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What is the best/safest way to migrate the data of a 10.4 OS X user to a 10.6 OS X Server? This user is a local user (no Open Directory, etc.) on both machines. They are connected through a local network.

Ideally, the following would be migrated:

  • iCal and AddressBook data (I am afraid that the format of the data for AddressBook has changed between 10.4 and 10.6.),
  • Creation and modification dates,
  • Unix access rights.

Since one should not use Migration Assistant on Mac OS X Server 10.6, I'm unsure about how the migration should be done. I'll try a cp -pR, but I would like to avoid discovering later that some details of the migration were actually wrong.

PS: Moving iCal data from 10.4 to 10.6 Server for a local user does not appear to be that simple: cp or ditto are not sufficient by themselves; more can be found in the Apple forums. No solution for iCal data yet…

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The data formats for iCal, Address Book, etc. should be handled auto-magically (the same as if you upgraded the OS and the user logged in afterwards).

So this is what I'd do...

Create the user on the 10.6 machine, try to make sure that the path to the home directory is the same as it is on the 10.4 machine.

On the 10.4 machine and with a USB/Firewire external drive (that doesn't have ignore permissions checked in the info window) use 'ditto' to copy the home directory of the user to be moved.

On the 10.6 machine with that USB/Firewire drive use 'ditto' to re-create the 10.4 user home over the 10.6 user home.

On the 10.6 machine as root (or as admin with sudo) 'chown -R username:usergroup UserHomeDirectory' This will change the ownership of all the files to the 10.6 user (there may be a different uid/gid between the two machines for that user).

Have the user log in and test the environment.

Note -- if you can't make the path to the user home directory on the 10.6 machine the same as it is on the 10.4 machine, there will be settings in prefs files that will be invalid. I can't remember if 10.4 prefs can be opened in a text editor, if they can't you will need the developer tools installed on the 10.6 machine and then open up at least the mail prefs and make sure that all the paths are set correctly.

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Glad to learn that AddressBook automatically updates its data! ditto is certainly safer than the cp -pR that I had in mind. I'm going to do that! – EOL Mar 2 '10 at 16:23
I tried the ditto method. It worked for AddressBook, but failed for iCal: my new calendar is empty (the old iCal groups are still there, but no event is displayed). – EOL Mar 3 '10 at 16:00
Sorry about that, I've done 10.3 to 10.4 migrations in a similar way, so I thought it would Just Work. Serves me right for not owing up to not having tried something first. It is a little more work, but you could export out the 10.4 calendars and then import back into the 10.6 calendar. – David Rouse Mar 3 '10 at 20:03
up vote 0 down vote accepted

There are (at least) two points to the answer:

  1. As David suggested, using ditto is a good way of copying data (it can only be better than cp -pR).
  2. However, iCal data format has changed between 10.4 and 10.6, which creates its own problems. Apple's recommended solution is to export the data through their MobileMe site. Exporting the calendar from 10.4 with iCal and then reimporting it in 10.6 did not work (either via a single .icbu file, or many .ics files).

Even with these two points, there might still be some rough edges in the copied data, though… Time will tell!

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