The New MacBook: On the lack of FireWire and what that means for Migration Assistant

Yesterday was my birthday (yay!). I wasn’t planning to go into the office, but Sean asked me to head in to sign some “paperwork”. Turns out, this is what he had for me:

Surprise in the office!

(The MacBook on the right, silly.)

So, after the initial WOW! and then the disorientation caused from the multi-touch trackpad, it’s time to move the data. I was a little worried, because I don’t just have data on my computer anymore. There’s Rails, PostgreSQL, SVN… things that are far more complex and I have no idea how they all work together. Surely these won’t migrate seamlessly, right? Au contraire!, Sean tells me. It worked for his white-to-black MacBook migration.

So, last night, I finally set up to migrate. I pull out my FireWire cable and… look… and look… and… whaaaa? As a loyal Mac user since I wore Superman underoos, I’m used to Apple’s “port Russian roulette”. But I thought Firewire was here to stay. I mean, I’ve got a Firewire camcorder, Firewire hard drive… I thought I was safe.

So, I’m not writing this post to mourn the death of Firewire. I had some data to transfer. Apple’s Migration Assistant recommends I transfer the data over wi-fi. ORLY? 60 or so gigabytes over wireless fidelity. I try it. After a couple hours, the progress bar has filled up exactly one pixel. That ain’t gonna work.

So, I dig out my Ethernet cable (remember those!) and connect the two machines. With an actual cable! I try Migration Assistant and it finds the other computer. It tells me to install something on the old machine—DVD or CD Sharing Setup Update. It came on the Mac OS install DVD that came with the new MacBook. Here’s what the installer says it’s for:

This software is recommended for all users and provides enhanced customization capabilities and improved performance for migration over FireWire, ethernet, and wireless networks.

So, I tried this. It took about four hours to migrate. But when it was done, I opened Coda, it refreshed my SVN status (yay!) and I updated our code without configuring anything at all.

That’d be a win.

So, long story short—don’t try the wifi. Tether those Macs!


  1. On May 16th, 2009 at 8:41 pm Alex T said:

    I saw you mention a crossover cable on Twitter. My recollection is that they’re moot now that computers are smart enough to recognize what’s at the other end. True?

  2. On May 16th, 2009 at 9:01 pm Daniel said:

    Or you can do what I did when I moved my files from my Ubuntu Linux machine to my new Macbook Pro.

    I set up a folder on my Mac and set it up for FTP access. Then I connected to that folder via FireFTP on my Linux machine and securely transferred all my files across over the wireless network.

    No cables. Easy. Simple.

  3. On May 16th, 2009 at 9:08 pm Adam Darowski said:

    @Alex… I’m pretty sure you’re right. This cable is so old that it’s from when this WASN’T true. It actually has tape with the word “CROSSOVER” on it. OLD SKOOL!

    @Daniel… but how long did it take and for how much data? I can’t imagine dozens of gigs being quick with any setup.

  4. On May 21st, 2009 at 10:47 am Alex T said:

    Okay Okay! You are teh hardcorz! See you soon.