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Diagnosing a menubar crash / lock-up problem System
First, my apologies for only publishing two hints this morning -- I will try to get some more online this evening. I had a huge amount of downtime last night and this morning, so my time for publishing hints today was severely limited. But I thought perhaps my story of frustration and wasted time could save someone else the same difficulties, so here it goes...

The problems started yesterday morning. I had just enabled the screensaver password and then left the machine for a while. When I came back and moved the mouse, the password dialog appeared, but I got distracted and didn't enter a password before the box disappeared. When I moved the mouse the next time, the system locked up tight. I couldn't even SSH in. So I powered down and left for work, as it was that time of the day anyway.

When I came home, I powered the machine up, and found that I had a spinning beach ball whenever I moved the mouse into the right side of the menubar. My symptoms were similar, but not identical, to those described in a couple of previous hints (1, 2). I coulnd't do anything on the right side of the menubar for about five minutes, then it would work unless I tried to do something like actually use the menubar (ie drag off a menulet), and Shut Down, Restart, and Sleep were all non-functional. Clearly there was a serious problem somewhere.

Read the rest of the hint for my descent into troubleshooting never-never land...

I started by removing the Menu Meters, the only toolbar add-on I currently use. Just for good measure, I also removed the MS Mouse and USB Overdrive preference panes. I also renamed my Preferences folder and deleted all Cache files. Then I rebooted, thinking I had it beat. No such luck. On reboot, I got the exact same problem.

Getting serious now, I moved all my Library files out and then rebooted again. Same problem. Out come the OS X Install disks, and I re-installed Panther using an archive and install. Reboot. Same problem. Frustration mounts...

Time for the sledgehammer. Back up pertinent data to another hard drive as well as to a couple of DVD-Rs (I'm paranoid). This time, install Panther with a clean install. Reboot. The problem's still there! At this point, it's late, and I'm exhausted, so I just shut down (via the power switch, as that's all that works) and call it a night.

This morning, I get up and turn on the machine ... and the menubar works, along with Sleep and everything else. But my FireWire drive is missing from the desktop. This is not a FW800 / Oxford 922 drive, so I'm pretty sure that's not the problem. Plug the drive into my PowerBook, and it doesn't load there, either. Very odd. Next, I pulled out an older FireWire drive and plugged it in (via its own cable). It worked perfectly. Finally, the light bulb went on, and I switched the cable over to the "dead" drive -- and it mounted instantly. So a fried FireWire cable seems to have been the root cause of all my system issues!

Conclusion: I think the FireWire cable was fried somewhow when my machine locked up in the morning. When I got home that night and I started troubleshooting, I never thought to remove the FireWire drive (nothing like ignoring your own advice!). So every step I took did nothing for the problem, as the problem was the FireWire connection. Had I simply removed the FireWire drive, my system issues probably would have vanished. Instead, I have the pleasure of working on a brand new Panther install! :)

So if you're having odd menubar / systemuiserver issues, you might want to check your FireWire drives ... and remember to unplug any unneeded periperhals prior to troubleshooting!
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Diagnosing a menubar crash / lock-up problem
Authored by: mzdial on Nov 04, '03 11:04:47AM


I'm having the same problem [10.3 Panther] as you where if I forget/walk away when I wake my PowerBook from sleep and the password dialog goes away -- I'm stuck with a locked up machine. It will fall back asleep and when I try to awake it, it'll just give me the beachball and spin forever.

I've not had it lock up the machine on a forced reboot, so I'm fortunate in that aspect. I've submitted the bug to Apple, hoping to see this annoying one squashed!

-- Matt

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Diagnosing a menubar crash / lock-up problem
Authored by: Hes Nikke on Nov 04, '03 11:28:15AM

you can make it our little club a trio. my TiBook does that too.. very annoying!

vacuums do not suck. they merely provide an absence that allows other objects to take the place of what becomes absent.

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Return from sleep beach ball
Authored by: JoeGrind on Nov 04, '03 02:35:19PM

I have that same issue on occasion. I've seen reference to it on Apple's discussion groups so it's a known problem. Fingers crossed for a patch.

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Diagnosing a menubar crash / lock-up problem
Authored by: monickels on Nov 04, '03 11:37:26AM

Me too. Let me elaborate: On more than one occasion when waking my iBook 800 (640MB/30GB with no peripherals attached, but at least once I may have been using the Airport card when this happened), I have been presented with the password screen, which, after entering my password, does not disappear, but only gives me the spinning beachball.

I have not tried to wait it out and see if it the beachball goes away and the desktop appears as it should, at least, not longer than four or five minutes, which is the limit to my patience. Given journaling, a force reboot should be less dangerous than it used to be, right? And add that to the faster boot times, then rebooting is faster and nearly as safe as just waiting. After reboot, there is nothing in the logs and no core dump. I have not tried to diagnose it further because it happens only rarely, five times since installing Panther on Thursday.

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Panther has major MENUBAR BUGS! PCMCIA card insertion crashes systemuiserver
Authored by: PlowD on Nov 04, '03 02:04:38PM

I have had a similar problem with the menu bar and the systemUIserver. Mine occurred when plugging a compact flash PCMCIA card into the side slot of a PB667 (preDVI). When you plug a card into slot, it appears on the desktop and in the menu bar.... as soon as it appears in the menu bar, systemuiserver starts using 80+% of the processor and cannot be quit... I also cannot log out. To end the process I must force a restart with the power button. Furthermore, when the card is inserted, passing the mouse over the card icon in the menu bar produces a spinning beachball... all of this this is a real bummer because I use the card to import digital pictures.

Anyway, in light of my problem and the others mentioned on this site, I think this is an official nasty BUG in panther. (there are too many causes--PCMCIA cards, firewire cables, menu add ons...) Basically, something is screwed up with the menu bar...

for the record, I only display apple system items in my menu bar (ie. bluetooth, airport, volume and power and clock.) and I tried turning them all off and the same problem occurred when the card was inserted and appeared in the menu....

Panther has menu problems!

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Panther has major MENUBAR BUGS! PCMCIA card insertion crashes systemuiserver
Authored by: asher on Nov 04, '03 02:57:01PM

I had the same problem with the same setup as you. Did you notice there were error messages in the console log when you insert the pc card. But I had these problems in Jaguar. All seem fixed in Panther. The pc card is recognized faster than ever, no messages in the console log, no panics.

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Crash / lock-up problem
Authored by: josephaw on Nov 04, '03 01:48:09PM

I had a similar problem, computer just started crashing at startup on morning.
Experience told me to pull everything first, disks, cables, ata cables even ram and it still crashed, pulled scsi card and problem solved.
I figured scsi card was dead, but I'd figure I give it another test, hit it with dust off and put it back in the slot and system has been working fine ever since. Must have built up some resistance in the slot for whatever reason.

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Diagnosing a menubar crash / lock-up problem
Authored by: adrick42 on Nov 04, '03 02:23:45PM
I have also noticed that when trying to use IrDA (has never really worked well) & showing it's status in the menubar all the menubar items keep re-launching.

If we do not ever take time, how can we ever have time?

The Merovingian -- 

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Diagnosing a menubar crash / lock-up problem
Authored by: nick on Nov 04, '03 04:07:30PM

had the same problem: fresh install of panther on a 1.8 GHz G5 hangs when the screensaver/awake_from_sleep password isn't entered: the spinning clock-like thing that is shown while shutting down appears and everything hangs.

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Diagnosing a menubar crash / lock-up problem
Authored by: Accura on Nov 04, '03 04:54:21PM

nah, its a security feature, it has to be, take the following example.

Guy breaks into your house, walks over too your TiBook, moves the mouse..... AND 'Oh No, a password...." goes through his head as he spots your screen saver password. Being the master criminal, that he obviously is, he keeps his head cool under pressure... he thinks about the problem at hand, decided that he needs some tea (ok I'm not English but i am Australian, next best thing). He arrives 5 minutes later with his thinking aid in hand (go the tea) but all his dreams come crashing down when he notices.... SPINNING BEACH BALL of DEATH.... Stressed out by this latest development he runs out of the house screaming, completely forgetting that it is a laptop and that he could take it with him ....... =)

I, for one, am happy Apple is thinking of everything...


"The time has come," the walrus said. "To talk of many things..."

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About detaching external devices before troubleshooting
Authored by: hamarkus on Nov 04, '03 05:43:01PM

Slightly off-topic, but I had just three kernel panics in a row, all within a few minutes after start-up. Disconnected my firewire drive, no kernel panics anymore (at least for the last two hours).
(For those interested, I had just applied the firmware update to 1.53(or 1.56?) via the Silverlining Updatet v6.4.8a from LaCie (which only runs in OS9) for FW400 drives with Oxford911 chip, supposedly creating performance improvements. Either the drive, the cable or my firewire port got damaged.)

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Diagnosing a menubar crash / lock-up problem
Authored by: suthercd on Nov 04, '03 07:35:44PM

If 3rd party menubar additions/hacks are not supported by Apple, how is it a bug if the hack causes problems?


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