Not everyone moving to Apple's new Mac OS X Leopard will come by way of Tiger. A significant share will upgrade to Leopard from Panther (or even Jaguar) and these users may have some outdated notions of Mac-to-Mac migration.
With Tiger hanging around for years and the transition to Intel-based Macs, it's easy to forget Mac OS X 10.4 Panther. However, Panther is still a popular version for users still running PowerPC G3 and G4 Macs.
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For example, Net Applications' recent market share report states that half of the Mac share is for Intel Macs and the other half for plain "Mac OS." The survey is based on the company's web analytics statistics and we can assume that the Mac OS in this case isn't about Classic Macs, but rather PowerPC-based Macs that must be running Tiger and Panther.
Apple is still providing Panther tools, despite the word from developers that support for PowerPC is wavering down at Cupertino. Xcode 3.0, the updated Mac development environment, supports Panther and "Universal" development for Tiger and Leopard using the Mac OS X SDK.
(I found this Panther-only version of PhotoStamps for Mac interesting. I don't know if I've seen a Panther-specific version for a long while, if ever. I add that the software offers excellent integration with iPhoto and works well.)
Over the weekend, I spent a long while transitioning a Panther system on a iBook G4 to a new MacBook with Leopard pre-installed. My decisions centered around an evaluation of the data integrity of the Panther system and whether to use Leopard's Migration Assistant.
Firstly, this older Mac had lots of unfamiliar, fallow applications and even Classic programs that wouldn't work on the Intel machine. I didn't want to bring this junk over to the new clean MacBook.
Worse, looking at the system and talking to the user, I grew worried about the data integrity of some files and libraries. During the past few months, the user hadn't noticed that free space had swindled to dangerous low levels (we're talking down to MBs here) and content libraries and preferences began to show evidence of corruption. Of course, there wasn't a backup in sight.
I was concerned how the Migration Assistant would handle these flaky files. So, I decided to move over the user's content and files myself. The process wasn't so terrible but took a while.
Of course, most of the content libraries can be moved over simply by copying them to the new system. Apple had a useful support document on backup and restoring important files such Mail, Safari bookmarks and Address Book files.
Many of Apple's content apps have convenient export and import features. Still, iTunes can be complicated. I found a recent Apple guide on moving the iTunes Music folder was helpful.
However in hindsight, I figure that I might have done just as well (and saving a lot of time) to use the expanded capabilities of Migration Assistant.
Perhaps I had the features of the older Setup Assistant on my mind, rather than the more-capable Migration Assistant introduced in Tiger and expanded in Leopard. The software offers three migration settings: folders and files, applications and libraries. You don't need to bring over everything and instead can decide to move just the content or the preferences.
If you've been running Panther and preparing a move to Leopard, I suggest you take a look at this useful instruction page for Migration Assistant on Peachpit's online Macintosh Reference Guide. It has step-by-step instructions on Migration Assistant.