Posts Tagged 'mac os x'

ntfs hard drive on Snow Leopard

Note: this post proposes a trick at your own risks!

I’m willing to backup-up 1.5Tb of data I have on my office computer, and use them on my Mac OS X (Snow Leopard) computer at home. By default, Mac OS X can format, read and write Fat32 (MS-DOS) to share an hard drive with a Windows PC. Unfortunately, MS-DOS format is a bit outdated, and would not support partition larger than 1Gb, which would force me to make two partitions on my drive, while I would prefer only one.

Although it is not visible by default, Mac OS X Snow Leopard (10.6) support NTFS. To activate the support, you must declare your new drive in /etc/fstab (the file used by Unix/Linux systems to mount devices).

You must first get some infos: plug in your hard drive. In my case, the drive mounts with the name “Elements”.

open a terminal and type the following command:

diskutil info /Volumes/Elements

you’ll see more information about the drive, check it is NTFS formatted.

By default, file /etc/fstab is not created on Mac OS X. If it already exists, make a copy

sudo cp /etc/fstab /etc/fstab_org

sudo command will prompt for the administrator password (to run the copy command in directory /etc where you should not have rights to write as a normal user).

edit it (you can use nano to edit the file, or any other plain text editor):

sudo nano /etc/fstab

and add the line

LABEL=Elements none ntfs rw

(replace Elements with the label name of your hard drive).

Reboot the computer to force reading /etc/fstab and mounting your drive as a read/write NTFS drive.

Job done!

For perfectionists: if your drive shows a UUID when you enter command diskutil info /Volumes/Elements, then you can edit your /etc/fstab with

UUID=XXXXXXX none ntfs rw

where XXXXXXX is the UUID number shown by diskutil. This should allow recognizing the drive even if you change its label name.


Time machine freezed with a fire wire cable

Although I prefer my DYI backup system, I also tried Time Machine on my Mac Mini, on Leopard.

Problem: After making some save sessions ok, Time Machine was in ‘update’ status for hours without saving anything, forcing me to reboot the machine (could not even kill the app cleanly)!

I changed the disk format to GUID as suggest in, still had the problem.

I finally found it was due to the fire wire cable. I changed to USB2 connection: no problem anymore!

No clue if it was the electronic on board the external drive (no-name hardware) or compatibility or bug in Leopard, anyway changing the cable solved everything.

May worth to try.

Transfer iPhoto from a mac on Tiger to a mac on Leopard

I recently bought a mac mini with Leopard (mac os x 10.5.6). I wanted to install my iPhoto library from my old (already 5 years old) powerbook running on mac os x 10.4. How to do?

Well, I tried to use the migration assistant. Unfortunately, the user profile on the powerbook and on the mac mini are different (different user name). The migration assistant simply created on the mac mini a profile for the powerbook user profile I was importing. In a word, the migrated photo library was not available on my mac mini profile. How sad. To have the iPhoto database running, I simply copied the iPhoto library to my profile, updated the user permissions (to have read/write permissions on all files) and ran iPhoto.

Caution: this works, but would overwrite any images that would be already imported in your new computer!!!

Step by Step (sorry, snapshots are done in french…):

  • files to import are in //hd/users/your-profile/Library/images/iphoto Library
  • copy those files in your new computer, at the same place. CAUTION: this will destroy any already existing files!!!!
  • On the “iphoto Library” directory, right-click, information, 
  • run iPhoto !


DIY backup system

I’ve got tons of satellite images and GIS data that I don’t want to loose. But hard drives are not eternal.

My home made backup system is a simple external usb2 hard drive: PC hard drive are becoming cheap, and you can by for some bucks an usb2 external case to plug it in. Now, the question is only how to manage that.

On any *nix system (Unix, Linux, Mac OS X, …) you can use rsync to make a fast backup of your repositories.
My backup hard drive is mounted on /Volumes/Archive on my Mac.
I wrote a very simple bash script:

#!/bin/sh -l
rsync -E -a -x -S --delete --progress --exclude-from=/Users/bubuitalia/exclude_from_rsync.txt /Users/bubuitalia /Volumes/archive/save

This script was saved in my home directory (/Users/bubuitalia) as (do not forget to do a chmod u+x this script to make it executable). You just have to change the path for your own installation. To run it, type ./

This rsync command synchronizes the data in /Users/bubuitalia/ with the archive directory (/Volumes/archive/save).
The rsync commands line has the following options:

  • -E : copies extended files attributes.
  • -a : archive mode
  • -x : don’t cross file system boundaries (omits all mount-point directories from the copy)
  • -S : try to handle sparse file in an efficient way
  • –delete : delete extraneous files on the receiving system: if you delete something on your original data set, it will be deleted on the archive at the next synchronization. Use this function if you want to maintain a mirror copy of your system. It is worth to use it to avoid your archive size to get too large with time.
  • –progress : show progress during transfer.
  • –exclude-from=FILE : read exclude pattern from FILE

Don’t forget: if you run the script, any change in the original data will be applied to the backup. So, if you delete a file and want to restore it, do not run the script! First retrieve the data from the archive (any data deleted on the source, will be deleted on the archive after each synchronization).

I made another file, /Users/bubuitalia/exclude_from_rsync.txt, where I listed (1 entry per line) the directories I don’t want to save:


To adapt this example to your own system, simply change the source and target directories.
The rsync page is on
and you can find some other examples on

May 2018
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