Updated: OS X Yosemite: Whole-System Lockups

Is Apple’s software quality declining?

I’ve been running OS X Yosemite for a few months. It regularly locks up – the mouse and UI freeze, and the sound loops.

This often happens when I’m watching videos*, or web browsing, but it’s happened even when my MacBook Air is idling. It seems to happen more often under load, but can strike at any time.

I’ve tried the typical troubleshooting processes:

  • quitting software that would otherwise be running all the time (it didn’t help),
  • checking for disk corruption,
  • and even eagerly installing each software update shortly after it comes out.§

Is it a hardware failure leading to a kernel panic?
Or a software problem that gets triggered infrequently?
I could probably find out. I have the skills. I could check the logs.
But my point is, I shouldn’t have to know. I shouldn’t have to care. Not in the Apple world.

The last time I had this much trouble with an Apple product was around 2003, with a faulty iBook logic board.~

And, while I won’t write in detail about them now, I regularly notice several other issues with the Apple ecosystem, from the irritating to the trivial:

I’d love to see some of these issues resolved in OS X Gala (10.11) and iOS 9. But I won’t be holding my breath.

* It happens more often when I’m watching multimedia, and it is much more noticeable. There’s nothing quite like a one-second sound loop to attract your instant attention.

Like compiling a large software project, or running multi-process testing. Anything that gets the fan running.

§ However, eagerly installing Apple software updates has recently become a risky game, too.

~ Well, several faulty iBook# logic boards, actually, but that’s another story – a bad lot, apparently. At least they were all under warranty.

# That’s the iBook laptop, not the iBooks app and iBookstore.

To be more precise, the iPad will quit background processes, then spin them straight back up again, filling the logs, cache, and RAM with useless garbage, right in the middle of a memory crisis. But somehow, Facebook always survives.

+ Just for fun, now I’m referring to the iBooks app, not the iBook laptop.

x I’m guessing that iOS 8 – iBooks – Night Mode – Extra Dim – iPad 2 – Landscape just didn’t quite make it into the testing matrix.


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