This morning the MacBook was behaving strangely ... to the point that I managed to lose the menu bar entirely, and no apps were doing anything. I'm still not sure what happened, but it was refusing to shutdown to make it more annoying.After a hard reboot, the pain got even worse, as it then got stuck in a never-ending loop of two different parts of the startup sequence (light blue background with spinny thing; darker blue background with just the cursor). No amount of forced reboots fixed it.I then dug around and found the Boot Options for OS X 10.5, and so I played with those. Single user mode (Cmd-S on boot) just allowed me to verify that /var/log/system.log was indeed full of errors, though most relating to one area:

LaunchServices/5123589: coreservicesd is running an unsupported version, 0 ( we are 10500000 ), so we cannot talk to it.

Googling made me realise that this wasn't a minor problem: a reinstall of the OS was called for. Oi! This is a Mac: this shouldn't happen!At that point I naturally started thinking about the Time Machine and SuperDuper! backups that should get me out of this hole. I plugged in the external firewire HDD with the backups, and tried the Target Disk Mode startup (T on boot). This seemed to work, but isn't helpful, as it would allow other computers to see the files on the MacBook, rather than get the files off the HDD.So then I looked at SuperDuper's website to see what I should do. I'd spent many hours making sure that I could use it to reboot the Mac if necessary, but when holding down Option/Alt and rebooting, it failed to show the drive. Grrrr. And not surprising, as I then discovered on the SuperDuper! FAQ forum where it notes that many FireWire drives aren't checked with Macs, and can't boot from them. [An order for a recommended Maxtor unit has now been placed.] Time Machine can't do a bootable recovery, and I have a non-booting machine. So, a reinstall was needed. Grrrrr some more, as my last Time Machine backup was before Spring Harvest. But here's the good news: the reinstall option (via the original OS DVDs) has a useful trick up its sleeve. It will archive the existing OS, install a new one, and then restore the preserved user's data and settings - including most of the applications. This went extremely smoothly, and I haven't noticed anything missing yet. All that was needed was to do a few rounds with Software Update to bring the Apple software back to the latest versions (particularly OS X 10.5.2).In the end, this was probably easier and quicker than doing a SuperDuper-based boot, and then a long restore from Time Machine. Though it does leave the OS in a less clean state.

AuthorJonathan Clark