Apple's Mountain Lion OS keeps crashing my iMac, and raises BYOD questions

Ever since I upgraded to Apple's "Mountain Lion" (Version 10.8) release of OS X I've been having a "small" problem with my iMac ... it keeps crashing. At least once per day, OS X gives up with a kernel panic and the System Diagnostic reports either "type 13=general protection" or "type 14=page fault." For what it's worth, the last two kernel extension events are for loading and unloading com.apple.driver.AppleUSBCDC4.1.21.

My iMac (which has to be my favorite computer ever) is a 27-inch, mid-2010 build with a 2.93GHz Intel Core i7 processor and 4GB of RAM. I've tried disconnecting all USB devices and I've disabled startup items but, so far, no joy. It crashes no matter what I do and, I see from online searching that I'm not alone in this.

VISUAL TOUR: What's new in Mountain Lion

Over on my Forbes blog I wrote about my disappointment following installing Mountain Lion and attracted the ire of the Apple fanboys, who apparently think that because they didn't have a problem it must be due to my stupidity. The reality of upgrades by any OS vendor is that things will go wrong for (hopefully) some small proportion of users, and Mountain Lion has a few problems.

Over on Macworld there's a guide for troubleshooting Mountain Lion but, alas, it doesn't address my problems. Even Apple's own support document regarding "kernel panics" (which is over a year old), only covers basic steps after which it recommends visiting an Apple retail store and making a reservation at the Genius Bar ... which would be great except for the time that would take.

Now, I admit I am not an expert in low-level OS X stuff, so picking apart the System Diagnostic Reports trying to identify the problem has been an annoying "learning experience," and revealed, so far, absolutely nothing. I've sent the System Diagnostic Reports to Apple's PR people but, to date, I've had no feedback, and friends with a lot more OS X experience have taken a look and have not been able to figure out what's going wrong.

I could, of course, throw up my hands and rebuild the entire system (as some people have suggested), but I don't have a spare 72 hours and that seems a poor way to deal with the problem.

What this highlighted for me are two things: Apple isn't perfect (sorry, rabid fanboys) and organizations allowing for bring your own device (or some day hope to) may have an interesting set of problems to deal with if their users experience similar problems.

So, what do you do if your users are running your corporate apps on their own gear and, as far as you know, the apps should be compatible with an upgrade? Do you demand that they can't perform the upgrade until you've had a decent amount of time to run your own tests? And if your users experience problems, do you try to fix the issues for them, send them to the Apple store, or just tell them to rebuild their devices?

The big question is, when you have a BYOD policy, how much responsibility do you expect your users to take for keeping their devices and your corporate apps running?

Gibbs is, for now, stymied in Ventura, Calif. Your insights to gearhead@gibbs.com and follow him on Twitter (@quistuipater) and on Facebook (quistuipater).

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Comments

Ben

1

I came across this because I was doing a web search when Mountain Lion started crashing for me too.

Interesting article, and quite the question you raise regarding BYOD support.

I work in IT Support for a local government in Australia, and the question of BYOD came up recently. Our local councillors are up for re-election next month, and our normal policy is to provide fresh, standardised computer equipment at the start of each electoral term.

This time round, however, it was decided to detach the Councillor's equipment from the organisation's network, because of the extra support overhead for their "non-standard" setup.

For example, by law, Councillors cannot have access to certain organisational documents, so we don't allow them to connect directly to our LAN, but they still need email, so all of a sudden there's firewall rules, separate network segments, etc. and things get complicated real fast...

As a result, this time, we've tendered for an external support provider, given each councillor a budget and, with certain restrictions (such as the ability to create documents in Council's adopted file format and the necessity for an external backup solution), given them card blanche to buy whatever they want. Because they have a buyout option at the end of the term, they can even add some of their own money and go high-end if they so choose.

For our internal staff, however, it's another story entirely. No BYOD, period. If you want to use your own device (say, an PDA or smartphone connected to our external mail interface), we will not provide any support for it. And no unauthorised computers connecting to the LAN.

The reasoning behind this is twofold:

Firstly, we have worked hard to create a Standard Operating Environment (SOE) for our users, which makes it easier to train new support staff, upgrade software, troubleshoot problems, to image new PCs, and re-image existing machines back to square one when things go really wrong. Having users bring in their own computers negates all of that in one fell swoop.

Secondly, our organisation has a limited budget, a larger than average staff to support ratio, and an obligation to our ratepayers to do things as cost effectively as possible. The cost, in both time and money, for our technical staff to develop and maintain the expertise required to support "all sorts" of computer equipment, is simply more than we can reasonably afford.

Although I don't necessarily agree 100% with this policy (especially when I'm not allowed to connect my beautiful iPad to our network!) I can certainly see the need for it, and why things would quickly degenerate into chaos if we relaxed or revoked it.

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