Mac OS X 10.2.4 Special Report

Mac OS X 10.2.4 Special Report

CNET staff
15 min read

Covering these and other issues:

  1. Date constantly resets to 1970
  2. Importance of the combo updater
  3. Networking Problems: Windows AFP, SMB transfers corrupt
  4. Portable Battery failure
  5. Resetting NVRAM for sleep problems
  6. Logging in as a different user to check for corruption
  7. DVD player problems
  8. Dial-up issues: Constant re-dial; TiBook, iBook dial failure
  9. Forgetting preferences
  10. Multiple display issue
  11. SanDisk: Mac OS X 10.2.4 testing not done
  12. Fix for Hermstedt WebShuttle DSL
  13. ATA drive recognition workarounds
  14. Looking at the console log
  15. Classic Clipboard Failure



Date constantly resets to 1970

Background info In what has become an incremental Mac OS X update disaster for Apple, hundreds of users continue to complain about a bug in the 10.2.4 updater that causes the system's date to revert to the end of 1969 on each startup.

Unfortunately, none of the workaround we have discovered so far are catch-alls. They all either apply to only a portion of system configurations, or require some action after each restart. In a word, inconvenient.

That said, inconvenience is the least of some Mac administrators' concerns associated with the Mac OS X 10.2.4 date bug. Having networked systems - especially th os e used as servers or synchronization slaves - with incorrect or constantly changing time settings is a compromising situation. Unintended file overwriting, missing urgent messages, and incorrect ordering of database elements can all result.

The bottom line is that for critical enterprise applications (where Mac s are playing a larger role lately), unpredictable date and time problems are not acceptable. Using workarounds that can temporarily solve the problem and only for it to unexpectedly resurface is not an option.

Until Apple issues a permanent fix, users in these situations are forced to revert to Mac OS X10.2.3; another inconvenient process that will require reconfiguration of preference settings and other considerations that are amplified in a multi-user environment. [See our Mac OS X 10.2.2 report under the heading "Reverting to Mac OS X10.2.1" for instructions that apply to every incremental update.]

For Mac systems managers' this situation begs the question: How was a bug so widely reported not discovered in pre-release testing, and why hasn't a usable patch been issued more than two weeks after Mac OS X 10.2.4 's release?

Date bug workaround AppleScriptBernard Rey offers an AppleScript that will automatically perform the CHUD Tools workaround (see below):

  • tell application "System Preferences"
  • activate
  • end tell
  • tell application "System Events"
  • tell process "System Preferences"
  • click menu item "CPU" of menu "View" of menu bar 1
  • delay 1
  • click radio button "Single CPU" of radio group 1 of window "CPU"
  • delay 3
  • end tell
  • end tell
  • tell application "System Preferences" to quit
  • delay 1
  • tell application "Finder" to shut down

Note 1: In order to function properly, it may need some specific tools to be installed. The "CHUD" itself, and also the "System Events 1.2", the Script Editor 2.0 being recommended. These tools are part of the "December 2002 Dev tools" to be downloaded from Apple's developer pages: http://developer.apple.com/tools/macosxtools.html

Note 2: the "click menu item "CPU" of menu "View" of menu bar 1" line should be localized: for instance, in the French version, the name for the "View" menu reading "Presentation"...

The "Clock" application One MacFixIt reader reports he was able to solve the date bug by using the Apple application "Clock" in Mac OS X, setting the date and time manually in System Preferences/Date and Time and choosing Save.

Opening "Clock" and changing the time creates the file "home/library/preferences/com.apple.clock.plist".

Opening Date and Time and choosing MenuBarClock creates the file "home/library/preferences/com.apple.MenuBarClock.plist". Changing the date and time without "Clock" being open has no effect on "com.apple.clock.plist".

The reader reports that on each of his iMacs, the dates of the two files were different--the MenuBarClock.plist was current while the clock.plist was dated December 31, 1969.

For "always-on" connection users (cable, DSL, T1, etc.), the usage of a network time server can resolve the date bug . Check the box next to "Use a network time server" under the "Network Time" tab in the Date and Time pane of System Preferences.

For dial-up connection users, the solution is to install Apple's CHUD Tools version 2.5.3 . Then open System Preferences, use the Other/CPU, tab and change the setting to use only one processor. Do this right before you shut down. When you start your system again, the data and time will be set correctly, and the system will automatically default back into dual-processor mode.

Importance of the combo updater

Though we have covered the issue several times before, we cannot stress enough the importance of Apple's Mac OS X 10.2.4 combination updater for solving a number of minor troubleshooting problems. Even if your 10.2.3 to 10.2.4 update installed smoothly and restarted the machine properly, problems that arise after the process are often solved by applying the larger combo updater.

Case in point: We've been receiving several letters from readers lately indicating that some keys (particularly "shift" and "caps lock") do not work after applying the Mac OS X 10.2.4 update. In nearly every one of these cases, following up with the reader and ensuring that they had applied the Mac OS X 10.2.4 combo updater resulted in resolution of the problem.

Other issues that have been reported solved by the combo updater include recognition of internal optical drives, mouse failure, and kernel panics soon after startup.

You can download the Mac OS X 10.2.4 combo updater [76.1 MB] from Apple's support servers.

Networking Problems: Windows AFP, SMB transfers corrupt

For those having problems with seeing/mounting an AFP-Server with an extra password under Mac OS X 10.2.4, especially with a Windows 2000 server/client (reported yesterday), these two procedures may help:

1. Delete and/or cleanup cache files. There are several utilities that can do this for you, including Cocktail and MacJanitor. Manually deleting cache files is fine as well, if you know what you are doing.

2. Reset account passwords. You must do this if you inadvertently turn on/off Windows file sharing - as a security precaution. Don't forget you have to do this from within each account or it will not work.

As a last resort, re-installing Mac OS X 10.2.x from a CD that has a later release (like Mac OS X 10.2.3 or 10.2.4) seems to alleviate these issues for some readers. Meanwhile, applying the sequential updater or the combo updater to an earlier, already installed version of Mac OS X lets the problems stick around.

SMB transfers corrupt We have several reports that under some circumstances, copying files to a Windows NT or other Windows file server using the SMB protocol under Mac OS X 10.2.4 results in a corrupted file. Either the files make it through the transfer and will not open, or fail with an error message during copying.

The problem occurs when connecting to an SMB share from Mac OS X via the Connect to Server box, for instance: "smb://domain;username@server/share"

Incomplete file transfers can also occur.

UPDATE: We are hearing from some readers that not having any background applications running while doing an SMB transfer can help in avoidance of corrupt files or incomplete transfers.

Another potential workaround is to use the Terminal's "cp" command, for example (transferring a disk image file): cp some.dmg /Volumes/smbserver/folder.

Portable Battery failure

Users affected by the strange bug that causes portable (PowerBook/iBook) battery capacity to quickly deplete after upgrading to Mac OS X 10.2.4 should investigate a replacement battery, according to reader reports suggesting that Mac OS X 10.2.4 can be safely installed with the new power packs.

Lucy Johnson writes:

"I have had no relapse of the short battery life/failure to charge issues since getting my PowerBook back from Apple last Thursday. As soon as I received it I updated to 10.2.4 again because I felt that the cause of my problem was hardware, not this update. I ran my computer with the adapter attached until last night, 10/9/03, and then unplugged and ran on battery until it was completely drained. I recharged it successfully to 100 percent with no problems, the adapter light is glowing green and the charge percent is showing 100 percent."

The replaced part (for a 12-inch PowerBook) is: 603-1204 Battery, LITH ION; 46W/630-3961 PCBA; DC to DC.

If you are experiencing this problem, you may want to download the small Mac OS X utility X-Charge, which displays an antialiased graph of the battery charge over time (up to 24 hours) and keeps in a log file all battery related events.

Resetting NVRAM for sleep problems

Several readers have successfully solved sleep issues that were introduced with the Mac OS X 10.2.4 update (generally inability to fall into or wake up from sleep) by resetting the NVRAM.

In order to reset your NVRAM, restart your computer holding down the keys: command, option, o, and f in order to enter Open Firmware mode; and hold these keys until the command prompt comes up. Then type:
  • reset-nvram
  • reset-all

MacFixIt reader Chris Scherer offers a case example of Mac OS X 10.2.4 sleep problems:

"After the Mac OS X 10.2.4 combination update I was unable to send my G4 (AGP / 400 MHz / 1Gb RAM) with a Firewire/USB 2.0 combo PCI card, to sleep mode. If I tried to, the screen went blank, the HD or the fan spun down, but I still had either the disks or the fan running. And I also was unable to wake the machine up, by pressing any button. So I reverted to 10.2.3 and the problem was gone."

Logging in as a different user to check for corruption

If you're having problems with 10.2.4, you might want to try creating an additional user and logging in using the new account.

Some preference files and other system-necessary components in the individual user library can become corrupted, or otherwise made defunct by the incremental updates. Several readers have reported success with creating a new account for dealing with problems such as: an internal optical drive not mounting, jumping cursors, and overall sluggish operation.

After you have created and tested the new user account, you can either transfer your current settings to the new user file and delete your old account, or you can perform an archive and install operation to restore a fresh copy of Mac OS X 10.2.4.

DVD player problems

Several readers have reported problems with the Apple DVD player after upgrading to Mac OS X 10.2.4. Recent research leads us to believe that some of the problems (in particular, high processor usage and choppy playback) are caused by a change in the way Apple's DVD player handles shadows in interface control elements, and possibly some other video processing modifications.

On some systems, Mac OS X 10.2.4 causes the shadows over DVD content to not display transparency anymore. This can cause screen artifacts, and also may be related to the widely reported performance issues, described by MacFixIt reader Shawn Lebbon:

"Since upgrading to Mac OS X 10.2.4 I've tried playing a few different DVDs and they all play slightly slowly--they will stutter between chapters, the sound will occasionally cut out, and they will take a few seconds to respond to commands.

"I have LoadInDock running, measuring CPU usage. In OSX 10.1.5, I could play DVDs with little else running, and I'd see CPU usage around 70-80 percent consistently. When I upgraded to Jaguar (going straight to 10.2.3 from 10.1.5), DVDs still played with acceptable performance. But recently (and the only thing I think that has changed is 10.2.4), I have been unable to play a number of DVDs with acceptable performance. CPU usage is at 100 percent the entire time a movie is playing, setting the monitor resolution to 800x600x16bit helps some, (makes them barely watchable), but still CPU usage is at 100 percent."

The DVD Player problems seem to occur mostly on systems that do not have Quartz Extreme capabilities. In some cases, re-applying the Mac OS X 10.2.4 combination updater can resolve this issue, but replacing the DVD Player application and repairing disk permissions seem to have no effect.

Some users suggest that creating and logging in as a new user improves DVD playback performance and clarity. We're not sure exactly how this could resolve the issue, unless Mac OS X 10.2.4 causes corruption or other problems with files relegated to the user directory. Let us know if the fix works for you.

Dial-up issues: Constant re-dial; TiBook, iBook dial failure

Several readers report (among other dial-up issues that their modems continue to attempt connections after sessions are ended under Mac OS X 10.2.4. Adrian Fry offers a potential workaround:

"The culprit seems to be two processes - lookupd and mDNSResponder, which appear to be part of Rendezvous - mDNSResponder is a Rendezvous component for discovering services on the network. Having disabled all file sharing, Network Time, used Directory Access to turn of all services including Appletalk, Rendezvous etc, it still tries to connect. In the end I installed a program called Little Snitch which can be set to block certain IP request."

Fix for iBook/Titanium PowerBook modem failure under Mac OS X 10.2.4 Several readers have reported problems with the internal modems on recent-model iBooks after upgrading to Mac OS X 10.2.4, including the following: failure to dial at all; failure to achieve "Authenticating User" stage of connection (corresponding to timed-out sync requests in the verbose log); disconnection within 60 seconds of connecting; and inability to receive any data at all.

Wade Tregaskis offers a solution that involves reverting to Mac OS X 10.2.2's internal modem driver. A similar solution was used in Mac OS X 10.2.3, with some users choosing to downgrade their IOUSB.kext kernel extension for better USB device compatibility.

Tregaskis' workaround is as follows:

"Using Pacifist or an equivalent extraction tool, extract and install '/System/Library/Extensions/InternalUSBModem.kext' from the Mac OS X 10.2.2 updater.

Similarly, extract and install all the following from the Mac OS X 10.2.1 updater or original system install (10.2.1 shipped with most effected iBook's): /System/Library/Extensions/

  • PPP.kext
  • PPPoE.ppp
  • PPPSerial.ppp
  • PPPT.ppp

"Contrary to popular belief, the 3 Apple Internal USB Modem scripts have no effect, although they are updated in 10.2.4. The updated scripts may be left alone, or if you really want you can extract and install them from 10.2.1, along with the 4 extensions previously listed. They are located in '/Library/Modem Scripts/'.

Rob Snell used a similar workaround for his Titanium PowerBook G4, this time using modem drivers from Mac OS X 10.1.4.

"I had problems connecting to a WAN server under Mac OS X 10.2.4 on a Titanium PowerBook G4. Out of desperation, I loaded 10.1.4 (provided with the Titanium Book) onto a spare partition and tried the connection to UUNET. This configuration worked.

"Changing the modem scripts for the internal modem did not solve the problem. What I began to suspect was the modem drivers (kext). Saving the 10.2.4 versions so that they can be restored, I copied the 10.1.4 versions into the /System/Library/Extensions folder. Note that you need to be booted from another system disk to make this change (otherwise OS X will not let you). Now reboot your machine back to the 10.2 partition.

"Sometime after boot, the system will inform you about the internal modem kext being a security threat to your machine. It will present three buttons; click on the use button. Be sure to use the Mac OS X 10.2.4 supplied V.90 modem script (the 10.1.4 one will not work). Start up Internet Connect and give it a whirl."

Forgetting preferences

Aside from forgetting the currently set date, Mac OS X 10.2.4 also has problems remembering which browser has been set to default (covered previously) and language settings.

Several readers report that flags representing languages other than the one they have set appear in the character menu (located at the far right of the Finder's menubar). One MacFixIt reader writes:

"On my DP 867MHz G4 at work, updating to Mac OS X 10.2.4 caused the International settings for Behavior to be set to English instead of Swedish. Which of course by itself cause a lot of odd settings for date, time and numbers. I did not at firs see that Behaviors had changed with the update. After switching that back, all was well again."

Michael Houtman describes another problem with language settings:

"I use with Mac OS OS X two keyboard layouts; US and Dutch. After every restart my date format is set to US format (month/date/year). I have chosen as default Dutch format Day/Month /Year. Also separator is / instead of -. When I reboot into Mac OS 9, my Euro designation is changed to a US dollar designation."

Multiple display issue

Allen Gainsford notes a bug that causes his system to recognize turned off displays, causing some navigation issues:

"Under Mac OS X 10.2.3, I could switch the monitor on, then click 'Detect Displays' in the 'Displays' system preferences panel, and the system would detect the 'new' monitor and adjust the display setup. Then, when I was done, I could switch the second monitor off, and "Detect Displays" again, and the system would detect that it was gone.

"Under Mac OS X 10.2.4, the system thinks that the second monitor is always there, even when it's switched off. (I suppose I could get rid of it by shutting down and physically disconnecting it, but that's sort of awkward.) This has the unfortunate side-effect that my mouse can disappear off the side of my screen, because the Mac thinks it's on the second screen."

SanDisk: Mac OS X 10.2.4 testing not done

After numerous reports of problems with SanDisk's Firewire Compact Flash Reader under Mac OS X 10.2.4, the company has begun telling customers that testing with the new incremental update has not yet been completed. A technical support representative told one MacFixIt reader:

"Unfortunately, the (FireWire) readers have not yet been tested on 10.2.4 but we hope to have that testing done shortly. Please continue to check our web site for any further information or updates at http://www.sandisk.com. If you have any questions please feel free to contact our technical support department at 866-726-3475."

General problems include inability to mount flash media. Some readers have reported that leaving the media in the reader, then disconnecting the unit and re-plugging it allows access.

Fix for Hermstedt WebShuttle DSL

Hermstedt has now released updated drivers that allow the modem to work properly under the new OS X release.

The WebShuttle page states that the "new drivers are necessary for using WebShuttle DSL Annex A under Mac OS 10.2.4 (the adaptation of the PPP handling has been made necessary because of the changes in Mac OS 10.2.4).

Looking at the console log

If you are having problems applying the Mac OS X 10.2.4 update - either through Software Update or a standalone installer - try looking at the console log (open "Console" located in the Applications/Utilities folder by default) to see if the installer tripped over a corrupt preference file.

Apparently, the 10.2.4 installer is very sensitive to corrupted preference files. Joseph Merola writes in with a case example echoed by other readers:

"In my case, I looked at the console log to see a heading that said: CFPropertyListCreateFromXMLData(): plist parse failed; the data is not proper UTF-8. The file name for this data could be:

"I don't have the exact log anymore, but for me it pointed to various skin plist files for Whamb. (an audio player that I downloaded, tried once, then trashed.) When I trashed the Whamb folder in Application Support, the installer worked just fine."

ATA drive recognition workarounds

ATA device recognition problems in Mac OS X 10.2.4 were causing users to lose the functionality of their internal devices, particularly add-on DVD-R drives.

Michael Bonney suggests switching the drive jumpers, altering the master/salve configuration:

"I'm running a Power Mac G4 867 MHz dual processor, standard CD-R/DVD combo drive, with an additional internal Pioneer A104. As mentioned on MacFixIt, I cannot see the second drive cannot be seen after updating to Mac OS X 10.2.4.

"The easiest solution I have found is to swap the drive jumpers, putting the A104 onto the master and combo drive into slave mode and not using cable select. It no functions perfectly/ Apple System Profiler sees the drives, menu icons open and close as do the 'eject' and 'alt-eject' keys."

In Bonney's case, the jumper settings are as follows: upper and lower far right hand pins jumped on the A104; and upper and lower 2nd from right pins jumped on the combo drive.

Classic Clipboard Failure

Upon launching Classic, some users are being presented with a previously non-existent error message, breaking clipboard interoperability between Mac OS X and Classic:

"Classic Clipboard Services Failed: Copying from Classic to Mac OS X will not work for the remainder of this Classic session due to an error. Copying to Classic and between Classic applications is not affected.

Repairing permissions seems to fix this problem in most instances.


  • Date constantly resets to ...
  • Importance of the combo up...
  • Networking Problems: Windo...
  • Portable Battery failure
  • Resetting NVRAM for sleep ...
  • Logging in as a different ...
  • DVD player problems
  • Dial-up issues: Constant r...
  • Forgetting preferences
  • Multiple display issue
  • SanDisk: Mac OS X 10.2.4 t...
  • Fix for Hermstedt WebShutt...
  • ATA drive recognition work...
  • Looking at the console log
  • Classic Clipboard Failure
  • continued...
  • Date constantly resets to 1970
  • http://developer.apple.com...
  • Importance of the combo updater
  • 76.1 MB
  • Networking Problems: Windows AFP, SMB transfers corrupt
  • reported yesterday
  • Cocktail
  • MacJanitor
  • Portable Battery failure
  • Resetting NVRAM for sleep problems
  • Logging in as a different user to check for corruption
  • DVD player problems
  • Let us know
  • Dial-up issues: Constant re-dial; TiBook, iBook dial failure
  • Little Snitch
  • Pacifist
  • Mac OS X 10.2.2 updater
  • Mac OS X 10.2.1 updater
  • Forgetting preferences
  • Multiple display issue
  • SanDisk: Mac OS X 10.2.4 testing not done
  • http://www.sandisk.com
  • Fix for Hermstedt WebShuttle DSL
  • updated drivers
  • Looking at the console log
  • ATA drive recognition workarounds
  • Classic Clipboard Failure
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