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On my OS X 10.5 server every time I launch an application it goes 100% cpu and "not responding". Terminal, Console, System Preferences, all normal applications. The only thing not affected seems to be the Finder.

I can ssh into the server, and "top" shows any app I've opened pinned at 100%. I can kill these processes so everything's back to 0% (with background processes I assume) but when opening a new app - e.g. Activity Monitor - the app will pin again.

Any ideas how to troubleshoot and fix without rebooting?


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I think I would start by logging out of the server. You will probably get better results by using the various server tools remotely, or by SSHing in via

The first three things I would check are:

  1. Does anything look strange in the Server Admin tool?
  2. Are any processes that do NOT belong to YOUR user currently pinned?
  3. If you have another user on the system, does logging in with that user result in the same behavior?

My initial thought is that perhaps something has gone awry with the user account you are using for admin -- and that this might be linked to a server process the user depends upon (such as Open Directory). Applications you run might be trying to get a user-level resource that the system is not allowing for some reason despite its apparent availability, and so they spin up trying to access it again and again.

But this is just an initial thought -- you'll be able to diagnose it much more closely with the three steps above.

Also, use cat via remote SSH to examine various server logs (if trying to run Console.App is not possible due to that 100% spin) and see if one message keeps getting hammered over and over.

From there you can start to triage the issue. Good luck!

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Thanks for the answers. Unfortunately for practical reasons I had to reboot and the problem has gone now so can't troubleshoot the cause. – Music Tech Nov 2 '10 at 22:15

Another possibly-useful diagnostic step would be to run sample on one of the pinned apps; something like sample TextEdit 10 10 -- this'll look at what TextEdit is doing every 10 milliseconds for 10 seconds (i.e. 1000 total samples), and dump out statistics on the call tree. The tree may be kinda hard to interpret, but there are likely to be hints in there about what the program is spending so much CPU time on.

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