I was experiencing a number of problems one morning. Mostly applications not responding. This included the Finder and Terminal. Oddly enough, Classic still worked fine. I became fearful that my whole system was on its way down, so I thought I would try something.
I learned that the shutdown ('sudo shutdown now') command in Mac OS X does not actually bring the system down as it does in certain Linux systems I have used. Rather, it brings the system down to "single user mode." As I understand this, most everything is stopped and the system is in essence stripped down to its bare bones. To verify this, I ran top while in this state, and counted only about four (4) processes running.
Now, I just typed "exit" and the machine exitted from single user mode and the Window Server started back up. If you try this for whatever reason, you may notice that the network and other items are started back up. It seemed to fix my troubles and my system was never taken totally down. This was evident from running uptime from the terminal to see the total running time of the system has been preserved. This is also a much faster fix than a full restart.
I am not a guru in the area of the guts of this system yet, so I can't be sure of what damage I am creating or not really fixing, but so far this seems to be a more favorable fix than a full restart.
[Editor's note: Anyone have any input on the safety of this versus a full reboot into single-user mode? I believe I read somewhere that if you use "shutdown" to get into single-user mode, you should still finish with a reboot and not just an exit back to Aqua, but I can't find the reference now.]
If you need additional USB ports or have a beige G3 or run OS X on an unsupported system using XPostFActo, you can use CompUSA's $15 no-name two-port USB card. On my PowerMac 7600 it worked right out of the box. I was able to print from it to my Epson inkjet printer.
Over in this thread on the macosxhints' forums, '3film' was having problems mounting DMG (disk image) files. Some would mount, some would not. After a bit of troubleshooting, those that would not were those that had the license agreement as part of the disk mounting operation (Mozilla and ASM, for example).
After some fruitless troubleshooting help, '3film' replaced the existing Disk Copy utility by using Pacifist, which allows you to restore portions of an OS X installation. This solved the problem -- apparently the stock version of the program had been damaged somehow, which prevented disk images with software license screens from mounting properly.
From an contributor who wishes to remain anonymous, here's a script that brings back an OS 9 style memory usage report. Here's what he wrote:
here is a script to give a full memory report. i wanted something to give me a report as useful and easy to read as the About This Mac box in OS 9. the script provides a simple rundown of:
number of swapfiles
number of pageouts
physical memory used by top 7 apps
Notes on the script:
save it as a application, or save it as a compiled script and run it from the Script Menu.
you can vary the number of applications reported by changing the number in the first line of the script.
the script tries some kludgey workarounds to get application names from 'ps aux'. it assumes native non-system apps will reside in the Applications folder. your mileage may vary with regards to app names, but it should be better than those 'LaunchCFMApp' names in ProcessViewer. if anyone knows a better way to get app names, please post.
Read the rest of the article for the script...
NOTE: This script has been substantially revised! It should now parse almost any possible application scheme correctly!
I was hit by a strange system bug that affected two very different circumstances... At least, they appeared dis-similar while attempting to troubleshoot. I was having an issue where Mindvision based installers would simply quit. Poof. Either immediately, or after a successful athentication if admin privs were required.
A brand new install of the OS worked to fix this, but only for new accounts, not for existing users that were migrated over. (Loooove that self-contained user folder... 'cept it self contains bugs too...).
As well, Bizzarre issues with Acrobat reader were abouding...And this is the weird part. The Acrobat reader installed by the system install would work fine (v5.0.0). The updated Reader (5.0.5) would die if launched as a carbon app, but not as a classic app. Also, an updated install of the Acrobat (editor) app would quit. The only note was a cryptic reference to the "Rulebook Server" in the console.
It turns out the fix was the same fix for all of these issues. As noted on the mindvision website in a kbase article, Installer VISE installers may have difficulty detecting the operating system language on some Mac OS X machines, causing the installer to unexpectedly quit. A workaround is to have the user make a small change in 'International' System Preferences.
That's it. ANY change, and the system will write out a new preference, and all will be happy. I've lost about 18 man-hours trying to troubleshoot this.
If you open the About This Mac box, and click "Version", you'll see your build number. If you click again, you'll see your computer's serial number!
Has this been documented anywhere before?
[Editor's note: I've known about this since the Public Beta, but as near as I can tell, it's never been published here before! Someone else might be able to dig it up, but a search on "about" or "build" or "version" didn't find anything.]
Just a little random something I noticed. At times my Finder freezes. I get the annoying spinning disk icon and I am unable to open anything, or click on anything. At best the dock will come up from it's hidding spot. I find this happens most often when IE is trying to accomplish a task.
Whatever the cause, it takes over the entire Finder, preventing me from opening or working in any other applications. I have found a way to bypass this annoyance. I use the option-command-esc key sequence to bring up the "Force Quit" window. Then without force quiting any apps, I simply close the force quite window. for some reason this frees up the finder again, and allows me to work on other apps while what ever app that is lagging behind and causing the temporary lock up, catches up.
[Editor's note: I have no idea if this works, but if you get the spinning rainbow in the Finder, it's probably worth a try...]
This seems to be something prone with the possibilities of major damage to your system — I'm merely pointing this avenue of research out as raised by another webpage, with the preface that you shouldn't even approach doing this until you are quite confident in the knowledge of what you are doing!
This webpage speaks of how the command nvram, located in the /usr/sbin directory, can be used to "list and set open firmware settings," including "specify[ing] your own settings. For example, you could create a variable called asset_tag and keep the asset inventory tag of that particular computer in the firmware."
This particular tip was thought of by the webpage's author as a hint for people running computer labs, but it could be used by other Mac OS X users, I'm sure.
I'd really, really pause and make sure you know what you're doing before goofing around with your computer's firmware, though ... talk about playing with dynamite!
[Editor's note: I'll echo the sentiment -- this is published here mainly in the interest of completeness. Do NOT mess around with Open Firmware unless you really really know what you're doing!]
I was playing around with the 'open' and 'save' dialogues of my TextEdit app and found that if you hold down the 'option' key while dragging the dialogue page to enlarge it from the bottom-right corner, the columns will get wider without expanding their scope into other folders. I wondered if this was possible as often I need to read the full names in a window when saving or opening documents. Nice that hidden features are so easy to stumble apon... thanks Apple.
Oh and yes you can do this in all other carbon apps I have tried also. Great!
[Editor's note: This trick definitely works in Cocoa apps, but I couldn't get it to work in Excel v.X or Mozilla or Acrobat, so I'm not sure about its functionality within Carbon. If you know of a Carbon app that this works with, post the app's name. If there are some Carbon apps that support this feature, what's the difference between those and the others that don't?]
Evidently, Apple included a command-line version of Apple System Profiler in with Mac OS X, located in the /usr/sbin/ directory. It can be run simply by typing AppleSystemProfiler (no spaces) at the prompt in Terminal.
(For what it's worth, my readout says it's v1.0.42 and says it's the Apple System Profiler Tool. The one we all know about, the one with a GUI, says it's v2.7.)
I can see this as being useful in two ways; you could easily redirect its output to a text file for inclusion in an e-mail message by typing AppleSystemProfiler > report.txt.
And this website seems to think that enterprising individuals could somehow script the harvesting of information from this readout for use in, for example, computer labs.