Mac Diagnosis
September 13, 2007 1:57 PM   Subscribe

MacFilter: Diagnosing a spinning-beach-ball of Death on a Mac.

Every day or two, my older Powerbook (12", OSX 10.4.10) will just hang. I can't access the Finder. I can access some applications but can't start new ones (Icon just bounces forever in the Dock)

I'm comfortable with the Mac command line but most Unix commands hang. If I do a 'ps -aux' for example, just a hang until I Ctrl-C. I can do simple stuff like change directories and whatnot.

Eventually I just do a hard reboot and it all works again. But is there anything I can do to further diagnose this problem either now or when its happening? The machine is otherwise reliable and, yes, I have everything backed up.

posted by vacapinta to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you have the space, hit it with an archive and install
posted by ReiToei at 2:08 PM on September 13, 2007

See my previous question about similar issues, it was very helpful
posted by tristeza at 2:08 PM on September 13, 2007

You could open up SSH access, log in from another machine, and run something like top(1) to see what's eating processor, disk, etc.
posted by NucleophilicAttack at 2:11 PM on September 13, 2007

My older G4 Ti-book started simply freezing--no beachball, just frozen. The only action I could take was to hold the power button down for a hard restart. Before abandoning it for a new machine, I thought I'd try just a little to diagnose it. First test was to shut down, plug it into another Mac via firewire, and then start it up holding the "T" key down. This makes the machine into a hard drive for the other Mac. From there I backed up the whole hard drive and ran disk utility diagnostics. Everything was cool. So it wasn't the hard drive. Next I just lifted the keyboard and pulled out one of the two RAM sticks. The machine froze on boot up. Took that stick out and put the other one back in. It's been running all day no problem. So I'm guessing that was it: a bad RAM stick. How it goes bad after 6 years is beyond me.

So that's two hardware diagnostic tests you can do for free (if you have another Mac available). Good luck!
posted by nonmyopicdave at 2:53 PM on September 13, 2007

If you have the OSX Developer Tools installed, you could run Spin Control, which shows you which applications are causing the hangs.
posted by Laen at 2:54 PM on September 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

I recommend trying out a program called Applejack. It runs a set of diagnostics and unix commands that might help with file system issues. It's worth a try at least; it's free. You run it in single-user mode (press cmd-s during boot up).

posted by GS1977 at 2:44 AM on September 17, 2007

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