7 Replies Latest reply: Mar 19, 2010 7:20 AM by MrVern
redpola Level 1 Level 1 (25 points)
Hi all,

I have a January 2008 MacBook, with user-installed maximum RAM and 500GB drive. Just recently I have started to have the "machine hangs for 2 minutes and then works albeit in an unpredictable way for one minute and then repeats this cycle" problem.

I would say nine in ten boots of either my normal user or the root user results in random and painful sluggishness (often from the login prompt, which beachballs for a couple of minutes) and one in ten is ok for a few minutes.

Right now the only way this machine is usable is using the Safe boot option, holding down the shift key on boot.

I'm a geek and I've done pretty much everything I can think of to fix this problem short of a reinstall.

* top does not report unusual CPU usage. Even during freezes it reports less than 10% CPU in use. I conclude that the CPU chewing is therefore in the kernel.

* I've booted in normal and kextstat and booted in safe and kextstat and diffed the two and honestly removed any non-Apple stuff in my normal boot.

* I've removed ALL startup items, especially from root.

* Following advice on here I've removed ALL my Internet Plug-Ins.

* I've seen weird "kernel[0]:" blank syslog messages, which is surely a bug somewhere.

* I've repeatedly fixed permissions and checked the disk.

Booting normally as root or as my normal user sees this problem occur. Booting safe does not. I really am getting to the end of my tether with this. I don't hack the BSD kernel and don't know where my CPU is going where the usual userland tools cannot see.

My next step is to boot normal, ps wwaux, then boot safe and ps wwaux and analyse the two. I am struggling with where to go here.

The symptoms of this problem are exactly what I'd imagine you see if a hard drive is dying. When one process is in diskwait then everything else beachballs while the bus is locked for thirty seconds. Disk Utility, and Techtool do not report any problems.

It's probably worth mentioning that I am still having problems with the Airport drivers in this machine (from a vanilla install of SL, this machine STILL sometimes insists it cannot see some Wifi networks that everything else can). I am still seeing these symptoms whilst trying to diagnose the other problem, which makes things even more tricky. I can sometimes get the airport hardware to "see" my wifi network (that all three of my iPhones can see, along with both my PC laptops) by turning Airport off and on and removing and adding new locations.

I had the somewhat heretic thought today that the frustrating problems I've had with this, my third Apple Laptop, are infinitely worse than I've ever had with any - ahem - PC laptops I've owned, but maybe that's a matter of expectation management. When Apple control the vertical and the horizontal I don't expect them to ship machines which don't connect to Wifi, like this and my girlfriend's MacBook don't, and I don't expect to have a machine which spends 2 of every 3 minutes in deep sleep.

Neil.

Aluminium MacBook, Mac OS X (10.6.2)
  • redpola Level 1 Level 1 (25 points)
    "I've booted in normal and kextstat and booted in safe and kextstat and diffed the two and honestly removed any non-Apple stuff in my normal boot." translated to english means that I booted in non-safe mode, then immediately ran "kextstat" and logged what was loaded to a file. I repeated this in safe mode. I then compared, by hand, the two files to see if there was anything dangerous-looking in a non-safe boot. There isn't.
  • redpola Level 1 Level 1 (25 points)
    Ok, so I removed all my /Library/Preferences/ and rebooted, assuming that since this problem manifests *at the login window*, something root is doing at boot is causing a problem. So now all root boot stuff is running at defaults.

    No change. In fact I spent so much time waiting for the login window to log me in, I powered off and rebooted safe again.

    So I am still in this position:

    Logging in in NOT safe mode results in a completely unusable computer, usually before I even log in. Save for brief respites, probably about 1 minute in ten (now I've spent more time staring at this), the machine is completely unresponsive.

    Logging in in safe mode results in a completely working machine, albeit with the disadvantages of safe mode (no DVD, no network shares).

    Analysis of a $ps wwaux generated by logging in as root, opening a terminal window and typing ps wwaux > file gives these results:

    Common processes between good and bad boots:

    _coreaudiod 75 0.0 0.1 2491332 4556 ?? Ss 7:16PM 0:00.04 /usr/sbin/coreaudiod
    _mdnsresponder 16 0.0 0.1 2473928 5588 ?? Ss 7:15PM 0:00.39 /usr/sbin/mDNSResponder -launchd
    _usbmuxd 33 0.0 0.1 2485696 4244 ?? Ss 7:16PM 0:00.05 /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/MobileDevice.framework/Versions/A/Resources/u sbmuxd -launchd
    _windowserver 61 1.2 0.6 2820408 24940 ?? Ss 7:16PM 0:03.43 /System/Library/Frameworks/ApplicationServices.framework/Frameworks/CoreGraphic s.framework/Resources/WindowServer -daemon
    daemon 14 0.0 0.1 2456028 2636 ?? Ss 7:15PM 0:00.07 /usr/sbin/distnoted
    root 1 0.0 0.0 2459192 1764 ?? Ss 7:08PM 0:00.50 /sbin/launchd
    root 9 0.0 0.5 2475644 19384 ?? Ss 7:15PM 0:44.62 /usr/libexec/kextd
    root 10 0.0 0.2 2485832 9196 ?? Rs 7:15PM 0:04.42 /usr/sbin/DirectoryService
    root 11 0.0 0.0 2447056 1088 ?? Ss 7:15PM 0:00.07 /usr/sbin/notifyd
    root 12 0.0 0.0 2459612 1392 ?? Ss 7:15PM 0:00.19 /usr/sbin/syslogd
    root 13 0.0 0.2 2488468 6692 ?? Ss 7:15PM 0:01.02 /usr/libexec/configd
    root 15 0.0 0.1 2462048 3692 ?? Ss 7:15PM 0:00.09 /usr/sbin/diskarbitrationd
    root 24 0.0 0.1 2474308 5972 ?? Ss 7:16PM 0:00.17 /usr/sbin/securityd -i
    root 30 0.0 0.2 2525004 7504 ?? Ss 7:16PM 0:00.14 /usr/sbin/cupsd -l
    root 31 0.0 0.2 2479332 7120 ?? Ss 7:16PM 0:00.37 /usr/sbin/krb5kdc -n
    root 37 0.0 0.2 2530332 8412 ?? Ss 7:16PM 0:00.11 /System/Library/CoreServices/RemoteManagement/AppleVNCServer.bundle/Contents/Su pport/RFBRegisterMDNS
    root 39 0.0 0.2 2494248 7768 ?? Ss 7:16PM 0:00.40 /System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework/Frameworks/Metadata.framework /Support/mds
    root 40 0.0 0.5 2847644 20060 ?? Ss 7:16PM 0:00.63 /System/Library/CoreServices/loginwindow.app/Contents/MacOS/loginwindow console
    root 41 0.0 0.1 2455512 2540 ?? Ss 7:16PM 0:00.01 /usr/sbin/KernelEventAgent
    root 43 0.0 0.2 2513468 7644 ?? Ss 7:16PM 0:00.41 /usr/libexec/hidd
    root 44 0.0 0.1 2464920 3292 ?? Ss 7:16PM 0:00.04 /System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework/Versions/A/Frameworks/CarbonC ore.framework/Versions/A/Support/fseventsd
    root 46 0.0 0.1 2444732 2220 ?? Ss 7:16PM 0:00.03 /sbin/dynamic_pager -F /private/var/vm/swapfile
    root 51 0.0 0.3 2565608 14584 ?? Ss 7:16PM 0:00.32 /usr/sbin/blued
    root 52 0.0 0.1 2455416 2532 ?? Ss 7:16PM 0:00.01 autofsd
    root 58 0.0 0.5 2493004 22524 ?? Ss 7:16PM 0:01.36 /System/Library/CoreServices/coreservicesd
    root 84 0.0 0.0 2458664 1428 ?? Ss 7:23PM 0:00.05 /sbin/launchd
    root 88 0.0 0.7 2832024 28624 ?? S 7:23PM 0:00.82 /System/Library/CoreServices/Dock.app/Contents/MacOS/Dock
    root 89 0.3 0.8 2888444 33892 ?? S 7:23PM 0:01.00 /System/Library/CoreServices/SystemUIServer.app/Contents/MacOS/SystemUIServer
    root 90 0.0 0.9 2930288 39260 ?? S 7:23PM 0:01.42 /System/Library/CoreServices/Finder.app/Contents/MacOS/Finder
    root 93 0.0 0.0 2444156 2096 ?? S 7:23PM 0:00.01 /usr/sbin/pboard
    root 94 0.0 0.2 2507024 7028 ?? S 7:23PM 0:00.36 /System/Library/Frameworks/ApplicationServices.framework/Frameworks/ATS.framewo rk/Support/fontd
    root 98 0.0 0.4 2829504 16392 ?? S 7:24PM 0:00.31 /usr/libexec/UserEventAgent -l Aqua
    root 100 0.0 0.3 2813648 13392 ?? S 7:24PM 0:00.07 /System/Library/CoreServices/RemoteManagement/AppleVNCServer.bundle/Contents/Ma cOS/AppleVNCServer
    root 105 0.0 0.1 2491800 5128 ?? S 7:24PM 0:00.03 /System/Library/CoreServices/CCacheServer.app/Contents/MacOS/CCacheServer

    Processes ONLY in safe mode (good boot) only:
    root 113 0.0 0.4 3091844 16544 ?? S 7:24PM 0:00.20 /System/Library/Frameworks/QuickLook.framework/Resources/quicklookd.app/Content s/MacOS/quicklookd
    root 125 0.0 0.5 2864156 21224 ?? S 7:24PM 0:00.27 /System/Library/CoreServices/NetAuthAgent.app/Contents/MacOS/NetAuthAgent
    root 133 0.0 0.2 2542704 8592 ?? Ss 7:24PM 0:00.05 /usr/libexec/launchdadd
    root 137 0.0 0.1 2470900 2664 ?? Ss 7:25PM 0:00.01 /usr/libexec/service_helper

    Processes ONLY in BAD boot (normal mode) only, sample one:
    _atsserver 166 0.0 0.2 2509832 9508 ?? Ss 2:29PM 0:00.18 /System/Library/Frameworks/ApplicationServices.framework/Frameworks/ATS.framewo rk/Support/fontd
    neil 163 0.0 1.6 2662752 65424 ?? UNs 2:24PM 0:01.58 /System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework/Frameworks/Metadata.framework /Versions/A/Support/mdworker MDSImporterWorker com.apple.Spotlight.ImporterWorker.501
    root 47 0.0 0.0 610804 688 ?? Ss 2:22PM 0:00.02 /opt/nova/bin/novacomd
    root 48 0.0 0.1 103928 6160 ?? Ss 2:22PM 0:00.20 /usr/sbin/qmasterd
    root 72 0.0 0.1 2447440 2216 ?? Ss 2:23PM 0:00.01 /System/Library/Frameworks/OpenGL.framework/Versions/A/Libraries/cvmsServ
    root 121 0.0 0.2 2511576 6648 ?? S 2:23PM 0:00.03 /System/Library/CoreServices/AirPort Base Station Agent.app/Contents/MacOS/AirPort Base Station Agent -launchd -allowquit
    root 122 0.0 0.1 369288 2112 ?? S 2:23PM 0:00.06 /Library/Printers/Canon/CUPSCAPT/BackGrounder/Canon CAPT BackGrounder.app/Contents/MacOS/Canon CAPT BackGrounder
    root 124 0.0 0.1 420252 4956 ?? S 2:23PM 0:00.61 /Applications/Timbuktu Pro/Timbuktu Pro.app/Contents/SharedSupport/Timbuktu Host.app/Contents/MacOS/Timbuktu Host
    root 140 0.0 0.1 393724 4432 ?? S 2:23PM 0:00.13 /Applications/Timbuktu Pro/Timbuktu Pro.app/Contents/SharedSupport/Timbuktu Host Menu.app/Contents/MacOS/Timbuktu Host Menu -psn069649
    root 141 0.0 0.1 368012 2260 ?? S 2:23PM 0:00.07 /Applications/Timbuktu Pro/Timbuktu Pro.app/Contents/SharedSupport/TimbuktuSkype.app/Contents/MacOS/TimbuktuSkype -psn073746
    root 155 0.0 0.7 11280524 29452 ?? S 2:24PM 0:00.96 /System/Library/CoreServices/Apple80211Agent.app/Contents/MacOS/Apple80211Agent -psn081940
    root 157 0.0 0.1 2500628 6244 ?? SN 2:24PM 0:00.02 /usr/sbin/kextcache -F -system-prelinked-kernel
    root 167 0.0 0.2 2514968 8284 ?? Ss 2:29PM 0:00.16 (fontworker)

    Processes ONLY in BAD boot (normal mode) only, sample two (I think I must have killed Timbuktu in this):
    _atsserver 166 0.0 0.2 2509308 9488 ?? Ss 2:29PM 0:00.19 /System/Library/Frameworks/ApplicationServices.framework/Frameworks/ATS.framewo rk/Support/fontd
    _cvmsroot 182 0.0 0.0 2458640 1160 ?? Ss 2:58PM 0:00.01 /sbin/launchd
    _cvmsroot 184 0.0 0.2 2452464 6624 ?? S 2:58PM 0:00.05 /System/Library/Frameworks/OpenGL.framework/Versions/A/Libraries/cvmsCompx8664 1
    _spotlight 189 0.0 0.2 2532652 9988 ?? SNs 2:59PM 0:00.10 /System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework/Frameworks/Metadata.framework /Versions/A/Support/mdworker MDSImporterWorker com.apple.Spotlight.ImporterWorker.89
    neil 163 0.0 1.6 2662228 65756 ?? UNs 2:24PM 0:01.91 /System/Library/Frameworks/CoreServices.framework/Frameworks/Metadata.framework /Versions/A/Support/mdworker MDSImporterWorker com.apple.Spotlight.ImporterWorker.501
    root 186 0.0 0.0 610804 688 ?? Ss 2:59PM 0:00.03 /opt/nova/bin/novacomd
    root 48 0.0 0.1 103928 6160 ?? Ss 2:22PM 0:00.21 /usr/sbin/qmasterd
    root 72 0.0 0.1 2447964 2232 ?? Ss 2:23PM 0:00.01 /System/Library/Frameworks/OpenGL.framework/Versions/A/Libraries/cvmsServ
    root 121 0.0 0.2 2511576 6648 ?? S 2:23PM 0:00.04 /System/Library/CoreServices/AirPort Base Station Agent.app/Contents/MacOS/AirPort Base Station Agent -launchd -allowquit
    root 188 0.0 0.0 369544 1872 ?? S 2:59PM 0:00.03 /Library/Printers/Canon/CUPSCAPT/BackGrounder/Canon CAPT BackGrounder.app/Contents/MacOS/Canon CAPT BackGrounder
    root 155 0.0 0.7 11280524 29524 ?? S 2:24PM 0:00.98 /System/Library/CoreServices/Apple80211Agent.app/Contents/MacOS/Apple80211Agent -psn081940

    I'm running out of bright ideas.

    Neil.
  • redpola Level 1 Level 1 (25 points)
    Well, The problem has gone away.

    I've been running in safe mode now for a couple of weeks. This was pretty ok, but of course with no network mounts, my Time Machine backup was failing and my machine not being backed up. So the situation could not persist.

    At this time, I have no concrete solution. I did not identify the problem but am certain that something in kernel-space was chewing up CPU "invisibly". I would go out on a limb and suggest that it was possibly a defect in the kernel code causing it to spin, but again, I cannot prove that.

    I've documented all the steps I took in this thread, except for the last step which seems to have resulted in a working machine.

    Yesterday I wanted to do my monthly "Numbers" spreadsheet session and clicked Numbers in the dock. I got a message saying that iWork was not installed properly and should be reinstalled. I dug out the DVD and reinstalled. Numbers opened fine. I did my accounts, but printing was not working correctly. I guessed it was a safe-mode thing and thought I'd reboot in normal mode, print out my accounts, and hopefully not struggle too much to reboot back to safe mode.

    To my surprise, a normal boot seems to be back to normal and how things should be.

    So it seems in this instance that reinstalling iWork has solved the problem.

    There is a corollary to this: A few weeks ago I had HUGE problems with iTunes. Not only was it seeming VERY slow, particularly when minimised to the mini-player and back (about 60 seconds pause) but the UI was corrupted (no minimise button on full UI, missing buttons on mini player). I did everything I could to figure out what was wrong and failed. I ultimately just reinstalled iTunes, which solved the problem.

    So the next time I see problems like this I will be reinstalling iTunes and iWork.

    Note that in both cases the reinstall was an install-over, not a delete-then-reinstall.

    Weird, but I am happy again!
  • denise CLARK Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    God what a nightmare!
    When you said screen freeze was it a mass of square white boxes? Tiny ones.
    It's interesting that mine loaded on the install disc then just crashed when I put on disc 2 which is the programes I life etc.
    I did install the iWork myself when I bought my computer home,they had run out of time at theshop, they had to close. They had put on snow leopard , and iLife.
    I'm afraid to touch it stall now, although it seems dead.
    Thanks for your help and suggestions.
    D
  • redpola Level 1 Level 1 (25 points)
    No white boxes. The symptoms were as when one program freezes - the beachball appears, but it was like something system-wide was triggered which made every program unable to run normally. Each one would ultimately beachball (I can only think they were somehow hanging on diskwait).

    Each and every app went "down" until all I could do was move a beachball around the screen. The clock would stop running and I'd just have to sit and wait for a long time until everything unjammed.
  • denise CLARK Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I see , ok, thanks for that. Mine is very different from that. After Reading the posts here I think mine may have bee caused by to hard a pressure when the ram was put in just be fore this happened. It can press down on the motherboard and cause problems.
    I wonder is it possible to put the wrong ram in to make this graphics problem?
    D
  • MrVern Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I am in the middle of troubleshooting a similar performance issue on my iMac.
    My issue is accompanied by constant sound of the thrashing of the hard-drive.
    I just now added both my built-in, and external hard-drives to the Privacy list of Spotlight in System Preferences, to prevent Spotlight from indexing them thinking that Spotlight is what is causing all the IOPS.

    Is there a lot of hard-drive noise when your system freezes?