Oh. It’s Valentine’s Day. »« The anti-Ecklund

Looking for Mac troubleshooting advice

OK, I’ve got a problem on my laptop, equipped with the very latest Mac OS, plenty of memory, and no shortage of storage. Every once in a while, it turns into a total slug: the worst symptom is that the Mac Mail program takes ten minutes or more just to display the contents of a folder (admittedly, I really strain that program). In addition, when I look in the activity monitor, a process called “printtool” has turned into a colossal resource hog, consuming 40-60% of the CPU and 500mb or more of real memory. I can kill it, it comes right back with maybe 1 or 2mb of real memory, and then it steadily grows and grows. Is it just a memory leak (bad enough) or a virus? Anyone encountered this before, and how can I fix it?

This is extraordinarily annoying. Most of the time, everything is working smoothly, and then this parasitic monster takes over and I have to shut down and restart, and then I’m good for a few more hours to days until it comes back.


Ugh. This may be a problem with the Samsung printer driver — which is precisely the model printer I have at home.

Comments

  1. Alverant says

    1) Open window
    2) Check outside window to insure no one is below window
    3) Take Mac to window
    4) Push it out and get a PC instead

  2. kirk says

    It’s unlikely to be a virus, since there aren’t any Mac viruses distributing in the wild. There are a few trojans out there, but I don’t believe they cause this symptom, even if you had a lapse and accidentally downloaded it.

    It’s nothing I’ve encountered, but other people have noticed the same problem:

    https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3329492?start=0&tstart=0

    Are you, perhaps, using a Samsung printer? That seems to be flagged by a couple of posters. One poster solved it until his next print job this way:

    I suspect this may be a printer driver problem. Deleting the files

    /system/Library/LaunchAgents/com.app.printtool.agent.plist

    and

    /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.printttool.daemon.plist

    seems to stop the problem until the next time you try to print.

    Another resolution (from another Samsung owner) is here:

    1. Restart Lion and hold down the Command and R keys.
    2. You will boot into the Repair Utilities screen. On top, in the Menu Bar click the Utilities item then select Terminal.
    3. In the Terminal window, type resetpassword and hit Return.
    4. The Password reset utility launches, but DO NOT RESET THE PASSWORD. Instead, click on the icon for your Mac’s hard drive at the top. From the drop-down below it, select the user account where you are having issues. NOTE: I reset them all as I figured it couldn’t hurt.
    5. At the bottom of the window, you’ll see an area labeled ‘Reset Home Directory Permissions and ACLs’. Click the Reset button there.

  3. tehpet says

    don’t suppose you happen to use a samsung printer, do you? apparently there’s a memory leak issue with the samsung print drivers. some people have successfully fixed this by repairing permissions.

  4. says

    Fuck PCs. Hate ‘em. My Mac is entirely MS free, and I aim to keep it that way.

    So that suggestion is totally useless. No more PC-centric inanity, please.

  5. kirk says

    If the Samsung is indeed implicated in this, then you should keep an eye out for new Samsung drivers. Those may, perhaps, be released once Apple stops suing the crap out of Samsung for stealing its designs…

  6. kirk says

    Agreed with the PC note. That poster seemed unaware that you’re trying to avoid system slowdowns, not deal with them on a regular basis in between spyware clears and system reinstalls. Works for some people, I suppose.

  7. Torish says

    Get someone who knows better to build you a real computer. Also take the opportunity to get rid of your other shitty Apple devices and donate the thousands in savings to charity.

  8. Icaarus says

    PZ, try The following

    First run all uninstallers that came with your printer driver installers.

    Then delete the library files

    /system/Library/LaunchAgents/com.app.printtool.agent.plist

    and

    /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.printttool.daemon.plist

    Then delete all your printers (than were not removed by step 1)

    Then restart

    Then restart again (check that printtool is gone)

    Then add your printers using System Preferences (not any supplier provided drivers for 10.6)

    Then restart

    Then print a test page.

    If it doesn’t work please repost

  9. cbv says

    It’s a known bug — a memory leak in printtool. Apple has been notified but hasn’t released a fix yet, as far as I’m aware.

    One solution seems to make sure you have the correct (read: most recent) printer drivers installed. Check Print & Scan Preferences pane > printer > Options & Supplies > Driver Version.

    Another solution is with respect to ACLs:

    1. Restart Lion and hold down the Command and R keys.

    2. You will boot into the Repair Utilities screen. On top, in the Menu Bar click the Utilities item then select Terminal.

    3. In the Terminal window, type resetpassword and hit Return.

    4. The Password reset utility launches, but DO NOT RESET THE PASSWORD. Instead, click on the icon for your Mac’s hard drive at the top. From the drop-down below it, select the user account where you are having issues.

    5. At the bottom of the window, you’ll see an area labeled ‘Reset Home Directory Permissions and ACLs’. Click the Reset button there.

  10. kirk says

    Ah, so it IS the Samsung. Very annoying. That first solution I quoted seems like the easiest stopgap measure, unless you’re printing a lot. Provided it actually works. Time to start spamming Samsung to support its products.

  11. jamesemery says

    Perhaps, at some point, when Apple quits essentially hiring slavers to build their hardware, I can respect them. Or, perhaps, when they quit using older/lower grade hardware, while throwing a thin proprietary shell on top of unix and then charging damned near double for all of this, then I can support them.

    On the other hand, one can easily run linux on a Mac, which would be a nice ‘fuck you’ to the immoral and unethical Apple bastards…

  12. MikeMa says

    @Alverant,
    I use PC, Mac, Linux & Unix. They all have slug issues under the right (wrong?) circumstances. My PC is a brick some times as is the wife’s mac.

    @PZ,
    The only suggestion I have is to get more memory. When I upgraded my wifes mac from the last animal OS to the latest animal OS, it strongly recommended a memory upgrade from 2gig to 4gig IIRC. This may be only a temporary solution if the printool thing can hog unlimited amounts of ram. As I have never knowingly used that app, I cannot tell you how to make it behave better but there might be a way to limit its use of memory.

  13. kirk says

    @ jamesemery

    You do know that the factories being discussed in recent reports make products for a large number of electronics manufacturers, right? You do know that Apple has done far more than these other companies to address problems in those factories, right? You do know that Apple has a far greater level of transparency on these issues than any of these other companies, right?

    I do hope you are not purchasing any electronics from any manufacturer until these issues are fully addressed, to avoid sounding like a hypocrite.

  14. jamesemery says

    Sorry, I wish I could contribute to solving the printing problem, but I have no experience w/ OSX whatsoever, and the sole reason I even deal with MS is because my job requires it. I have my work laptop dual-booting linux so I can get away from it as soon as I get out of work :)

    I do generally give people nasty looks for owning Apple products, due to the aforementioned unethical practices. I do the same for anyone extolling the virtues of Microsoft, though.

  15. cbv says

    I have my work laptop dual-booting linux so I can get away from it as soon as I get out of work

    That explains your attitude and all in all not very helpful remarks. Comments along the line of “it wouldn’t have happened if you’d run Linux on it” is not a solution, not helpful and usually uncalled for. Might get a chuckle out of the /. creeps though.

  16. says

    @jamesemery

    I do generally give people nasty looks for owning Apple products

    Then I guess you can be an asshole to PZ next time you’re around him.

    Always good to have something you can feel more superior about, right?

  17. jamesemery says

    Sure, so most of them are doing it, and that makes it alright, guys? The last computer I purchased was a System76, as a matter of fact. I know that the laptop I use at work was built by Quanta, who hasn’t had and major worker issues THAT I KNOW OF (if you know something, feel free to say so). I do, generally, go out of my way to keep my purchases of equipment as ethical as possible. Yes, though, when a company is openly and proudly using a manufacturer with such a dismal record as Foxconn, and said company doesn’t do shit for nearly a decade despite frequent reports of that manufacturer having such a shitty record, yes, I feel justified in boycotting that company. Draw your own conclusions. I work in IT and follow this stuff closely, and Apple has a long history of looking the other way, intentionally.

  18. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I’ve had a couple of times my iMac became a sluggard. Once it appears the OS was running some chron program for about 10 minutes, then everything was fine. A couple of times the memory got scrambled. I downloaded an app from the app store (free IIRC) that essentially purges the memory. Takes a few minutes (I have 8 GB), and it is unresponsive during the purge, but afterwards it is snappy again.

  19. Torish says

    Comments along the line of “it wouldn’t have happened if you’d run Linux on it” is not a solution, not helpful and usually uncalled for.

    You gotta realize that we’re pretty much dealing with a fundamentalist here. In such cases it’s useful to provide the needed answer rather than the requested one. It might not change the fundamentalist’s mind, but it might affect someone listening to the conversation. It’s alright we still love you PZ.

  20. jamesemery says

    @kirk,

    Yes, be a fanboy, and defend them. Apple hasn’t done jack shit for nearly a decade about this, and they’re no more transparent than any of the others. The only reason you’ve likely HEARD about it in the first place is because the conditions at Foxconn are so awful, and that info DIDN’T come from Apple. You’re defending that which is indefensible, sir.

  21. bpcross says

    Although this particular issue appears to be related to Samsung printer drivers, re-setting permissions seems to relieve the problem at least temporarily which brings me to recommend Applejack, a wonderful utility that I’ve been using since before Mac OS9. Running this utility when your machine slows (or preventively once a month or so) will keep your Mac in good order.

  22. jamesemery says

    @Torish,

    Oh, so I’m a fundamentalist for mentioning Linux, what, twice? I COULD talk about that for awhile if you’d like, but it’s quite enough to deal with YOUR defense of unethical behavior and apparent support of human rights abuses.

    @horse,

    Yes, I’d give PZ a dirty glare, explain why, and then talk about something else, most likely. This isn’t the only thing in my life, but for some godawful reason, I felt the need to bring it up here. Thankfully, PZ probably has a solution to his printing issue, now.

    PZ, GLAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARE.

    Consider it done, if I ever see you at a con.

  23. fulcrumx says

    Reminds me of just reading this:

    “Completely failed memory management

    OS X has a feature called inactive memory. This is memory that was recently used by an app you closed and can be quickly made to active memory if you resume to use that app. A nice concept, that fails miserably. OS X’s documentation says, that this memory may be freed at any moment. However in practice, it just keeps on accumulating until you run out of free memory. In this case a sane option for the OS would be freeing the inactive memory. Instead the OS X decides to swap the inactive memory on the disk. So when running out of free memory and having a 1,5 gigabytes of inactive memory left, your OS starts paging the unused inactive memory to disk instead of freeing it for applications to use. Not only this causes your computer to slow down, it also is counter-intuitive in the terms of the original idea of inactive memory: when it’s on disk, it definitely is not made active quickly.

    I managed to find out that this memory can be freed with combination of XCode’s purge-command and repairing disk permissions. First usually freed around 200MB of memory while latter freed almost every bit of inactive memory. Eventually this became a daily routine. When arriving to work the first thing was to hit repair disk permissions button and do something else than actually use the computer for the next five to ten minutes. Sigh.” Here >http://dywypi.org/2012/02/back-on-linux.html

  24. slc1 says

    Since this seems to be a Samsung problem, I have a better solution, replace the Samsung printer.

    Re Jamesemery

    Does Mr. emery have evidence to say that Dell, HP, etc. are any better then Apple? They all offshore to China.

  25. stevenbandyk says

    checked on my machine..
    Normal behavior, near as I can tell, is to have printtool launch for the print job, then quit when competed. There’s obviously a memory leak in printtool, but that’s not an issue if it’s not always running.

    The question that needs to be answered to work around this is, why is it always running? As you mentioned, when you kill it, it relaunches. That makes me think launchd thinks it needs to be running in the background.

    Without having a machine available that’s exhibiting the same behavior to look at, here’s how I’d go about looking into it.

    Open up /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.printtool.agent.plist
    ** unfortunately, I’m not sure how to properly post XML since it’s another markup.. so look near the bottom for a specific key.

    The interesting bit is the key “KeepAlive” which I’ve get set to “false/”
    I’m guessing yours is set to “true/”.
    Try changing that.
    You can restart or run this in the terminal…
    launchctl unload /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.printtool.agent.plist
    launchctl load /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.printtool.agent.plist

    If that didn’t fix it, I’d dig a little deeper. Look at the logs. Is PintTool logging anywhere, like in /Library/CrashReporter/ ?
    I’d look there for clues. If PrintTool has an ab-end maybe that’s triggering launched to re-start it.

    Steve.

  26. stevenbandyk says

    btw.. if it turns out keepalive is false and it appears to be printtool crashing… delete your print queue and set it to generic postscript (if you have a post script printer.. you probably do if it’s mac compatible). You’ll probably loose some extra features.. like duplex if you’ve got hardware for that.. but you shouldn’t have driver related problems.

  27. Misanthrope says

    I have found that PC hardware combined with Debian GNU/Linux software equates to complete freedom and a general stability of environment. The only downside is the lack of drivers for some external hardware (eg. printer) and the awkward stares directed towards me when I tell people that I do not use either Microsoft Windows nor Apple Macintosh Operating System X. Just my two shillings…

  28. Icaarus says

    @stevenbandyk

    “extra features.. like duplex”

    If you have duplexing it’s not an ‘extra’ it’s a necessary feature.

  29. mobius says

    Well, I am a PC guy rather than a Mac guy, but from what I can tell by Google, this is a common problem.

    I think you are correct. It is likely a fault in the new driver. Should be a patch out soon, I would think.

    Wish I had more I could tell you. Good luck.

  30. Torish says

    @jamesemery

    I’m on your side on this. You not a fundamentalist for mentioning Linux. PZ is the fundamentalist because his fanatical Apple fanboyism is blindling him to reality. My bad if I was unclear.

  31. cybercmdr says

    @jamesemery
    I can empathize, as all my computers are dual boot as well. My primary issue with Apple is that it’s a closed system, so it is hard to make changes (install software development libraries, etc.). Micro$ucks is not quite as bad, but every hacker in the world is targeting Windows because so many people use it.

    Linux has a bit of a learning curve, but it is much easier to tailor to my needs than than the other mainstream OSes. I can surf the web without worrying too much about getting hit by a drive by download of malware, and best of all it is free. The only cost is some skull sweat up front to figure out the differences. That seems to keep most people from trying it.

    BTW, the Mac OS is a variant of the Unix/Linux family. They just locked it down so that you have to buy just about anything you want to install on it.

  32. stevenbandyk says

    @icaarus
    Duplex is an option on many printer so yes.. it’s an extra feature but one you’d probably really want if you spent the money on it. It is, by definition, an “extra feature” when you have to add it to a base printer model.
    It’s also standard on some models, including all the Canon printers and Brother lasers.. so it’s not an “extra feature” by definition but owners of such printers may not rely on it. I’m sure some of my people have duplex printers and don’t know what “duplex” means.

    I’m not disagreeing that Duplex isn’t an extremely useful feature [one I always use].. though it does significantly increase your chances of a paper jam if your rollers are worn.
    However, If the difference is a working computer and some extra pages in your printout.. I think it’s a no-brainer, don’t you?

  33. greame says

    I’m a PC tech, not MAC, but I’ve found with some HP and Samsung printers, if you install their entire suite with all the bloatware, this can cause major issues. If possible, try and find the base printer driver only and just install that.

    Freeware FTW.

  34. stevenbandyk says

    @cybercmdr

    I’m not sure why you find it difficult to customize OS X if you’re a linux user. It’s built off FreeBSD. You may not be able to swap out the Finder (not easily at least.. you could actually boot console and run X but I don’t know why when you can run X in OS X) so yes, some parts are closed. Even those can be tweaked though trough Apple’s provided frameworks and by tweaking the plists.

    The core of OS X is completely hackable though. When we haven’t liked the version of PHP or MySQL that was shipping with version 10.x.. we just install what we want.
    Need something that isn’t there like nmap, or gfortran or TeX? Install it.
    I have Macs that are set up to write MPI code for our Linux clusters.. in fact most of our Cluster users now do most of their development on OS X with their environments configured just like the clusters.. they just compile their optimized code on the head and drop the jobs into the queues.

    BTW, OS X is actually real “Unix” now. Apple got it certified a long time ago.

  35. Icaarus says

    @stevenbandyk

    Speaking not as a marketing guy, but as both an academic and multi-os guru (5 separate families of OS’s) extra features are those features on your device that are nice but not critical. For printing papers, or for editing, duplexing is, at least for me, mission critical, therefor not an extra.

    So, in this case, it’s not a choice between printing without duplexing, or not printing at all. It’s a choice between a bandaid (yours, which works well if you have an unrecognized printer, Other people reading, don’t discount his solution as a general fix) and a complete fix. The complete fix is a no brainer don’t you think.

    P.S. not having tested it, so I cannot say for certain, but I doubt in this case that your fix would actually bypass a bad driver already in play. He should still need to unload and uninstall the bad driver before printing to avoid the memory mess.

  36. says

    PC = Windows? That’s news to me and Linux. A PC is a “personal computer”; a Mac is a personal computer, thus is a PC. If you don’t like Windows don’t run it, just that easy.

  37. crocodoc says

    Yeah, so the operating system debate has finally arrived at Pharyngula! I´m wondering why it took so long as mutual hate among OS fanboyzz reminds me a lot of religious righteousness.

    But seriously, how can someone who openly opposed SOPA/PIPA use anything made by MS or Apple?

    GNU Atheists & GNU software for a better world!

    Cheers, Joachim

    P.S. Steve Jobs and Dennis Ritchie died within one week. While everyone was whining what loss this lifestyle freak´s death was and what benefit iTunes was for the world, nobody outside the Unix community even seemed to even notice that the guy who did the real work, the scientific stuff, the system that still powers the fancy GUI of MacOS X, the one who came up with C and Unix, has left us, too. That´s such a shame.

  38. says

    @jamesemery

    There are reasons to pick apart Apple as a business – whether it’s their staunch refusal to let their employees unionize, or their sheltering of profits off shore to dodge billions in taxes to name but two.

    The laser-like focus people are developing on the Apple/Foxconn issue is missing the forest for the trees, ignoring the complexity of the working environments in China and cheapening the broader fight of the humanitarian issues happening there by turning things into a fanboi-level Internet meme.

  39. Moggie says

    Ah, “repair permissions”? I always thought that was an IT superstition, the homeopathy of the Mac world. For example:

    http://www.unsanity.org/archives/000410.php
    http://www.macworld.com/article/52220/2006/08/repairpermissions.html

    Unless Apple have snuck completely unrelated, undocumented functionality into “repair permissions”, the sort of problems which it fixes are far more likely to result in “my program fails to work” or “I get this strange error message” than “the system is running slowly” or “printtool is hogging memory”.

    If repairing permissions genuinely fixes a problem, it should be possible (using diskutil from the command line) to home in on exactly what file/directory permissions are causing it… and get the problem fixed once and for all, rather than just keep stroking that lucky rabbit’s foot every few days.

    cybercmdr:

    BTW, the Mac OS is a variant of the Unix/Linux family. They just locked it down so that you have to buy just about anything you want to install on it.

    Well, apart from all that free/open source software available for it, or the free development tools, or the copious developer documentation.

  40. stevenbandyk says

    Sorry to spam the list with all these posts this morning.. but I’ll drop one more in before I get back to porting some older [deprecated] Perl to migrate it from OS X to a new Ubuntu distro.
    Yes, I’m not actually an OS X zealot, I just prefer it ;-P I’m porting all our old custom OS X hosted web apps to Linux in VMWare. It’s a much better place to be :-)

    For anyone who isn’t familiar with how you can use OS X in a more geeky way, here’s some links. :-)

    http://macresearch.org

    http://hpc.sourceforge.net/

    http://www.finkproject.org/ <– the old standard OS X package manager.. I don't like how it installs into /sw/ though. It has the advantage of not overwriting any of Apple's default installs but Apple often puts their stuff in non-standard directories so it's not always an issue even if you compile from source.

    http://www.macports.org/ <– what I usually use

    http://www.engineyard.com/blog/2010/homebrew-os-xs-missing-package-manager/ <– homebrew is supposedly the 'new hotness' in package managers but I haven't really got around to using it yet.

    http://www.tug.org/mactex/2011/ <– since this place is 'silly' with researchers, you probably discovered mactex ages ago, but it's worth adding here. I've learned to never underestimate the knowledge of smart people so look at their computers only as tools.. and not interesting puzzles like us IT guys.

    Of course, you can use the standard utilities to customize OS X like any other *nix environment.. like cpan to add Perl modules. It's part of the default OS X Perl install.

  41. Alverant says

    @kirk

    I’ve never had problems with system slowdowns nor dealt with issues of spyware or system reinstalls. I’ve been using Windows for over 10 years at home and work. I also maintain the system and take care of it instead of abusing it like some people then blame MS for “buggy” sofware. It’s amazing at how trouble-free a Windows computer can be if you simply take care of it. I bet you blame Ford when your car runs out of oil after not replacing it for 2 years.

  42. says

    Someone on here once said that Macs were the “Fisher Price” of electronics. I believe this to be true.

    Macs: 5x more expensive for non-upgradable hardware made by sweatshops with a pretty veneer to fool the masses. They also get viruses and they are liable to slow down just as any computer it is.

    Only someone who was fooled by marketing would spend more for an inferior product (happens to everyone, no harm I guess).

  43. pyrespirit says

    As an aside; that’s a remarkably daft opinion you’re holding over PCs;

    The whole ‘Mac vs PC’ debate brings out a massive range of ignorances; one is not superior over the other.

    It is perfectly possible to own a PC and have everything run smoothly, well, and with no issues at all; plenty of people do this.

    Macs are generally more user-friendly, sure, and tend to run better for certain usages – especially video editing. But for that you have a much, much higher price tag and no ability to modify or upgrade individual components. They tend to have less viruses coded for them, but that’s purely as a result of their lesser popularity – as they rise in popularity, viruses will, and have, been developed to target them.

    PCs tend to require a little more babysitting, but for that you get a much more modest pricing, and the ability to infinitely upgrade as you will. They tend to have more malware targeting them, but it is no great feat to avoid that (I’ve used PCs since I was about ten, and only ever had a virus issue once, which was entirely my own fault – not that the plural of ‘anecdote’ is ‘data,’ but it’s an illustration of the argument)

    Additionally; with the revelations in recent times over the human rights travesties involved in many of the Apple production facilities around the world (I’m thinking especially China here, with workers disallowed contact with the outside world and committing suicide in droves), I’m surprised that someone as concerned with equality and human rights would be so quick to lionize that particular company.

  44. chrischristodoulou says

    Haha, serves you right PZ for trashtalking PCs in the past, you foolish fanboy, you!

    PCs and Macs, they all have issues, and as Macs become more popular the more issues they will have. Declaring yous computer “MS free” classifies you at best as just another hipster, at worst a fool that can’t understand that all companies are in the same game of profit…

    Enjoy writing on “Pages”…

    Hope you get things working soon! Cheers, from a bi-os user :)

  45. Icaarus says

    @crocodoc

    I got to ask Wolfram about that. He mentioned a fondness for working with Richie, and how he used a “lets not do what he did” attitude to make things user friendly. Richie, of course, being a god of terse command creation.

  46. pryopizm says

    Fun! While, I’m glad to see PZ got his answer, I do love a good Apple/MS/Linux flame war. I never used Linux, but I have had two Macbook Pros in the past. In fact, if you don’t mind spending a bunch of money on a laptop, I highly recommend them because of OSX (but get an external mouse, I really hate the new multi-touch thing they got going now).

    On the other hand, for a desktop, I recommend PC’s to those who enjoy a bit of tinkering. I’m a gamer, so I like to replace the guts every so often and you can’t get that from an iMac and Mac Pros are prohibitively expensive.

    And as good as Windows 7 is, Macs definitely have the more user-friendly operating system. I just wish it wasn’t a walled garden. I’d love to have a Mac OS with PC affordability and versatility.

    Linux is for the hardcore and I’m not hardcore.

  47. jean-denismuys says

    I am am amazed by the number of people who don’t seem to know much about Mac OS X sound really like creationists, insisting on empty claims without any evidence.

  48. krucz36 says

    Someday, someone will be able to ask a question about a FUCKING COMPUTER without it turning into a FUCKING HOLY WAR over FUCKING PLATFORMS. These flamewars horrifyingly stupid, completely useless, and totally embarrassing.

  49. Torish says

    I am am amazed by the number of people who don’t seem to know much about Mac OS X sound really like creationists, insisting on empty claims without any evidence.

    I’m amazed by all the Mac users who are deluded into parroting all the Apple marketing BS despite the fact that they’re exposed to the truth every time they use their device. Even brilliant people like PZ can be deluded too. It’s shocking.

  50. Merit of the Badgers says

    Don’t know if it’s been mentioned, but make sure there are no incomplete print jobs sitting there. I had a similar issue (with my laptop; my desktop runs Windows ;D) when some print jobs had failed to print over the network, and never cleared themselves (nor did they try printing again when the printer was on). Clearing them was all that was required to solve it.

  51. Moggie says

    krucz36:

    Someday, someone will be able to ask a question about a FUCKING COMPUTER without it turning into a FUCKING HOLY WAR over FUCKING PLATFORMS. These flamewars horrifyingly stupid, completely useless, and totally embarrassing.

    It’ll never happen. Me, I’m an old fart, so I’m over it: I use Linux, OS X and Windows 7, and I can argue for each without getting angry. But you’ll always have these young whippersnappers who define themselves by their software and hardware choices. When they get over it, there’s a fresh generation to take their place…

  52. Moggie says

    I was just looking at wikipedia’s list of major customers of Foxconn. Apple, Dell, HP, Gateway, Intel, Microsoft…

  53. ibyea says

    I don’t get it. Why does any post even mentioning one word about operating systems devolve into flame wars? Kind of reminds me of videogame console wars.

  54. stevenbandyk says

    NOOOOOO!!! I’m getting sucked into an Platform War!!!!!!
    .. last one I swear (I’m just avoiding my ldap issues with my web app that I haven’t worked out yet)
    I think this officially counts as my lunch… or at least makes up for my hour of code debugging last night.

    @Justin.
    No.
    1. There are no “viruses” on OS X. There have been a couple lame trojans over the last decade that required user intervention to install.
    2. I understand the 5x is hyperbole but no, Macs aren’t significantly more expensive than COMPARABLE PCs. I can buy a pretty nice 27″ monitor from Dell for round $825 edu (retail over $1100). I can buy a nicer 27″ monitor with a perfectly capable Mac attached for $1599 edu ($1699 retail).
    It’s hard to really do an ‘Apples to Apples’ comparison though since no one else makes an AIO like a 27″ iMac but comparing it to a quality SFF PC is close enough. I can’t buy a Dell equipped like a 27″ iMac for the same price (form factor is important and relevant, a SFF Dell is a useful comparison even if not perfect).

    Apple doesn’t typically change their pricing mid-product cycle or at a given product point either. They were charging for the same for the 27″ iMac back when edu on a Dell 27″ was over $1100edu and retail was pretty close to the cost of the whole iMac. When they rev, they’ll perform much better against similar PCs again, though they do just fine now.
    Mac Pros look awful expensive too.. until you check out the cost of a real Workstation. Apple’s weak point IMHO is that I don’t really consider them workstations (they have a pretty lame video card selection). However, a dual Xeon MacPro only runs about 10-15% more than a similar Dell T5500 with Win7.
    The same is true of all the Apple models. A $500 PC laptop is not a MacBook pro, it’s a piece of disposable junk. I’ve dealt with more than enough of them in my lifetime.

    @ Icaarus

    I really don’t want to get into a pissing match [but here I go ;-P …for everyone else’s amusement mostly]
    I’ve been in IT as a career for 15 years, all of it in EDU aside from the consulting company I briefly owned on the side. The last 9 or so years I’ve been running IT for a Physical Sciences Division at a research University [still unfortunately doing end-user support because once you solve an intractable problem, they never let you go]. Before that I ran the campus on-site desktop support office at another U after getting my feet wet as a student consultant for a couple additional years. My OS support experience only extends to {OS 7-9, OS X, DOS, Win3.1[DOS] through Win7, AFP-OS X-Windows server, FreeBSD, Linux, SysV (a bit), Solaris (a bit), CMS (a bit), Novell Netware 3&4} Of course, my Netware CNA doesn’t apply much to an OS X launchd fix, in fact mentioning my full background is pretty pointless now that I think about it but it sure felt good. :-/
    You’re a computer nerd. I’m one too. Huzzah :-)

    I figured it’d come to this on “extra” but we’ll have to agree to disagree. I’ll stand by my position that just because you find a product feature incredibly useful, even essential, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s an “extra feature” when it’s literally an extra feature on many printers. A printer is not.. shall we say.. irreducibly complex in that a printer won’t function without the duplex function. ;-)
    I often find my GPS very useful in my car.. perhaps I’d even say it’s essential in my next car purchase. That doesn’t change the fact that it’s an extra feature. I’ll still get to point B if the GPS is off-line.
    In the end, you say Potato I say patattah ;-)

    More pertinent to the thread, you seem to take exception to my “band aid” because it’s not a “true fix”. Not having access to the machine [I’d think you’d appreciate this being a 5 OS guru], I can’t offer a definitive fix. From my limited research it seems a “true fix” does not exist at this point. Unless it is truly a driver problem and you expect PZ to debug the postscript in the PPD it’s ‘bandaid time’ or buy a new printer.

    Since a “true fix” probably doesn’t exist right now, the solution really is…
    – the band-aid
    – the work-around that might limit some features
    – spending some of that Fat Edu Cash on new hardware to work around a software bug
    – ..or having a computer that is basically unusable which surprisingly makes printing duplex difficult.

    ah.. that was cathartic
    Good Luck PZ. Let us know the fix when you’re done.

  55. Richard Smith says

    Geez. I remember when the wars were fought between Amiga and Atari ST, on FidoNet. I, of course, was on the superior Amiga side. Who wants rhomboid function keys?

  56. fifilamour says

    It’s always kind of interesting how much computer woo (that’s entirely driven by advertising) there is and who buys into it. I find it entirely equivalent to other kinds of woo, yet it so often goes unquestioned.

  57. rr says

    Someday, someone will be able to ask a question about a FUCKING COMPUTER without it turning into a FUCKING HOLY WAR over FUCKING PLATFORMS.

    Well at least nobody has been killed yet for running the wrong operating system, right? RIGHT?

  58. Aquaria says

    Macs are generally more user-friendly, sure, and tend to run better for certain usages – especially video editing. But for that you have a much, much higher price tag

    Funny, when I go feature for feature between my plain little iMac and the equivalent PCs in components, PCs are at least $1000 more expensive. Have been since 2002.

    And “older” components? Come on. My iMac sunflower came with a flat panel LED screen back when those were a minimum of $800 on PCs. That computer cost me only $1700 total, with my federal worker discount. An equivalent Dell–with the student discount I qualified for at the time–would have been $3200. Without it? It would have been $3600. Alienware was even more ludicrously expensive.

    I was still using my little sunflower Mac as it was, in 2010. Yeah, it was slow on the Internet and I was stuck with older software for most things. But it still runs, and is now my “recipes” computer in the kitchen, and I sometimes use it if someone needs my computer for a little while. I’m now getting 10 years usage out of it. How many PCs do that?

    My mother bought a Dell at the same time I bought the sunflower Mac. The Dell was worthless by 2005–unless she wanted to pay a shit ton more in “upgrades” even to components. She would hardly use the thing after only a year because she had to spend up to a few hours a week trying to stay on top of viruses, spyware and malware, and who wants to do that after working 60+ hours a week, like she did? I told her, Get a Mac. She’s the kind of person who would do great with one, because she doesn’t want to fuss over a computer all the time.

    And if we want to talk about shady business practices, Dell was using prison labor there for a while. It was only when they were caught that they stopped. Intel CPUs are assembled in such shining examples of labor progress as The Philippines, Thailand, Costa Rica or Malaysia. The motherboards, RAM, hard drives, video cards and all the rest are made in those or similar places. The computers themselves are usually assembled in Mexico.

    Nobody’s hands are clean in the computer industry when it comes to exploiting the Third World for profit, or having components made by people who live under repressive regimes.

    Nobody.

    Get over yourselves, PC/Linus assholes.

  59. Icaarus says

    @stevenbandyk

    I will confirm that your CV is very solid, and for that I give you a respectful nod. That, however, does not change the fact that I listed a potential TRUE FIX. How do I know? I run samsung printers and know that the drivers they provide have been especially useless since Lion. One required a full reformat to clean up before I could print again. Lexmark was not much better. Not having access, I of course have no way to confirm. But with other machines that suffered the previous round of bad samsung driver problems this did solve those. Samsung doesn’t want to list it because it is not their driver (OSX will probably find some pre-profiled PCL 5 variant). Apple doesn’t want to list a fix that involves acknowledging the existence of Library. A change in their literature since Lion that has been incredibly annoying.

  60. says

    Fun! While, I’m glad to see PZ got his answer, I do love a good Apple/MS/Linux flame war.

    I don’t. It’s nothing more than mutual fanboy masturbation.

  61. otrame says

    Well, as always, Pharyngula provides me with useful information. I need to get a new printer and I run Lion so now I know to avoid Samsung printers. Thanks for the info.

    (All you anti-Apple guys out there, bite me–the only way to avoid sweatshop-produced stuff is not to have a computer, oh, and make your own clothes from your home-grown cotton and wool and only eat stuff you grow yourself, you and your little dog. Is it good? no. Can we fix it? Yes, someday, but then you will pay quite a bit more for everything. Does it have anything to do with the problem in hand? No.)

  62. says

    stevenbandyk @ 64:

    1. There are no “viruses” on OS X. There have been a couple lame trojans over the last decade that required user intervention to install.

    That is untrue. Viruses have been isolated on the Mac OS. Just because the probability is low, doesn’t make it zero. A non-zero probability for viruses is what every computer user has to deal with.

    2. I understand the 5x is hyperbole but no, Macs aren’t significantly more expensive than COMPARABLE PCs. I can buy a pretty nice 27″ monitor from Dell for round $825 edu (retail over $1100). I can buy a nicer 27″ monitor with a perfectly capable Mac attached for $1599 edu ($1699 retail).
    It’s hard to really do an ‘Apples to Apples’ comparison though since no one else makes an AIO like a 27″ iMac but comparing it to a quality SFF PC is close enough. I can’t buy a Dell equipped like a 27″ iMac for the same price (form factor is important and relevant, a SFF Dell is a useful comparison even if not perfect).

    You think a six hundred dollar (retail) difference for comparable machines is immaterial? I want to live in your world.

    Mac Pros look awful expensive too.. until you check out the cost of a real Workstation. Apple’s weak point IMHO is that I don’t really consider them workstations (they have a pretty lame video card selection). However, a dual Xeon MacPro only runs about 10-15% more than a similar Dell T5500 with Win7.

    Again, a 10-15% difference for a comparable machine is NOT immaterial. And I can’t even upgrade a Mac. Why would I pay more for less again?

    As an aside I enjoy the anecdotal evidence used by other commentators to support their sides. I thought we didn’t do that?

  63. unclefrogy says

    I have used most of the OS’s on their appropriate hardware. They are all computers and have their quirks and looks the “buttons” are different and in a different place. I wish I new all about all of them but I only have so much time and ability and money so I stick with a PC clone I made from pts. and only used software I understand and only go to web sites I believe are safe.
    Your difficulty highlights my problem with Mac OS. For user ease of use they make it difficult to “get under the hood” and I have gotten a message that essentially said I had to take it to the shop I was not qualified to fix the problem. It is also a profit center!
    The cost of Apple products for me is a real turn off. So I wish you luck sounds like you will get some help.
    I am amazed that the damn things even turn on and do stuff, I would feel lost without one or two.

    uncle frogy

  64. robro says

    Probably already said, but if they are available, new printer drivers is the quickest and easiest solution. You might get them just by running Software Update, if you haven’t done that lately. Sometimes I’ve deleted the printer in Print & Scan preferences (System Preferences) and added it again to force checking for new drivers, but usually vendors will have them available on their website somewhere. If Samsung isn’t updating their drivers, which would be surprising for them to do because of the patent litigations (not the way the game is played), then a new printer is cheap.

  65. unclefrogy says

    I have found one thing that I like to do with all my them that is I like to turn off everything I am not using all the time so it wont run in the background and use process time. All most software apps. and hardware manufacturers seem to make it default that the drivers are loaded in memory and the quick launch feature is loaded which is just a partial load with a monitor ability. If I ain’t doing any printing or scanning what do I need the printer or scanner drivers or the quick launch for . I can wait a few minutes I think without undo stress while they load same goes with all my software. If I am not using it I keep it off. Then I don’t have things like the fucking printer monitor running in the dam background all the dam time gettin in fuckin the way!
    uncle frogy

  66. cybercmdr says

    @stevenbandyk
    My basic problem was the python libraries I needed didn’t work with the default python version on the MacBook I was given to use. Under my schedule constraints, I didn’t have the time to try to change that. I’m sure it can be done, but Mac hides some implementation details on its libraries, and I needed a solution faster than I could figure my way around it.

    @Moggie: I know about that stuff; I installed Eclipse and Xcode on the system while trying to get my programming environment set up. I think my dissertation advisor had handed me the MacBook to use so I would figure out how to set my code up on it, because he didn’t want to figure it out himself! (He wanted to run it on his Mac). I’m under the gun to get my research finished, and just don’t have the time deal with how Apple hides stuff.

  67. Moggie says

    cybercmdr, so because you’re up against time constraints and can’t figure out something python-related on a platform you’re unfamiliar with, you assume it’s because Apple are deliberately locking you out because… they don’t want people developing stuff and adding value to the platform, or something? Despite the fact that, right out of the box, they give you python, perl, and ruby?

    If you’re struggling with Apple’s python, just install MacPorts or Fink, and you can easily have your own python, with its own modules. Or download the installer from python.org.

  68. cybercmdr says

    @Merit:
    Damn, gave the thing back so I can’t look in the directories. When I was troubleshooting the install of some python libraries (numpy, scipy, matplotlib, netaddr, pylibpcap, among others), I went looking for the standard library folders that I know in Ubuntu. I remember Googling how to set some of these things up, and that numpy and scipy wouldn’t work with the Python 3.x on the system. On installing some of the libraries in Eclipse, it seemed that the Mac had some placeholder files where I expected the libraries to be. If I still had the Mac I could dig down into the /usr directory and recreate what I was doing, but at this point I don’t remember. I remember that instead of being able to dig into the directory structure and figure out what was there, the directories dead ended with some files I was supposed to point my configuration to. Wish my memory on it was clearer; it has been a while. After spending too much time trying to figure it out, I went back to Ubuntu.

  69. johnkent says

    I’ve always said that fanboy devotion is only a small step down from religious devotion. People who pay large sums of money for expensive products feel the need to convince themselves that the money was well spent. So they find eachother, exchange stories of how their brand is better than the competing brand, and nurse disdain for those poor misguided fools on the other side of the fence who haven’t seen the light. Before long, entire communities spring up with their own opinion blogs mascaraing as news sites that distort the truth and feed falsehoods and misrepresentations back into the community echo chamber.

    Everybody, that includes you PZ, just calm the fuck down, take a step back and remember that you are not the things you buy. You are people who pride yourselves on independent thought and individuality. So just ask yourself why you’re jumping to the defense of some sticker on the side of your computer? Why are you condemning your fellow humans for the sticker that’s on their computer? It’s good that the corporations are competing. It means we get better products to choose from. But when consumers compete, and separate themselves into immutable groups, then the corporations win. Brand-loyalty means they don’t have to worry about loosing their customers and it makes them lazy.

    PZ had a problem and asked for help. I’m glad he got it. Now he can get back to writing about shit that matters.

  70. Rip Steakface says

    I’m pretty sure the winner out of all three is *always* Linux. Newer distributions, particularly Ubuntu 10.03, are incredibly user friendly and of course free (along with all the associated programs). As for hardware, Apple hardware is also *always* more expensive, just by virtue of being a luxury product.

    For whoever was talking about the relative cost of a monitor versus an Apple AIO, I built a gaming rig (to use with Windows though, since gaming pretty much has to be done in that) for $1100 including W7, peripherals and a 21.5″ 1920×1080 monitor (it’s smaller because it better suits my gaming and working environment). Compare that with your $1700 AIO.

    The best choice if you want to save on costs is to build your own computer and use Linux. It’s very possible to build a desktop for $200. If you want to play video games, you gotta go Windows, because 95% of games are Windows only. If you’re really, really inept at using a computer, prefer a shiny UI over customizability and you’ve got a big budget, go Mac.

  71. cybercmdr says

    Note: I’m sure someone who had used a Mac as long as I’ve used Ubuntu could have figured out how to configure that MacBook much faster than I was doing. I also know that people have different ways of estimating value in terms of what one OS provides over others, and that my arguments regarding a Mac probably ring hollow to someone who loves them and their interface. Given time I would have figured things out (I can be slow, especially regarding things that appear obvious to others), I am persistent (usually) and work things out.
    I do however work with people who do use Macs all the time, and may have been biased by the problems they have had on doing any kind of software/configuration surgery on them. Perhaps someday when I am not so pushed, I can explore the wonders of Apple products. Right now I’m happy with Ubuntu.

    @pryopizm: Linux is not as hardcore as you might think. You can burn Ubuntu or Mint onto a CD and try it (using a thumb drive would be even better), without making any changes on your computer. This would give you an opportunity to explore the interface. I find that things always seem to take longer in Windows (Linux tends to run faster), although the (free) Office equivalents in Linux aren’t always as easy to use as MS Office. For the most part though, I find using Linux preferable to Windows.

  72. says

    Platform bigots are just tiresome. They say “Get a PC” when a Mac user has a problem. They say “Get a Mac” when a PC user has a problem. Or, better yet, they insist you junk your entire system and use a roll-your-own hardware/OS configuration, because that (and only that) constitutes real computing. Give it a rest, folks. Very few people find it interesting to read comments from people who have discovered the One True Computer.

    I actually think it’s interesting to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different computer systems and have always decried the hype of the religious wars too many people want to wage (and I say “religious” deliberately). But when someone is simply asking for help with his or her particular problem, I suggest that one either offer assistance or shut up. Don’t take it as an opportunity to oh-so-cleverly observe “Hey, idiot! Your system sucks!”

    At least I learned about the Samsung problem in case any of my Mac-using buddies run into the same thing. That’s something useful.

  73. cybercmdr says

    Of course, the REALLY hardcore would use a Turing machine. That can do anything another computer can do….. eventually.

  74. Merit of the Badgers says

    I’m pretty sure the winner out of all three is *always* Linux.

    I got tired of Ubuntu breaking things for me with every other update, but I still wanted a Unixy OS for development, hence the Mac laptop. But hey, I still like working with Ubuntu when I have to.

    I’m using Windows on my desktop, and I like that too. Some development stuff is a pain on Windows (almost anything cross-platform can be; if you stay within Microsoft’s tools it’s all butter), but I like the UI much more than the others, it’s fast and seems to make good use of caching, and it’s been less fiddly than OS X or Linux in every way other than development.

    Really, they’ve all got their places, and I <3 them all in their own fashion

  75. ckitching says

    kirk (#8) says:

    That poster seemed unaware that you’re trying to avoid system slowdowns, not deal with them on a regular basis in between spyware clears and system reinstalls.

    I know what you mean, I wish I could stop re-installing Windows all the time. The last time I installed Windows was October 27, 2009 on this PC, the day after I received my copy of Windows 7 after its release nearly a week earlier. On another computer (my parents’), I was forced to re-install after replacing all the critical system components after a severe hardware failure. Microsoft really needs to get their act together so we don’t have to re-install the OS all the time. Re-installing every 2.5 years or so when a new OS or completely new hardware is purchased is clearly unacceptable.

    And don’t get me started on the malware. I must’ve seen upwards of four or five infestations in the last decade on the home machines I maintain, and one was self-inflicted in an isolated VM to confirm a file I suspected to be malware really was.

  76. ckitching says

    (I’m looking at you HP and Lexmark! Oh, and Samsung.)

    And Canon. And Xerox. And Ricoh. And… Wait, are there any printer manufacturers that produce half decent drivers? I can’t count how many times I’ve solved problems by switching to “in-box” OS drivers for printer models over a decade old (i.e. HP LaserJet 4 for PCL5 devices or Apple LaserWriter for PostScript). I don’t need the fancy printer monitor or enhanced printer status notification pop-ups if I can’t print reliability.

  77. Thor says

    Well, you know how they say Apple “just works”? It appears that your machine is a fine example of this fact. :D

  78. CSB says

    Wait, are there any printer manufacturers that produce half decent drivers?

    Brother does a really good job in my experience, as well of that of most technical types I’ve spoken with. If you’ve got an inkjet printer, grabbing one of the less expensive Brother lasers and relegating the inkjet to color printing duty will pay for itself a lot faster than you might think.

  79. Azuma Hazuki says

    Given that Apple uses CUPS (common Unix printing system), any printer that works well on BSD and Linux will work on it…and in practice this almost always means HP.

    You should give Linux a try. I think you’d like Debian “Testing” personally, though get the Xfce desktop over all the others (trust me: KDE and Gnome are bloated and anti-functional and LXDE isn’t ready for new users yet).

    Orrrr you could dive right in and learn Linux on Gentoo like I did. Which is like learning to swim by dousing yourself in A1 steak sauce and jumping into the Amazon during piranha season =P

  80. Fionnabhair says

    Late to the party, and it sounds like you’ve got it figured out with the Samsung driver problem, but no one suggested nuking the caches, and that’s generally the first thing I do if my own Mac’s being sluggish.

    I don’t use Lion (running Snow Leopard), but I’d expect things to be in the same place. Go to ~/Library/Cache (you might need to select Go -> Go to folder and type in that path if your Library files are hidden). Delete everything in there. Alternately, move the contents of the folder to a new folder on your desktop or something. (That way you can put things back if things go belly up, but that’s unlikely.)

    Do the same thing with your Macintosh HD/Library/Caches folder contents. Reboot. Things might be a bit sluggish when you open them for the first time (gotta rebuild the caches), but in my experience, after that initial launch, things speed right back up.

    I’ve suggested this fix to other people with slow Macs. I don’t know if it’ll work for you, since you’ve got driver problems, but it might improve things until a better driver is available.

  81. DLC says

    whaaa whaaa my OS rulz yur OS sux !

    /flameout

    Seriously though. . . it sounds like most of the “it’s the printer driver” solutions have the right track.

  82. puppygod says

    @Richard Smith

    Geez. I remember when the wars were fought between Amiga and Atari ST, on FidoNet. I, of course, was on the superior Amiga side. Who wants rhomboid function keys?

    Hello, fellow veteran of flame wars and Amiga user :) I also remember even older days, when it was Commodore 64 vs. Atari 65XE, with ZX Spectrum fans taking pot-shots on both sides. Those were fun.

  83. davem says

    Given that Apple uses CUPS (common Unix printing system),

    Second that HP recommendation, if the above is true. (Ubuntu user here) Last time I had printing problems the local guru told me just to buy any HP printer. End of problems – I paid a measly £40 and got a 3 in 1 HP Deskjet, which I just plugged in. Ubuntu then asked me if I wanted to print a test page on my new HP printer. All the driver CDs went straight to recycling/frisbee usage.

  84. Furr-a-Bruin says

    @puppygod:

    Hello, fellow veteran of flame wars and Amiga user :) I also remember even older days, when it was Commodore 64 vs. Atari 65XE, with ZX Spectrum fans taking pot-shots on both sides. Those were fun.

    “Puppy” is right… I date back further yet, to the TRS-80(yay!)/Apple II(boo!) flame wars!

    (I was later an Amiga user – and still own several. Thank Cloanto for Amiga Forever!)

  85. nemothederv says

    I would go with the “delete your win32″ prank but you have one of dem fruit company boxes.

  86. nemothederv says

    In all fairness PZ, with the what little information is available and not having it in front of us is speculate on your speculation.

    when you “killed it” were you simply ending the process at the task manager? It coming right back is probably due to it being a necessary component of something that’s running. “Printtool” certainly sounds like a print driver or crappy bundled software that came with your printer but that isn’t the only possibility.

    It could be a print feature of software you’ve installed recently. Worst case scenario would be malware and “printtool” is a cutsie way of describing what it does (copying over and over until you memory fills up).

    Climb the tree and find out what the bad process is attached to, see when it was installed, if it was something thar you did install(knowingly and willingly)and reinstall/patch/trashcan accordingly.

    Keep in mind I’m a pc person but hunting your problem down should only be a difference in terminology.

    My best advice is promise some computer science guy at the university a six pack and put him to work.

  87. says

    When I first saw the title of this post in my feed I made a little bet with myself before clicking on it –

    1. That within 10 comments someone would suggest switching to a PC;
    2. That within 10 comments of that someone would equate using a PC with using Microsoft software;
    3. That by the time I reached the end of the comments the original question will be forgotten and an OS flamefest would commence.

    Yay I win; I owe myself some chocolate.

  88. vitorsantos says

    It’s funny how people relates PC with Windows and MS… I have a PC and it’s MS free…

    anyway PZ, good luck on your issue.