Panther freezes

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Macintosh
March 23rd, 2004 • 3:27 am

Looks like good old system-wide freezes on the Mac are enjoying a bit of a resurgence, unfortunately… I experienced one the other day in Panther (10.3.3), and, based on MacInTouch reports, I am not the only one…

The symptoms are very simple: Everything is frozen, except for the mouse pointer. You can still move the mouse, but you can’t do anything with it.

I tried rlogin and ssh from the PowerBook, and couldn’t get any response. On the other hand, ping still worked. I sure hope it doesn’t happen too frequently! It’s very hard to tell what might be causing it, obviously, and I don’t really have crash logs or anything like it to submit to Apple.

I didn’t get any freezes prior to 10.3.3. On the other hand, I remember quite distinctly getting temporary freezes under 10.3.2. In a seemingly random fashion, OS X would, again, completely freeze except for the mouse pointer, but then it would come back to normal after about 30 seconds, and, if I had tried to do anything with the mouse in the interval, these mouse movements and actions were recorded and would be completed in quick succession as soon as Mac OS X had come back to life.

14 Responses to “Panther freezes”

  1. Pierre Igot says:

    I already have MenuMeters, which shows me the load on each CPU (in the menu bar, refreshed every second). In this case it’s no use since everything freezes: menu bar, dock, windows, everything. It’s not a “freeze” caused by an inordinate amount of CPU or HD activity. It’s a plain old freeze.

  2. joe user says:

    It’s always a good idea to have Activity to show you the current processor load in the dock. You never know what weird processes are going on…

  3. Henry Neugass says:

    No freezes on my 10.3.3 installation.

    Except one that that I probably deserved: I was moving my SCSI scanner, didn’t want to take the time to power down the Mac. After all, the scanner is powered down, disconnecting it should have no effect.

    Wrong. A few seconds after I did that, I experienced what I’ll call a “blue-tint freeze”. Everything on the screen appeared “behind” a blue fog, nothing was selectable, though the mouse pointer still moved normally. Tried to connect by secure shell from another machine on the LAN: “Connection Refused”.

    Following a reboot, the system was normal.

    By the way, here’s the SCSI thing: even though the scanner was powered down, it supplies some electronics that “terminate” the wires that come to it — make them electrically “nice”. Removing those would likely disrupt the SCSI bus, which apparently does bad things to the Mac hardware or at least the MacOS SCSI drivers.

  4. J. Ames says:

    I have also been getting freezing in Panther under heavy work loads. However, this also happened in Jaguar. When I run fsck after I restart I get “orphaned indirect node” errors (or something like that). I am not sure if this is the cause of the problem or the effect.

    This often happened under 10.2.6 (I upgraded from this version to Panther). So for me anyay, this is not specifically a Panther issue.

    My computer is an iMac 700 G4 with 640MB RAM

  5. Pierre Igot says:

    Your problem sounds like a different issue… My problem is clearly related to the noises coming from my internal hard drive, and is not in any way related to the work load.

    FWIW, I haven’t been experiencing the problem since I installed a second internal HD… even though I haven’t used it yet!

  6. Michael Heilemann says:

    I get these freezes a lot! Always with iTunes open.

  7. Pierre Igot says:

    I haven’t experienced any freezes while working since replacing my internal hard drive, so I’m pretty sure they were related to a defective hard drive.

  8. Henry Neugass says:

    What was your setting for hard disk sleep?

    Maybe your data was all right. It might have made a difference to your system if it took an unusually long time to spin up _that_ particular drive hardware (the old one). If this is correct, you might have been OK if you required to the now-replaced drive to always stay running (as the god of unix requires, after all).

  9. Pierre Igot says:

    My setting for HD sleep has always been not to allow the hard drives to go to sleep. Presumably the HD in question, which was the one that came with the machine, was compatible with that setting.

    When I get the chance, I might just try to put the hard drive back in and reformat it and see what happens. Maybe I can use it as an extra drive.

  10. Henry Neugass says:

    Darn, it was _such_ a good theory.

    Drives were designed from the start to run all the time. I suppose recently drives have been made more resistant to the stressed of spinning up and down for power conservation.

    I would put the suspect drive back in the computer (or even a spare computer, if you’ve got one). I would not only reformat it, but I would beat the living daylights out of it with every hard drive diagnostic I could get my hands on. Going away for the weekend? Leave the test running…

    If it passes all the tests, I would use it for backup. If it fails at all, make a doorstop of it.

  11. pollo says:

    I have an 800 Mhz G4 iMac with Panther 3.4 and I´m getting a lot of freezes because of iTunes. any idea on how to fix it?

  12. Michael Heilemann says:

    As far as I know, there still isn’t a solution to this major problem :(

  13. Henry Neugass says:

    Since I installed Panther: No eternal spinning pizzas-of-death at all. I’ve had one true kernel panic. The apparent cause was some very heavy use of extensively scripted web pages using Safari. A few slowdowns and strangenesses — e.g. yesterday Photoshop wouldn’t launch successfully until I restarted — but nothing matching your experiences. I listen to internet radio constantly, maybe as much as eight hours a day, using iTunes.

    I guess at this point, if I were experiencing freezes as you are, I would step back from my machine, analyze how I use it, and make unitary changes and see what happens for, say, a week.

    “…because of iTunes…” Sorry, can you live without it for a week of typical use and let us know how your machine does?

    My gut feeling is that your machines are running out of some resource or something is getting filled up and not emptied (right, different ways of saying the same thing). Caused by some unique combination of applications and settings.

  14. Pierre Igot says:

    Please all: refer to this post.

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