Pervasive system crashes, minimal uptimes


I get the impression that most people are reporting excellent stability under OS X. Sadly, that is not the case for me. I have had nine system crashes requiring a hard restart since I installed OS X v. 10.1 on October 10. This means my uptime is averaging about three days. Actually, I think the Public Beta was more stable for me than OS X 10.1

I haven't had a single kernel panic in that time. But I have had numerous, random, unexplained crashes. For example, this morning, I woke the machine from sleep, and it immediately hung. The system clock was stopped, the dock was unresponsive, and the GUI was completely frozen except for the mouse. The machine returned pings over the network and I could connect (but not log in) via ssh and ftp. Therefore, I couldn't restart remotely. The webserver was unresponsive. So I had no choice except to hard restart from the front panel.

The other day, iMovie froze up rendering a title sequence. The mouse was gone (of course the dock was gone because iMovie hides it), I could not cmd-opt-esc out of iMovie, I couldn't switch to another task, the machine wouldn't return pings, nor could I log in remotely, but somehow iTunes CONTINUED TO PLAY AN INTERNET STREAM IN THE BACKGROUND.

Oftentimes the machine will hang on startup trying to load ipfw. Sometimes it will sit there for five minutes trying to load it; sometimes it just never loads it and I have to hard restart.

Sometimes an error message from an application will freeze the entire machine. I thought this wasn't supposed to happen in a pre-emptive multitasking environment.

I've run both Disk First Aid and Drive Ten on the drive; neither reports any problems.

This is a mostly stock G4/500 AGP SP with 1280 Meg (1.25 Gig) of RAM, an Ultra2 SCSI 18 gig hard drive, and the factory-installed ATI Rage 128 video card. I have a Sony firewire CD-RW drive, a factory installed DVD-RAM drive, and a factory-installed Zip drive installed. I'm typically running the following programs: Finder, Omniweb, Mail, Fire, TextEdit, Address Book, Sherlock, Appleworks, Quicken 2002, Quicktime, Terminal, and sometimes a Classic application or two. Under normal circumstances I have anywhere from 200 to 800 Megabytes of RAM free. There's very little hacking on the current system. I'm running Apple-installed versions of Apache, ssh, and ipfw.

So my question is, what are your uptimes? I'd like to get a feel for what other people are experiencing. It sounds like most people are never experiencing crashes in OS X. John Siracusa of Ars Technica stated in his last article that his OS X uptimes largely coincide with system software updates that require a restart.


I've been wondering about hardware problems too. Doesn't the system check RAM on startup? But I've had RAM problems on other Macs before that weren't caught by system diagnostics...

I doubt the problem is related to sleep, but it might be. It's only locked up once coming out of sleep. I will disable sleep entirely though, and see if the freezes go away. But most of the freezes do seem to be related in one way or another to particular applications. I just wish it were always one or two apps, but it isn't.

The only hardware items that didn't ship from the factory are the CD-RW and the extra RAM. I'm inclined to exclude the CD-RW as a source of trouble because the system has never crashed accessing that drive, but you never know. I'm thinking maybe I should have the RAM tested by a service center. Other than that or something wrong with Apple-installed hardware, I haven't a clue.

I'm thinking of running fsck though. I don't know how thorough a job OS X does checking the filesystem but considering there's almost 100,000 files on the hard disk and a restart after a crash takes about the same amount of time as a regular restart, I can't imagine it's more than a half-assed look.