Panther freezes: Maybe it’s time for Apple to get down to work

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
June 29th, 2004 • 10:52 am

Regular Betalogue readers know that I have be experiencing recurring system-wide freezes in Panther and that, over the past few months, I have been tentatively attributing them to a variety of causes, including a defective hard drive, USB devices, Panther’s screen saver, Panther’s display sleep feature, etc.

Well, today I read the following on by reader Nate Goldshlag:

Many people, myself included, get freezes in OS X 10.3.4. For me I can move the mouse but can do nothing else, and the freezes are occasional. Other people have freezes much more often, and sometimes they look like the spinning beachball. System UI server process has been seen to run away for many people.

There are threads in the Apple discussions about this with a very large large number of posts…

Nobody really has a clue what causes the freezes. For me, they went away for a while when I defragmented my disk, which is not supposed to be necessary, but now they are back. I ran with complete stability until somewhere around 10.3.2. Here are some links: Topic: Panther freezes; no force-quit cmd works, Topic: New G5 Freezing thread

It is my belief that there is something deep in the guts of OS X 10.3.x that causes these freezes. I hope Apple does something about it soon…

And I am inclined to agree… While I haven’t experienced a freeze in the past couple of weeks, I have had a near-freeze situation that forced a hard reset just the same — and I know that it’s just a matter of time before the next one hits anyway.

They are (fortunately) not frequent enough to cause major disruption and I am always a bit paranoid about saving my work, so I rarely experience more than a few minutes of frustration with having to restart and reopen everything — but it’s painful just the same, and it sounds like there are more than enough reports to prompt Apple to actually do some real investigative work.

Since Mac OS X 10.4 is still a long way off, there’s really no excuse. If it’s something deep inside Mac OS X 10.3.x, it needs to be fixed, for both current and prospective Panther users. Jaguar had its own set of problems, but it didn’t have such system-wide freezes occurring on a regular basis for a number of users.

5 Responses to “Panther freezes: Maybe it’s time for Apple to get down to work”

  1. Andrew says:

    As a general rule of thumb, if you are experiencing hard freezes like that, it s caused by hardware throwing an exception. Hardware interrupts are just about the only thing that can cause hard freezes, Usually, the software throws up an uninterruptible thread, while waiting for a response from hardware (memory, ethernet card, logic board etc) – if that hardware doesn’t respond because it is faulty, therefor – hard freeze.

    Very rarely is it software alone. (I don’t discount the fact that Panther may exasperate hardware issues, by not handling them as gracefully as Jaguar – however, in my experience this is not the case)

    For your info, I’m an Apple Authorised Service Provider, so I see quite a few faulty machines everyday – it doesn’t mean I can’t be wrong though ;)

  2. Pierre Igot says:

    Thanks for your feedback… It’s obviously very hard to pinpoint. I find it hard to believe, however, that all of a sudden all kinds of hardware would have become defective after upgrading to Panther.

  3. Paul Robertson says:


    I’ve commented about this before but I’m still convinced your freezes are the result of “bad” RAM. Since Crucial replaced my “bad” 512mb module the random lockups I was experiencing have completely disappeared – the same part appeared to work flawlessly for several months under Jaguar – this could just be coincidence but I think that, for whatever reason, Panther IS more picky than Jaguar over RAM.

  4. Pierre Igot says:

    Paul: I haven’t ruled out anything. I am still in the process of eliminating possible/probable causes. John Gruber recommended a command-line RAM testing tool and I am going to give it a try one of these days…

    Thanks for insisting :).

  5. alex says:

    Yes, use only the highest quality RAM… I’d pick SAMSUNG over Crucial.. of course, since i’m in korea, samsung is quite cheap.. I recently purchased a new 12″ G4 ibook and upgraded the RAM by 512.. it was Samsung and cost less than US$99.. how much r crucials?

Leave a Reply

Comments are closed.