My first kernel panic in Jaguar

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
June 21st, 2003 • 11:06 pm

Amazingly enough, today I experienced my first-ever kernel panic since I started using Mac OS X 10.2 (can’t remember how many months ago).

It was obviously caused by a FireWire-related problem. The panic happened a few seconds after I had plugged my external FireWire CD-RW burner and an external FireWire hard drive back in. (I had to take them with me on a trip.)

I already noticed problems with FireWire earlier this week, namely with my external hard drive refusing to power up and/or SHOW up as a volume. The problem seems to involve the FireWire ports on my external CD burner. Since I have two external hard drives and one external CD burner and only 2 FireWire ports on my machine, I typically plug one of the hard drives (the less-portable one) directly INTO my G4 and the CD burner INTO the other port on my G4, and the second hard drive is plugged INTO the other available port on the external CD burner.

Since the fan in my external CD burner (a LaCie/Plextor) is rather noisy, however, I tend not to turn the CD burner on unless I need it. This means that the second hard drive is typically plugged INTO a FireWire device that is not on, even though its power plug is plugged in. This usually works, i.e. the hard drive mounts just fine just the same, even though the CD burner is not on.

However, today I wanted to recreate this set-up by plugging the CD burner back INTO the G4 and the hard drive back INTO the CD burner. And I got a kernel panic.

I restarted the G4 and then fiddled a bit more with the FireWire connections, and now everything is back in working order. Strange, but not surprising. I have seen and heard about such FireWire-related problems before.

In fact, in my small experience with serious problems in Mac OS X, in most cases the culprit was a FireWire or USB device (or a defective RAM module). Which is good news for Mac OS X itself, but not so good news for the many owners of various FireWire and USB devices. There still seems to be a certain level of flakiness involved, especially if you have to plug/unplug external devices on a regular basis. (Fortunately, apart from my portable external hard drive, I don’t. Today was an exception.)

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