// 25.Oct.2009

Have You Checked Your Logs Recently?

Because I’m a geek I thought it’d be “nice” to use GeekTool to tail -f my system.log onto my desktop. What an eye-opener that turned out to be.

I was shocked to discover that my beleaguered Power Mac was working virtually non-stop, continually dumping messages out to the log – most of which, I was sure, shouldn’t have been there. Surely that couldn’t be right?

One message that was repeatedly recorded looked like this:

24/10/09 11:36:18 AM com.apple.launchd[1] (org.postfix.master4294) Stray process with PGID equal to this dead job: PID 4296 PPID 1 pickup

The above notice was being appended to the log every 60 seconds, with only the timestamp and PIDs changing.

So I did what any self-respecting geek would do, I Googled it and I learned that this was a remnant of OS X’s pre-launchd scheduling. The org.postfix.master.plist was trying unnecessarily to spawn a new child process every minute. I opened /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/org.postfix.master.plist in my text editor and found the following XML:


The -e 60 argument is the little devil responsible so I commented out that block like so:


Then I restarted my Mac and, voilà, no more postfix messages.

Next up was this one:

Oct 24 11:59:57 Macintosh kernel[0]: { 41 910440} UniNEnet::restartReceiver

Which appeared with a high-rate of repetition but without a discernible pattern in frequency. Nor could I associate it with any activity that I was performing.


Turning to Google again I found this interesting thread on the Apple Support bulletin board. Seems this is a problem with the software supporting the wired ethernet sub-system of PowerPC Macs which was introduced with version 10.5.8 of OS X. Since that’s likely to be the last revision of OS X for the PowerPC machines I doubt that this one will ever be fixed.

I tried a few things: turned off AppleTalk, disabled IPv6 support, and so on. Nothing – the system.log was still recording the message, over and over and over again. What a bummer!

Then I had a thought (amazing I know). What if I unplug the Cat-5 and let my Mac switch to the AirPort Extreme card? Guess what? The messages stopped. Score 1 for the home team!

So I’ve been running my PowerMac with only wireless connectivity for around 24-hours now and I haven’t really noticed any performance loss as far as my Internet activity is concerned. I think I’ll stick with it for now (at least until the next time I need to grab an ISO image or a large torrent).

There were a few other bad guys to track down, including a long-deleted application — that hadn’t been completely removed — which was trying to start itself every 10 seconds! But with that tailing log to guide me, it didn’t take too long to clean things up.

Now I’ve got a system that’s ticking along quite nicely. The odd message makes it way into the system.log, but they’re all valid, all just part of the normal operations of my computer.

Anyway, I recommend that you fire up Console.app and see what’s happening on your Macintosh. Clean things up a bit. Maintenance is never wasted and could keep the gremlins at bay.

Last Revision: October 25th, 2009 at 22:56

4 Comments for “Have You Checked Your Logs Recently?”

  1. I installed this last night! Not got round to chasing down these errors though! Thanks.

  2. Aw come on mate, get your finger out!

  3. A fine tip sir. I’ll be having a peek at mine tonight I think.

  4. Sounds kinky Kevin - I don’t want to know about that. But when you’ve finished perhaps you could review your system.log?