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A serious error?

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  • Subject: [mg71888] A serious error?
  • From: Andrzej Kozlowski <akoz at>
  • Date: Sat, 2 Dec 2006 05:11:18 -0500 (EST)

I have just encountered a puzzling problem with my Mathematica 5.1  
for Mac OS X. It's probably an issue for technical support, but just  
in case someone has encountered it before (and known the answer) I  
have decided to post it here. (Actually, I am not even sure this is  
really a Mathematica issue rather than a Mac OS X issue issue).
My Mathematica 5.1 was working fine this morning, but then for some  
reason I restarted the computer and on next launch the following  
message appeared:

A serious error has occured while Mathematica was starting up.  
Mathematica will probably not function properly until this problem is  
resolved. You may choose to continue anyway, but Mathematica may  
crash or exit without warning.

The installation Mathematica may be corrupted. Contact technical  
support or visti hhtp:// for more information. Error  
code: 16.

I clicked "Continue Anyway" and Mathematica crashed as promised. I  
then immediately re-installed Mathematica from a back-up disk and re- 
started. Exactly the same thing occured. So corrupted installation  
does not seem to be the problem. I decided to check if the problem  
lies in my Home directory. I created a completely new user, logged in  
as the freshly created user and tried launching Mathematica. The same  
message, the same crash.
I then booted form an external hard disk, containing a back up of  
most things on my hard disk. I launched the copy of Mathematica 5.1  
on my internal hard drive (the same one that was crashing on  
startup) . It launched and worked without a problem. So, it seems  
that something is indeed wrong with the system software on the  
internal drive. What could it be? The only thing that came to my mind  
was some font corruption, so I replaced all the fonts in my internal  
hard drive by those in the external one, but to no effect.

I have also confirmed that the problem is only with the FrontEnd; if  
I launch the Kernel from the command line it works fine. Just in case  
I tried Mathematica 4.2 on the same system: it also works fine.

At the moment it looks like I will have to replace the contents of my  
internal hard disk with my external one. This is going to be time  
consuming and I might even loose something, because the two disks  
have not been kept not synchronized. So I consider this as a last  
resort. Apart of that, however, I would like to solve this puzzle.  
What could it be, that seems to affect only the Front End of  
Mathematica 5.1, and does not lie within the application package  
itself (since that works fine when used with a different startup  
disk), nor in the User directory, and does not seem to be caused by a  
corrupted font?

Andrzej Kozlowski

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