Snow Leopard Causes 'Spinning Wheel Of Death'

Some Apple customers gripe that move to Mac OS X 10.6 prompts systems to freeze.

Paul McDougall, Editor At Large, InformationWeek

September 3, 2009

2 Min Read

Numerous Mac users are complaining that upgrading their systems to Apple's new Snow Leopard operating system causes a boot failure that results in an endless display of a rotating icon known colloquially as "the spinning wheel of death."

As of Thursday, Apple's support forum was littered with posts from customers whose attempts to upgrade to Mac OS X 10.6 prompted the error.

"Sooo many on so many different Macs seem to be getting the Spinning Wheel of Death from Snow Leopard," wrote ravenx2012 on a post Saturday on the forum. "Seriously, how can so many people have their Macs bricked by this paid for 'service pack'," wrote the user.

Another poster, user James Shepard, reported that Snow Leopard "bricked my iMac 24" at the spinning wheel of death." Similarly, forum member Chet Wyman said that, despite a "flawless" upgrade for his MacBook Pro, his attempt to install Snow Leopard on his children's iMacs went awry. "Now I come home to the spinning wheel of death," said Shepard.

Numerous other users reported encountering the glitch, which has been likened to the Apple version of Microsoft Windows' infamous Blue Screen of Death. As of Thursday, a section on Apple's support forum devoted to the issue had drawn more than 1,500 views.

Forum members suggested numerous fixes—from holding down certain keys during installation to simply waiting out the problem—but Apple offered only one formal suggestion.

"Your Mac may start up to a gray screen after upgrading from Mac OS X v10.5 to Mac OS X v10.6 Snow Leopard. This may occur if a previous Mac OS X v10.5 software update had been downloaded using Software Update, but not completely installed, before installing Snow Leopard," Apple said in a support bulletin.

Despite the glitches, Snow Leopard sales appear to be strong. The OS remained the top software seller on a week after its August 28 debut, according the online retailer's Sales Rank listings.

Snow Leopard introduces a number of new features to the Mac operating environment, including 64-bit versions of Finder, Mail, iCal, iChat, and the Safari Web browser.

Mac OS X 10.6 also includes a new multithreading technology called Grand Central Dispatch that should prove popular with gamers, creative professionals, and other users that require maximum horsepower for graphics processing and other computationally intensive tasks. GCD enables applications to make full use of multi-core chips.

Meanwhile, a Web site has documented Snow Leopard's 100 incompatible Mac apps.

For Further Reading:

Complete Snow Leopard Coverage

About the Author(s)

Paul McDougall

Editor At Large, InformationWeek

Paul McDougall is a former editor for InformationWeek.

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