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Dealing with a frozen Macbook Pro

Filed Under Apple on 2008-03-26, 10:44

Spinning Beach Ball
I had just installed the new 4gigs of RAM into my Macbook Pro. I booted back up, launched VMWare so I could run ExactAudioCopy to continue ripping my CDs to an external harddrive in both FLAC and MP3. I jumped into FireFox (v2.0.0.11) to look at some videos that Heather had on her site. We watched several videos, loading them both in the embedded Quicktime player in FireFox as well as in the standalone player (in the case of a WMV). Then I clicked on this one. Normally a quite humorous video, but not this time. My machine stopped, the spinning beachball started, and nothing happened on the screen. The mouse was still movable, but my clicks did not register. I attempted a Command+Option+Esc, the OS X equivalent of Cntrl+Alt+Del, with no results. I tried Cntrl+Alt+Backspace, usually used to kill an X (windows) session on *nix. No dice. Cntrl+Alt+F1 to try to drop to a text console so I could kill the process resulted in nothing, although I’m not entirely sure if OS X has this support. I finally held down the power button to shut things down and went to bed, not wanting to deal with things. This morning I took a look at the video in Windows with GSpot (an awesome video tool) and it says that the video codec is MP42, S-Mpeg 4 version 2, and the audio is encoded in MP3. I assume Quicktime should be able to handle this just fine. *shrug* I tried again this morning immediately after booting up, and the same behavior, totally unresponsive with a spinning beach ball. I was also amused that OS X couldn’t decide which wait cursor to display. I got to see the Arrow+spinning BMW logo, the spinning beach ball, and even the old watch cursor. FWIW, I tried it in Safari and it works, so this looks like FireFox is the cause.

This one instance doesn’t bother me that much, it’s just a silly internet video and it appears to be FireFox’s fault. What does bother me is that OS X has locked up several times to the point where I can’t even kill a process. With Windows, it’s very uncommon that a Cntrl+Alt+Del doesn’t pull up the Task Manager, and in Linux you can always drop to a text console to use the handy ‘kill’ command. What’s the equivalent “backup parachute” in OS X?

UPDATE: At this point it’s just geek curiousity. A friend tried the same video on his machine with similar results and reports: “so ed, for some reason, your video under firefox is panic’ing the graphics driver. complaints about an unknown method error” Here are some log entries he snagged:

Mar 26 10:58:11 Hyperfocal kernel[0]: NVChannel(GL): Graphics channel exception! status = 0xffff info32 = 0xd = GR: SW Notify Error
Mar 26 10:58:30 Hyperfocal kernel[0]: 0000000c
Mar 26 10:58:30 Hyperfocal kernel[0]: 00200000 00005097 0000047c 00000000
Mar 26 10:58:30 Hyperfocal kernel[0]: 00000486 00001b0c 1000f010 00000003
Mar 26 10:58:30 Hyperfocal kernel[0]: 00000000 00000000 01b00003
Mar 26 10:58:30 Hyperfocal kernel[0]: 0000000c
Mar 26 10:58:30 Hyperfocal kernel[0]: 00200000 00005097 0000047c 00000000
Mar 26 10:58:30 Hyperfocal kernel[0]: 00000486 00001b0c 1000f010 00000003
Mar 26 10:58:30 Hyperfocal kernel[0]: 00000000 00000000 00000013
Mar 26 10:58:30 Hyperfocal kernel[0]: NVChannel(GL): Graphics channel exception! status = 0xffff info32 = 0x3 = Fifo: Unknown Method Error
Mar 26 10:58:30 Hyperfocal kernel[0]: 0000000b

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