Platform independance

Despite having earned my living writing about Macs for many years, these days I probably spend about half my time working on a Windows machine – an Acer TravelMate C111 Tablet PC, running the release candidate of Windows XP SP2. Since the release of XP, Windows has been close enough in ease of use and functionality to OS X that I can use it without constantly swearing at the screen, something that couldn’t be said for Win 98 or even Win 2K.
And XP is pretty stable, too. In fact, at the moment thanks to a problem that I just can’t pin down, my Mac crashes far more than the Tablet, despite the Tablet using effectively beta operating system code. At least once a day at the moment, and always when running Safari, everything on the Mac will lock up (except, annoyingly, for the pointer, which carries on trying to convince me that the Mac is still working).
But despite the Mac’s constant crashing, it’s still the machine that I work on. Why? Because attached to it is a nice, fat Sony 21in monitor that runs sweetly at 1600×1200 (it could run higher, but that gets a bit hard on my eyes), which gives me an enormous desktop and space to work. It’s the work space that matters: and on a large work space, OS X looks very, very nice indeed.

  • anon

    Assuming you’ve done the usual repair attempts, you might consider loading a fresh copy of Mac OSX. I’ve been running it for 2 years, 24/7 without incident; well, except when I loaded Norton SystemWorks (which was immediately removed).

    I get the occassional application crash but it never brings OSX down with it.

  • jdb

    I don’t know what kind of troubleshooting you have done on OS X but here are some ideas that might lead to a solution.

    First, it sound like a software problem since you don’t get a complete freeze. If you have added any third-party memory yourself that can cause problems depending on quality and handling of the installation. But most memory failures cause a kernel panic and not consistent freezing of the GUI.

    1) Make sure you can ssh into your machine using the preferences: sharing: remote login.

    2) When the GUI crashes use another machine on the same network to ssh into your Mac

    3) If this doesn’t work, then you have a strange but serious problem. But you probably will be able to login to the mac using ssh.

    4) Run the command line top command. This should give you an idea if some process is hogging the system. Normally, even if a process is nearly 100% there still should be some time for other tasks but some software might be playing around with priorities causing a more severe problem.

    5) If you see something hogging the CPU kill it with the command line kill -9 . Get the process id from the top command

    6) If that doesn’t work, kill the finder the same way.

    There are a lot more things you can try before just resorting to reinstalling the OS from scratch as well.

  • John Kubie

    What mac do you have? I had similar problems with a 2.0 G5. About once a day it would lock up. Frequently with Sarari, but also a bunch of other programs when the screen was scrolling. The most ‘reliable’ lock up was with a very fast screen scroll of a very large document using BBEDIT lite (still available for free, if you search).

    Mine was NOT a software issue. I reinstalled OS 10.3. Apple replaced the graphics card. Problem was finally solved when (under warrantee) Apple replaced the logic board. Others have had similar problems with G5s.

  • Ian Betteridge

    First of all, thanks all of you for the suggestions. It’s an older Power Mac G4 that, up until 10.3, had never crashed in, oh, maybe two years. I haven’t yet done any repairs, as its, not really a major problem and it doesn’t appear to be getting worse.I suspect a problem with Safari: it’s the only app that’s always running when it crashes. However I will try sshing in to it next time it happens.

  • Claire Brewer

    If you need any disk diagnostic tools, shout. I have them all. :)