Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Defective Airport cards can disable a Mac (Macintouch)

MacInTouch Home Page
[M.J. Ejenbaum] I had been having a few problems with my 15' Aluminum 1GHz PowerBook, including wake from sleep issues. Today, I ran a backup in the office on my FireWire 400 backup, and then went to work at my home. I decided to run the FireWire 800 backup as well, since I try to keep two (2) separate external hard drives as redundant backup drives. I plugged in the FireWire 800 'cold', i.e., when the PowerBook was completely shut down. Got a kernel panic. Hit the power button, waited 2 minutes, and no startup. Tried to boot from PowerBook G4 DVD which has Panther 10.3 on it, no go. CD would spin up, computer would not start no matter what.

I hightailed it over to the Apple Store in Aventura, Florida, and waited to see the resident Genius for about 10 minutes. He pulled out the battery, and then the Airport Extreme card. Lo and behold, the machine ejected the DVD, and started right up.

He gave me a new Airport Extreme card. All issues resolved. The Firewire 800 backup works fine, the computer wakes from sleep with no problems, and now, I am picking up a network near my residence that I had not detected before. The Genius told me that the bad Airport Extreme cards are responsible for a variety of problems, and one of the first suspects he has.

[Robert Lenoil] I have a Trendware 802.11g PC Card installed on my 500 MHz TiBook, which Mac OS X 10.3.5 treats as an Airport Extreme card because it uses the same Broadcom chipset. Yesterday I closed the lid on my PowerBook, but instead of going to sleep it just hung with the fan still on. After I rebooted, I got a kernel panic as long as the card was plugged in. I removed the card, and installed the Airport 4.1 update. The computer would then boot, but it no longer recognized the card - the PCCard menu showed 'unsupported legacy card' or something like that. I reinstalled the Airport 3.4.3 drivers and the PCCard menu didn't appear at all and Airport didn't see any AirPort card. I plugged the card into a PC laptop and it worked fine, so I didn't think it is a problem with the card itself.

I removed the wireless card, ran System Profiler, and it reported the same results - meaning that it wasn't seeing my card at all. I then opened up the TiBook and found the cardbus connector to the motherboard had worked itself loose. Just re-seated it, and I'm back in the saddle.

Tight integration of hardware and software can have pernicious side-effects. This is an OS design problem. Modern personals are too complex and unpredictable.

If a system seems very unstable, strip it down, boot off a CD, and retest.

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