Entries Tagged 'OS X' ↓

Time Machine Not Backing Up Anymore? Try iBackup Instead.

[Check out iBackup here, if you hate to read.]

Well, what I thought was totally awesome the first time I ran it turned out to be not so good.  OS X’s Time Machine let me down, and for the past three days I’ve been searching for a way to fix it.  I managed to make a full backup to my FireWire drive the first time I ran it, and it seemed really cool.  I am backing up to an external FireWire 400 drive, and trying to backup my MacBook Pro.

This is a notebook, and keeping Time Machine running didn’t seem like such a great thing for me.  Keeping an external disk tethered to my MacBook Pro wouldn’t win any awards for mobility, for sure.  I backed up, turned Time Machine off, and ejected my external drive.  I was happy.  A week later, I mounted the FireWire drive, and all seemed well.  Turned on Time Machine, and it recognized the backup, I could flip through hourly backups, and it all looked great.  I tried to run a new backup before going off to sleep, however, the next morning only 27KB had been transferred.

Obviously something went awry.  No errors, no warnings, and the little backwards running icon in the menubar was still happily plugging along.  What was apparent, though, is Time Machine had failed miserably.  As I’ve looked deeper into this across many a forum, as well as various blogs, this is widespread and most users with difficulties such as this have moved to Snow Leopard 10.6.1.  If you are running 10.6.0 and don’t have any issues with Time Machine, don’t update to 10.6.1.  I did run across one cool widget that tells you Time Machines logs, called Time Machine Buddy.

I tried various things, from deleting the com.apple.timemachine.plist file in the Macintosh HD –>  Library –> Preferences folder.  This is a system-wide application and you won’t find a plist file in your home directory.  I tried deleting the partial backup from my FireWire drive, and the alias file as well.  I checked the .Trash folder on the FireWire drive to be sure there weren’t any remnants on the drive.  Reboot after reboot, unmount and mount, nothing would fix it.  So, as a last resort, I formatted the FireWire drive and started over.  I made sure it was set up by the book.  Nothing works to fix it, and the weird part is I never get an error.  On my last attempt before looking into alternatives, I waited 6 hours to transfer 11KB.  The furthest I ever had gotten was 5GB, which I thought would be it.  Nope, stuck there for eternity.  So, until Apple helps us out and gets it fixed, I’m moving on.

I found this sweet donationware application called iBackup.  It doesn’t do nearly what Time Machine is supposed to, but for someone like me who just wants to backup my home folder, where my Sites, Downloads, Documents, etc. reside, it seems like it’s going to work out beautiful.  14GB of data transferred over to my FireWire drive in about 20 minutes, with no headaches.  I like that.  And it’s free for personal use, although I will probably throw the creator a donation because it’s what you should do when someone writes a handy application that you are going to keep using for eternity.  I want them to keep publishing it, of course!
So here are some screenshots, you can read more about the Preferences and Plugins following the images (click to enlarge):

Main iBackup Screen

Main iBackup Screen

System Settings Plugins

System Settings Plugins

Profile Preference 1

Profile Preference 1

Profile Preference 2

Profile Preference 2

Profile Preference 3

Profile Preference 3

Profile Preference 4

Profile Preference 4

Profile Preferene 5

Profile Preference 5

Profile Preference 6

Profile Preference 6

iBackup doesn’t support incremental backups, however, it does only copy items that have been modified.  It uses straight up UNIX commands to copy your files, which you can see in the screenshot directly above, labeled Profile Preference 6.  iBackup, on the initial backup uses the ditto command, and for subsequent backups (I’d rather they called them “synchronizations”), it uses rsync.  As Apple has developers moving away from resource forks, rsync will be an easier tool to use for OS X consumers.  If you hate the Terminal, this backup solution makes it quite easy to use a complicated command.

Other features I like to see, that Time Machine completely lacks, are the ability to backup to Windows hosted shares, via both AFP and SMB servers, ethernet connected drives, as well as encrypted sparse images.  Quite nice.  I must admit, I was going to try Time Machine down the road if I see Apple has fixed it’s problems, but something like iBackup for Mac is a product that will be tough to get me away from.  Being able to use ethernet connected drives on my Gigabit network will certainly be a necessity; since I already own some LaCie drives, I never planned on buying a Time Capsule anyway.

Setup Your .bash_profile On OS X | A Sample Bash Profile

This is another addition to my entry level OS X shell category.  This one covers setting up a more detailed bash profile, so certain things are done by default when you open your Terminal.

We start by opening the Terminal in your ~/Applications/Utilities folder. If you don’t know what that means please start with this post, as it will show you a very basic beginning to the Terminal in OS X.  Be sure you are in your home directory by typing pwd at the bash prompt and hit enter.  It should look similar to this:

ssBashProfileSetup1

Next, we start vim opened to your .bash_profile.  At the bash prompt type vim .bash_profile and hit enter.  If the file exists, it will open it, if not it will create one for you.     Your Terminal window should now look like this:

vim .bash_profile

My screen shows one alias I created in my last tutorial. I like that one but technically it doesn’t belong in your .bash_profile, it belongs in a file called .bashrc. The .bash_profile is for your login shell options, and the .bashrc file is read for subsequent interactive shells;  meaning a shell opened to type commands, not just to run a script from a file automatically.  You can launch another shell on top of your login shell by typing the shell name at the prompt, i.e., bash, and then hitting enter.

This lesson will focus on login defaults, such as the PATH variable in your .bash_profile. In the process, we will be using vim, so if you are unfamiliar with that, practice makes perfect!

The PATH variable is where the system searches for binaries (shell scripts, programs, etc.) to execute.  All UNIX systems provide a default path, but you can add to it.  As you add scripts of your own creation and such, you probably want to create a directory in your home folder to store them.  This way if you screw something up, it will affect you and not the system.  For example, an erroneous rm command if you are in the /bin directory could be really bad news.

Let’s go ahead and first create a new directory called bin in your home directory.  Create a new interactive shell by pressing ⌘-N.  Type mkdir bin and hit enter.  Now type ls and hit enter.  You should see the new directory listed with your other folders:

mkdir Command

This is where you can store any shell scripts that you create, as they are easy to find in this folder.  In vim, type “i” without quotes to get you into INSERT mode.  You will see –INSERT– at the bottom of your Terminal window.  Now you can begin typing text.  You should comment your script files, and your other various profiles so you know what something does if you ever need to edit.  It’s just good programming practice to get the comments done as you progress with coding, not when you’re done!

To make a single line comment, the first character on the line needs to be the pound sign, #.  Type in #Additional binary folders, and hit enter.  Next, we set the PATH like so, to *add* to the default PATH: export PATH=$PATH:/Users/yourusername/bin

You can see in my screenshot below what the file should look like.  Replace the yourusername with your actual username for your account.  Mine is Tech, so that’s how it shows in my screenshot.  Also keep in mind, that UNIX is case-sensitive:

Bash Profile PATH

Now you can save this by hitting the escape key, and typing :w then pressing enter.  Let’s add some more commands to the profile.  We can set a welcome message to the login, and set the shell’s timer to check for new mail.  This really only matters if you use a text-only mail client, such as PINE or Alpine.  It will not affect the OS X Mail client.

Set a message to display when you login with the echo command.  This is a good command to know for the command line as well, as you can see certain system variable settings, such as your current PATH.  You can do this by typing echo $PATH at the bash prompt and hitting enter.  To use echo in your .bash_profile to set a welcome message, type echo followed by the message:

echo Welcome back, Mr Awesome!  Your present working directory is: $PWD

looks like this when you log in:

Welcome Message SetTo set the mail check timer, write a line in your .bash_profile like so:  export MAILCHECK=30

The time set is in seconds, and OS X’s bash shell by default is set to 60 seconds.  Your .bash_profile should now look similar to this:

Finished Profile Example

Next time I will cover creating a simple shell script, and changing file permissions to run them.  Also, I will try to cover some common aliases, as well as creating your .bashrc file, which is where we store the aliases.  Thanks for reading, and if you have any suggestions or questions, please feel free to ask!

Using vim In OS X — A Text Editor Tutorial For Beginners

Here is a quick tutorial for people unfamiliar with text editors in UNIX.  If you are just getting started with the Terminal in OS X, you probably need to create your .bash_profile and such, so that you can keep your settings upon logging out of the shell.  I will show you how to create this file in a text editor called vim, which stands for vi IMproved.

Vim is  a very powerful text editor, and if you have any experience in UNIX at all, you probably were shown pico, which is easier to use at first due to some of the commands being shown at the bottom of the screen as you work in pico’s buffer.  In pico, there is no separation from command or input modes, also making it a bit less confusing.  The buffer simply means what is shown on your screen, not yet written to disk.  While a GUI text editor such as Microsoft Word or Apple’s Pages do not tell you that you are working in a buffer input mode, technically it is the same thing.  If they crash, you lose what you changed if it was not saved prior to the crash.

Vim is a little obscure, yet extremely functional.  You start vim by typing vi or vim at the bash prompt in Terminal.  Terminal is located in your ~/Applications/Utilities folder by default on OS X.  When it opens, you are by default in command mode.  Vim shows you this startup screen, which has a bunch of tildes (~) on the left-hand side, and some version information in the center:

vim Startup Screen OS X Snow Leopard

vim Startup Screen OS X Snow Leopard

If you type something in, the startup screen goes away and the first tilde also disappears.  The tilde characters simply clarify lines in the buffer.  They will not print, they are just there showing you where the next lines are.  Once started, you are by default in Vim’s command mode.  If you type vim testfile.txt at the bash prompt, vim will open the file testfile.txt in whichever directory you are currently in.  If testfile.txt doesn’t exist, vim will create the file and open into the edit buffer for you, skipping the welcome screen:

Vim Buffer

Vim Buffer

As shown in the screenshot (click to enlarge it, as with all screenshots on this blog), the buffer is in INSERT mode.  By default, no matter what file you open or create, vim starts in command mode.  It doesn’t ever show —COMMAND— at the bottom of the screen.  Vim lets you know you aren’t in command mode by telling you that you are in INSERT mode.

To get back into command mode, which is where you will end up saving files to disk, changing the contents of vim’s 26 named buffers (consider them like the clipboard in a GUI text editor), moving around the screen, deleting lines, etc.  Anything you want to do with the file besides type in text will generally be done in command mode. Let’s save this file now, so you can see how it works to get in and out of command mode.

First, hit the ESC key.  On almost every keyboard ever, this will be the key  at the very top-left corner of the keyboard.  You should no longer see –INSERT– at the bottom of the Terminal window.  Now type the following command, without the quotes:  ”:w testfile.txt“.  See screenshot below:

Write Command

Write Command

File Saved

File Saved

You can see at the bottom of the Terminal window that the write command was successful.  You also see that three lines were written containing a total of 138 characters.  You can verify the file was written by typing (again, without quotes) “:q“, and hit enter.  This quits vim.  At the bash prompt, type “ls” and hit enter.  You should see your new file in the list of the directory.  To remove (delete) the file, type “rm testfile.txt” and hit enter.

Now to create your .bash_profile, so you can save certain settings.  When Terminal starts, it will read this file to load alias information, screen settings and such, if they are explained in this file.  As you become more familiar with the Terminal and start to have preferences for certain things, i.e., showing hidden files when you get a list of a directory, you may want to create an alias for the ls command so it shows them by “default” because of your .bash_profile.

First, navigate to your home directory if you are not there now.  You do this by typing the command “cd ~” at the bash prompt and hitting enter.  Terminal will show your computer name, followed by your present working directory, and yourusername$, which is the bash prompt.  You should see something like this:

Bash Prompt

Bash Prompt

Create your empty .bash_profile by typing “vim .bash_profile”  and hitting enter.  We will create a simple alias and save the profile.  Then we will quit Terminal, restart it and verify the alias still works.

Alias in Profile

Alias in Profile

By default, the alias wouldn’t work again after you quit Terminal.  If it is in your profile, it will work when you open a new Terminal, such is the point of having a profile.  To type in what I show above, press the letter “i on your keyboard to put you in insert mode.  Then type the following exactly:

dirA=”ls -lia”

Hit the ESC key, and type: “:w” to save the file.  Now type “:q” to exit vim and return to the bash prompt.  You can verify the file was written and it’s contents by typing “cat .bash_profile” and hitting enter:

Verify File Was Written

Verify File Was Written

Now quit and re-open Terminal.  You should now be able to get a detailed list of your directory, showing hidden files, by typing dirA and hitting enter:

Working dirA Alias

Working dirA Alias

Next time I will show you how to navigate through text, delete lines and add or retrieve lines to and from the named buffers.  If there are certain things you would like to learn about Terminal or vim, please leave comments below.  Please also let me know if any of this could be better clarified, as I check my comments often and will respond promptly.  Thanks for reading!

Common Shortcuts for OS X And Their Windows Equivalents

If you are new to OS X, there are a bunch of shortcuts that you’ll immediately recognize from Windows.  If you don’t use shortcuts at all, you really are missing out, as they are much faster than using the mouse in most situations.  I tout programs like LaunchBar and Colibri because they make your computer usage faster. It is no different for shortcuts built-in to the operating system, so you should really take advantage of them!
Here is a short list of the most common on both OS X and Windows:

OS X and Windows Shortcuts

OS X and Windows Shortcuts

Since Vista was launched, you can create keyboard shortcuts to your programs through the Shortcut Icons that a program creates.  You do this by:

  1. Right-Click the shortcut icon for the program
  2. Left-Click Properties
  3. In the “Shortcut Properties” box, find “Shortcut” tab and Left-Click on that.
  4. Left-Click the “Shortcut Key” box., and type in a letter you want to start the program.  For example, type P for Photoshop.
  5. The box should update to show CTRL-ALT-P, as all shortcuts created in this manner automatically must begin with CTRL-ALT.