Submit Hint Search The Forums LinksStatsPollsHeadlinesRSS
14,000 hints and counting!

Create a new 'safety' user prior to upgrades Install
In view of the hassles I dealt with relative to this previous problem, I strongly suggest that, before any new upgrade, you create a new, uncustomized user account, possibly with admin privileges, especially if you run a system with only one account (this means you, laptop users). This way, if you have problems after the upgrade:

If you log in with the uncustomized account, and everything works, then you know it's not a system problem. You can then (a) ssh to the same system (via ssh localhost) but log in as yourself, and see if you can connect; if you can, this proves that the basic unix functionality of your account is OK; (b) if you can't ssh over, at least you can sudo over to your account, and maybe move some of your customization files out of the way (say $HOME -> Library -> Preferences -> loginwindow.plist or your dotfiles, if you've customized them); and (c) the fact that you can log in to an uncustomized account means that most likely the system upgrade went OK, and one of your customizations (startup apps, preference files, etc) is potentially a culprit. Even if you don't know what you're looking for, you can at least get a knowledgeable friend in the same room with the system to check things out.

If you do see the same problems with the uncustomized account as with your own account, then you know that the problem's with the system upgrade, and maybe you should restore your backup, try upgrading in a different way, verify/repair disk/permissions, or perhaps a wipe and reinstall (and run hardware diagnostics while you're at it).

This bit me hard during the Panther upgrade (which is working great for me now, though). Since the bulk of the customizations to a system will be in an individual user's home directory (per the UNIX model), an uncustomized account will help identify problems you discover during an upgrade a lot faster, hopefully in a matter of hours rather than days. You can always remove the account after the upgrade if you're worried about it being a security issue.

I recommend this for anyone upgrading Mac OS X, from a 10.n to a 10.n+1 release (or even 10.n.m to 10.n.m+1 release, if you're paranoid enough).

    •    
  • Currently 1.67 / 5
  You rated: 5 / 5 (6 votes cast)
 
[6,740 views]  

Create a new 'safety' user prior to upgrades | 5 comments | Create New Account
Click here to return to the 'Create a new 'safety' user prior to upgrades' hint
The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. This site is not responsible for what they say.
Create a new 'safety' user prior to upgrades
Authored by: acalado on May 07, '04 02:41:12PM

I suppose if you have had problems with your install in the past, or hack the crap out of it, this is a good idea. However, given that I have been using Mac OS X since the public beta and have installed every update since with no problems, and that I backup religiously, I can't say I feel paranoid about Apple's OS updates to do this.

Good idea though, and certainly could save your butt if something does go wrong with your profile. My suggestion for avoiding update problems: perform a clean install of every major OS update. I have performed a clean install of 10.0, 10.1, 10.2, 10.3 and then let Software Update take care of the rest or installed the combined updaters every so often and can say I have never had an update cause any major problems.

One thing I love about Mac OS X is how easy it is to migrate a user's folder to a new install. Makes performing clean installs a lot easier. The other benefit of clean installs is that it is an opportunity to clear out all the clutter from old unused software, which frees up a lot of hard disk space. I'd hate to look into the ~/Library folder of any user who has never done a clean install and has been using (and updating) Mac OS X since the 10.0 days on up through to 10.3.3.

Andy



[ Reply to This | # ]
Create a new 'safety' user prior to upgrades
Authored by: bdjones on May 07, '04 09:00:53PM

perhaps this is grossly naive but wouldn't a safe boot do much the same thing?



[ Reply to This | # ]
Create a new 'safety' user prior to upgrades
Authored by: krishna on May 08, '04 10:11:33PM
However, given that I have been using Mac OS X since the public beta and have installed every update since with no problems, and that I backup religiously, I can't say I feel paranoid about Apple's OS updates to do this.

As a relatively new user, that paranoia was exactly what I was trying to avoid. I too believe that Apple's OS updates are quite sound. Creating that uncustomized account and seeing it log in cleanly helps cement that belief with direct experience -- once I see the login with my own eyes, I know and remember that the OS install went fine.

[ Reply to This | # ]

Create a new 'safety' user prior to upgrades
Authored by: jamiefiedler on May 07, '04 09:20:35PM

what about entering ">console" as the username from the login window to access the CLI login prompt? or starting up in single user mode?



[ Reply to This | # ]
Create a new 'safety' user prior to upgrades
Authored by: krishna on May 08, '04 10:27:12PM

In my case, I could ssh over to the system and log in fine -- the 'unix part' of my account was ok. Not knowing how the MacOS X 'experience' (desktop, apps, aqua, quartz, etc) is layered on top of that though, I wasn't sure how those layers really work, and where the problem lay in them.

In my case, apps were crashing when I started them up; in that case, it could have been a corrupted higher-level Cocoa library (luckily it wasn't anything this weird), which would still have allowed ssh logins, console logins, or single-user logins without any problem. However, I couldn't create an uncustomized account after I logged in, because along with all the other apps, 'System Preferences' was crashing on startup!

Your suggestions split the problem across the UNIX/'MacOSX experience' line; logging in as the uncustomized user further splits it across the 'MacOSX experience'/user customization line, further dividing the problem. Unless you're a very lucky troubleshooter, anything simple you can do to split the problem further is always good (from my unfortunately extensive troubleshooting experience).



[ Reply to This | # ]