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February 08, 2004

Funky OS X screensaver problem

I’ve periodically seen a strange error on awakening the PowerBook from sleep. The screensaver’s login box appears, I enter my information, submit it, and the screen goes black. It’s not entirely black, however — the cursor is still visible.

If I put the machine back to sleep with the power button and ‘s’, I can repeat it ad infinitum. If there’s a second user on the machine, I can log in as them when the login window appears, and they get a full, graphical session, but switching back to the original user lands me in the black hole again.

I’ve finally discovered a workaround: login to the machine from a second box, and kill "/System/Library/CoreServices/loginwindow.app/Contents/MacOS/loginwindow console....". Doing so logs out the current user and generates a new login window, so it’s only slightly better than my previous solution, shutdown -r now.

Next goal: find a way to get just the window manager to restart, so I don't lose the user session.

February 8, 2004 in Apple - General, Apple - PowerBooks | Permalink


I think this issue was discussed on the Mac mailing list (from the UW) about 6 months ago or so. I can't recall the fix, if there was one.

I never use the screensaver, but then there's no one here but me ;-)

Posted by: paul at Feb 8, 2004 11:57:04 PM

I had that occur this weekend. I did find that hitting the power button and then the return key at the black screen did proceed to shut down the 15" PowerBook G4 (which means the sleep/restart/shutdown dialog was brought up and my typing was heard).

Posted by: Michael Edmondson at Feb 9, 2004 7:54:19 AM

This has happend on my 12" pb a lot recently. If its just a blank screen sometimes hitting the space key will bring up the screen, which it shouldn't since it should force me to log in. If that doesn't do it, I just close the lid and open it back up, that seems to kick it in the ass. Of course its extremly annonying and not something that I expect from my mac.

Posted by: nf0 at Feb 9, 2004 11:09:00 PM

Instead set your display to sleep after 2 minutes (don't use screensaver (set to never)) try that, also try brightness keyboardkeys.

Posted by: tr909 at Feb 19, 2004 11:12:29 AM

Same problem started a few days ago for me. Any updates on a fix yet?

Posted by: Steve at Feb 23, 2004 12:15:43 PM

Mine does it from sleep or the screensaver.... and the brightness doesnt work either -
hitting the power and enter or ssh into it and issuing comands works.

Posted by: Paul at May 4, 2004 7:06:19 AM

Have any of you tried running fix permissions from disk utility?

Posted by: Robert Chin at Jun 6, 2004 11:28:20 PM

I am accustomed to making a screensaver with my own photos by using the configure option on the screensaver setup. CONFIGURE is no longer there, I can only select CHOOSE FOLDER now. But when I choose a folder it always says there are no pictures in the folder, even though there are plenty in there. Anybody else having this problem? Is this a bug in OSX? How do I get it to "see" the photos in alternate folders?

Posted by: carol chamberland at Jul 1, 2004 1:18:23 PM

I have had the same exact problem with my 500MHz G3 iMac since I installed Panther on it. I'm not sure if it's a FUS issue or what, but it's annoying losing everything I have open. I have tried repairing permissions and killing random processes... the only thing I can do is hit ⇧⌘Q to log out, and hit return repeatedly to try to save anything that's open.

But I would really like a fix. Not using the screensaver is not an option.

Posted by: Miles at Aug 2, 2004 5:35:49 PM

Yes, I think it's definitely a Fast User Switching-related problem.

Posted by: Miles at Aug 4, 2004 3:52:53 PM

Grrr... I take it back. I just had it happen again with FUS turned off.

So... infuriating.

Posted by: Miles at Aug 6, 2004 12:45:42 PM

I've noticed this on my 17" PB. I'm a traditional unix person so I believe in long uptimes and rarely shutdown; seems to happen about once a week. Also keenly interested in any fixes or suggestions.

Posted by: Joe at Aug 28, 2004 12:02:17 PM

matrix code screensaver will not stay on
i have windows ME

Posted by: Jack dare at Feb 27, 2005 12:25:56 PM

I've had the same problem with a B&W G3, even though I've zapped the PRAM, and completely reinstalled the OS multiple times.

Currently, it's running Server 10.4.2. Hot corners do not work. When my screensaver kicks in, it sometimes flashes from it to my desktop repeatedly. If I use FUS to go to the login screen, I can log back in but it goes to either a black screen or my desktop image with the cursor, but no functionality. I usually ssh in and reboot.

Posted by: Chad Riden at Sep 8, 2005 1:53:38 PM

I’m having this problem for the first time right now, and this is also the first I’ve ever heard of it. I’m running X.4.4 on an MDD dual 1.25 G4. I switched to another account to see if I could find a fix instead of logging out.

It seems like everything works, it’s just hidden behind a thin layer of black, and there doesn’t seem to be any way to get rid of it. You can do everything, you just can’t see anything. Command-tab and force-quit still show on top of the black, though.

If a fix is ever found, please email me at [email protected]. Right now I’m going to keep Googling, then call Apple a couple of times, then start randomly quitting things in Activity Monitor out of desperation.

Posted by: Frungi at Feb 12, 2006 6:49:43 PM