Pimpin’ the Mini – one last time.

The factory installed 80 GB Seagate (ST98823AS) was increasingly feeling cramped under the weight of ever growing iTunes and iPhoto libraries.

Adding insult to injury the 5400 RPM speed of the rickety old clunker was a painful bottleneck I could no longer endure. Suddenly the unrestful gleam of the legendary Mac Mini opening putty knife caught my eye. It was time.

I sweet-talked Jessie into grabbing me a shiny new 500 GB drive on her round-trip to the local Pita Pit and began a full Time Machine backup in preparation for the ol’ upgrade routine.

Several hours and $129.99 later the Mini began to crawl. It soon became apparent that it had no intention of carrying out the backup I had requested. Figuring this would be a decent opportunity to see if Time Machine would resume a half finished backup gracefully, I powered down the machine and attempted to boot it back up. Unfortunately from this point on, powering the system up left me permanent Apple logo limbo. Uh oh!

After much tedious disassembly, cursing, troubleshooting and more profanity I determined that the original drive – clearly disgusted by my intentions to replace it – had kicked the bucket. How convenient for it to crap out halfway through my backup. Rest assured I was pleased.

Having exceeded the point of no return (and my bed time for that matter) I decided to proceed with a reinstall of Snow Leopard on the new drive. The reinstall went smoothly thus confirming my suspicions on the old drives discontent with its sudden unemployment.

I reassembled the Mini and began rummaging through my backups to see what I could salvage. Time Machine finished backing up my home directory but crapped out before backing up the most critical – my iPhoto Library. Not good!

Seeing as how it was 3:30 AM at this point, the remainder of this fight would have to be postponed. After work today I popped the old drive into a spare FreeBSD box I’ve got kicking around. Unsure how FreeBSD felt about reading data from OS X HFS+ partitions, I instinctively threw in a Knoppix LiveCD to see if that would do the trick. Much to my frustration and in spite of inconclusive Google search results, it appeared Knoppix was not equipped to deal with the EFI GUID partition table which OS X has standardized on. Endless Google queries later I was still unable to find any conclusive evidence as to which Linux live CD (if any) had a kernel with GPT support.

In frustration I replaced the Knoppix CD with a Gentoo Live CD and decided to try again. Whadda ya know! The Gentoo live CD does in fact have GPT support AND HFS+ support. Eureka!

Much to my delight I was now able to use scp to transfer my iPhoto library across the network to my new drive. Everything is now up and running with all my data intact.


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