Adam Engst article on troubleshooting Mac OS X

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
March 18th, 2003 • 8:02 pm

Good article in this week’s TidBITS on troubleshooting in Mac OS X:

Wanted: Conflict Catcher for Mac OS X

I am not convinced there is a need for a “Conflict Catcher” for Mac OS X, however. In fact, while I did purchase Conflict Catcher for Mac OS 9 a while back, I never did actually use it, simply because the most time-consuming aspect of troubleshooting is HAVING to reboot your machine again and again, and Conflict Catcher doesn’t really solve that problem. I usually found that I was able to do manually what Conflict Catcher would have done automatically without any significant drawback — and that includes all the machines that I had to troubleshoot that didn’t have CC installed on them.

In fact, Mac OS X itself alleviates the problem somewhat by separating the reboot process itself from the login process. You can log out and log back in without HAVING to reboot the system entirely, and many problems can be troubleshooted (should that be “troubleshot”?) this way.

It is relatively rare that you encounter a problem that requires an actual reboot (or several). Those usually involve finicky hardware and stuff like that. Most software-related problems can be identified and solved in the following manner:

  1. by first quitting the offending application and seeing if the problem is related to the preference files of that application

  2. if not, by then trashing some system preference files, logging out and logging back in

  3. if that still doesn’t work, then maybe rebooting will be part of the troubleshooting process.

All in all, however, Mac OS X is significantly easier (and faster!) to troubleshoot than the classic Mac OS ever was. The main problem these days is that there are still too many outstanding bugs both in the system itself and in third-party applications that the user or troubleshooter can do little about. It’s because Mac OS X is still in its early stages, and classic Mac developers have not always done a very good job of porting their applications to Mac OS X. (I don’t think I need to give specific examples here.)

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