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So i need to send in my mac laptop for repair and i have plenty of development work to do for the week that it will be gone for. I can borrow a laptop but obviously it wont have my data and dev stuff and documents on it. I have a full clone of my current drive and documents on the cloud but i'm looking for a simple quick method for getting my entire environment setup on this new laptop, then be able to nuke it and leave without little mess.

I would prefer not to have to backup the loaded laptop and just write my clone over the top then restore it when i get mine back. I also don't have a firewire drive to boot off which would have been great (nor the money to purchase one).

Any help appreciated.


I am an iphone developer and so all the Dev install as well as keychain items would be needed, im not even sure they would authenticate on another machine.

I think it might be feasible to restore from a time machine backup to a new user on the machine and then install the dev tools. If apple made hard drives removable this wouldnt be an issue, swap and replace done (they are both macbookpro(3,1)'s )

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I haven't tried, but I expect your keychain to bepart of your personal account, and hence it to be part of a Time Machine restore of that account. The tools themselves are probably installed system wide. – Arjan Feb 24 '10 at 17:27
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Is this about how to transport the data, or how to construct the account? If it's the latter, see this Apple support article:

The gist is: as root, make a copy of your home folder in the new machine's /Users folder; create your account using the same short name as the new home folder; and accept the new home folder when offered it as the new user's folder.

The development tools is a different issue - once you've installed those from the OS disks, depending on how closely you need to be able return the machine to its pre-dev tools state, that may not be a trivial job.

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I followed this and copied my user across. Then i simply dragged the Developer folder across as well and everything is working fine. Whatever files are left in the main /library folder are possibly recreated when necessary. As for returning the computer to its original state. When im done im confidente i can get it 99% back to original so im not that bothered. I have cloned the old drive in the event something goes wrong so its golden – Spyker Feb 28 '10 at 11:10

This is a sticky situation to be in. You're out of your element without a "home ground" advantage.

Short answer is no.

You could use a program such Deep Freeze and then just never shut down the laptop. I'm not sure if this is a viable solution but it could work.

The other option is to just suck it up and deal with it for a week. I love coding in TextMate with Firefox / Firebug and all my wonderful apps. However, if someone gave me notepad and a command line I could probably get stuff done. Wouldn't be the quickest, but it would work for a week.

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Without telling us about the development environment you use, it might not be too hard to just create a new user and get whatever you need from that backup in the cloud. Then when done, put those documents back into the cloud and remove the user? But I guess you've considered that option.

Though you write you don't have a firewire disk: if you've got a plain USB disk, then a Time Machine backup can be used to transfer an account from one Mac to another. Creating and restoring such backup might in fact be faster than trying to restore from the cloud, but most likely your development tools are not in your current account? Apple makes no warranties about returning your hard drive in the same state you gave it to them, so an additional backup won't hurt anyhow.

(Using an OS X guest account saves you the trouble from having to restore the borrowed notebook to its original state. Of course, you should not restore your backup to that guest account, as all will be wiped when logging of.)

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