MacBook 5,1 upgrading to Mavericks and some notes…

A buddy of mine was upgrading an older MacBook (Unibody Aluminum, Late 2008, Model ID 5,1) from 10.6.8. In theory, you press the “upgrade to 10.9” button from the App Store and everything goes swimmingly. In his case it resulted in a serious disk error and wouldn’t boot into recovery mode; it would only boot the initial OS install utility screen and then fail to install the OS. Repeatedly. A recovery partition had not been created as the machine was running 10.6.8 and he also did not have the original 10.5 DVD that came with the Mac nor access to another Mac to create USB sticks from.  So there’s the rub.

He had  10.6 Time Machine backups, of course, so this wasn’t a catastrophic issue but the quandary here was that he couldn’t initiate the Time Machine recovery without the the original 10.5 DVD or from the new 10.9 installer. And the old hard drive still had errors.

Here’s a list of a few things we tried until it finally sorted itself it:

1) Create boot USB sticks of 10.8 from Ubuntu – (no go, same problem as 10.9)
2) “Restore From Backup” option on 10.9 Installer did nothing
3) Put in a new 320GB Western Digital Scorpio Black and 8GB of fresh RAM
4) 10.6.2 retail iMac install DVD – (loaded Time Machine Recovery but would not install 10.6)
5) Confirmed “secret EFI firmware” version of the MacBook 5,1 can use 8GB ram, 64bit mode

So at this point the machine is back online. He has recovered 10.6.8 from the Time Machine backups onto a new 320GB drive. He confirms that the EFI firmware has been updated to the latest version and the RAM gets upgraded to 8GB. He’s back running 10.6.8 at least.

The question then is if he hits “Install Mavericks” from the App Store will the machine kill itself again? He has the backup so he rolls the dice and it works, the machine updates successfully from 10.6.8 to 10.9.

From here it is rote. Make a fresh backup of functioning 10.9 (don’t delete your 10.6.8 backup just yet!). Do a fresh install from a working USB stick of 10.9. Migrate the crap from the old installation.

That’s it. Not more than 20-30 hours of your life. But hey, the late 2008 Unibody MacBook is now running the latest and greatest.

12.04 LTS for everyone.

Darwine you are a fine Wine.

For whatever reason I’d never played around with application compatibility layer software like Wine under OS X. Parallels and VMware are quite overkill for most people’s purposes.  Usually the user may need to run one application in the guest OS and setting up an entire VM and giving 10GB or whatever over to that system, not to mention memory resources, is overkill.  Certainly for developers being able to load/change machine states with VMs and sandbox their development, it makes sense, but for most end-users it’s crazy.

I haven’t checked all the applications I’d like to use, the ones I found myself booting to XP the most were A/V stuff like Foobar2000, MediaMonkey, EAC, etc.  But the good news is that under Leopard Darwine v1.21.1 runs Foobar2000 just fine, a fine Wine if you will (hah).  So that’s exciting.  Codeweavers sells something similar called CrossOver but Darwine is free and I figured since I already had X11 installed it was worth a shot.  Pretty cool stuff.



I am Netatalk you are Netatalk we are Netatalk

What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?  Or does it spend all weekend working out Ubuntu 8.04 command line shell commands to make a beautiful thing happen?  Namely, mount an Apple Time Capsule share over ethernet via Samba/CIFS and and then serve the data via mt-daapd to iTunes and Airport Express.  All from the command line baby.  Yeah.  Compile that package of Netatalk with libcrack2 and ssl. Talk to me dirty with inexplicable buffer writes in  vi baby.  And you’ll do a lot of apt-get.  And if you’re lucky you’ll do a few apt-get purge(s) thrown in there for good measure.

What about mounting the Time Capsule in Ubuntu?  Shouldn’t that be simple beans? You know, smbclient, smbfs, and GO right? It just works.  Hah. Apple doesn’t exactly have a support page for this sort of thing.  The crux of it for me was the domain=workgroup option, and figuring out that with Netatalk everything referenced .local addresses no the local IPs for some reason.  Whatever.  The FLAC flows now.  OGG, wavpac, you name it, this little Linux machine can serve it to iTunes whole.  No more dealing with that cursed iTunes XML library.  Unless of course you want to put music on your iPod.  I still don’t have that part completely figured out.  My feeling is you copy and add music as you want it on your iPod.

Airport Extreme! Broadcom! Oh my!

So, if you don’t care about wireless data connections and or OS X & XP you should ignore this post. I recently did a little 802.11n upgrade to my aging Core Duo Macbook Pro and I bought an “official” Apple 802.11n Airport Card that has 2 antenna wire inputs. It’s chipset is the Broadcom BCM4328. My Apple System Profiler polls this as Broadcom BCM43xx 1.0 ( and in Windows XP it clearly shows up as the BCM4328. Now, shouldn’t this be all good? Well sort of, there have been some problems.

Under OS X 802.11n (ie Airport Extreme) works like gang busters over the Time Capsule but it seems my 802.11g performance has taken a huge hit. And under XP SP3 both my g/n performance has degraded. So what’s the deal? Well it seems I should’ve gone with an older version of this chipset.

Apparently the BCM94321MC aka the Dell 1500 Part Number NJ449 was the original version, which worked well for people under Tiger. There obviously are other options, but the key here was the 4321 chipset as opposed to the newer 4328 chipset. So what’s the issue? I don’t know. I imagine the XP drivers aren’t fully up to date. And I also imagine 802.11n MIMO works better with 3 antennas which is why the newer Core 2 Duo machines come with the 3 antenna input Atheros wireless cards. Can I add a third antenna wire and put in the Atheros? I don’t know. Should I sell the one I installed and try the $30 Dell 1500 NJ449? I would say yes.

Another issue that has developed is that with around 15% battery the wireless card will go dormant and not startup again without a reboot. Nice. Whatever, I suppose I cannot complain too much. It mostly works.

Future computers, cyclo-cross and dreams

Apparently Apple is getting back into the Chip manufacturing game again.  We can only hope as x86 PC users go, that they don’t abandon Intel’s architecture completely in the near future so that we can still dual boot and run Virtual Machines like Parallels and boot alternatives like Ubuntu.  What is more likely, if we’re going to play the speculation game, utilizing PA Semi Apple plans to continue to push the envelope with mobile computing implementing low power parallel processors to the point where Intel chips are not relevant.  This seems possible.  If you consider the computing shift from massive mainframes, to workstations and now laptops, the future of computing is largely OS and processor agnostic.  The excitement over so called ‘Netbooks isn’t just that you can “hack” a $400 MSI Wind Laptop and make it run OS X Leopard it’s that the model is shifting from proprietary systems and dedicated hardware moving computing straight into the ether.  Which begs the point that the iPhone is only the beginning of Apple’s mobile computing strategy and that in 10 years time the current generation of MacBook’s with their svelte machined aluminum uni-body enclosures will seem elephantine.

For the record, I did get the 7200 RPM Seagate 320GB hard drive to fit the MBP and upgraded the Airport mini PCI card to 802.11n Extreme.   It goes  pretty well over the Time Capsule for backup with Leopard’s Time Machine.  Yes, I upgraded to Leopard too.  And it boots way way faster than Tiger ever did for whatever reason (not just the 7200 RPMs).  I slip-streamed XP Service Pack 3 and then did the whole Boot Camp installation on a 100 GB partition, SolidWorks Student Edition worked fine which was something of a relief for me.

Also, I have a new 2009 Trek XO2 frame to ride off the pavement of New York.  There are a few more ‘cross races this season and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make them all as they tend to be 1-2 hours away in Jersey and it’s like $30 per race.  My hopes are to ride the Croatan Aqueduct trail, do the mountain bike loop in High Bridge Park in Harlem, and perhaps take Metro North and ride some of the trails in the Hudson River Valley.  There is a race weekend in the Hampton’s and with entry to a citizen’s race your number is entered to the raffle for a Richard Sachs’ custom cyclo-cross bicycle complete with full SRAM kit (so as to skip the 7 year waiting list and selling of kidney).

My new ride

My new ride the Trek XO2

Richard Sach's Cyclo-Cross

Richard Sachs - The best of handmade steel


I’m about halfway there on the upgrade of the larger notebook harddrive and 10.5.4 with XP BootCamp (all of this is to get SolidWorks 2008 Education version running, mind you).  Leopard is noticeably faster than my old run down version of Tiger.  Or at least that’s what they’d have you believe.  No seriously, this system is running snappier with the fresh install. I’ll still need to migrate all my iPhoto stuff, as the version of Leopard I bought didn’t come with iLife.  I’ll need my address book and some bookmarks but that’s about all I need to migrate.  It’s pretty straightforward.  I did create a bootable external drive backup of Tiger in case something goes wrong using, Carbon Copy Cloner.  That worked pretty well too. You just hold down the (alt) option key at startup and choose the firewire disk you want to boot from.

Currently the TimeCapsule is backing up this fresh install.  The TC 500GB drive is a little loud when writing even though its encased in white plastic.  We were able to play a DVD video_TS file over 802.11n the other night to the TV.  As a note, you should turn off Time Machine automatic backup when you’re planning on watching something on your laptop because it’ll keep trying to backup while trying to stream the video and it’ll get choppy.  Lesson learned.  Under XP it said we’d connected to the router at 128 MB/s.  So yeah, this stuff seems to be working alright.  Another nice feature of Leopard is in the Dictionary Application it goes to Wikipedia as the default.  Pretty cool.

Big drives & faster weefee

My first generation (Rev. A) MacBook Pro (Core Duo 2.0 GHz Intel 32 bit Yonah) has starting to slow a little.  The 100GB hard disk is full and I can’t add any more RAM (2GB’s maxed out) but swapping in a bigger faster 7200 RPM laptop HD drive (say like a Seagate Momentus 7200.3 320 GB) and upgrading the mini-PCI wireless LAN card to 802.11n will get me by.  As I recall, Apple took about a year and a half to upgrade to the Core 2 Duo chipset with 64 bit capabilities and even then Leopard didn’t come out until Fall 2007.  I was an early adopter and I’ve been pretty happy with this machine.  So now I’m looking to either stay with OS X 10.4.11 or possibly go the whole hog to 10.5.5, either way I’ll need XP Pro SP3 for CAD software using either BootCamp or rEFIt as a bootloader.

In Leopard with Time Machine data backups should be seamless, my only concern now is application compatibility and system stability.  Z’s white MacBook 2.2 Core 2 Duo came loaded with Leopard 10.5.1 and seems to have stabilized in 10.5.4 (though I think it does need more RAM).  From what I’ve read, somewhat like Vista, Leopard has a basic “footprint” of 512MB, so really 2GB is the minimum you need in practice with multiple applications running.  Tiger apparently has something like a 128MB starting point.

I took my first 3D rendering class in SolidWorks today at NYU.  It seems pretty cool.  NYU sells an educational copy that should work under XP and the MacBook Pro supposedly works alright with it.  We’re going back to Jimmy’s No. 43, I’m excited.