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Macbook pro hangs at Apple logo with spinning circle - disk 100% full.

Posted on 2012-08-11
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Last Modified: 2012-08-17
Hello,

Let's preface this by saying I'm not an 'Apple guy', so go easy on me!

My wife has an older (2008) Macbook Pro 15" that had been working pretty well, with the exception of a problem with its DVD drive going bad.  We hadn't yet replaced the drive.

It had also been giving her a 'disk is getting full' type message that she had been ignoring for a few months, which probably plays into the problem that we are now having.

Our youngest child had been doing something on the machine, and reported that it was no longer working.  My wife looked and thought she saw something about an update, but upon rebooting, the macbook now hangs at the apple logo with the spinning circle.

We've messed with it a bit after reading some user group articles, without success.

Today, I dug a little deeper, and got to a command prompt.  I can see from a df command that the drive is 100% full.

My question is, if the drive is 100% full and our little one somehow kicked off an update of some sort, could this cause our current problems?

Second question would be, can someone walk me through how to delete some files to clear up enough space to try to get the thing to boot?


Thanks!


Scott
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Question by:meelnah
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Expert Comment

by:strung
ID: 38284059
See if it will boot to safe mode by holding down the shift key while booting. If it will boot, the first thing to do is to empty the trash. Then see if you need to clear more space.

You can find out how much free space is on the drive by right clicking  on the hard drive icon and selecting "Get Info".
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by:strung
ID: 38284063
Alternatively, if you have a second Mac in the house, or can borrow one, get a firewire cable and use Firewire Target Disk Mode to connect the two Macs. Your wife's Mac's hard drive will then appear as an external drive on the desktop of the other Mac and you can then do a cleanup.

http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1661
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Author Comment

by:meelnah
ID: 38284065
thanks...

I've tried getting into safe mode, and the system won't progress past the apple logo.
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Free Tool: Site Down Detector

Helpful to verify reports of your own downtime, or to double check a downed website you are trying to access.

One of a set of tools we are providing to everyone as a way of saying thank you for being a part of the community.

 
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Author Comment

by:meelnah
ID: 38284067
Sorry strung, it's the only mac!
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by:strung
ID: 38284070
If your wife hasn't been emptying the trash (ask her) you might be able to recover enough space to boot by emptying the trash from single user mode. The instructions for the unix command for doing so are here:

http://www.hmug.org/UnixHowTos/index.php?TermTrash
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by:strung
ID: 38284072
Target disk mode would be the ideal solution. Do you have a friend with a Mac portable that would be willing to help?
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by:strung
ID: 38284077
Going out for half an hour. Will check your posts on my return
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by:strung
ID: 38284079
P.S. You should never let the free space on a Mac drive fall below 15%
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by:Xaelian
ID: 38284081
Can you start the mac in verbose mode and write the output here? To enter verbose mode start your mac while holding command V.
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Author Comment

by:meelnah
ID: 38284084
just tried emptying the trash via the command line... will post back in a few
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by:meelnah
ID: 38284098
no luck with the trash emptying... however, starting in verbose mode is showing me some things....

ReportCrash(137):  Saved crashreport to /library/logs/crashreporter/loginwondow_2012-8-11-131805

this is coming up after the screen does to a blue desktop with a cursor, then flashes to the black command prompt window.  It keeps cycling through the process.

Every third time the command window comes back I see:
 
mds(37) error:server:  mdsync lsunch failed  (ipc/send) invalid destination port


I'm going to try to go into command line and view the crash log
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Expert Comment

by:strung
ID: 38284161
Try this:

1. In single user mode:

At the command-line prompt type:

/sbin/fsck -fy

2.    Press Return. fsck will go through five "phases" and then return information about your disk's use and fragmentation. Once it finishes, it'll display this message if no issue is found:
** The volume (name_of_volume) appears to be OK
If fsck found issues and has altered, repaired, or fixed anything, it will display this message:
***** FILE SYSTEM WAS MODIFIED *****
Important: If this message appears, repeat the fsck command you typed in step 2 until fsck tells you that your volume appears to be OK (first-pass repairs may uncover additional issues, so this is a normal thing to do).
 
3.  When fsck reports that your volume is OK, type
reboot
at the prompt and then press Return.
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Author Comment

by:meelnah
ID: 38284169
i tried that once earlier, but I will try again.

I tried to delete Microsoft Office (she doesn't use it, and is convinced that she began having problems just after installing it), thinking that would free up space.

however, when I try to rm -r the microsoft office directory, i get a 'read-only file system' message for each file.

will report back the results of the fsck command...
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Expert Comment

by:strung
ID: 38284170
The previous suggested solution will run a disk repair on your drive.
The specific error you are receiving has to do with Spotlight indexing. You might get that error if Spotlight is unable to index because of a corrupt drive (or a full drive)>

You could use the instructions here   http://www.thexlab.com/faqs/stopspotlightindex.html#Anchor-35882  to turn off Spotlight indexing. That should make the error messages go away and perhaps allow you to boot.

You can also delete the existing spotlight index to free up space:

http://macstuff.beachdogs.org/blog/?p=38
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by:strung
ID: 38284174
Type Sudo before the RM command to remove the read only files.
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by:meelnah
ID: 38284181
thanks so much for trying to help.

The fsck -fy command completed.  Final lines state that:

the volume Macintosh HD appears to be OK.
***** FILE SYSTEM WAS MODIFIED *****

and I'm back to the root#
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Author Comment

by:meelnah
ID: 38284184
i tried adding sudo to the command to remove the directory, and still received the 'read-only file' message for each file it tried to remove.  

I will research that in a bit.

trying your spotlight indexing information now.
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Expert Comment

by:strung
ID: 38284185
Try turning off Spotlight indexing as above and delete the index.
You could also try delete the MS folder again, this time using SUDO.
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by:meelnah
ID: 38284190
i tried to delete the spotlight index using the sudo mdutil -E / command, and the system returned No index.
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Expert Comment

by:strung
ID: 38284193
Okay. Well turn off the indexing and see if you can then boot.
I guess to remove the MS folder you are going to need to change the file attributes first
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by:strung
ID: 38284201
Sure you can't borrow another Mac? That would make everything so much simpler.
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Author Comment

by:meelnah
ID: 38284207
i'm looking to see if there's any other files/directories that I can delete that may not be write-protected.

du -sh * shows that she has 974MB in My Pictures, 5.7 GB in Applications, 10GB in Library, and1.1 GB in USR... i'll look there next.
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Author Comment

by:meelnah
ID: 38284209
nobody around with a mac... i'm having her check though!
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Author Comment

by:meelnah
ID: 38284232
I'm finding that i can't seem to delete anything...

I found a movie in the user folder and tried to delete it.  Here is how the  commands went:

movies root#  sudo rm -r ads_uv_harrypotter7p2_main_faxs_2000k_dl.mp4
override rw-r--r-- 501/staff for ads_uv_harrypotter7p2_main_faxs_2000k_dl.mp4?  y
rm:  ads_uv_harrypotter7p2_main_faxs_2000k_dl.mp4:  Read-only file system


I'm assuming that somehow the file protections are preventing me from deleting, even though I am trying to delete as a super user?
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by:strung
ID: 38284237
There are terminal commands here: http://www.thexlab.com/faqs/maintscripts.html for running Mac maintenance scripts which will clear out old cache and log files.
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Expert Comment

by:strung
ID: 38284247
try rm -f instead of rm -r
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Author Comment

by:meelnah
ID: 38284250
rm -f and sudo rm -f still return 'Read-only file system'

I'm looking through the thexlab.com link you sent now.

Scott
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by:meelnah
ID: 38284255
interesting... when I try to run the sudo periodic daily script, the system begins giving me 'Read-only file system' messages again
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by:strung
ID: 38284260
Very strange
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by:strung
ID: 38284262
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Author Comment

by:meelnah
ID: 38284266
I found a similar article stating that the diskutil may fix it.  However, diskutil won't seem to run...

root#  diskutil
Unable to run because unable to use the DiskManagement framework.  Common reasons include, but are not limited to, the DiskArbitration framework being unavailable due to being booted in single-user mode.
root#

I am looking into whether I can switch out of single-user mode in my current state.
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Author Comment

by:meelnah
ID: 38284277
as 'something to try' I tried changing the file attributes of a file so that I can remove a file.

I tried:

chmod -N pdf.pdf
chmod:  Failed to clear ACL on file pdf.pdf:  Read-only file system


sudo chmod -N pdf.pdf results in the same message

could this have something to do with how I am getting to the command line?  To get here, I hold down the command key and 'S' during startup.


scott
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by:strung
ID: 38284278
This is getting a bit beyond my depth, I am afraid. Your best bet is still target disk mode if you can borrow another Mac.
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Author Comment

by:meelnah
ID: 38284282
ok... thanks for trying.  No luck yet on the additional mac, but perhaps we will be able to find someone.

I will wait a bit to see if anyone else responds, and if they don't, I will award you the points.

I appreciate your efforts.
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by:strung
ID: 38284296
Sorry I couldn't be of more help.
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by:meelnah
ID: 38284298
no worries.. you were great!

ONe last question... i have an external usb - dvd drive.  Will the mac recognize this drive from a command line?

if it would, i may be able to try to run diskutil or just reinstall the OS...

i don't know enough about mounting devices in unix
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by:strung
ID: 38284304
Nor I.

If you have the original install CD or DVD, you might be able to boot it from the external. Try booting while holding down the option key. That will bring up the boot picker. If the external shows as bootable, boot from it and when it boots drag down the Utilities Menu to Disk First Aid.
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by:meelnah
ID: 38284312
it was a good thought... when I run the boot picker, the only thing that displays is the macintosh hd...


:)
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Author Comment

by:meelnah
ID: 38284321
ah.. i found why i can't delete any files...

per this article...http://hintsforums.macworld.com/archive/index.php/t-20067.html

booting into single-user mode boots the drive in read-only mode


I'm currently working on mounting the external drive to try another route.

scott
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by:strung
ID: 38284338
If you don't have working internal optical drive and no second Mac to use target disk mode, your repair options are very limited, unfortunately.
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Author Comment

by:meelnah
ID: 38284340
found out how to make the disk writeable from a single-user mode...

mount -uw /  

this makes the disk writeable

from here i was able to delete a 2.5 GB movie, which gives a tiny bit of breathing room....

however, rebooting isn't successful, but the symptom has changed slightly.... i now hear the 'mac sound' upon boot up, even though it still hangs at the apple-spinning circle screen.

Now looking through the steps you had me try earler.


Scott
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by:strung
ID: 38284344
You could try safe booting now that you have some breathing room, too.
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by:Xaelian
ID: 38285927
Hi Scott,

Use following steps:
1. Try safe booting
2. If this doesn't work you can start your mac with command V (verbose mode) and view for the error why he stops and post it here.
3. If he safe boots, delete other files. Try a normal boot. If he doesn't do it, try repairing your disk in safe boot.

Afterwards, everything will be ok as long as you remember to clean up your HD early :)
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Author Comment

by:meelnah
ID: 38285989
Hi Xaelian,

Thanks for jumping in!

The system won't safe boot for some reason.  I've booted it in verbose mode and can see that it's sending logs to the report crash folder, but I'm not fluent enough in Unix to be able to read them from the terminal window.

Do you know how to display the log info from the window?
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Expert Comment

by:Xaelian
ID: 38286025
Hmm, normally you'll see a FATAL: or ERROR: afterwards the problem. Probably you go a disk error. Can you open recovery mode at startup? And use disk utility to repair it? If it doesn't work, you probably need a reinstall of lion. But then you need to copy everything with target disk mode to another mac first.
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Author Comment

by:meelnah
ID: 38286033
That's kind of what I'm finding.

We have two problems... the internal dvd drive isn't working, which is severely limiting my options... second, I don't have another mac to work through the target disk mode.

I have an external (usb) dvd drive, but it is much newer than the macbook, and the macbook doesn't seem to recognize it from the terminal window.

I will keep searching online and see if there's a way to display the crash log in terminal window.  I'm sure Unix has something for displaying these in the window, but I can't remember what it is.
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Expert Comment

by:Xaelian
ID: 38286065
Well best opinion is going to a mac store or friend to copy your data (that's the final step if it still doesn't work) I'll come back to you tomorrow. It's really late here now :-)
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Expert Comment

by:strung
ID: 38286073
You could boot into single user mode and use nano to read the log files
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by:Xaelian
ID: 38286077
If you have terminal acces, you can acces the terminal in recovery mode. You can do sudo nano /var/log/system.log, it will open the system log file in your terminal.
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by:Xaelian
ID: 38286080
And in single user mode, you know how to do this, because you deleted files in this mode.
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by:meelnah
ID: 38286117
i will try nano... that's a command i take it?  (again, not a mac guy!)

thanks!
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by:strung
ID: 38286233
Yes. It starts a line editor which can be used to read (or edit) text files. The alternative is pico.

See:  http://www.markgreentree.com/hints-tips/2012/2/4/mac-tip-use-piconano-in-terminal-to-edit-a-text-file.html
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by:strung
ID: 38286240
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by:meelnah
ID: 38286357
reading logfiles now using nano (thanks).

The failing process is loginwindow [23325]

googling for more info now...
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Author Comment

by:meelnah
ID: 38286368
this article looks like it might be our problem...

http://www.frightanic.com/2010/08/17/mac-hangs-at-blue-screen-login-window-crash/


however, in the /private/etc directory, i only have the authorization file, noth the authorization~previous file which the guy mentions....

If my cdrom drive worked, I could pull it from the install disk, but of course, it isnt operational.

any wisdom?
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by:Xaelian
ID: 38286639
Repair it with recovery HD. If you have it (if lion was preinstalled you have it)
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by:Xaelian
ID: 38287185
Try the following:

Start up in Single-User mode. Then continue with:

   
/sbin/mount -uw /
    cd /Library/Preferences
    rm com.apple.loginwindow.plist
    rm com.apple.windowserver.plist
    cd /Library/Caches
    rm -r *
    cd /System/Library
    rm Extensions.kextcache
    cd /System/Library/Caches
    rm -r *
    reboot

Open in new window


This should now take you to a proper login screen after the normal boot sequence. If not then start to Archive all your files and reinstall your MAC.
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Author Comment

by:meelnah
ID: 38287377
I tried what you suggested.  Everything went off without error until step #8, as there was no Extensions.kextcache file found.  An ls of the /System/Library directory shows me an Extensions.mkext and Extensions.mkext.MXXJ file, but no Extensions.kextcache file.

I did the remaining steps and rebooted.  The system went through it's 'normal' (for this point, anyway) process of playing the macintosh sound, then going to the gray screen with the apple logo and the spinning circle.

After about 5 minutes of this, it went to a blue screen with the spinning circle, but no logon.

Thank you both for trying.  It appears I will need to find a Mac servicer in our area.


Scott
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Accepted Solution

by:
Xaelian earned 1000 total points
ID: 38289442
Sorry to hear this. You will need a reinstall of your MAC.
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Assisted Solution

by:strung
strung earned 1000 total points
ID: 38289648
Probably at least have to re-install the OS.
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Author Closing Comment

by:meelnah
ID: 38305867
Thanks to you both for your efforts.

We took it in to a local shop, who diagnosed the problem as a corrupted OS, but they said the hard drive is bad, and will need to be replaced.

I appreciate your help!
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