Mac OS X 10.4.8 Special Report: Startup problems: Stalls, extremely slow booting, more

Mac OS X 10.4.8 Special Report: Startup problems: Stalls, extremely slow booting, more

If you experience startup problems after installing an incremental Mac OS X update, it's logically important to check items that load at startup for conflict with updated components in the new release. Caches and hardware drivers are also key leads in isolating a cause. [It should also be noted that the first restart after an update can be inordinately long and still normal -- following restarts usually take place at expected speed.]

One of the most underrated features in Mac OS X is its use of maintenance routines that are inconspicuosly built into easily accessed procedures. Safe booting is a prime example.

In many cases, simply booting in Safe Mode once, then restarting normally can resolve seemingly serious issues occurring at startup. The reason Safe Mode often works to correct instances where startup indefinitely stalls is that in addition to disabling non-essential extensions (its main function), booting in Safe Mode performs a startup disk directory check, clears certain caches and performs other routines that can eliminate problems in time for the next restart.

In order to boot into Safe Mode, just hold the Shift key while starting up.

Other fixes

Disconnect external devices USB devies (which function properly in one iteration of Mac OS X but not the next) are some of the most commonly implicated culprits in startup issues after applying an incremental update. Temporarily disconnecting the offending device can allow the startup process to proceed, and then check for firmware updates from your device's manufacturer.

Boot in verbose mode Failing a normal startup, invoke verbose mode (which displays various otherwise hidden informaion about processes occuring during startup) by pressing the Command and V keys simultaneously while your Mac is boting. This can allow you to identify problematic devices, extensions and more.

Re-apply the Mac OS X combo updaer  (PowerPC or Intel).
Reader reports

MacFixIt reader Mario Camou writes:

"I just updated to 10.4.8 on my 17" MacBook Pro. I have it set up for verbose boot. After rebooting, I saw the messages 'kextd: Couldn't set up diskarb sessions' followed by 'diskarb isn't ready yet, we'll try again soon' repeat several times. After that I got a couple more messages that I couldn't copy, and the MacBook Pro rebooted. When I saw the message again, I disconnected my external USB drive, and the boot finished correctly. This might be a useful troubleshooting technique to add to your library: booting in verbose mode to see what the boot process is up to."

Some users are reported much slower than normal startups. While the first boot after applying an incremental Mac OS X update can be noticeably longer, slower subsequent boot times are abnormal.

MacFixIt reader Mike Stimpson writes:

"Successive restarts have proven to be much slower than the previous Mac OS X incarnation."

Users also experienced kernel panics during startup after installing Mac OS X 10.4.8.

MacFixIt reader Andrew writes

"I have a Core Duo 17" iMac.  Applying 10.4.8 resulted in the overlay / gray 'Please Restart Your Computer"'only seconds into the boot process. I had to completely reinstall OS X. I tried the Mac OS X 10.4.8 upgrade again -- same result.  I'm in the process of reinstalling 10.4.7 for a SECOND time.  I won't be putting 10.4.8 on this time.

David Bills reports that re-applying the combo updater from a separate drive (as described in the tutorial) eliminated a persistent kernel panic at startup on his MacBook Pro.

David writes:

"I was unable to boot after the 10.4.8 combo update failed on my MacBook pro.  The system would kernel panic during the grey screen at the beginning of the boot process. I was able to re-apply the combo updater after mounting the MacBook Pro via a FireWire disk mode from my intel mac mini.  System is now working correctly."

Other users report success with using Disk Utility (located in Applications/Utilities) from an alternate startup drive (or another machine):

"I had problems starting up. It turned out permissions were broken. I booted from a remote drive, fixed permissions, and was able to boot from the startup drive. Note that Mac OS X 10.4.8 started twice after fixing permissions."

Other users report success with a mixture of our suggested workarounds.

MacFixIt reader Ivan writes:

"Just to let you know that the after the Mac OS X 10.4.8 update on a MacPro 2.66, the Mac would not boot (grey screen with Mac logo forever). I followed your instructions: booted from CD, repaired permissions and removed manually cache files. This fixed it, thanks a lot!"

Finally, some users have had to resort to an Archive and Install, then re-application of the Mac OS X 10.4.8 combo updater -- also as described in our startup tutorial.

One reader writes:

"After waiting for a total of 4 hours for a gray screen to progress to an operating computer, I again booted off the install CD and did an Archive and install. After that I was booting into 10.4.6, Automatic Software update then chose the Combined Update for 10.4.8 and that installed no problem."

MacFIxiIt reader David Nakase writes:

"I have abnormally long reboot times after installing Mac OS X 10.4.8 on my MacBook Pro. Hours and hours. An hour into rebooting my MacBook Pro I stopped the computer and booted off the Install disk. Fixed some permissions on the hard drive and now it's taking an abnormally long time to boot."

Richard writes:

"I updated from Mac OS X 10.4.7 on my Titanium PowerBook 400 using the 10.4.8 delta updater. Earlier I had updated my Digital Audio G4 desktop with no problem. When updating, I use the suggested procedure to repair permissions using Disc Utility, apply the update, restart, and repair permissions again.

"This time, on the PowerBook when I restarted after applying the update I got as far as the blue screen with the spinning pinwheel, which rotated for 10-15 minutes but seemed stalled. I shut down with the power switch and rebooted into safe mode, which worked. It still took a bit longer than usual, but at least I could hear disc activity, so I figured it hadn't stalled. Once booted in safe mode, I ran Disc Utility to repair permissions and restarted. This time all worked as expected."

Index:

Resources
  • PowerPC
  • Intel
  • startup tutorial
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  • Update procedure recommend...
  • Common workarounds: Resolv...
  • Adobe Illustrator: Problem...
  • Audio issues
  • Black border around cursor...
  • Burning media issues
  • Classic: Problems starting...
  • Closed-lid portable functi...
  • Display coloring issues: B...
  • External devices (USB/Fire...
  • Finder Crashes, other issu...
  • Flash: Slowness caused by ...
  • Incomplete update: Install...
  • Increased fan activity
  • iSight difficulties: "In use," won't turn on, more
  • Math problems in Rosetta a...
  • Menu items: Disappearance,...
  • Mighty Mouse problems: Scr...
  • Non-launching applications...
  • Printing issues -- fixes
  • Safari Issues: Bad plug-in...
  • Spotlight issues
  • Startup problems: Stalls, ...
  • Universal Access: New feat...
  • Wireless connectivity (Air...
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