My love for Apple has been seriously put to test this weekend. Since a few weeks, my faithful MBP display started showing increasing signs of aging: probably the flat cable running from the mobo to the screen is getting worn and as a consequence the LCD started flashing and flickering at random. Initially, a pat on the display was enough to restore the connection, but things were getting worse and worse, so much that I spent most of the time punching my screen, with colleagues asking me if I had turned into a Smacbook Pro fan or I was just getting mad.
I was reluctant to send my workhorse to a repair shop, yet I knew I was just delaying the inevitable. Luckily enough I was in our Rome office last Friday, were I was pointed to a spare brand new Macbook sitting idle in the stationery cupboard. Eventually I managed to bribe a few people, and in a few hours I was sitting in my hotel room with two computer and a Firewire cable, the aggressive plan being an overnight migration of my stuff, possibly dumping my old MBP to a few colleagues I was going to meet the morning after so that they could turn it back to the office and onwards to repair. Unfortunately, this turned out as a two days nightmare of failed attempts and frustrations. Turns out Migration Assistant, the Apple utility which is supposed to ease the pain in duplicating setups, isn’t quite robust when it comes to problematic situations just like mine: I woke up the morning after with a welcome screen telling me migration was completed but a file couldn’t be copied. No big deal, as I noticed it was just a Safari cache, so I happily tried to log in. Surprise: nothing was there. I mean nothing, not a single file from my home folder was copied over. I had to check out from the hotel, attend the business I was traveling for, then head back to Milano with two MBPs in my suitcase (and believe me, that’s quite a lot of weight for carry-on luggage) with the plan of another overnight attempt. Which, unsurprisingly by now, failed with the same error (transfer successful, apart from the stupid cache file).
I figured out I should get rid of that stupid Safari crap before giving another shot at bringing my stuff over (at 5 hours each, migration is something you can’t really afford to fail too many times in a row). To my surprise, I was unable to delete the folder: all I was getting was a "Directory not empty" message in response to my countless rm -rf. I tried all I could, including chflags and friends, eventually finding out I was stuck: apparently my old computer’s hard disk isn’t feeling any better than my screen, and the file system is screwed somewhere. Insult to injury, I apparently ran into the bugs section of the fsck_hfs manpage:
fsck_hfs is not able to fix some inconsistencies that it detects.
Well, thanks you very much Apple. Here I am, with a folder I can’t delete no matter what I try: that’s holding back a migration I need to complete in a few hours, before a working weeks starts killing me again, and all you can tell me is there’s nothing you can do? Oh well… luckily enough it popped to my mind that while I couldn’t delete the folder, I possibly could have been able to move it somewhere else as long as it was in the same filesystem. Mercifully that was the case, so the silly stuff was out of the way and I could try my fifth attempt at migrating my profile to the new gear: five hours and six kilos of potato dumpling afterwards (our reserve was running out, so we needed to fill the deep freezer) I finally had a successful migration, a shiny new MBP which will be hard to relinquish once mine gets back from repair (gotta love those 4GB of RAM and 160GB of disk), and something that makes me a road warrior again. Oh, and another dent in my love affair with Apple.