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there is no spoon: “Nicholas Riley says OS X crashes at least once a day for him. What the heck is he doing?”

Here we go again. Yes, it crashes that often for me. No, it doesn't crash that often for everyone else; my father's PowerBook G4 often has 30+ day uptimes. I keep hitting the same OS X bugs, over and over; the last 10 window server crash logs I have show exactly the same backtrace.

Some more narrative. I arrived at the lab 20 minutes ago and have had to restart my Mac twice. Here's what I did.

Came in, turned on my monitor. My USB trackball, PS/2 keyboard connected by a PS-2/USB adapter, and my other USB devices (USB-serial adapter, iMic, card reader, hub) were all dead. Mac OS X's USB subsystem still has trouble when devices are added or removed, sometimes it turns off the entire bus. It's an improvement from 10.1.2, which crashed when I turned off my monitor, but it still has a way to go. This is not a power problem. I know because all the devices but one are plugged into my monitor, which is a powered hub. After attempts to unplug/replug devices and unload the USB drivers failed, I connected via VNC and restarted my machine.

A few days ago, I read the reason why OS X stopped recognizing my PostScript fonts. Its font caches get corrupted. There's one font cache for each font folder; in my case, it was the Classic font cache that was corrupted. I had thought my fonts were corrupted, even though they worked fine in Classic and Carbon, non-ATSUI apps. I removed them from my fonts folder because their presence caused Cocoa applications to take several minutes to bring up the Font panel while in a blocking wait for a message from ATSServer. Terminal requests a font list on startup, so it would take several minutes to start, even worse. So I classified my non-working PostScript fonts into two categories: those which OS X would show but not use (switching to another font when the font was selected), and those which OS X would not show at all (they'd appear like –font8474–, but with a different number for each font).

Among the “corrupted” fonts were some Univers fonts: I only had oblique styles installed for some weights, so the first thing I did after restarting was to grab the Univers fonts from the “show but not use” category, label them with SNAX (since the Finder still doesn't support labels), and drop them in my Fonts folder. First ATSServer crashed, then the whole house of cards came crashing down: a few individual applications crashed, then the window server crashed, being unable to render any text (it looked pretty funny mousing over the Dock, application names would display with a space where the non-cached letters should have been). I got a blue screen with a spinning color wheel, logged in from another machine, and had to go all the way to the 'kill 1' stage to get back to single-user mode.

Exited from single-user mode, and started writing this. The Univers fonts are fine; don't ask me why ATSServer decides to crash just because you add some perfectly decent fonts to a folder.

I hope this helps explain things. I could include a laundry list of all the other things that cause OS X to crash (the buggy iTunes Nomad driver I mentioned a few weeks ago, Classic-related stuff, etc.) but I really need to get to work!

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