OS X new domain migration – retaining user profile with terminal commands

If you’ve been tasked with the domain migration of a number of OS X El Capitan and Mavericks iMacs or MacBook Pro or Mac Air workstations, you may need to retain the user profiles. Normally, when unbinding, and then binding to a new domain, your user’s settings will be lost. You may be tempted to use Migration Assistant, but this usually requires copying the entire profile somewhere else which can take a long time and use a lot of disk space.

With this list of steps, you can use commands, scripting, and setting permissions and ownership of the user directories to perform the domain migration in-place.

Below is the sequence of commands and workflow step by step to migrate an OS X mac to a different domain. The key is to delete the sqlindex files, and prepare the user account for it’s new permissions. Please note the guide may not make sense at first while reading, but it will allow you to migrate your macs so that the users keep their same profile. Let me know if this guide helps you in your domain migration and if you find any better solutions.

Tasks Commands
1 Login as admin user and list users  Terminal -> ls -alh /Users/
2 move domain User folders to .old sudo mv /Users/johndoe /Users/johndoe.old
3 Unbind Machine  Preferences->Accounts->Login Options->Network account server -> Directory utility ->Active directory->Unbind
4 Delete sqlindex files found in ls /var/db/dslocal/nodes/Default/ sudo rm -f /var/db/dslocal/nodes/Default/sqlindex
sudo rm -f /var/db/dslocal/nodes/Default/sqlindex-shm
sudo rm -f /var/db/dslocal/nodes/Default/sqlindex-wal
5 reboot sudo reboot
6 Bind to new domain Preferences->Accounts->Login Options->Network account server -> Directory utility ->Active directory->Unbind
7 reboot
8 login as user
9 Logout and login as admin
10 move User folder .new After you have logged in as the user under the new domain you need to move the newly created User home folder to johndoe.new and move the .old User folder to /Users/johndoe with the command:
sudo mv /Users/johndoe /Users/johndoe.new
11 move .old to new username sudo mv /Users/johndoe.old /Users/johndoe
12 Change ownership of user home folder sudo chown -R johndoe:”Domain\Domain Users” /Users/johndoe
13 logout as admin
14 Reboot
15 login as that user (johndoe)
16 Click on “Create a new keychain” much easier in El Capitan and Yosemite If “Create new Keychain” fails then goto Keychain Access –> Preferences –> Reset Default Keychain

7 thoughts on “OS X new domain migration – retaining user profile with terminal commands”

    1. That’s a good question – we did not have filevault enabled on our systems so we never tested that scenario. If you do please report back your results?

  1. This works brilliantly as a manual process but we’re having difficulty in successfully scripting it out – anyone have any success in that area?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *