10 Replies Latest reply: Oct 8, 2009 8:10 PM by Kappy
Cap'n Refsmmat Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
Lately I've been having a very frustrating problem while using my computer: I get spontaneous kernel panics, usually accompanied by multicolored fuzz on the screen, bands of static moving up the screen, or generally garbled graphics. When I reboot I occasionally get the SOS beeps (three short, three long, three short) or just three short beeps repeated over and over. Other times the computer reboots normally and I send in an error report.

Assuming something was wrong with my graphics card (which would be surprising -- I got this computer in early June), I brought the computer in to the Apple Store with a description of the problem. They ran full hardware tests, popped open the computer and reseated various connectors, and did a graphics stress test overnight on the computer to see if there was anything wrong with the graphics card.

They couldn't even reproduce the problem.

So I got my computer back with no changes made at all and the advice to start trying to track down exactly what causes the kernel panics.

My conclusion is now that Adobe Flash is causing the problem. I installed the Flashblock extension in Firefox to try browsing with no Flash; I had no problems. Any time I explicitly allow Flash content I tend to end up with a kernel panic rather soon. I am using the latest version of Flash (the Apple Store guys actually upgraded it for me) and the problem appears if I'm in Safari or Firefox.

I really don't know what I could do to fix this. Is there a known problem in Flash that might be fixed? Might this be remedied by going to Snow Leopard with Safari's sandboxed browser plugins? It is incredibly annoying.

For reference, here's one of my panic logs:

Tue Oct 6 08:58:40 2009
panic(cpu 0 caller 0x001AB0FE): Kernel trap at 0x00c929bc, type 14=page fault, registers:
CR0: 0x8001003b, CR2: 0x5e73b02d, CR3: 0x0197c000, CR4: 0x00000660
EAX: 0x07d40004, EBX: 0x00e89bb8, ECX: 0x07d42004, EDX: 0x07d42004
CR2: 0x5e73b02d, EBP: 0x609cbe88, ESI: 0x07d1f004, EDI: 0x07d38c04
EFL: 0x00010286, EIP: 0x00c929bc, CS: 0x00000008, DS: 0x004f0010
Error code: 0x00000002

Backtrace (CPU 0), Frame : Return Address (4 potential args on stack)
0x609cbc98 : 0x12b4c6 (0x45f91c 0x609cbccc 0x13355c 0x0)
0x609cbce8 : 0x1ab0fe (0x469a98 0xc929bc 0xe 0x469248)
0x609cbdc8 : 0x1a1713 (0x609cbde0 0x547580 0x609cbe88 0xc929bc)
0x609cbdd8 : 0xc929bc (0xe 0x48 0x609c0070 0x1a0010)
0x609cbe88 : 0xdac437 (0x7d40004 0x49 0x0 0x0)
0x609cbed8 : 0xc56b60 (0x7d1f004 0x7d38c04 0x0 0x0)
0x609cbf18 : 0x426bfb (0x1 0x7d5ba00 0x1 0x19fed4)
0x609cbf68 : 0x425d58 (0x7d5ba00 0x522b60 0x609cbfc8 0x13ec8f)
0x609cbf98 : 0x425a3a (0x7328bc0 0x0 0x8c76048 0x132386)
0x609cbfc8 : 0x1a14fc (0x7328bc0 0x0 0x1a40b5 0x7c0eee0)
Backtrace terminated-invalid frame pointer 0
Kernel loadable modules in backtrace (with dependencies):
com.apple.NVDAResman(5.4.8)@0xc3d000->0xe9bfff
dependency: com.apple.iokit.IONDRVSupport(1.7.3)@0xc2f000
dependency: com.apple.iokit.IOPCIFamily(2.6)@0x601000
dependency: com.apple.iokit.IOGraphicsFamily(1.7.3)@0x78e000

BSD process name corresponding to current thread: kernel_task

Mac OS version:
9L30

Kernel version:
Darwin Kernel Version 9.8.0: Wed Jul 15 16:55:01 PDT 2009; root:xnu-1228.15.4~1/RELEASE_I386
System model name: MacBookPro5,1 (Mac-F42D86A9)

MBP 15" Late 2008, Mac OS X (10.5.8)
  • Kappy Level 10 Level 10 (252,390 points)
    There's nothing specifically in your panic log that points to Flash. The log dependencies are all related to video and the PCI bus driver. Now this may not mean anything in particular, but it could point to possible memory errors from bad or marginal RAM, motherboard issues, or could be software.

    You might try two things to start:

    1. Boot into safe mode to see if the problem stops. Note that in safe mode wireless does not work so you will need Ethernet access for Internet.

    2. Create a new user account and log into that account to see if the problem stops.

    And, you can just reinstall OS X:

    How to Perform an Archive and Install

    An Archive and Install will NOT erase your hard drive, but you must have sufficient free space for a second OS X installation which could be from 3-9 GBs depending upon the version of OS X and selected installation options. The free space requirement is over and above normal free space requirements which should be at least 6-10 GBs. Read all the linked references carefully before proceeding.

    1. Be sure to use Disk Utility first to repair the disk before performing the Archive and Install.

    Repairing the Hard Drive and Permissions

    Boot from your OS X Installer disc. After the installer loads select your language and click on the Continue button. When the menu bar appears select Disk Utility from the Installer menu (Utilities menu for Tiger.) After DU loads select your hard drive entry (mfgr.'s ID and drive size) from the the left side list. In the DU status area you will see an entry for the S.M.A.R.T. status of the hard drive. If it does not say "Verified" then the hard drive is failing or failed. (SMART status is not reported on external Firewire or USB drives.) If the drive is "Verified" then select your OS X volume from the list on the left (sub-entry below the drive entry,) click on the First Aid tab, then click on the Repair Disk button. If DU reports any errors that have been fixed, then re-run Repair Disk until no errors are reported. If no errors are reported, then quit DU and return to the installer.

    2. Do not proceed with an Archive and Install if DU reports errors it cannot fix. In that case use Disk Warrior and/or TechTool Pro to repair the hard drive. If neither can repair the drive, then you will have to erase the drive and reinstall from scratch.

    3. Boot from your OS X Installer disc. After the installer loads select your language and click on the Continue button. When you reach the screen to select a destination drive click once on the destination drive then click on the Option button. Select the Archive and Install option. You have an option to preserve users and network preferences. Only select this option if you are sure you have no corrupted files in your user accounts. Otherwise leave this option unchecked. Click on the OK button and continue with the OS X Installation.

    4. Upon completion of the Archive and Install you will have a Previous System Folder in the root directory. You should retain the PSF until you are sure you do not need to manually transfer any items from the PSF to your newly installed system.

    5. After moving any items you want to keep from the PSF you should delete it. You can back it up if you prefer, but you must delete it from the hard drive.

    6. You can now download a Combo Updater directly from Apple's download site to update your new system to the desired version as well as install any security or other updates. You can also do this using Software Update.
  • Cap'n Refsmmat Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I have Ethernet so I can try Safe Mode in a bit. However, the fact that I only get this kernel panic when using Flash content indicates to me that either Flash is at fault or Flash is exposing some hardware problem that is very hard to find. (The Apple Store people ran the computer through YouTube videos and such and couldn't reproduce the issue at all.)

    I'll try Safe Mode and a new user account and see what I get.
  • Kappy Level 10 Level 10 (252,390 points)
    Have you by chance installed any recent Flash update? However, it's quite odd that the Apple Store could thoroughly test it with Flash content and not produce a kernel panic that you say is recurring regularly.
  • Cap'n Refsmmat Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    The Apple store technicians appear to have installed the latest Flash version, judging by the dmg left in my Downloads folder. I checked and I do have the latest version.

    I just tried the Safe Mode suggestion (after having to shut the computer off due to a kernel panic, which I should point out was not related to Flash). I followed the instructions in the linked article and it did indeed take much longer to boot -- but before it got out of the "Apple logo and spinning progress indicator" phase the computer shut off and started up again, this time not in safe mode. When the computer came on I was presented with a kernel panic log from the middle of the boot process. (I am sure it is not from the previous panic because of the time in the log.) Here are the highlights:

    Thu Oct 8 14:48:32 2009
    panic(cpu 0 caller 0x00163230): Releasing non-exclusive RW lock without a reader refcount!
    Backtrace (CPU 0), Frame : Return Address (4 potential args on stack)
    0x56c77838 : 0x12b4c6 (0x45f91c 0x56c7786c 0x13355c 0x0)
    0x56c77888 : 0x163230 (0x4debb8 0x6edd910 0x427000 0x0)
    0x56c779f8 : 0x1aaeaf (0x20a23e0 0x427000 0x0 0x3)
    0x56c77ad8 : 0x1a1713 (0x56c77af0 0x2000 0x56c77c08 0x1a22d4)
    0x56c77ae8 : 0x1a22d4 (0xe 0x48 0xd0010 0x1000070)
    0x56c77c08 : 0x385a4d (0xa753c04 0xe0 0x0 0x0)
    0x56c77c78 : 0x385dd1 (0xa753c04 0x0 0xe0 0x56c77ee8)
    0x56c77c98 : 0x31acf4 (0xa753c04 0xe0 0x56c77ee8 0x7f8d010)
    0x56c77e38 : 0x1f5f67 (0x56c77e54 0xf23d9a0 0x56c77e98 0x1da92b)
    0x56c77e98 : 0x1ea38a (0xf23d9a0 0x56c77f2c 0x56c77ee8 0x14)
    0x56c77f78 : 0x3e3a7f (0x7a2e384 0x7a00380 0x7a003c4 0x0)
    0x56c77fc8 : 0x1a1c0a (0x7bb5de0 0x0 0x1a40b5 0x7bb5de0)
    No mapping exists for frame pointer
    Backtrace terminated-invalid frame pointer 0xb007ade8

    BSD process name corresponding to current thread: backupd

    Mac OS version:
    9L30

    Kernel version:
    Darwin Kernel Version 9.8.0: Wed Jul 15 16:55:01 PDT 2009; root:xnu-1228.15.4~1/RELEASE_I386
    System model name: MacBookPro5,1 (Mac-F42D86A9)

    System uptime in nanoseconds: 3030104065368


    I may try Safe Mode again and hope it works. However, the fact that I have gotten the various SOS and three-beep error beeps tells me there's a deeper problem than just Flash.

    Message was edited by: Cap'n Refsmmat
  • Kappy Level 10 Level 10 (252,390 points)
    Don't try safe mode again if you are able to start up at all and try the new user account. But if you are now unable to get past this I suggest you just reinstall OS X. See:

    How to Perform an Archive and Install

    An Archive and Install will NOT erase your hard drive, but you must have sufficient free space for a second OS X installation which could be from 3-9 GBs depending upon the version of OS X and selected installation options. The free space requirement is over and above normal free space requirements which should be at least 6-10 GBs. Read all the linked references carefully before proceeding.

    1. Be sure to use Disk Utility first to repair the disk before performing the Archive and Install.

    Repairing the Hard Drive and Permissions

    Boot from your OS X Installer disc. After the installer loads select your language and click on the Continue button. When the menu bar appears select Disk Utility from the Installer menu (Utilities menu for Tiger.) After DU loads select your hard drive entry (mfgr.'s ID and drive size) from the the left side list. In the DU status area you will see an entry for the S.M.A.R.T. status of the hard drive. If it does not say "Verified" then the hard drive is failing or failed. (SMART status is not reported on external Firewire or USB drives.) If the drive is "Verified" then select your OS X volume from the list on the left (sub-entry below the drive entry,) click on the First Aid tab, then click on the Repair Disk button. If DU reports any errors that have been fixed, then re-run Repair Disk until no errors are reported. If no errors are reported, then quit DU and return to the installer.

    2. Do not proceed with an Archive and Install if DU reports errors it cannot fix. In that case use Disk Warrior and/or TechTool Pro to repair the hard drive. If neither can repair the drive, then you will have to erase the drive and reinstall from scratch.

    3. Boot from your OS X Installer disc. After the installer loads select your language and click on the Continue button. When you reach the screen to select a destination drive click once on the destination drive then click on the Option button. Select the Archive and Install option. You have an option to preserve users and network preferences. Only select this option if you are sure you have no corrupted files in your user accounts. Otherwise leave this option unchecked. Click on the OK button and continue with the OS X Installation.

    4. Upon completion of the Archive and Install you will have a Previous System Folder in the root directory. You should retain the PSF until you are sure you do not need to manually transfer any items from the PSF to your newly installed system.

    5. After moving any items you want to keep from the PSF you should delete it. You can back it up if you prefer, but you must delete it from the hard drive.

    6. You can now download a Combo Updater directly from Apple's download site to update your new system to the desired version as well as install any security or other updates. You can also do this using Software Update.
  • Cap'n Refsmmat Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I would try that, except my OS X install disk is at home (I'm at college) and an OS X problem does not explain the motherboard error tones I've been getting while trying to boot. In fact, I'm typing this from my iPod Touch because the MacBook refuses to even boot.

    Should I just go back to the Apple Store at my next opportunity and have them check out the hardware again?
  • Kappy Level 10 Level 10 (252,390 points)
  • Cap'n Refsmmat Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    Yes, I've seen that. So my computer is complaining about the RAM not passing data integrity checks. Hmm. It would make sense that this could cause graphics corruption, because I'm using the integrated graphics driver, which would use shared RAM.

    However, I also get a beep code not described in the linked article: three short beeps, three long beeps, three short beeps. Morse code for SOS. What does this mean?

    The Hardware Test utility (which I accessed on boot a while ago) told me that my RAM is just fine. The diagnostics that the Apple Store techs did said the same. Should I try downloading something like Memtest (http://www.memtestosx.org/joomla/index.php) and running a thorough memory test?
  • Kappy Level 10 Level 10 (252,390 points)
    I believe the SOS code has something to do with an ongoing firmware update. It's in the chart as I recall.

    RAM tests are notoriously iffy because they only catch errors that tend to occur consistently but may miss errors resulting from some marginal conditions. One can pass a RAM test and still have defective RAM. And, there's nothing magical about Memtest. The hardware tests provided with the computer as much more likely to prove useful than Memtest. But any memory test much go on sometimes for hours or days before it may detect an error.

    In your case I'd consider replacing the RAM. Certainly can't hurt.
  • Cap'n Refsmmat Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    No, the ongoing firmware update tone is the inverse of what I'm hearing. I get three short, three long, three short -- the article says ongoing firmware update == three long, three short, three long.

    I'll just run Memtest on an infinite loop overnight tonight for ten hours or so and see if it finds anything. The Apple guys have already tried Hardware Test and found nothing, and I've read via Google that occasionally Memtest spots things Apple Hardware Test doesn't find.

    If the RAM turns out bad I'll just take it in to the store and have my RAM replaced. I assume the warranty will cover it.