Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Speed up your Mac

I'm familiar with "bit rot" where Windows computers seem to slow down over time and in the end seem to need a clean install to get them right again, but it seemed to be happening with my Macs.

The built in Activity Monitor is a wonderful tool for seeing what's going on. I ran it and found that I had forgotten about some of the things that were running, including postgresql, mysql, various daemons for scanners, printers, pda's and even cameras.

The worst offendor was Caplio Mounter, an abomination that was taking gobs of memory and using too much CPU for something that is idle but waiting for a camera to connect.

Select a process in Activity Monitor and "inspect" it, you get wonderful, readable information about what it's up to and even all the files it has open. Very interesting.

Regrettably, there is no framework for uninstallers on the Mac. This really needs to be fixed! I had to trawl around the /Library/StartupItems directory moving things out. There is a Control Panel called Diablotin that does a pretty good job at managing Startup Items too.

After turning off a bunch of unused things, (I even had Apache running), my machine is clearly faster to start up and more responsive.


Alastair said...

FYI when uninstalling you can look through the receipts in /Library/Receipts to see what was installed. Use lsbom, like so:

$ lsbom /Library/Receipts/xxx.pkg/Contents/Archive.bom

I agree there should be tools to do this stuff automatically.

Alastair said...

Forgot to mention, a while back I used fs_usage to monitor activity on an otherwise idle system, and caught Palm Desktop red-handed. It was polling. Yes polling. In this day and age. Just unexcusable really.

Peter Marks said...

I had a few things doing stuff in the background, there was an Epson scanner monitor and some HP printer software.

There's a build in mechanism to detect a scanner and the only reason I can think of the HP printer software hanging around is that it has some flash card reader slots in it.

My understanding is that Launchd can do all the app launching you need so there is no excuse these days.

Thanks for that lsbom Receipts tip, so is that the data needed for an uninstaller?