The Exorcism of my Mac

After I updated my Power Mac G5 to Mac OS X Leopard the system seemed to work fine at first. But over time I experienced an increasing number of kernel panics. They all looked like the kernel panic described in this thread on one of Apple’s mailing lists. Reading this e-mail exchange two causes of the problem seemed to be likely:

  1. A hardware problem
  2. A broken device driver

As running the Apple Hardware Test didn’t reveal any problem I decided to re-install Leopard from scratch to get rid of broken drivers. The virtual networking driver bundled with Microsoft’s Virtual PC was number one on my list of suspects.

Installing Leopard worked like a charm. Time Machine allowed me to restore all the applications and data that I wanted to keep from my external backup hard disk. And I didn’t experience a single kernel panic ever since.

Yesterday when it was time for the weekly backups of all our machines … well of most of them 🙂 … I wondered whether I managed to fix another problem of my Power Mac G5: the broken front FireWire port. Time Machine had never worked properly if the hard disk was connected to the front port. Accessing the hard disk resulted in a lot of input/output errors and the backup finally failed. I even brought my Mac to the local Apple shop for a repair which didn’t fix the problem unfortunately. Could the mysterious broken driver have interfered with the FireWire driver as well?

I connected the hard disk to the front FireWire port and started a job that tried to read all the files on the volume. The job completed after two hours without a single input/output error. Encouraged by this success I started a Time Machine backup run. To my delight it finished without problems too.

It seems that the time it took to re-install the machine was well invested and I managed to exorcise whatever was causing these problems.