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Thread: MacPro3,1 with Unresponsive Finder, Demanding Reinstall of Operating System

  1. #1
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    Default MacPro3,1 with Unresponsive Finder, Demanding Reinstall of Operating System

    The Finder in my MacPro3,1 (Early 2008) has had trouble becoming unresponsive since upgrading past Snow Leopard. Once the Finder becomes unresponsive, attempts to relaunch it fail, requiring a restart. In Mavericks, I had to restart two to three times per day. El Capitan fared better, until a recent update. The Finder has been fairly reliable if I navigate to a file and double-click to open it, but temperamental when modifying its structure. Changing a file’s name, saving a new file, moving an existing file, and adding a new folder are all risky.

    Since the update that reduced El Capitan’s reliability, a new and worse problem has appeared. Now, literally every second or third startup fails, with Software Restore asking me to reinstall the operating system. Often, simply restarting the computer will allow it to start normally. What inconsistency might allow the computer to not always correctly determine whether the OS is damaged?

    The hardware appears to be fine. Apple Hardware Test, Disk Utility, TechTool Pro (not a favorite on this forum, but I have it, so I ran it), and ATOMIC memory tester all test perfectly, with no errors. DiskWarrior at times can create a more efficient directory, but never finds any errors. The hard drives are new from MacGurus within the past year.

    Once it is running, the computer is 100% reliable, so long as I do not interact with the Finder, either directly or indirectly (as in saving a file from within another application). It can cruise the Web and manage email all day.

    Good ol’ Snow Leopard! I have only upgraded from it because Apple now refuses to send security updates to older operating systems. I do not care about the new features of recent versions of Mac OS; I only want the computer to run reliably. Software Update is encouraging me to upgrade to Sierra, which may seem like a reasonable experiment, since SuperDuper could always send me back to El Capitan, yet I am hardly confident of adding a still newer operating system in an attempt to fix a problem that has gotten worse with each upgrade.

    Anyone have any ideas about how to fix this? Is anyone else running a MacPro3,1 with recent versions of Mac OS, and not having these same problems?

  2. #2
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    I would download the combo update, and run it. That often clears up odd problems like this. Beyond that try a clean install. Yeah it's a pain, but not much else you can do.

    That said I can't recommend Sierra. It has no advantages IMHO, and quite a few disadvantages.

  3. #3
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    brane has a great suggestion with the combo updater. It will replace a goodly portion of the OS.

    Of note, I believe you can do a reinstall in place and not lose settings and data. Of course a backup is the best way to accomplish that - copy the drive to another, then perform the needful surgery to the backup and see if that solves the problem.

    I actually like Sierra and disliked El Cap. Seems every user has their pet peeves. Not a lot of difference between Sierra and El Cap, but I found less stuff was broken in my upgrade. At this point Yosemite is still my favorite once you get past Snow Leopard. We had to transition all the MacGurus computers except test machines to Sierra and it went well. However, I do not believe you can install Sierra on a MP3,1 anyway, so a moot point.

    Rick
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

  4. #4
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    Default Combo Updater Coming

    Okay, thanks; combo updater first, then — clean install?! I have not done one since the days of software on DVDs (which may be a good reason to do one now). Presumably, there is some way to download an installer?

    “I do not believe you can install Sierra on a MP3,1 anyway, so a moot point.”

    I had heard that early on, and it may still be trued; but now, Software Update offers Sierra to me. I had thought that it would only offer what could be installed. This may have changed over time. There was some OS, maybe Yosemite or Mavericks, that originally could not be installed, because the MacPro3,1 could install only 32-bit operating systems, not 64-bit, but Apple later rectified that.

    Is it true that Apple has a policy now of only offering security updates to the three most recent versions of Mac OS? That would be my reason for installing Sierra eventually, to squeeze another year out of my computer, when El Capitan is no longer secure. (If it’s true, I really hate that policy. Apple makes computers that last half of forever as viably fast machines, so it ought to support their use. Imagine if the brakes on our cars were designed not to work after five years!)

  5. #5
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    FWIW department notes

    I haven't taken the steps to see just how well this works, but the article made it seem like a good choice for the 2009 iMac. One of those projects that I care more about the she does and since things have been kind of crazy for so long now . . . . . I'll get to that one of these days.

    http://www.trustedreviews.com/news/i...rra-older-macs

    http://dosdude1.com/sierrapatch.html

  6. #6
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    Default Thank you, Yeungfeng!

    Thank you, Yeungfeng; I'll keep your advice in mind when it's time to install Sierra. My gut tells me to fix the current problem first, since it has followed me through several OS upgrades. Sierrapatch reminds me of Ex Post Facto. Anyone remember that?

  7. #7
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    Default Combo Updater Failed

    I downloaded OSXUpdCombo10.11.6.pkg, but it would not install. Instead, it posted this message:

    "OS X El Capitan Update can't be installed on this disk. This volume does not meet the requirements for this update."

    This simplest reason for this would be that the volume already contains System 10.11.6. Should it be able to install over the same version? Is there any way to force the installation? Must I move on to a clean install?

    Here's something that always earns an endless beachball: Click Apple Menu > About this Mac > Storage. Whatever is wrong has to do with accessing the hard drives. Both the Finder and About this Mac > Storage access hard drives. I'm going to remove the hard drives one at a time, to see whether a bad drive is confusing the OS. The leading candidate is the drive that is not new from MacGurus.

  8. #8
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    Hacks can be fun if you like living dangerous. I just hacked a 1 week old 15 inch MBP to ignore unsupported hardware. Pre hack, all those Windows capable Thunderbolt 3 devices that no one had gotten Apple certified would not load drivers cause nanny Apple blocks them. After hack - ANYTHING GOES. Fool me, anything means even shit that will break your computer are easily doable

    I do not know what the downsides are to hacking Sierra onto an older machine. Probably nothing. Apple is just limiting their liabilities by cutting support for x number of year old hardware.



    As far as your problem goes, it can be a bad drive. It can also be a problematical piece of hardware elsewhere. I would not expect the Combo updater to resolve a problem that carried through an OS upgrade - especially if it was a major one and not a minor - like 10.10 to 10.11, as opposed to an update from 10.11.1 to 10.11.2. If you changed OS from old to new and the issue continued then it ain't the OS.

    Rick
    Last edited by ricks; 01-05-2017 at 06:22 AM.
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

  9. #9
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    Default Not the OS. Time to pull hardware!

    The problem of the unresponsive Finder has followed me from Yosemite to Mavericks to El Capitan, so I'll rule out a problem with the OS, and not upgrade to Sierra. If I can't isolate a bad drive, I'll be back to ask what else might cause the unresponsiveness. WiFi card? Video card? There is not much else in this box. As for why the computer now so often tells me that the OS installed yesterday needs to be replaced again, perhaps the Power-On Self Test gets confused by the presence of a bad drive, even if the OS is on a good drive.

    I would probably love hacking, but not with this computer now, because I need it to be reliable. After Apple end-of-lifes my computer by refusing to offer security updates for it, a-hacking I shall go. No harm risking the machine if all I'd have otherwise were a fifty-pound paperweight! I used to use Ex Post Facto in a Beige G3 266 tower, upgraded to G4 with an aftermarket processor that I'm sure I bought from Mac Gurus. Never found it too difficult.

    I can see Apple's problem, but disagree with their solution. Years ago, computers became so powerful that, for most of us, they are destined essentially to never become obsolete. If eight Xeon cores and PCI Express ever become unable to accomplish useful, day-to-day work, something will have become seriously wrong with the design of software!

    Thank you, Gurus. I always appreciate the help I get here.

  10. #10
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    Looks to me like a drive format/file system issue. Wasn't Yosemite the first OS to require GUID partition map? I ran into that issue after cloning a system on my Mini. It ran fine, but prevented me from using recovery or target disk modes.

  11. #11
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    Default Unchanged After Pulling the Suspect Hard Drive

    Just pulled the suspect hard drive, and old Western Digital 320GB manufactured in 2008. No data on it had been accessed in ages, but I had hoped its sitting in one of the bays had been causing the problem, since the Finder would have to read it even if I, as user, were not calling files from it. Quickest test was to repeat this:

    "Here's something that always earns an endless beachball: Click Apple Menu > About this Mac > Storage."

    Still beachballs! What next? I could try pulling the new drives from MacGurus, but my gut suggests they are not the problem. Is there any other hardware to remove? If I pull the video card, I'll not be able to test the computer. The WiFi card I installed myself (with great difficulty; would prefer not to pull it), but it is the OEM Apple optional card specified for this computer. There are also two DVD drives, but I can not say how they are connected until after I Restart, because System Information is beachballed.

    On another thread, one of the moderators suggested that the connector for the hard drives may have a bad solder. Apple Hardware Test passed yesterday, but some months ago, a code suggested that Bay 2 (which has been empty since) was working at the time, but may have been failing.

    Suppose I removed all the drives from their bays, and installed them into FireWire 400 external cases (I do not have FW800). The computer would run slowly, but wouldn't that test whether the interconnect for the internal hard drives were the problem? Is that even a viable possibility, worthy of testing? If it proved to be the problem, then would installing a PCI eSATA card (or whatever card the Gurus recommend) allow the computer to continue in service with only external hard drives?

    (I also have some external cases for hard drives working over USB, but unless something has changed in the OS, I do not believe those are bootable.)
    Last edited by Bozocity; 01-05-2017 at 11:09 AM.

  12. #12
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    Default Confirming All Problems Remain

    Just to confirm: No change upon pulling the suspect hard drive. Today saw all the old problems, just as often. Notably, attempting to merely click through the Finder, to open a folder, caused the Finder to hang, requiring a restart.

    This is interesting, but not new: Attempting to relaunch the Finder usually fails. When, rarely, the Finder can be made to quit, it will not relaunch, not even upon clicking its icon in the Dock.

  13. #13
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    Do you have the ability to start up in Recovery mode? You can use utility like password utility to set root password. Log in as root and see if the issue is in your user.
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

  14. #14
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    Default "Password Utility?!"

    I can boot while holding Command-R starts to start in a special mode that allows reinstalling the operating system, restoring from a backup, or running Disk Utility. I am unfamiliar with "Password Utility," nor can I find it on my Mac. Is it a separate download?

  15. #15
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    Default Password Utility -- Found It!


  16. #16
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    In Terminal you type:

    sudo passwd root

    It comes back with:

    Password?

    to which you enter YOUR admin password.

    Then it asks for the new root password and a repeat. Done. You can now log in as root. Careful, as root you have permissions to destroy. But that lets you see if the problem is your user folder.
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

  17. #17
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    Default Root Also Beachballs

    I created an actual Root login via Recovery Mode and Password Reset. In Root, same result as before, for the easiest test:

    Apple Menu > About This Mac > Storage

    …results in beachballing.

    That's the only test performed so far, but I found it persuasive.

  18. #18
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    Yah...... not user based. Root doesn't have the weaknesses of a wide open user preference folder.


    Without going back and reading everything again, did you try a clean install at any time? I think you should. You probably have the download still sitting in your applications folder.


    Rick
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

  19. #19
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    Default Which Installer?

    Is there a way to download a recent version of El Capitan with all the updates, as a single installer? Or, should I use the installer available on my App Store from February 2016, and then run the Combo Updater?

    The clean install will be on a new, empty volume. Seems easier than tearing apart everything, prior to knowing whether a clean install will help.

  20. #20
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    Yes, you can download the latest version on the App store. Means another long download, but probably worth it not to run the updater on it.

    Perfect to go with a clean drive. That way you can choose what you want on that drive. The way I did it last time was I copied the User folder form the old computer to the new one with Chronosync. I tried it first by drag and drop and it didn't work right. Chronosync copy of the user directory was done while I was logged in as root.
    molṑn labe'
    "I am a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power. I am naturally very jealous for the rights and liberties of my country, and the least encroachment of those invaluable privileges is apt to make my blood boil."
--Ben Franklin

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