New Mac Pro - How would you set it up RIGHT?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by c:\windows, Mar 19, 2008.

  1. c:\windows macrumors member

    Feb 27, 2008
    Houston, Texas
    My new Mac Pro arrives today! I'm very excited. I was wondering if anyone could share any best practices on how they set it up. On my PC’s I always reformat the harddrive first and install everything from scratch to get rid of all the bloatware the manufactures put on the computer (AOL free trials, trial programs that are really ads) all this bloat ware slows everything down. Then I make a full backup incase I want a fresh image. Then I install all the standard apps make another full backup incase I want a fresh image with the standard apps. I try to store all the data on a separate drive so I don’t lose any files when I restore an image. I normally restore a fresh image every 3 months it keep things running fast. I try a LOT of software that I might only use once so I don’t want the to slow down the system by having these programs hanging around, eating up resources for something I am never going to use again. In the PC world removing something is impossible there are always files left over, registry settings left over. So the only good way to avoid your computer getting slower and slower is to restore to a fresh image and connect to your data drive. If there is a driver conflict a fresh image is a good way to see if it is a problem with the hardware or the software configurations.

    I have never used a mac before so I am a little lost on where to start. So I am looking for some ideas on how to get started right. So if you had a brand new mac pro and you were willing to invest a lot of time in setting it up right how would you do it? Any management software out there that will run diagnostics and manage programs I should look at?

    Thanks so much for reading.

    P.S. I plan on running Parralles or VMWare and boot camp so that might complicate it a bit.
  2. iGrant macrumors 6502a

    Sep 20, 2006
    The very first thing I do when I get a new Mac, is add the Applications folder to the dock, so I can just click on that icon on the dock, and start any application I have installed on my Mac.

    Second I go through what is on the dock and remove the Applications from the dock that I do not use regularly, like iCal, iMovie, etc.

    Third I actually go to and I usually find about 5 to 20 apps. They have a lot of good programs that you don't even know exist.

    I usually spend about 2 hours doing this and then my Mac is ready to go.

    Hope this helps.

  3. killmoms macrumors 68040


    Jun 23, 2003
    Washington, DC
    Your "erase and re-image every three months" thing will definitely not be necessary. You could re-install the system software when it arrives to remove language translations or printer drivers you won't use, but there's really not that much "stuff" to get rid of in the long run.

    In any event, trying most programs on the Mac will leave around maybe a plain text preferences file or two, but those just sit on the drive, they don't really do anything except take up a bit of space (a very small bit). Trust me, owning a Mac means breaking free of the "omg so sluggish every few months" trend.

    Also, due to the way OS X is set up, your documents and files should all optimally reside in your home folder. This means if you want to upgrade your system software (say, if 10.6 comes out) by doing an "archive and install." What this does is package up your old /System folder and put on the new system software without touching your documents, settings, or applications. It's pretty handy.
  4. c:\windows thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 27, 2008
    Houston, Texas
    It does, I had never heard of freemacware before. Are all the applications stored in the application folder? Thats a concept.
  5. c:\windows thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 27, 2008
    Houston, Texas
    I have a some unix expierence from my days as a computer science grad so it will be nice to see the home directory again. Do applications store their preferences in the home directory or are they normally kept with the application install points?
  6. LouisBlack macrumors 6502

    Jun 21, 2007
    Balham, London
    User preferences for applications are kept in the home folder. I did a reinstall the other day and all of my ical, Office, mail, etc settings were exactly the same afterwards.

    I also agree that Erase and Installs are very rarely the solution to a problem. I've been having a few problems with Leopard so I had no other choice, but 9 times out of 10 you will be able to fix something without resorting to reinstalling the OS.
  7. ungraphic macrumors 6502a


    Nov 15, 2007
    Toronto, Canada
    I'm extremely anal about certain things when it comes to how my mac is setup.

    Heres how I got mine setup to work best for my needs, which some things may work great for your needs:

    1) RAM. Its best to give your computer more ram than it initially came with. Ive only got 2gb but will be adding more later on. This is mostly for photoshop work rather than anything else.

    2) RAID0. Applications startup much, much faster (30-70% faster). Yes, it does increase your chances of hard drive failure by two, but look into my third point. I have two 250gb WD Caviar 16mb buffer hard drives in software raid.

    3) Backup hard drives. I use two, one which is internal at 200gb and another which is external 320gb. I use the internal also for a windows partition set to 50gb, the remaining space is a DOS partition used to be shared between windows and OS X.

    4) Removal of widgets. I disable widgets COMPLETELY. No, i dont just drag it out of my dock, i type in the following into the terminal:

    After that, you must type this into the dock for settings to take effect:

    I never use widgets so having them, or none but the app itself in the background is useless.

    5) As mentioned by someone else, I remove all icons from the dock except for itunes and replace them with mine (photoshop, illustrator, aMSN, firefox, etc).

    6) Screen capture format. I change the default format to from PNG to JPG. Why? Because screen caps are not printable anyway so using PNG is a waste as it produces a file size that is much larger then necessary, and usually screen caps are used for web purposes anyway. With JPG being more universal, it makes it easier on browsers as some dont display PNGs properly.

    To do this, type the following into the terminal:

    7) Expose. I set mine up with hot corners:

    Top right: show all windows
    Bottom right: show all current application windows
    Bottom left: show desktop
    Top Left: nothing

    Top left is set to nothing because i find myself scrolling to the corner far to often when trying to access system prefs or the application file menu.

    8) Onyx. Great application utility to customize your mac, LOTS of neat things it can do to your mac.

    9) I usually make a folder, with subfolders with shorts to my most frequently used applications that wouldnt make it into the dock (i like it clean and simple). I then add it to the dock next to my trash can so it acts sort of like a start menu from windows. of course, i use list type in leopard 10.5.2 where is before it only supported fan or grid (both which were ridiculously stupid and redundant).

    10) I disable anything in the applications startup that i wouldnt need.

    11) Get VLC, quicktime sucks and it requires extensions for divx and the sort. VLC does not and it plays back *everything*

    12) Get Firefox, safari sucks and doesnt display all web pages correctly.

    13) I usually disable all shortcuts from the keyboard preference pane except for the screen capture shortcuts.

    14) Say thank you for my tips.
  8. wesk702 macrumors 68000


    Jul 7, 2007
    The hood
    definitely diskwarrior as a purchase but hold off just a little. It does not support the new Mac Pros YET
  9. puckhead193 macrumors G3


    May 25, 2004
    take your time to set it up. Use cable manager system or zip ties. A clean set up is a happy set up. Also run software update. Enjoy the unboxing time. Its a lot of fun to find the goodies and something most people don't do very often. ;)
  10. GotPro macrumors 6502

    Jan 29, 2007
    How do I set my machine up?

    Ok... here's the scoop...

    The definitive guide to perfect Mac Pro usage ( :D )

    #1) Set up computer, put original system disk in... hold down "D" key during boot process. Run extended hardware test... verify everything is "good".

    #2) Add new hardware... (In My Case... remove stock 320 Gig HDD... Add 1 TB Boot Drive, add 1 TB Media Drive... add 500 GB Time Machine Drive, add 400 GB Windows Drive... and 2 More gigs of Ram... add additional DVD/CDRW without riplock).

    #3) Boot off of original system disk again. This time, run Disk Utility, format / partition the boot drive with a single partition, GUID, named whatever you want. Format / partition second 1tb disk as "Media", single partition, GUID. Partition 500 GB Time Machine Drive into 2 partitions... 1 120 GB GUID Partition for a Swapfile, a second partition using all the remaining space. This will be for Time Machine. I call mine "Sanitarium"... as it will help me keep my sanity if my machine craters at some point in the future ;-). Lastly, partition the last drive into a single partitions for VMWARE Virtual Appliances (XP, Linux, etc.), I call mine Virtual Machines...

    #4) After this is done... reboot and repeat step #1... making sure EVERYTHING is still good (new ram and all).

    #5) Once done, reboot of the system disc again... and install OS X for the First Time. However, edit the options... and DO NOT INSTALL ANYTHING EXCEPT THE MAIN OPERATING SYSTEM. Do not install applications, printer drivers, additional fonts, or anything else. JUST the MINIMUM it will let you install.

    #6) After install (about 12 minutes), the machine will reboot. Now... immediately go to software update and download ALL the newest updates for whatever you have (and uncheck the "check for updates" checkbox at this point... no sense in having your machine doing this automatically taking up ANY cycles... you will know when there are updates... and if not... check manually once a week or so. Don't touch anything on the system during this process... just to make sure nothing gets hosed. You'll reboot. Go BACK into System Preferences, and re-check for updates to make sure there are no more. If there are, install them. Reboot and repeat. If not... go on to step #7.

    #7) You need to move your swap file from the main boot drive to the special VM partition (ALWAYS on a SEPARATE PHYSICAL DISK or it's a moot point) that you created in step 3. Here is how you do this... First, enable root user by going to Applications -> Utilities -> Directory Utility, and under the "Edit" menu, choose "Enable Root User". Set a password, and close out of Directory Utility. Next, open activity monitor in the Utilities folder, and click on the Disk tab. Keep this open just to see what your VM is doing while we do the following. Next, open up terminal, type "su -" and enter... and when prompted enter your just created root password to switch to root. Once there... type the following: "ps -wax | grep dynamic_pager -m1" and ensure the output shows the swapfile location. It will. Make a note of this. Now... "cd to /System/Library/LaunchDaemons" . Once there, do a "chmod 777". Next, use "vi" to edit the file as follows (if you use a standard text editor, it will save it incorrectly when you repair permissions and the swap file WILL NOT WORK):


    My partition is called SwapDaemon, obviously... but if yours were "Bob", then just replace the path to your path of "Bob"... and you are all set. Save the file by doing an esc then ":wq!" from vi... and get back to your command prompt. Once there, exit terminal... and go into Disk Utility, and REPAIR PERMISSIONS. Reboot. After the reboot, open Activity Monitor again and make sure that you see a VM Size... and open a terminal. SU to root again. Now, type the "ps -wax | grep etc" command again from above. YOU SHOULD NOW SEE THE PATH CHANGED TO YOUR NEW PARTITION. Once this is done, type the following "rm -rf /var/vm/swapfile*" . This will remove all of the previous existing swapfiles from the boot drive.

    #8) Set up the Mac OS. Go into System Preferences, and go through EVERY SINGLE OPTION. This takes a while... but will result in a smooooth system. Here are my settings:

    In Desktop and Screensaver, turn off translucent menu bar (obviously set your preferred desktop and screen save as well).

    In Expose and Spaces, I don't personally use spaces, so I turn it off. Expose I disable all the F keys, and just have the hot corners set up as follows:
    Top Left, Screen Saver
    Top Right, Dashboard
    Lower Left, All Windows
    Lower Right, Desktop

    In International, edit the international list and uncheck EVERYTHING except English.
    I have nothing bluetooth, so I go into bluetooth and turn all of that off.

    Go into Displays, and choose enable "show displays in menu bar". Click color, and calibrate it. MAKE SURE THAT IN TARGET GAMMA YOU SELECT PC STANDARD of 2.2 and NOT THE MAC STANDARD. At least for me, that gives a much MUCH more pleasing picture.

    In Energy Saver, so that you won't have any issues with reboot from sleep, set the top slider to "Never", and the monitor slider to "15 minutes" or whatever. UNCHECK the sleep hard disks when possible. I personally don't like the stress that constantly spinning up and down the hard drives does on reliability.

    In keyboard and mouse... for the keyboard, set the keyboard rate to all the way fast... and delay one bar from far short. The mouse I'll leave up to you.

    Check the box that says "show eject in menu bar".

    Go into sound if you have speakers hooked up and choose your default system sound, and the output should be "line out" unless you are using digital. There are TWO PLACES to set this in SOUND and you need to do them both.

    If you have .mac... set this up in .Mac tab.

    Go into Network... DELETE EVERY CONNECTION TYPE EXCEPT THE ONE YOU WILL BE USING. If you are on wireless, and not using the ethernet, DELETE FIREWIRE, BLUETOOTH, AND BOTH ETHERNETS (you can EASILY add them later). If you are on 100/1000BT, then delete everything except the single connection there. The rest of network you'll have to set as to your specific situation.

    If you have quicktime pro, enter serial number.

    In accounts, under login items, delete everything there set to automatically open when you login. Probably only ituneshelper.

    In Date and Time, set your preferred time server and time zones.

    Click on startup disk, SELECT the OS X 10.5.2 folder, hit the lock to make changes, etc.

    Click on TIME MACHINE... turn it on... and choose the disk you want to make as backup. This will be the partition, for me, anyway, I called Sanitarium.

    You can go into options and I don't have it back up anything but my home folder. You can set that however you like.

    After time machine has finished backing up, reboot again.

    #9) Install iLife '08 (customized to your liking).

    #10) Install iWork '08 (if ya got it... it's incredible).

    #11) Reboot again. Now lets set up the dock. The FIRST thing you should do is remove the default stacks in the dock. Then, drag your primary boot drive from the desktop into the righthand part of the dock. Right click on it, and select the following: Display as Folder, List Contents as LIST. Now you have a cool Mac "Start" menu. Drag your home folder into the dock next to the main boot drive. I personally use Display as FOLDER, List as Grid on this one. Now, here are the icons I put, in the order I like them, in the dock: Safari (Firefox sucks... don't believe the hype), Mail, Address Book, iCal, iTunes, iPhoto, iWeb, Time Machine, System Preferences, Terminal. All other I throw away.

    #12) Move your iTunes library to your Media Drive. This is done in iTunes... preferences. Alternatively you can move your entire home folder to the Media drive. I haven't done this yet, so I won't list how... you can look it up via Google, however... if you decide to.

    #13)... Reboot! Download and Install SMC Fan Control and Onyx, both latest versions. Run Onyx... and go through and clean all caches, run all scripts, repair permissions, delete logs, etc.

    #14)... Reboot! NOW YOU ARE READY TO ENJOY YOUR FAST MAC AND START ADDING APPS! Note: Keep an eye on Activity Monitor as you add apps for those that will hose your system ;-) (3 things I really recommend are Perian, Divx, and Flip4Mac).


  11. network23 macrumors 6502


    Dec 18, 2002
    For the most part, previous posters are correct. To remove a program, just drag its folder from the Applications folder on your hard drive to the Trash. All that will be left behind will be a preference file or two. Text files. Very small. No sense worrying about them.

    There are rare cases though, where the application developer does not take the Mac philosophy to heart and you can wind up with lots of files scattered around your drive (Adobe springs to mind as one. I'm sure others here can identify others). Those will take more effort to remove. Time Machine is your best friend in those situations. Much like Windows Restore, just wind your machine back to before the install.

    I can't remember the name of it, but another option is an app out there (free, I think) that tracks all the installed files and where they reside that might help in cleaning off those poorly-behaved apps.
  12. GotPro macrumors 6502

    Jan 29, 2007

    Goofy looking icon, but nice little program.
  13. cal6n macrumors 68000


    Jul 25, 2004
    Gloucester, UK
    Hey, GotPro,

    In #3, you forgot to mention zeroing-out the boot drive.
  14. GotPro macrumors 6502

    Jan 29, 2007
    Not a bad idea if you can actually WAIT that long to start using the machine :D
  15. c:\windows thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 27, 2008
    Houston, Texas
    Y'all are awesome! That was exactly the kind of help I was looking for, thanks so much. I am going to follow the instructions and learn everything I can about this machine and OS.

    When I got home and I could not believe the sheer weight and quality of the Mac Pro. This machine is solid. I added the 8GB of ram and even the inside looks like something out of a machine shop. I turned it on to give it a test drive before I wipe everything this weekend and follow the instruction y'all gave me. The speed is something I really was not ready for. This machine is fast and quite. And the speed is a little insane, granted right now all I have done is load the stuff that comes with the computer but there is 0 lag time from when I click something to when it shows up on the screen.

    I really thought the computer crashed and the screen was frozen because I had a image on the screen but there was no sound coming from the computer. Like I mean no sound. None. None at all. But it was fine.

    I plugged a pair of Klipsch of computer speakers and even the sound is amazing.

    I have a wireless keyboard and I really like the size and layout (except the letter m looks funny to me). The wireless mighty mouse is the only part that feels cheap.

    I am calling in sick to work tomorrow and Friday.

    Thanks again for the detailed help, I am going to really enjoy learning about OS X on this machine.

    I'm so glad I got the best.

  16. krye macrumors 68000


    Aug 21, 2007
    I'm stuck at work right now. I just checked my tracking number to find that my Mac Pro has been delivered. I called home and all is good. I can't wait to get home!

    I'm not using the migration assistant. I want a clean start. So here's what I plan to do:
    1. software update
    2. install my apps
    3. move my data over from my MacBook.
    4. move the data off my external drive to the Mac Pro.
    5. redo the external drive for Time Machine.

    I have to come in tomorrow, but I'm so calling out Monday. (I have some vacation time I have to burn before July.)
    There's no better time to take 3 day weekend.
  17. c:\windows thread starter macrumors member

    Feb 27, 2008
    Houston, Texas
    Geek out weekend for me as well :)
  18. asmallchild macrumors regular

    Nov 25, 2007
    How do I do this?

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