Migration from Mac to Chromebook. How to?

Being parsimonious, I can’t see spending $1000 every 4 or 5 years (if I’m lucky) for new MacBook Airs for both my wife and for me. We use them for simple things. She: email, crossword puzzles, sudoku, jigsaw puzzles. Me: email, Ratburger, vast right-wing conspiracy perusal, word processing, household management via more websites than I can count (banks, utilities, memberships, Amazon, education, etc.) each with unknowable login credentials (which are now all different for obvious security reasons).

To help manage this, beyond Safari Keychain, I recently bought 1Password. Bottom line: I want to migrate all my user-created materials and login credentials to a new platform(s), either a new Chromebook and/or a soon-to-be shipped Raspberry Pi 4 (I am excited by the prospect of finally learning some programming and one of the Linux-based operating systems. Thanks to John, I am particularly curious about Ubuntu. As well, since I have a new iPhone Xr with face recognition, I am feeling more comfortable doing more of the above online tasks on this device. Until now, I have been loathe to put my credentials on a mobile phone.

My questions: can I migrate all my user-created files from Mac to Chrome? I have read that if I install Chrome on my Mac I can upload everything easily to the cloud and access it from any device. Is this true? i.e. is it really easy to do that way? Is there a better way? Remember, I have been following John’s odyssey from iPhone (Old Sweller) to Galaxy and am somewhat sensitized to such migrations. As others have observed – if it is so much work for John, what will happen to us mere digital mortals (especially near-senile ones like me)?

I am assuming that, if I manage to upload all my credentials to 1Password (a big job in itself), I will be able to safely use any of my encrypted devices (I think they all are) to access any of my sensitive websites, like banks and credit card(I have only one for simplicity’s sake).

Final question: I keep a manual bootable backup of my Mac on an external hard drive, updated weekly. Can I access this from a Chromebook or a Win10 desktop (I have one of those, too) in an emergency? Behind this question is the same desire to not have to purchase another Mac if this one dies. If, in order to access my critical files and passwords on the Mac backup I have to buy a new Mac, the whole project goes down the drain.

Thank you all for any answers or thoughts you may offer. This is more strong evidence that we have made life way too complicated. It has begun to bring out my inner hunter – gatherer.

4+

Users who have liked this post:

  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar
  • avatar

Author: civil westman

Driven to achieve outward and visible things, I became a pilot, a doctor and a lawyer. Eventually, I noticed the world had still not beat a path to my door with raves. Now, as a septuagenarian I still work anesthesia part-time, fly my flight simulator to keep my brain sparking and try to elude that nagging, intrusive reminder that my clock is running out. Before it does, I am trying, earnestly, to find a theory of everything - to have even a brief "God's-eye" view of it all before the "peace which passeth all understanding."

9 thoughts on “Migration from Mac to Chromebook. How to?”

  1. I cannot answer most of the questions posed here because I have no experience with either Chrome OS (or its free version, Chromium OS) or the Chromebook hardware.

    civil westman:
    My questions: can I migrate all my user-created files from Mac to Chrome? I have read that if I install Chrome on my Mac I can upload everything easily to the cloud and access it from any device. Is this true? i.e. is it really easy to do that way? Is there a better way?

    My understanding is that what they want you to do is migrate all of your files to Google Drive.  You can install tools to access Google Drive on almost any system: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, etc.  Once your files are in Google Drive, you can access them from any platform and updates you make on one are instantly visible on others.  There are lots of features which allow you to grant access to others, make documents public, work collaboratively, etc.  You get 15 Gb free with the personal plan and can pay for additional space.  The business version is part of G Suite, which has a lot of features for managing employee access, permissions, etc. which most individual users don’t need.

    This, of course, means that you don’t have your data in your own possession.  For myriad reasons, you should back up anything on Google Drive to a local storage device.  If you have a Linux system such as Raspbian on a Raspberry Pi, this can be accomplished with one command using the free “rclone” utility.

    Personally, I use Google Drive only as a means for transferring files among platforms.  For example, most of the content I moved to the new Android phone was copied from my Linux development machine to Google Drive with rclone, then moved from Google Drive to its ultimate destination using the My Files app on the phone.  (I could have transferred the information directly using cadaver and the WebDAV server on Android, but I’ve found that if I do so, Android fails to recognise the properties of some files [for example, images], and categorise them correctly.  This problem does not occur when I transfer via Google Drive.)  Once the transfer is done, I delete the files from Google Drive, so I never run up against the storage limit.

    civil westman:
    I keep a manual bootable backup of my Mac on an external hard drive, updated weekly. Can I access this from a Chromebook or a Win10 desktop (I have one of those, too) in an emergency?

    This depends upon whether ChomeOS or Windows 10 can mount an external filesystem in the format used by the Mac (which is an Apple-only thing, but which some other vendors support).  There is a driver for Linux which supports Mac filesystems (although it may only mount them read-only—I don’t know), and if ChromeOS supports this driver and the Chromebook has a USB port to which you can connect the drive, you’re in business.  As to Windows 10, I have no idea, but I wouldn’t bet it would work.  Another possibility is that you may be able to format an external drive in a filesystem type which all of the systems on which you wish to mount it can read (and the ones which update it can write), but that’s another research project figuring out the intersection of the filesystem types supported by the systems you require to access it.  And if you don’t format the drive as a Mac filesystem, it almost certainly won’t be bootable.

    I don’t know anything about 1Password.  I use a password manager called Codebook, which is probably similar in intent.  It runs on MacOS, Windows, iOS, and Android, and once you set it up to sync to, in my case, a Google Drive account, your data are kept up to date on all devices.  If you make a change to one account on one device and a different one on another, the changes are properly merged when you sync.  The only flaw as far as I’m concerned is that there is no Linux desktop client, so for me it’s only useful on the tablet and phone.

    2+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
  2. Why not get tablets instead of laptops for the uses you list? They’re cheaper and lighter. The cheapest iPads are ~$400. The cheapest Android tablets are even less. My wife has pretty-much abandoned her Windows laptop for an iPad. Be advised that I don’t speak from first-hand experience; I never use tablets.

    If you go over to Chromebook, you’re putting your privacy in the hands of Google. Are you sure you want to do that?

    Edit: Raspberry Pi seems great, based on the slight experience I’ve had with it.

    2+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
  3. There are bargain Windows laptops that run just fine and are not affiliated with Google.  Over the years, I have had good luck with HP, Dell, and even Acer, back in the netbook days.

    Netbooks went away because the keyboards were too small and the processors too weak for people unwilling to commit to a tablet.  A tablet was, after all, a PC with no keyboard and a sluggish processor.  I say “was”, because the processor picture has gotten better relative to the intended uses of most people.

    Netbooks begat ultrabooks, which was a wonderful, *specified* product style.  Neat bit of history there — a win for the good guys, whichever coat they wore.

    If what you really want is to get out from under Apple and presumably Microsoft as well, then a regular windows laptop is the right platform to support your Linux journey.  A Chromebook is highly specialized, and Linux-without-Google is not what it’s designed for.

    I always buy Intel, because I cannot understand anything about rival chipakers, and I know that Intel is *always* supported by whatever distro of Linux I might want.

    There is supposed to be a way that you can get your Microsoft money back out of the laptop if you never start Windows, but it will cost you more in time and effort than simply wiping the thing clean and sticking a USB stick into it.

    I recommend YUMI, https://www.pendrivelinux.com/yumi-multiboot-usb-creator/ which automates just about everything EXCEPT the migration of your stuff.

    Large-scale, I recommend picking up a cheap window laptop (Minimum of an Intel i3 processor, but get an i5 if you can).  Install Linux on it.  Then build a raft from your old PC to your new one.  This will carry your files and settings.

    For migration, you have three large areas of concern — your files, your settings, and your applications.

    – Your applications are gone.  If you have Licenses, keep hold of those.  Every application is different regarding whether and how they will cough up your license ID.

    – Your settings can be extracted from several applications.  Umm, I presume that you do not maintain your mails locally, but instead use an online (IMAP) mailserver, such as Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, or the like.  Let us know if this is NOT the case.

    – – Advice — always use IMAP.  More on this later if desired, but POP3 means that your emails is downladed from the server and then your downloaded copy is all that there is — your desktop has it and you mail provided no longer does.  IMAP means that you get to do everything that POP3 can, but the mail is retained on the server unless you delete it, in which case it goes away from both locations.  Normally, this doesn’t matter so much, unless you ever want to migrate or check from two machines.

    Settings also includes things like your web bookmarks, favorites, history, any/all of which can be extracted to a file, and that file moved over to your new machine, then imported.

    – Files — this is the big one.  You will want to scoop everything off of your desktop, your entire user profile (not just the documents folder), and anywhere else you have tucked things.

    I typically start by creating a folder called RAFT on the desktop, and dragging (COPYING) everything relentlessly into that.  Files, settings, application licenses, — and then drag that to a sufficiently large USB stick.  This should not be the same stick you intend to use for installing Linux.

    Once your Linux is up, you can import the whole RAFT folder right onto the desktop of your shiny new Linux.  You’ll figure it out from there, but this time, you don;t copy things out — you just move them.

    At this point, you have a CANDIDATE completed move, and your untouched, still running Apple laptop right next to it.  Find out what you have missed by trying to do everything.

    4+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
  4. As far as your bootable backup, I would simply regard that as dedicated to its purpose, and not eligible for RAFT purposes.  Let the laptop itself, along with its weekly backup drive, remain un-molested.  Dedicate a second drive for files — this is the RAFT.  This can be a USB stick, however, as you do not need the reliability, longevity, or speed of a HDD for your local purposes.

    1+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
  5. I concur with everything Haakon and John said.  I actually did buy a ChromeBook for my wife some years ago — a big disappointment.  You absolutely have to keep everything in Google.  The only positive to that arrangement is that if you break the hardware, you can buy another, log into google, and you’re right back in business.  That’s not enough justification for me to put everything in Google’s hands, but it works for some people.

    Personally, I’m a fan of Kubuntu, the KDE flavor of Ubuntu.  As for password management, I use KeePassXC and its Firefox plugin.

    4+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
    • avatar
  6. Thank you all. I have much to digest and learn. For now, I am definitely dissuaded from going to Chromebook. I definitely do NOT want all my important stuff in Google’s possession. It is the digital equivalent of selling my soul to the devil.

    2+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar
    • avatar
  7. John Walker:
    I don’t know anything about 1Password.  I use a password manager called Codebook, which is probably similar in intent.  …  The only flaw as far as I’m concerned is that there is no Linux desktop client, so for me it’s only useful on the tablet and phone.

    I just came across and installed a free utility, read-codebook, which provides read-only access to a Codebook database sync file via SQLcipher (open source edition) and a Python program (which requires Python 3.x).  Since I only update entries in Codebook from the tablet or phone, having read-only access on the desktop isn’t a problem.  What it means is that I can retrieve entries from the encrypted Codebook database and then easily copy and paste them in desktop applications.

    1+

    Users who have liked this comment:

    • avatar

Leave a Reply