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Re: A serious error?

  • To: mathgroup at
  • Subject: [mg71911] Re: [mg71888] A serious error?
  • From: Andrzej Kozlowski <akoz at>
  • Date: Sun, 3 Dec 2006 06:26:39 -0500 (EST)
  • References: <> <>

On 2 Dec 2006, at 20:42, Chris Chiasson wrote:

> A few ideas:
> This happens on my system when my network share is unavailable because
> I have set the environment variable MATHEMATICA_USERBASE to be on a
> network drive.
> Have you tried a Shift+Option startup of Mathematica?

Yes. In fact, I manually deleted all the FrontEnd Caches, which  I  
think is equivalent. (But I also tried th eShift-Option startup, just  
in case).

> If neither of those work, use a command that can give you a (binary)
> diff of a directory structure to compare the Mathematica install on
> your system with the backup install on your external drive. AFAIK,
> most of the files should be exactly the same, but if the front end is
> complaining - some of them might be missing or corrupt.

But Mathematica is definitely not corrupted. The proof is that it  
works fine if the startup disk is an external disk. As I wrote:  
exactly the same copy works fine if I boot form an external drive and  
crashes on startup if I boot form my internal one. Moreover,  
immediately after the problem occured I deleted Mathematica from my  
internal hard drive and copied it again from the installation disk.  
This has made no difference though.
I have also found that Mahtematica 4.2 and 5.0 run fine when I boot  
from the same internal hard drive that causes trouble with 5.1.  
Moreover, no version of 5.1, no matter where I put it, will start up,  
using the Front End. The kernel works fine, as I wrote.

It really looks like the System has somehow remembered Mathematica  
5.1 and won't let it start up, perhaps by not allocating it memory  
(?) I really have no idea how this sort of thing works under Unix  
(which is what Mac OS is), but it certainly looks like it. I also  
can't find any mention of error code 16 on Mac OS X on Apple's  
support pages. I assume the message refers to a Mac OS X error,  but  
Apple lists errors 1 to 32767 for Mac OS 9 and earlier only.
> Also, you may want to look into using a source code repository - I use
> subversion.

Subversion of course would explain it. In fact I have been expecting  
something like this since they poisoned Litvinenko -- (I am sorry,  
this Mathematica problem must have affected my sense of humor - I  
actually have no idea what you mean by "source code repository").

> Good luck,

Thank a lot.

> On 12/2/06, Andrzej Kozlowski <akoz at> wrote:
>> 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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