Thoughts on Rails

Riding the Train of Thought

Troubleshooting: MacOSX stuck at blue screen, no login window

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I was working on my computer and electricity went off. Usually, it hardly means anything… just let the system restart. It will take a slight bit longer as journals are replayed and file system checked and fixed. Yep, MacOSX keeps track of its filesystem and prevents inconsistencies. I love that part. But, sometimes… just sometimes… everything doesn’t go as expected.

The computer seemed to start up well, but came up to a dark blue screen, then a light blue screen with a rotating circle showing some activity was going on, then flashed back to dark blue screen and kept repeating.

I had seen this issue before and spent two days trying to figure out what was wrong. Today, I just shut down the computer and spent time doing other things while in the back of my mind, I recalled what all I had done to fix it. I had tried scores of different things. Thinking video drivers could be messed up, perhaps some kernel extensions (kexts) were corrupt and myriad other possibilities. I tried creating a second account from single user mode, but that wasn’t going as suggested on many sites. I disabled auto-login, but that didn’t help either. I was stuck.

Then out of desperation, I tried many different hacks together and the computer allowed me to log into my account. I had found a solution somewhere in those hacks! I didn’t think of it much after that… until now.

Finally, after two cups of chai, a few pages of “The Black Swan” a book that talks about random, unexpected events that significantly affect us (like this one, perhaps) and a rant on how to react to bad news (the previous post on this blog), it struck me. I had renamed the folder: /Users/harshad/Library/Preferences to /Users/harshad/Library/Preferences_old

But that wasn’t the entire solution, there was more. Didn’t have time to think it through. I dived in… started my Mac, got into single user mode did the usual fsck and mount commands (shown right after login) and then renamed the folder

/sbin/fsck -fy
/sbin/fsck -fy
/sbin/mount -uw /
mv Preferences Preferences_old

Bingo! That got me to my desktop, which looked like a brand new account (because by renaming, I had effectively removed the Preferences folder for MacOS and it created a new one)

Next step was logical… I remembered last time going through system log messages where the loginwindow server kept crashing over and over… so all I did was copy loginwindow.plist over to old preferences folder, and renamed the old folder to be the current one once again:

in Terminal app

cd /Users/[USERNAME]/Library/Preferences/
sudo cp
loginwindow.plist ../Preferences_old/
cd ..
mv Preferences Preferences_new
mv Preferences_old Preferences

Rebooted system after that.


Heh, I sometimes brag to fellow photographers that I have a technological edge over them because I understand the “digital” medium we work with, this is another example how it actually pays off 😉


Written by hiway

January 23, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,

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