Biting back: Leopard finally

It’s really hard to manage very large music and video libraries in iTunes. I had a setup where I had an external 120 GB drive which housed my iTunes library, and it worked very well, until I installed Leopard (Mac OS X 10.5).<Leopard rant>Well, the install didn’t go well for me. It seemed to be going along just fine, then when it completed, my computer wouldn’t boot. I had gone against my better judgment and tried to update-in-place, without creating a fresh OS install. Well, 90 minutes down the drain…how about we try that again? This time, I’ll do a fresh install. That oughta work. Except it didn’t. Another 90 minutes down the drain.So, I had 12 GB free on an external disk, so 90 minutes later I had a computer that I could boot. However, none of the applications knew where to find their data anymore. Preferences were completely hosed. Also, file permissions were destroyed, since the user that had created the original files no longer existed. I could not access much of my “Documents” folder since the OS kept complaining that I had insufficient privileges to access the file.I found a magic incantation to recursively change the username and group name for a set of folders: “sudo chown -R user:group *” — you have to also do “sudo chown -R user:group .*” to pick up the invisible files whose names start with a period character. This was a lifesaver since I had started manually searching for files with incorrect permissions. Using chown recursively was much faster.So this fixed my documents, but not my music and videos. I was able to access it from the “boot-from-external” OS, which was ok for the time being. The thing about the music and videos is that it’s much more dynamic than it sounds. I rely on iTunes for podcasts that I listen to all the time. And for synching my iPhone. And my iPod Shuffle.So, I got the OS installed on the internal drive (finally) after moving all the important files to an external 320 GB drive and then formatting the hard drive of the laptop. But now the cobbled-together boot-from-external “solution” which I had been limping along with for a couple weeks was  now a “legacy” system — again, I had to migrate my settings to a new OS installation.</Leopard rant> When I was finally able to boot from the laptop’s internal drive I couldn’t make iTunes point to my external library no matter what I did. There is an internal preference that lets you point to a library in a non-default location, but I guess I don’t understand what that does because every time I tried to use that it would either not do anything or it would try to copy 110 GB of data into 80 GB of free space. I was so frustrated with the situation…until I had a brainstorm. I replaced the empty freshly installed “iTunes Music” folder on my internal drive with a symbolic link to the external folder that had all the music/videos/podcasts. Brilliant!I wish I had thought of that sooner. In the course of the OS updates I lost all my iTunes library meta-data. Stuff like song ratings, when was the last time I played each track, playlists, etc. Mostly this was an opportunity to do some long-overdue housecleaning.Now that I am back up and running on Leopard with a working iTunes, I turned my attention to iPhoto. Was I surprised to find out that Apple no longer gives a copy of iPhoto away with the OS! In the course of my fighting with the computer, and deleting things I no longer needed, I removed iPhoto because I presumed I’d be installing a fresh copy. Not so much. So now I have a copy of iLife ’08 on its way to me.By the end of this week I should have everything back to where I was with Mac OS X 10.4.11. What an adventure. Needless to say, Deb is apprehensive about moving to Leopard. Her laptop is probably not worth updating to Leopard, since it’s (like mine) a PowerBook G4 — but hers is older than mine and just barely fast enough to do it. Given that, it probably doesn’t make sense to upgrade her machine.

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