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Express Disaster Recovery for OS X

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Express was purchased two weeks ago. It is used on a new iMac with OS X 4.2.3. In preparation for a possible disk crash, I tried stepping through the recovery instructions. The install manual says that a bootable CD is included but only the program CD was included. The install manual made referral to the Users Guide. Under the section "Restoring your Mac OS 9 or Mac OS X Computer Without the Bootable CD" the User Guide instructs users to boot from the OS X Installation disc by holding down the "C" key during boot. Fine, so far. The system begins to boot into OS 9.2. The progress bar moves about ten percemt of the path and freezes. That ends the process. I know of no problems with the system.


Why is there no Bootable Recovery Disc (nor place for one) when documentation says it is included?

Why will the system not boot from the OS X Installation disc, per instructions?


If there is no Disaster Recovery, I doubt the need for this backup product. Can you find a solution?


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Retrospect does not come with a bootable CD for OS X, only for OS 9.




Under the section "Restoring your Mac OS 9 or Mac OS X Computer Without the Bootable CD" the User Guide instructs users to boot from the OS X Installation disc by holding down the "C" key during boot.



The exact text from the User's Guide:


Find you Mac OS 9 or Mac OS X CD-ROM, restart your Macintosh, and put in the CD.


This is referring to your OS installer disc - not the Retrospect program disc.


Under the heading, Restoring Your Mac OS 9 or Mac OS X computer without the bootable CD the instructions indicate "...for whatever reason you cannot start your Macintosh with Retrospect's bootable CD, or it is a Mac OS X computer.


I'm sorry the terminology was confusing. We hope to have a bootable CD for X in a future release.

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It is possible to create a custom bootable Mac OS X CD, but it takes some work (and a certain amount of trial and error). I've done it for booting up Mac OS X clients, and I should think the same could be done for the application. However, there are some additional considerations that need to be looked at for the application. In particular, it won't do you any good to have a bootable CD if you can't get access to your backup device. So if you write your backups to CD-R, you would be sunk unless you have a second CD drive since the one would be taked up by the boot CD. For the client you only need to make sure you have network access.


To make a boot CD you need, of course, a CD burner. You also need a utility by Charles Srstka, called BootCD, available from <http://www.charlessoft.com/>. This will construct a disk image of a bootable CD based on your current startup disk. What I don't know is what peripherals are supported by BootCD. For example, whether firewire or SCSI devices are supported if they were connected to the original system. That's something that would have to be tested by trial and error. I know networking is supported with the boot CD having the exact same network configuration as the original startup disk. In the process of constructing the image you have the option of including simple programs that you want on the CD. That's probably not a good idea here as a means of getting Retrospect on the CD, although you can try it if you don't mind risking a few extra CD-Rs.


After the disk image is created, double click on it to mount it. Now you can make modifications, like copying over the Retrospect directory and related files. The following kbase article lists the files installed with Retrospect for Mac OS X:


What files are installed by Retrospect 5.0 for Macintosh OS X?


Based on that, it looks like files are installed in only two locations:

/Applications/Retrospect 5.0



The first appears to only need to be readable, but the second needs to be writable. This is significant with a read-only media as anything that needs to be writable must be in the RAM disk provided by BootCD. Fortunately, everything in /Library/Preferences is already intended to be on the RAM disk, so you just need to get the files over to where the RAM disk contents are stored on the CD. Select the disk image and choose File -> Get Info (Cmd-I), open Ownership & Permissions, and uncheck "Ignore ownership on this volume". (This may not be needed, but I normally would do this via the terminal and have everything owned by root. This way the files will at least be owned by the admin group and not an unkown group.)


1. In the Finder, drag /Applications/Retrospect 5.0 to the Applications folder on the disk image


2. Drag /Library/Preferences/Retrospect to the following location on the disk image:



At this point you should hopefully have a bootable CD that will run Retrospect, **BUT** it won't do you

any good because if you boot off it, you won't be able to turn off the "Ignore ownership on this volume" for the disk you want to restore, which will hose any restore you want to make. That's because the place where this info is stored is not on the RAM disk yet. So we need to get into some tedious stuff. This will require logging in as root. Run /Applications/Utilities/Netinfo Manager. Click on the lock in the bottom left and authenticate yourself, then select the menu Security->Enable root user. When you are done you may want to go back and "Disable root user" again.


In a terminal window execute the following commands, where <DI> needs to be replaced by the name of the disk image in /Volumes. If that name has any spaces in it, always precede each space with a backslash, \. So if my image is called "MacOS X SOS", it should be listed as that in the /Volumes directory (I advise against any non-ascii characters in the name), and below where it says things like:




I would replaced it with:


/Volumes/MacOS\ X\ SOS/...


**Commands to be executed**

su (then type in root password)


cd /Volumes/<DI>/private/etc/RamDiskContents/private/var


mkdir db


mv /Volumes/<DI>/private/var/db/volinfo.database db


ln -s /ramdisk/private/var/db/volinfo.database /Volumes/<DI>/private/var/db


The above commands should each be on a single line (in the event your browser shows them split across two). Also, read carefully for the spaces in the above commands. For example, there is a space before the db at the end of the second to the last command and also before the /Volumes in the last command. You should now be ready to follow the instructions with BootCD for burning the CD and then see if it works :-) If you try it and it works, let me know!


You will still need to remember to turn off "Ignore ownership on this volume" for the disk you are restoring each time you boot up. Also, if your catalogs are normally on the disk that was trashed, they would need to be recreated somewhere (presumably on the disk to which you are restoring). You would also need to tell retrospect where these catalogs are located as the Preferences that were copied over to the CD would still be telling it to look in the old location they were when it was running off the disk.

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