Special report: Troubleshooting (pulled) Mac OS X 10.2.8

Special report: Troubleshooting (pulled) Mac OS X 10.2.8

CNET staff
14 min read

Covering these and other issues:


Since Mac OS X 10.2.8 has been pulled from Apple's servers, several readers are wondering what they should do. The official statement on why the update was pulled, as sent to MacFixIt by Anuj Nayar (Apple's spokesperson for Mac OS X and developer relations): "We have temporarily removed the Mac OS X v10.2.8 software update while we resolve an issue affecting Ethernet networking on a small number of Power Mac G4 desktop systems. We anticipate that the issue will be resolved soon."

If you were running Mac OS X 10.2.6 before attempting the Mac OS X 10.2.8 upgrade, your best bet is to perform an archive and install process from the Jaguar CD, and then re-apply the Mac OS X 10.2.6 combo updater and wait for Apple to issue an revised version of Mac OS X 10.2.8 (possibly named or 10.2.9).

If you would like to stick with Mac OS X 10.2.8 - many readers experienced no problems whatsoever with the release - make sure to the troubleshooting reports and keep a ready backup on hand.

Ethernet Networking Problems, solutions

Perhaps the most widely reported problem reported after updating to Mac OS X 10.2.8 is loss of network access. In some cases, 100 Mbps Ethernet continues to work, but the 10 Mbps mode is disabled. George Warner writes "The Mac OS X 10.2.8 update installed fine but I lost networking including ability to talk to my Apple Airport Extreme. After some experimenting, I was able to determine that my Mac (Dual-500 G4) was not able to talk to my 10 Base-T network. 10 Base-T is the least common denominator on my LAN. I require it for some other devices. Apparently, my updated Mac is stuck at 100 Base-T. A hub which provides a 10 to 100 bridge was able to band-aid my problem."

The solution is to revert the AppleGMACEthernet.kext from the new version (1.3.0) to the 10.2.6 version (1.2.4) and reboot. This file is located in System/Library/Extensions. You can pull this file from an older Mac OS X system that has not yet been updated, then replace it by booting into Mac OS 9 and overwriting the old file (which you should back up, just in case).

Alternatively, a poster on Apple's Discussion boards has uploaded the old .kext file to his Web server.

If you do not have Mac OS 9, here are more explicit instructions on how to perform this procedure from within Mac OS X:

  1. Download/extract/restore the earlier version of the AppleGMACEthernet.kext file (we provided a link to a copy of the file yesterday).
  2. Launch Terminal from within an admin-level account, and type sudo -s (Provide your account password when prompted.)
  3. Type cd /System/Library/Extensions and press the return key.
  4. Type rm -rf AppleGMACEthernet.kext and press the return key. This deletes the newer, problematic kext file.
  5. Type mv (be sure to include a space after the "mv"). Do not press return/enter yet.
  6. Drag the older AppleGMACEthernet.kext file (the one you just downloaded/extracted/restored) into Terminal. The path to the kext file will be automatically typed for you. Do not press return/enter yet.
  7. Press the space bar once, and then type /System/Library/Extensions/AppleGMACEthernet.kext and press the return key. This executes the command, which moves the older kext file into the Extensions directory, replacing the newer (problematic) version.
  8. Type cd /System/Library and press return.
  9. Type rm Extensions.kextcache and press return.
  10. Type rm Extensions.mkext and press return.
  11. Immediately restart your computer.

Note that some users report getting a message after the restart that the file is "incompatible and could cause security problems." Clicking the "Fix and Use" button and restarting will allow full functionality.

Of course, the main problem is that many readers who need this fix are not able to access the Internet after performing the Mac OS X 10.2.8 update. If you know some fellow Mac users who might be experiencing the issue, you may want to bring them the old AppleGMACEthernet.kext file on a CD.

Also, group of developers has written a tool that downgrades the AppleGMACEthernet component that is causing networking problems for some users of Mac OS X 10.2.8. From the description "This utility will only run under Mac OS X 10.2.8 and addresses an issue where ethernet access is lost after updating Mac OS X 10.2.6 to 10.2.8. You should only use this utility if you are having problems with your network connection. Fixamac Software cannot be held responsible for damage arising from the use of this software. Please make a backup of any important files before continuing with the installation. The AppleGMACEthernet Patcher will replace version 1.3.0 of the AppleGMACEthernet.kext file with version 1.2.4 installed with Mac OS X 10.2.6. At present, the impact of using an older version of the AppleGMACEthernet.kext file with Mac OS X 10.2.8 is unknown."

More information, as well as the 84 KB download, are available here.

While we have not received too many reports like this, Tim Buck reports instability after performing a downgrade of the AppleGMACEthernet.kext file:

"I installed the Mac OS X 10.2.8 update on my G4 tower (Yikes motherboard) before it was pulled. I didn't have any networking problems, but I decided to revert to the v1.2.4 Ethernet driver anyway. After doing so, my system became unstable -- I had system lockups here and there (usually when the screensaver kicked in). So I went back to the v1.3.0 Ethernet driver and I've had no more problems so far."

If you are not having networking problems with Mac OS X 10.2.8, it is best not to perform this downgrade.

Apple's official stance on the issue is contained in a Knowledge Base article, which offers these suggestions

  • For cable and DSL modems with 10BASE-T ports: Do not connect the computer directly to the modem. Instead, connect the computer and the modem to the same 10/100BASE-T hub.
  • For local area networks (LANs): If you can connect the computer directly to a 10/100BASE-T or 100BASE-T hub, you should do that. If you don't have that option, place a 10/100BASE-T hub between your computer and your normal 10BASE-T connection.
  • If a wireless network is available, use an AirPort card to connect.
  • If you have a third-party Ethernet PCI card, install it in your computer in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. Change the computer's settings in Network preferences to use this card.

Network problems due to DHCP issues Another common networking problem users have experienced after installing the 10.2.8 update is a loss of connectivity on computers that obtain their IP address via DHCP. A number of users have found that requesting a new lease restores connectivity. An easy way to renew your DHCP lease is the utility Cocktail; choose the Network screen, click the DHCP tab, and then click the Request button.

File mapping issues

Many users report that the 10.2.8 update "reset" some or all custom file mappings. For example, if you had previously used the Get Info window or Finder contextual menus to change the application used to open a particular type of file, the 10.2.8 update may have caused OS X to "forget" those settings and revert to the default setting. Unfortunately, the solution seems to be to re-select your chosen application for each type of file that was affected.

One reader writes "Since then I have noticed that when opening files from a Finder Window many of them open the wrong application. For example Microsoft Excel and Word files open in Virex 7. Apple Works files open in Keynote, Adobe Illustrator files in Preview and so on."

Robert Stacy adds "Mac OS X 10.2.8 file mapping does not pick up applications that are installed on a volume that does not include the OS 10.2.8. The OS tries to map files to applications that are installed on the same volume as the OS 10.2.8. This is not ?custom? mapping but default mapping that is incorrect.

Some users have been able to fix this problem simply by doing a prebinding process with Cocktail, or a similar utility.

TransparentDock update (and recovery)

If you use the utility TransparentDock to modify Dock behavior and/or appearance, you need to update to TransparentDock v2.1 before modifying the new Dock. (The 10.2.8 update installs a new version of the Dock application, so you'll lose your previous modifications.) Modifying the Dock with previous versions under OS X 10.2.8 can result in an inability to launch the Dock. If you've already used an older version and cannot launch the Dock, the solution is to restore the original Dock from a backup. If you don't have a backup, you can use the utility Pacifist to extract a clean copy of the Dock application from the 10.2.8 Update package. (Open the installer package in Pacifist, select /System/Library/CoreServices/Dock.app in the Pacifist browser, and click the Install button.)

Sleep problems due to Energy Saver settings

Several MacFixIt readers have reported an inability to wake from sleep since installing the 10.2.8 update. David Blangstrup wrote back to say that, for him, having the Energy Saver settings set to "never" go to sleep was the cause -- changing the setting to a definite amount of time (such as two hours) prevents this "deadly" sleep.

Flash plug-in overwritten

A number of users have reported that installing the 10.2.8 update installs the Flash 6 browser plug-in (in /Library/Internet Plug-Ins), overwriting a later version, if present. If you had previously installed the Flash 7 plug-in, you'll need to reinstall it after applying the 10.2.8 update.

Audio problems with MOTU interface and other audio apps

Some users who have updated to 10.2.8 are experiencing kernel panics when MOTU devices are connected. MacFixIt reader Logan Susnick reports that she received the following fix from MOTU that alleviated these problems:

  1. Log in as an admin-level user.
  2. Disconnect all MOTU devices.
  3. Launch Terminal and type sudo rm -R /System/Library/Extensions/MOTUFireWireAudio.kext and press the return key. (Provide your account password when prompted.) This deletes the existing MOTU driver.
  4. Reboot.
  5. Reinstall your MOTU drivers (version 1.0.5, available from the MOTU website).

In addition, some users report that their Griffin iMic no longer works. Other users report that they cannot change audio input/output settings. Others report that using audio applications such as ProTools and WireTap results in distorted sound. Are you having audio problems? Drop us a line at Late-breakers@macfixit.com

iMac/eMac startup failure

Several MacFixIt readers have noted a problem where iMac and eMac systems (primarily) display a blue screen at startup rather than proceeding to the Desktop. Tim Foster reports that one of the system frameworks, Foundation.framework seems to be corrupted by the Mac OS X 10.2.8 upgrade, which is apparently causing the blue screen stall.

"My workaround was to replace the corrupted framework with a profiling one that's in the same directory. This has me back and running, though the system seems a little slower as a result."

"After lots of screwing around booting into single user mode, disabling CoreGraphics StartupItem and editing /etc/ttys to give me a text-only console, I found that the problem appeared to be with


"When I used the Foundation_profile library instead (copy the Foundation_profile file over the original - remember to make a backup!), Terminal started properly (actually it threw errors about not having any graphics services available, but at least it exited gracefully)"

Note that modifying system frameworks can cause serious problems elsewhere. It is recommended that you revert to Mac OS X 10.2.6 before attempting this workaround in Mac OS X 10.2.8.

Check your .plist files

A few readers have reported problems with individual applications launching or being able to open self-created documents. In many cases, these issues are caused by a corrupt .plist files that for some reason were caused by the Mac OS X 10.2.8 updater, as evidenced by Huey Stanfield's report:

"I spent several hours yesterday (10-23-03) on the phone with Apple technical support. My PowerBook G4 stopped producing any sound when playing MP3's, everything else works fine. Turned out to be the iTunes .plist file."

You can usually find these files by using Mac OS X's search function, entering the name of the offending application, and searching both visible and invisible files. Generally deleting a .plist file will not cripple an application, but may erase user-specified settings.

Portable battery drain

MacFixIt reader Craig Curtis reports that his battery life dropped off significantly after upgrading to Mac OS X 10.2.8: "My fully charged battery went from 3.5 hours to 2 hours and 8 minutes. according to the update, they did some things to the power manager."

This has happened with previous Mac OS X 10.2.x incremental updates. In some cases it can be resolved 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
Dual Display configuration

MacFixIt reader Graham Jones, along with a handful of other readers report that they had to reset their monitor preferences after installing Mac OS X 10.2.8. "My Dual G4/1.25 with Mac OS X 10.2.8 forgets screen sizes and reverses the arrangement of the two monitors."

Permissions problems

One MacFixIt reader writes "After updating to Mac OS X 10.2.8, I am unable to use Disk Utility to repair permissions. About a minute after starting repair permissions, the screen goes black and the system is completely locked up. I've been troubleshooting this for about four hours with no luck."

Several other readers have since corroborated this issue.

The solution is to boot from the Mac OS X 10.2 CD (or another, sans-Mac OS X 10.2.8 volume) and then run repair permissions.

I can repair permissions by booting from the Jaguar CD.

Keyboard/mouse problems

MacFixIt reader Ben Rosenthal writes: "Keyboard and Mouse preference panes have been combined in Mac OS X 10.2.8, as in Panther. And, I seem to have lost trackpad support on my Lombard 400. I ran the update late last night, but only noticed the loss this morning, as my occasion to use the trackpad is minimized by my Apple Pro Mouse. However, I have occasion, e.g., to option click a link in Safari to download, and I use the trackpad button for this action."

Rosenthal now writes "I restarted into single user mode to run fsck (Ed.- hold down the Command-S keys at startup and type /sbin/fsck -y ). Repaired a handful of orphaned indirect nodes, in addition to two or three other problems. Restarted once more to login and the trackpad worked.

Icons not appearing

Several readers have reported problems with icons not appearing properly. Repairing disk permissions with Apple's Disk Utility seems to fix most of the broken icons, while others can be manually restored via Mitch Wayne's method:

"I had to use the Get Info panel to tell the system what application to use to open the doc, and then perform a Change All to fix all similar docs."

Linksys Router needs new firmware

It appears that Mac OS X 10.2.8 requires the the latest version of Linksys' router driver software for proper operation. Peter Hillman writes

"I updated my Linksys Router BEFSR41 with their latest firmware version, 1.45.7. (I had 1.45.6). The firmware version fixes the following:

  • Supports multi-L2TP-pass-through
  • Supports DHCP relay agent
  • Fixed fragmented packets arriving out of order.

"After updating the router, I powered everything down. I powered up the router, did a reset by pushing the reset button until the red light came on. Then I powered up my cable modem and waited for a signal. After I had a signal, I reset the router again. Then I powered up my PowerBook and everything works again. I launched Explorer and my internet connection was alive again."

Missing resolution

Scott Rose reports a missing display resolution after upgrading to Mac OS X 10.2.8:

"After updating to Mac OS X 10.2.8, my Apple Cinema Display's resolution defaulted to 1600x1024 (it was previously 1600x1200), and the choice of 1600x1200 is no longer available at all within the Displays System Preference. The 1600x1200 option is just completely gone."

We previously noted a few workarounds for rescuing displays from incorrect resolution settings that can incapacitate any video throughput, which are also useful when a resolution is not accessible. One solution was to delete the file System/Library/Preferences/com.apple.windowserver.plist, which contains resolution and other display settings.

There are also a few applications that have been written that can change the screen resolution from the command line. CScreen for instance. Sometimes a resolution inaccessible from System Preferences can be used from the Terminal.

Serious problems with Lombard PowerBooks

Several Lombard (PowerBook G3) owners have now reported a serious problem when attempting to repair permissions with the Apple Disk Utility after updating to Mac OS X 10.2.8.

One poster in the MacFixIt forums writes:

"I installed the Mac OS X 10.2.8 update -- no issues noted until about halfway through the post-update preventative run through repair permissions (run from the hard drive using Disk Utility).

"The screen went from normal display to pure noise [...] Computer was non-responsive to keyboard inputs - forced restart to single user mode, fsck with repairs, normal restart to OS 9, ran Disk Repair Utility (found and repaired issues), DiskWarrior 2.11 (found and repaired issues), Norton SpeedDisk 6.03 to optimize/defrag (minimal file fragmentation / major free space fragmentation repaired from largest contiguous free space being 300mb back to 2gb contiguous free space) -- restarted into 10.2.8 through single user / fsck (no issues), then ran verify permissions using terminal cli (sudo diskutil verifyPermissions /)......and got about one third of the way into it when we went back to the kaleidoscopic video noise on the display."

Some readers have reported that removing one of their Lombard RAM modules made the problem temporarily disappear. If you are a Lombard owner who has updated to mac OS X 10.2.8, try removing one of the modules (leaving only one) and please send us your expereiences.

Others report that simply repairing permissions will do the trick, Robert Engstrom writes "I have a 400Mhz G3 Lombard and I also have problem with the screen turning black or screen turning into strange colours. The easiest way to get the problem is to use Disk Utility and repair permissions. After just a few minutes the screen turns into strange colours and the computer crashes. Removing one RAM module fixes the problem but makes the system slow."

Bob O'Driscoll adds:

"I had the problem with repairing permissions on my PowerBook G3 333 you describe after updating to Mac OS X 10.2.8. Removing a 256 MB RAM module fixed it. But replacing the 256 MB with a 64 MB (to give a total of 192 MB) module also works. I suspect the problem is not having two modules installed, but rather the type of modules. The 256 MB module worked perfectly with Mac OS X 10.2.6."


  • Ethernet Networking Proble...
  • File mapping issues
  • TransparentDock update (an...
  • Sleep problems due to Ener...
  • Audio problems with MOTU i...
  • iMac/eMac startup failure
  • Check your .plist files
  • Portable battery drain
  • Dual Display configuration
  • Permissions problems
  • Keyboard/mouse problems
  • Icons not appearing
  • Linksys Router needs new f...
  • Missing resolution
  • Serious problems with Lomb...
  • archive and install proces...
  • Mac OS X 10.2.6 combo upda...
  • Ethernet Networking Problems, solutions
  • Web server
  • here
  • Knowledge Base article
  • Cocktail
  • File mapping issues
  • Cocktail
  • TransparentDock update (and recovery)
  • TransparentDock v2.1
  • Pacifist
  • Sleep problems due to Energy Saver settings
  • Audio problems with MOTU interface and other audio apps
  • Late-breakers@macfixit.com
  • iMac/eMac startup failure
  • Check your .plist files
  • Portable battery drain
  • Dual Display configuration
  • Permissions problems
  • Keyboard/mouse problems
  • Icons not appearing
  • Linksys Router needs new firmware
  • Linksys' router driver software
  • Missing resolution
  • CScreen
  • Serious problems with Lombard PowerBooks
  • More from Late-Breakers