advantage of owning things top to bottom. Hardware, software, and most of the applications. So they can do magic things like this.
But… single-vendor-solution BAD! Non-free systems BAD! NnnnggggglL! Must resist!

Dave Shevett


A wandering geek. Toys, shiny things, pursuits and distractions.

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10 thoughts on “Apple keeps messing with my head.

  1. Actually, it does work on the PC.
    When a machine has Firewire, it also gets a Firewire network adapter. Hook a firewire cable between two machines, and you get an instant network. It’s done while the machines are booted and live. Then, just share what you want from one machine, and mount it on the other machine.
    Not sure what version of the Windows OS introduced the concept of Firewire network adapters, but likely the first version that supported Firewire (Windows 98? Windows Me?).

  2. mmm, firewire.
    (Yeah, what I like is that it’s faster than all getout. Huge audio files fly onto my iPod! *zip*)
    (Also, I have the PC version of firewire on my laptop — called, creatively, 1394 — which rocks in many ways, although I’ve never tried to use it for computer-to-computer transfer…)

  3. Yeah, the thing about dealing with Macs is that you keep learning things like that. At every turn the surprise you with something really cool. — now it all makes sense

  4. Ben asks how the Migration Assistant worked…
    I didn’t use it 🙂
    All I needed were the documents dir and her Safari bookmarks, a copy of Appleworks, and her games, so it was just a copy and drop. Ez! 🙂
    I tend to not trust migration tools – because the system you end up with some funky hybrid of the new OS plus whatever ‘things’ the migration tool thought you might want – which may in fact eclipse existing features.

  5. Brad sez: Actually, it does work on the PC.
    Actually, you misconstrue my comment. It works under WINDOWS. Only if Windows is working. And boots. And is configured properly. And if you even have Windows on the machine.
    You’ve made a common misconception, that a PC automatically assumes Windows. I have many many PC’s here that have no Windows on them at all.
    The Mac has the advantage of being a totally closed system, so there really are no macs without an Apple OS on them (I’ll leave aside Yellow Dog Linux and the like). Also, my experience with this firewire setup is not that OSX made a great network adapter, but it was that very little of OSX loaded to make the firewire drive active. The startup time was on the order of 2-3 seconds, when that Mac normally takes 1-2 minutes to boot.

  6. This is referred to as “Target Mode” in MacOS lingo — e.g. the machine’s firmware turns itself into a target device on an external firewire controller rather than booting an OS from the internal drive.
    It’s actually not a firewire thing per se — pre-firewire macs would do it over SCSI.

  7. Mort – actually that’s not at all pedantic!
    OpenFirmware rocked hard long before OSX was ready for prime time.
    IMO having a FORTH interpreter in firmware is too cool 🙂
    i remember playing with it the first time I encountered it on a Sun Sparc 🙂

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