Alex's Mac Page

backup script


Just treated myself to a new Mac Pro (Late 2013). Previous information is left below.

I got a discount from a buddy at Apple. I opted for 6 x 3.5GHz Xeon E5, 32GB RAM, 512GB SSD. I got the D500 graphics with 3GB GDDR5 VRAM. It's a pretty sweet trash can.

Because it has no space for drives, I bought a DATOptic 8-bay trayless Thunderbolt drive enclosure. I also bought a Vantec USB 3.0 enclosure for my Blu Ray writer.

New update: Got a newer Mac. Previous information below.

I bought a 2008 Mac Pro from eBay to replace my 2006 model. The new one gives me 8 cores at 2.8GHz. I added four Mac 4GB DDR2 800 ECC FB-DIMMs from Komputerbay. I replaced the original graphics card with a Mac ATI Radeon HD 5770 so I can fun Final Cut Pro X. I added an LG WH14NS40 Blu Ray burner in the second optical bay. To do this, I snaked SATA cables from the hidden ODD SATA jacks on the motherboard.

The Apple Fax Modem is not supported in the 64-bit world. So, for $11, I bought a "New 56Kbs USB 2.0 V.92/90 Dial Up Voice Fax Data Modem" from newlauch on eBay. It works without any drivers. I just plugged it in and sent a fax.

Next adventure: Dell u2713h wide gamut 2560x1440 LCD and DisplayPort cables.

Update: Bought a new Mac. Old information below the rule.

Through my friend at Apple, I bought a low-end Mac Pro: two dual core 2.66GHz Xeons, 1GB RAM, 250GB drive, single SuperDrive. Then I bought a bunch of stuff from Newegg for cheap:

I kicked the stock 250GB drive into bay 3 and eventually reformatted it. The two 500GB drives in bays 1 & 2 support NCQ, so I wanted them as my boot and primary data disks. I installed the OS fresh from the included DVDs.

The Pioneer drive is so much quieter than the stock Optiarc that I put it in the top position and moved the Optiarc down.

I had a little hitch with the memory. It seems that I needed to keep the original two 512MB DIMMs in the first pair on memory riser A in order to boot successfully. I had originally tried to put the higher-density RAM in the "earlier" slots. Now I've got all 5GB working.

Anyway, the whole thing plugged right in to my existing Dell 2001FP monitor, old keyboard, mouse, scanner, printer, network, etc. I just had to download some drivers from Epson.

I'm using a Logitech laser mouse with tilt wheel and it's fully-supported without any work on my part.

Two minor bummers easily corrected: Apple no longer includes a built-in modem. Not that they couldn't for this price. For $50 I bought Apple's USB modem so that I can continue to send faxes. Also, they include FireWire 400 and 800 ports, front and back. I have no 800 devices, but two 400 devices, and I don't like using the front-panel 400 port permanently. So, I bought a 400 to 800 adapter from Sonnet.

I installed Carbon Emacs from Seiji Zenitani.

I installed Fink 0.8.1 for intel and some must-have packages: mtr, wget.

I bought the (at the time) bottom-of-the line PowerMac G4, single 1.25GHz CPU, 256MB DDR RAM, 80GB Ultra ATA hard drive, CD-R(W)/DVD combo drive. This is known as the "mirrored drive doors" model.

Then I saved a bunch of money by adding the following third-party items:

All the installs went without a hitch. No software changes were needed under MacOSX 10.3.0 (Panther). I bought the latter two items at Fry's in case I needed to return them. They both came with $30 rebates, too.

There was one problem with the DVR-106D. If the OS decided to sleep the drives while a disc was in there, the drive would forget that it contained a disc, and it wouldn't eject. This problem went away when I flashed the firmware to the Apple version using a program called DVRFlashX with the Apple 106 code.

I got good information about hardware compatibility from XLR8YourMac.

I'm very glad that I bought a multi-button mouse. Mine is the Logitech MX300, which was a bargain closeout to make room for the MX310. Anyway, I just plugged it into the USB port and got instant functionality. The scroll wheel is very nice. I suspect that a number of engineers at Apple are non-believers in the dogma of the one-button mouse.


I must say that Mac OS X is very impressive. This comes from an old-time mac user who left the mac for the unix world. Now I can have both.

I ran Software Update to download about 60MB of various updates without incident.

I'm a little bummed that the G4 didn't come with X11 installed. On the up-side, it did come with iDVD even though my model didn't have a DVD burner as purchased. No matter, there's a free download for X11. After install, X was up and running in minutes. Thanks to built-in ssh, I had xterms from my employer's systems running via tunnels in no time.

I wanted a version of Emacs that runs standalone (not inside Terminal). So, I downloaded sources fresh from the tree from Emacs CVS. Then I built it like this: works well, so far.

I got my Epson Stylus Photo 750 working by downloading the driver package from Epson's web site. That wasn't quite enough, though. I needed to install it as EPSON USB and not just USB. I also held down the option key when I clicked Add in the printer utility so I could access the advanced options. By using the Epson stuff, I have the ability to print properly to Epson Photo Paper from iPhoto. This didn't work with the GIMP stuff that comes with Panther.

I now have an Epson Stylus Photo R1800, connected via FireWire. The whole thing is great: setup, install, speed, quality, etc.

I had to go to to get the missing that allows the preinstalled Python 2.3 to use BerkeleyDB. Here's the link.

I grabbed the source to mtr 0.58 from bitwizard and compiled it thus:

For encrypting files, I downloaded DropAES from here.

More software I like:

Address Book Importer
Kodak EasyShare
MPEG Streamclip
Adobe Photoshop


Always good to watch Mac OS X Hints and Mac OS X Apps.

Swap the control and caps lock keys with this. This is very cool.

Focus follows mouse: For a unix/X11 person, this is great, even if it applies to only a few apps.

I got these from todbot along with this way of making hidden apps dim in the dock

With Terminal's focus following the mouse, there's a hazard of quitting Terminal by accident. I did this to avoid it:

To speed up booting in Panther (10.3.2), I did the following: I'm not sure if this was a good idea, as I much later had an OS corruption that required a reinstall.

I added the Debug menu in Safari:

I added more views to Calculator: After one of the security updates, I could no longer ssh into my box via a port 22 reverse tunnel. The solution was to configure tcp_wrapers thus: To get Safari to use the external viewer for PDFs, I did:
I wanted to get my mac to get time from NTP in a better way, and from my NTP server, not Apple's. I made an alternate config file, /etc/

In Tiger (10.4) I edited /System/Library/StartupItems/NetworkTime/NetworkTime like this: See also

In Snow Leopard (10.6), things have moved from SystemStarter to launchd. The critical script seems to be /usr/libexec/ntpd-wrapper which I modified as follows.

In Mavericks (10.9.3), ntpd runs in a sandbox. I needed to modify /usr/share/sandbox/ as shown. Restart ntpd with
launchctl stop org.ntp.ntpd
Allow iMovie < 10.0 to use network volumes for footage: Add debug menus Flush DNS cache: Disable IPv6: SSD Optimization:

a/m at a_l_e_x_m_e_y_e_r dot c-o-m
Sat Apr 11 10:41:26 2015