Grey screen of death

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Ngarritj, Jul 3, 2013.

  1. Ngarritj macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2013
    Location:
    Australia
    #1
    Hello all,


    my seemingly healthy mid-2010 Macbook running the latest version of OS 10.6 has suddenly become unresponsive and won't boot up past the initial grey screen. Below is a list of things that I thought were relevant:


    Over the last few months there have been frequent (a few times a week when connecting via USB internet dongle) kernel panics associated with Telstra Sierra AirCard 320U (https://discussions.apple.com/thread/2776956?tstart=0 ; http://www.mac-forums.com/forums/os-x-operating-system/210007-continued-kernel-p anics-can-damage-my-machine.html )


    Not sure if related, as this happened when not connected (but hadn’t signed out of USB modem account, which other users say could affect things).


    Then yesterday, having removed dongle and connected to internet via ethernet (routed through modem to AirPort): -


    Machine was really slow – almost freezing, then froze up.

    Hard re-boot.

    Got folder icon with question mark.

    Did another hard re-boot and got the grey screen of death.

    Tried re-booting with install disk.

    Didn’t get far until I re-set SRM and PRAM, but once booted up and using disk utilities from install disk the hard drive wasn’t even showing. In Terminal it was listed as five disks of 500GB (approx.), the size of my hard drive, but couldn’t get to mount from Terminal.

    On another re-boot (with option key) to choose start-up disk, the HD appeared, but as soon as I clicked on it, it ‘puffed’ (like when you remove an icon from the dock) away.

    I read on a forum that a loose connection could be the fault (I just had a battery replaced at the Apple Store, so thought it could have been nudged then), so I removed and re-installed the hard drive.

    This seemed to fix it and I booted up from the hard drive, logged in and everything seemed to be fine. I did a backup (previous was two days ago, but good to not lose anything!) to Time Machine, ran Disk Utility, verified disk, repaired permissions, looked at the SMART status and everything was fine.

    Then the machine slowed down again. I opened Disk Utility again and the HD wasn’t even listed and slowly the machine froze again and now won't boot up even from the install disk. Just sitting on the grey screen of death. Have reset SMC and PRAM but no response.


    Any suggestions very welcome!


    Also, any insights into whether this is a HD problem or something else. I live very remotely, so taking it in for service is not feasible, due to both time, but mostly cost. If, despite the apparent OK SMART status and Disk Utility verification it is definitely the HD I can easily get another - if it's something else, well it might be time to buy a new mac.
     
  2. Chuck-Norris macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2012
  3. Ngarritj thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2013
    Location:
    Australia
    #3
    Which bit of "I live very remotely, so taking it in for service is not feasible" was difficult to understand?
    For me to "taje" it to the store, if I'm even in town, is a 300km drive and a 5 hour plane flight.
     
  4. srsub3 macrumors 6502

    srsub3

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2013
    Location:
    Boston
    #4
    happened same thing to me. I think that your hard drive is gone. try to replace.
     
  5. Ngarritj thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2013
    Location:
    Australia
    #5
    Diagnostic update

    After having no luck, I later tried removing and reinstalling HD, but that was no help. I then re-installed an old failed HD and was able to log in using Installation disk (but not prompt hardware test by holding D key at startup). Disk utility showed no HD (which may be expected as it was a failed drive). I then restarted again with no problem.
    I powered down and returned the current HD and was able to start holding down C to boot from disk. Once I was in, Disk Utility showed my HD correctly and I performed a Verify on the disk and ‘Macintosh HD’ as well as repaired permissions on both and the result for all was a pass.
    I then used the Startup tool to select the HD as the startup disk and this appeared to be successful. At the login screen I re-started again, this time in Safe Mode, which was also successful. I then saved some media files that are excluded from Time Machine backup and did a Time Machine backup to two separate disks. When I tried to check the time machine history of one of the disks (‘enter time machine’) the machine froze again. I selected restart from the options after pressing the power button, then restarted in Safe mode. Then I created a bootable clone on an external hard drive – just to be sure!
    After updating software I then re-booted and ran Apple Hardware Test (extended) off the Installation disk, which ran for 2 hours and found no problems.
    I am going to run a test on the RAM (even though I'm pretty sure the hardware test does that) - any other thoughts still very welcome!

    I think the next step is to erase the disk and reinstall the operating system. I'm assuming something got corrupted there ...
     
  6. priitv8 macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2011
    Location:
    Estonia
    #6
  7. Ngarritj thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2013
    Location:
    Australia
    #7
    Legend! Thanks for that. Well, it would appear I'm getting to the kernel stage (kernel - Grey screen with Metallic Apple and spinning gear), although not as far as the Metallic apple and spinning gear. As soon as the grey screen appears I can hear a little bit of fan activity, but nothing else. To turn off just requires a gentle touch of the power button and it goes straight off (very unlike the normal forced power-off, which takes a few seconds of holding the power button and then a little longer to actually turn off).

    So, it's looking increasingly likely that the problem is related to the kernel. Which is way beyond my knowledge!! From what I've gleaned the kernel ?system? is a deep part of the OS, so this could indicate the OS has been corrupted.
    If so, I'm assuming that re-installing it should fix the problem?
     
  8. Buckaye macrumors member

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2013
    #8
    yeah - and I know at one point if your HDD was damaged/corrupted in some way and you tried to to a re-install the mac wouldn't recognize the HDD for a very long time because it was actually scanning the disk (and giving NO indication that it was doing that) - for a large HDD that can take a really long time.

    So one option is getting into the step where it's looking for a drive and leave it overnight and see if the drive appears after that....

    They may have fixed this "feature" and put some visual indication that a scan is going on... but I was amazed that this is what I experienced a few years ago.
     
  9. sofianito macrumors 65816

    sofianito

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2011
    Location:
    Spain
    #9
    The issue could be related to loading kernel extensions you have installed.

    Did you try to boot into safe mode?

    If it doesn't work, try to boot into target mode and remove added kernel extensions.
     
  10. Ngarritj thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2013
    Location:
    Australia
    #10
    @ Buckaye
    Well, thankfully, at least for now, that problem seems to have gone away! The disk is now visible - and repeated checks with Disk Utility are now showing any errors.

    @sofianito
    Kernel extensions are beyond my ken! But the indications seem to be that it's something to do with kernels.
    How would I work out which kernel extensions I've added and then remove them?
    Yes, I have booted into safe mode, but I have been running off the bootable clone (on external disk) for the last two days as I've done further backups and gone through diagnostics, so haven't actually tested the computer's performance again.
     
  11. sofianito macrumors 65816

    sofianito

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2011
    Location:
    Spain
    #11
    Kernel extensions are located under /System/Library/Extensions. Running terminal command: ls -lart allows you to see most recent installed extensions. Also, if you have a backup, you could compare both directory listing. This would likely allow you to identify extensions you installed through third parties...

    Are you booting Mac OS X in 32-bit or 64-bit?
     
  12. Ngarritj thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2013
    Location:
    Australia
    #12
    I believe in 64-bit, but not certain - how can I find that out?

    Re: kernel extension location thanks for that! I'll look into that in a few hours when I finish the other tests.
     
  13. sofianito, Jul 5, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2013

    sofianito macrumors 65816

    sofianito

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2011
    Location:
    Spain
    #13
    Run System Profiler :)apple: --> About This Mac --> More Info...). Click on Software in the Contents box (on the left). On the right side, if "64-bit Kernel and Extensions" says No then you are booting the kernel in 32-bit else 64-bit.

    Some third parties do provide kernel extensions only for 32-bit kernel in Snow Leopard. So booting into 64-bit would avoids loading those extensions, and thus having the dead grey screen. To boot the kernel in 64-bit: Hold down the '6' and '4' keys when the Mac starts up until the logon window. Now you should see "64-bit Kernel and Extensions" say Yes in the system profiler.

    Also, the log file /var/log/system.log might give some hints. Try running the following terminal command to see if there are issues when loading some extensions: grep -i extension /var/log/system.log

    My 2cents
     
  14. Ngarritj thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2013
    Location:
    Australia
    #14
    Further update on diagnostics

    Yesterday I ran Rember RAM test on all the 8MB of RAM with 2 loops, which took about 5 hours. No problems reported.

    I left the computer overnight and re-booted, back into the same external clone – it took almost a minute to leave the background screen and re-boot, but then speed was only slightly slower. I then re-booted into start-up manager from the login screen (holding option key) and booted into the internal HD. Again, from the start-up screen, when I selected the internal HD it just vanished in a ‘puff’ (like when you remove an icon from the dock). Once booted back into the external clone, I ran disk utility and the internal disk was not visible.

    I ran terminal and tried to see all disks with diskutil list but the internal HD wasn’t showing. I then re-started with Startup manager and the internal HD didn’t come up at all. But when I was logged in it was showing in the finder window! I then ran Terminal and it was also listed (no surprises there!). The machine is still running very slowly when opening or changing between applications. I re-booted in Startup manager and the only option was the external clone – when I logged in again it was really slow then I got the ‘disk was not ejected properly’ warning message you get if you remove an external hard drive the wrong way. This time the external HD was not listed at all anywhere.

    I re-booted in Safe mode, which took a very long time, even once logged in, but the internal HD was showing again. The machine ran very slowly, but was working. I then went into System preferences and selsected the internal HD as the startup disk and re-booted in Safe Mode, which was successful. But the machine was almost completely unresponsive – opening an application took forever, or failed. I wasn’t even able to get the Apple menu up to restart.

    I am currently watching the eternal beachball of death, which I'll leave for half an hour to see if any change, then force a reboot from the external hard drive again.

    So, from the little I can deduce, starting in Safe mode should mean the third-party kernel extensions are not causing the problem. Also, there is clearly something going on with having the internal HD recognised.

    Apart from that I don't seem to be drawing any useful conclusions!

    ----------

    Thanks Sofianito, I'll try those things once I boot back into the external HD!
     
  15. Ngarritj thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2013
    Location:
    Australia
    #15
    Yes, I am booting in 32-bit. I'm assuming that I'll have to change that for all disks I boot from.

    Ran the terminal command, but the results don't mean much to me. There are similar messages that repeated, alternating with a message saying rescanning.
    It was "[computer name] com.apple.kextd[9]: Cache file /System/Library/Caches/com.apple.kext.caches/Directories//System/Library/Extensions/KextIdentifiers.plist.gz is out of date; not using"

    and

    "[computer name] com.apple.kextdcache[578]: Created mkext archive //System/Library/Caches/com.apple.kext.caches/StartupExtensions.mkext.

    and

    "[computer name] com.apple.kextd[10]: Cache file /System/Library/Caches/com.apple.kext.caches/Directories//System/Library/Extensions/KextIdentifiers.plist.gz is out of date; not using"
     
  16. sofianito macrumors 65816

    sofianito

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2011
    Location:
    Spain
    #16
    Have you been able to boot in 64-bit?

    Also, have you been able to identify any new kernel extensions?
     
  17. Ngarritj, Jul 5, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 5, 2013

    Ngarritj thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2013
    Location:
    Australia
    #17
    I am just trying now and I've got the beachball of death at the login screen (after hitting login on my user name).

    I haven't been able to identify any new kernel extensions yet - haven't got as far as looking yet, but will do so later today.
     
  18. sofianito macrumors 65816

    sofianito

    Joined:
    Jan 14, 2011
    Location:
    Spain
    #18
    If the third parties kernel extensions have been installed through the USB dongle package installer, then you can use an application such as Pacifist or SuspiciousPackage to explore the package and search extensions (files with .kext extension).

    Also, do you have any panic.log file in directories /Library/Logs or ~/Library/Logs?
     
  19. Ngarritj, Jul 5, 2013
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2013

    Ngarritj thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2013
    Location:
    Australia
    #19
    I've tried booting in 64-bit mode a few times and it causes the machine to freeze and get stuck on the grey screen of death on re-boot.

    Am now, for the first time, playing around on the bootable clone and so far functionality seems normal.

    Have just bought a caddy, so will try putting the internal hard drive in it and booting it externally.

    From everything so far that I've tested it seems it's not the RAM, it doesn't appear to be the internal HD and it doesn't appear - if the clone, that was created after the crash is a guide, to be a software problem. So, I'm guessing it could be the cable to the internal hard drive?

    I'll continue the quest!

    @Sofianito I'll investigate your suggestions further once I boot up the 'internal' HD in the caddy.
     
  20. Ngarritj thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2013
    Location:
    Australia
    #20
    Well, I've come to the conclusion that it must be the hard drive after all.

    Ran the HD through an external caddy and still encountered the same problems - after erasing and reinstalling just the basic OS and Apple apps that come with the Installation disk. None of my personal settings, just the Install disk. Ran alright, but still the same problems on re-starts.

    So, there may have been two problems, one with the HD and one related to kernel panics... but the HD must be defective, even though all the diagnostic tests don't show anything.

    Have been running off the external bootable clone flawlessly - although, having compared to the clean install, much slower, so when I get a new internal HD, will install slowly and carefully and avoid all the gunk that is there!

    Thanks again to the posters above who've put their time and energy into making suggestions and observations.

    Any more very welcome!!
     
  21. Ngarritj thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2013
    Location:
    Australia
    #21
    Must be the SATA cable

    So, installed new internal HD.

    Not recognised! Must be the SATA cable, which lots of forums say were a bit dodgy in those MBPs.

    Called Apple, as the machine was in for service with them about ten days before the fault appeared and maybe the cable got nudged/damaged. They were pretty helpful and understanding and are going to call back.
     

Share This Page