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i would clone/copy over my entire OS (using SuperDuper) onto your external FW drive, this way if you ever need to use your installed utilities and/or need access to files in case of an emergency, you'll have them at hand. You'll also benefit from a bootable clone.

If room allows on the external, you could partition the drive into two and also install a clean and up-to-date version of your current OS. Once installed, boot off this volume, update it, if required and migrate your settings and preferences, from your internal drive so that you will not have to deal with setting up again and all your passwords and such are in tact.

A third option which I've done in the past is to install a minimal OS onto a FW partition and add a few utilities like Disk Warrior, TechTool and the like, leaving some room to recover files but offering me a complete suite of tools and a bootable volume to work from.

To answer your question, yes, boot off the install disk and then install on to the Firewire drive. Plug in the external drive, make sure it's properly partitioned and formatted beforehand and then reboot from the install discs to continue installation.
 

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Sounds good. SO, when I eventually return home, I will want to transfer all those files over to my G5. How exactly would I do that? Copy over the cloned drive and go from there? Or can you manually extract files from a clone?
You'll use SuperDuper to clone back to the G5 while booted from the external and you can use the "smart update" feature (if purchased) which will make the G5 identical to the external. That is, if your goal is to completely copy over the OS and all user files.

You can also manually transfer over any files you wish from the clone without the need to be booted up from it, just drag'n'drop once it's mounted on your desktop.
 

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I don't quite understand the cloning thing. Is that just to have exactly what I have on my MacBOok presently? The cloning will save all my settings, etc.? I always like manually copying things over. I never did trust something that does it for me. I downloaded CC. Maybe I should do the clone and try booting off of it?
I tried CCC a few years ago and have not used in some time but my personal preference is using SuperDuper. I like how easy it's to use, usually a breeze to walk friends through the back up process given it's simple interface. Been using SD for a couple of years and have never had any issues of any kind. Always worked when I needed it most. Very reliable.

Yes, the clone is an EXACT copy, hence same settings, etc apply.

Cloning offers many advantages, one being a bootable volume, which can be used on another Mac, in the event of an emergency. Cuts down the time needed to reinstall an OS and all your apps and such, simply booting off a clone and copying back to another drive is fairly quick and clean. Nice to have when a hard drive fails and you need to re-install a new HD.
 

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I am left wondering how long a typical backup takes once the initial clone is done. Is it as quick or nearly as quick to something like a sync with ChronoSync?
Subsequent back ups depends on the amount of new data/files that have changed since the last back up. Usually takes me about 10-15 minutes when updating. Just this morning, I deleted a bunch of apps and a mailbox prior to backing up so it took a few more minutes than usual. However, I do back up a few times a week and normally takes 10 minutes.
 

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Didn't notice that comment about PPC/Intel. I would be doing the clone of my MacBOok (Intel) but I have a G5 (PPC) as my other machine. There's a problem with that?
You will not be able to boot up from an Intel volume on a PPC and vice versa. However, you could manually transfer the user files.
 
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