trackpad problems on iBook G3

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by DrFrankTM, Jun 7, 2006.

  1. DrFrankTM macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2005
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    Japan
    #1
    I've been using my old iBook (G3 600MHz, 384 MB RAM) for the last few months since I had to leave my iMac home. Yesterday, the cursor started to lag every now and then, and then completely froze. The rest of the computer seemed to work normally. I could use expose through the function keys, or use various keyboard shortcuts to do things, but the cursor was frozen. Clicking on the trackpad's button did not produce any result and the trackpad itself did not move the cursor. I rebooted and had the same problem shortly after. I had to reboot many times yesterday and today because of this particular problem.

    I'm not entirely sure of what's causing it, but I suspect Firefox - or some Firefox extension - might be the problem. I used to use Safari, but decided to try Firefox since Safari doesn't allow me to format the text of my blog online. I liked it and installed a few extensions. A weather forecast extension made my computer crawl to painfully slow speeds, so I uninstalled that one and everything went beack to normal - until the trackpad problem.

    Another possible culprit would be Skype. I started letting it run 24/7 a few days ago since I got a Skype In number, but the problem seems to happen even with Skype off, so I sort of discarded that possibility.

    Does anyone have tips as to how I can figure out where the problem is and what I need to do to fix it? It might be a hardware problem, but I doubt it since a reboot seems to solve the problem for a while. As I type these lines in Safari, my trackpad is working fine. I have not opened Skype or Firefox since my last reboot.

    One more question: Is there any way to adjust the size of the virtual memory? Activity monitor shows that mine is about 2,17 GB at the moment. However, I only have about 1.46 GB left on my hard drive. Can that be the cause of my problem?!?

    It's an old machine, I know, but I'd still be useful to me if I could get it to work properly. Thanks for any tip or idea you can give me. :)

    P.S. I know it's a long rant, but I wanted to give as much information as possible so I would get focused advice.
     
  2. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

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    Apr 3, 2004
    Location:
    Adelaide, Australia
    #2
    Okay, well do you get the same unresponsive nature from the cursor if you use an external USB mouse? Do you have any trackpad hacks installed, such as a hack to enable trackpad scrolling? Sometimes if my trackpad is playing up, I reset the PMU.

    As for space, you cannot change the VM size and yes, it is a problem that you have such a small amount of free space. Clear some up because ideally you should have about 8GB free. Of course, this isn't always possible on older laptops but try your best to get some more all the same. :)
     
  3. Fleetwood Mac macrumors 65816

    Fleetwood Mac

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2006
    Location:
    Canada
    #3
    You may be out of memory, try running less programs.

    Edit:
    Go mad jew!!

    Your response makes more sense than mine.
     
  4. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

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    #4
    Actually, I think you summed it up quite concisely. I think the trackpad problem may extend back to the lack of free space (memory) on the hard disk. :)
     
  5. DrFrankTM thread starter macrumors regular

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    #5
    Ok. Thanks, guys! :) I haven't had any problems with my trackpad in the last few hours. I stuck with opening only the minimum and everything seems to point to a lack of memory, as you suggested. I'll free some space on my hard drive. Hopefully, it will do the trick. My whole hard drive is 20 GB, so I don't think I can free up 8, but I'll make sure I always leave more than my VM - so at least 3 GB, to be safe.

    As for running fewer programs... well... I have a hard time doing that!!! :p However, my Mini will soon be here, so I won't be using my iBook as my main machine anymore. (I'll still use it, but I'll be able to give it a bit of a break.)

    Thanks again! :D
     
  6. DrFrankTM thread starter macrumors regular

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    #6
    One more question: Does the size of the VM vary with the programmes I'm running? Or is it some fixed multiplier of the installed RAM?
     
  7. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

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    #7
    Awesome, just keep that free space size larger than the VM size. :)

    VM size is dependent on how much RAM you have plus how many apps you're running. If you run lots of apps but have only a small amount of RAM, then you'll have a large VM size.
     
  8. DrFrankTM thread starter macrumors regular

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    #8
    Ok, cool. Maybe I'll try to aim for 4 or 5 gigs then. ;-)
     
  9. DrFrankTM thread starter macrumors regular

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    Nov 8, 2005
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    #9
    Ok. After getting rid of a lot of useless stuff, I managed to go up to a little under 3.5 GB free. I assume this will solve the VM issue. However, after rebooting, it still didn't seem to fix my problem - my cursor still froze after a few clicks -, so I tried a PMU reset and everything seems to be working fine now. :D

    EDIT: It seems I spoke too soon... :-( After browsing for a little while, my cursor froze again. As always, I could still use keyboard shortcuts. I don't have a USB mouse with me at the moment, but I have one in the mail, so I'll test and see if it makes any difference. I intended to use the iBook mostly as a "second screen" after I receive my Mini, so I might try to use the Mini's keyboard and mouse with Synergy to control the iBook. In the meantime, the problem's anoying, but it only seems to kick in whenever I'm running several apps and/or I have surfed for a while (through many different pages). I guess I'll try to reinstall OS X this weekend. Hopefully, a clean install will solve the problem.

    Maybe my iBook really is dying, but it's the first computer that was my computer and not my family's computer, so I'm really attached to it even though it's old as hell. Oh! Well... I'll try a clean install.
     
  10. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

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    #10
    How much VM are you using now? Since you have more free space, it may be using more of it negating the benefits of that free space. If possible, aim for even more free space. :)
     
  11. DrFrankTM thread starter macrumors regular

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    #11
    Hmmm... Activity Monitor hasn't given me any number above 2.6 gig or so for VM used, so I thought I was ok on that with my 3.4 gig of hard disk space free. However, maybe the numbers given by AM aren't the right ones after the cursor freezes...?

    I'm learning a few keyboard shortcuts to force quit and such. I don't think there is much I can do until my Mini gets here (probably on Monday). I need a computer at home - one that works - so I won't try anything too fancy in the meantime. When I have transfered my files on the Mini (and assured myself that everything works the way it should), then I'll do a clean install on the iBook and re-install only the few apps I'll really use on that (soon-to-be-second) computer.

    Honestly, I enjoy testing all sorts of things and I've installed my fair share of freeware over the years. Some of it was good, but some not-so-well-written programmes might have broken things here and there. I am aware that I am asking a lot from my four-year-old machine - running an RSS feed reader, Firefox with a few extensions, BitTorrent and SKype - but I pretty much need all of that running most of the time. Until recently, it mostly just worked. But then again, I recently installed some software that requires a bit more juice than what I used before (i.e. Firefox compared to Safari). I guess I'll just have to accept the fact that my iBook is getting old and that it can't quite keep up with all those younger machines running around the block. Anyways, I think it'll be fine once I have the Mini to take care of the heavier stuff.

    P.S. Once I get the Mini, I will try your suggestion and give the iBook 8 gigs of free space on the hard drive for VM. If it enables it to run more stuff without freezing, it will be tremendously useful to me. Thanks again for all the information! :)
     
  12. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

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    #12
    If you reinstall the OS and keep 8GB free, I think that machine will fly. Best of luck with it. :)
     
  13. DrFrankTM thread starter macrumors regular

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    Nov 8, 2005
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    Japan
    #13
    In the last two days, my trackpad situation got worse and worse, to the point that the cursor froze after a reboot before I could even move it. Since the keyboard still worked absolutely fine, I thought the problem was most likely linked to the trackpad itself - the hardware, I mean - and not to anything software related. My iBook, after all, is already more than four years old and I dropped it down the stairs about two years ago - which probably didn't help much. (It lost the optical drive in the incident, but everything else still worked absolutely fine.)

    Anyways, I decided to go to the GS Mart and to try to find a mouse that plays well with Macs - a not-so-easy-to-find thing in South Korea, as nobody really uses a Mac here. Luckily, I found one and, when I plugged it in, it just worked. The trackpad worked too, at first, so I waited a bit to see if the mouse would still work when the trackpad died, and it did.

    Problem solved. Well, sort of... It sucks because I much prefer to use the trackpad than an external mouse, but at least I can use my iBook now, and that it is a really big deal to me. I haven't always been as delicate as I should have been with my poor little iBook, but the little soldier has served me well over the years. With the trackpad situation resolved, it will probably serve me well for another four years. :p

    Now if that Mini could finally get here...
     
  14. mad jew Moderator emeritus

    mad jew

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    #14
    Hmm... Well restarts aren't helping, but are PMU resets making it better, if only momentarily? :)
     

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