Tag Archive: OSX

VirtualBox High CPU Usage on OSX

I noticed the fan was constantly making a lot of racket in my MacBook Air lately (running Yosemite 10.10). VirtualBox appears to be the culprit, even when my Windows 7 guest is idling (showing as 100%+ in Activity Monitor).

After reducing the number of assigned processors to 2 (was previously 4) everything seems to be back to normal. I also set the max usage to 75% (although this had no impact when set to 4 processors, so i’m not sure if it actually helps).

Looking forward to the increased battery life more than anything.

I powered up a new ESX host and enabled passthrough. This got me a bit further:

I thought it had hung here but patience paid off and the installer booted:

Damn- the keyboard/mouse doesn’t work (the pointer was moving around but I couldn’t click anything). Again- patience paid off and eventually it automatically moved on to the next step:

No target disks were listed when I chose to "Reinstall OS X". I went in to Disk Utility to investigate:

Damn. I tried using both IDE and SCSI disks in ESX but neither appear.

No doubt I’ll try some other ideas at a later date. I have a feeling I need to replace a .kext file on the install disc.


No success unfortunately- although I’m not overly fussed about getting it to work- just fancied a try.

ESX 5:


Again, getting stuck on "Still waiting for root device".

This was mounting the iso or trying client dvd drive. I can’t take ESX offline at the moment to reboot and enable USB passthrough.

If I get an opportunity to bring my other ESX host up sometime I’ll give it another go.


Mountain Lion Install

Everything went pretty smoothly- although it took a little longer than expected (probably due to the external dvd drive I was installing from).

I referred back to an old post for a list of applications I needed to install https://tickett.wordpress.com/2011/09/01/fresh-osx-lion-installation/ – fortunately with my recently upgraded FTTC 80/20 broadband I was able to re-download all the free stuff in no time at all (ensuring that I had the latest versions).

A few little things I’ve noticed so far. File copy progress indicator in finder:

By default only packages from "identified developers" can be installed:

This is easily fixed in System Preferences, Security and privacy- unlock to allow changes then change "Allow applications downloaded from:" to "Anywhere":

One of the features I’d been waiting for- Airplay Mirroring:

That’s my 50" TV (top) about 10ft away then my 15" MacBook Pro (bottom) on my lap. It seems to work pretty well even playing 1080p video- unfortunately there doesn’t appear to be any audio at the moment? Though a bit of googling highlighted a product called AirParrot which I might have to investigate.

The dictation feature seems to work pretty well too:

Although at the moment I think it relies on your caret being in the right place- I was quote hoping to be able to give it commands (Siri style)- a bit of a novelty maybe.

That’s about it for now. I might try installing on ESX later.

*EDIT* Now it would be nice to get some actual notifications in notification centre (gmail? outlook? facebook? imessage?)

Oh yeah- and software update is now part of the App Store.


A few small updates

A few small updates as I have a ton of projects on the go at the moment.

FreeNas 8

After a friend visited earlier in the week I decided to give FreeNas / ZFS another shot- so I’ve installed the latest v8 on a spare HP Microserver N36L. The little cube has 4x 1.5TB Samsung disks in RAID-Z with a single 4GB stick of RAM. I have ordered another stick of RAM and a low profile, dual-port, gigabit pci-e network interface card (nic)- the HP NC360T (intel chipset) so I can setup load-balancing/link aggregation/LACP. I starting copying some data off of the current production Microserver (WHS2011):

Performance seems average. I’d expect to see a bit of an improvement when the gigabit HP / Intel nics arrive.

New Orders :)

I have put my Cisco SGE2000P 24-Port Gigabit managed PoE switch up on eBay as it’s a bit too big and loud for the small data/comms cabinet I bought recently. As a replacement I have ordered the D-Link DGS-1224TP which appears to offer the same feature set at half the size and half the weight (I think it may also be passively cooled and is touted as being "green" so hopefully help with the leccy bill :)

I also have a few Sonos S5 network wireless hifis on order (they were on special offer and I’ve been looking at whole house / multi-room audio distribution solutions for a while). I have a slight concern I may need to buy some Apple AirPort Express access points to enable AirPlay on them but I’ll cross that bridge as/when…

Apple Programming

I’m learning xcode / cocoa / objective-c / osx / iOS whatever they call it as I want to write a little app to control my 4×4 HDMI matrix. The device is on the network and supports simple commands using a telnet style socket connection, so I’m hoping it won’t be too tricky! Unfortunately I couldn’t find the old control software I had or documentation but eventually stumbled upon the pdf with a few pointers. So the reading begins… http://developer.apple.com/library/mac/#referencelibrary/GettingStarted/Learning_Objective-C_A_Primer/_index.html#//apple_ref/doc/uid/TP40007594


Mac OS X Lion on ESXi 5

After countless failed attempts I’ve finally managed to get Mac OS X Lion running in ESXi 5.

I used Donk’s ESXi 5 Mac OS X Unlocker: http://www.insanelymac.com/forum/index.php?s=&showtopic=267296&view=findpost&p=1745191

Unfortunately when you try and boot from the Lion installation DVD the Virtual Machine hangs on the apple logo. Pressing F8 or configuring the VM to force entry into the BIOS on next boot allows you to select EFI Internal Shell

And boot verbosely by issuing the command: boot –v

We now see the boot is hanging at the PCI configuration stage:

Issuing the command: boot –v npci=0x2000

Allows us to get past the PCI configuration step but now hangs looking for the installation media (still waiting for root device):

This appears to be because the IDE controller is unsupported. Attaching an external USB DVD ROM, enabling pass-through:

Then attaching the USB controller to the VM:

And voila- the Lion installation begins!

The next obstacle came when trying to select the target disk for the installation. The virtual disk wasn’t listed and attempting to partition/format the disk resulted in an error: Unable to write to the last block of the device

I found a few suggestions: https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3226425?start=0&tstart=0

Launching Terminal and issuing: diskutil list
Allowed me to identify the disk: /dev/disk0
And issue: diskutil eraseVolume jhfs+ "OSX" /dev/disk0
Which also failed but back in the disk utility I was now able to partition & format the disk ready for the installation!

Everything went smoothly from here. Installing VMWare tools v5.0.0: http://www.insanelymac.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=267339 went smoothly but after rebooting I couldn’t login to (the password seemed to be being rejected). I rebooted the VM in safe mode (hold the shift key whilst during boot) and was able to login.

Performance is pretty poor (I think this is due to the lack of graphics acceleration) so I went straight in and enabled remote management so I could now use Apple Remote Desktop to administer the server.

Good luck!


*EDIT* One important thing to note the VM cannot be powered on from vCenter (error: Failed to find a host for powering on the virtual machine. The following faults explain why the registered host is not compatible. The guest operating system ‘darwin10_64guest’ is not supported). Simply logging directly into the host allows you to power on the VM.

Fresh OSX Lion Installation

I’ve just got a new SSD for my MacBook Pro (official apple- toshiba 256GB) and decided to install OS X Lion and all my apps from scratch. This is basically a list of said apps for me to reflect on at a later date :)

OS X Lion
Citrix Receiver
Photoshop CS5
Office 2011

Not noticed many differences in Lion yet… other than the scrolling works in the opposite direction to previous version (two-finger down scrolls up and two-finger up scrolls down… seemed odd at first but got used to it before i even bothered finding the setting to change it!).


Further to my earlier post https://tickett.wordpress.com/2011/03/25/virtualbox-issue-in-osx-on-new-macbook-pro-i7-2011/ it sounds like the bug is fixed in VirtualBox 4.0.7 (see http://www.virtualbox.org/ticket/8474)

However, I’m currently running my MacBook Pro with the 32bit kernel because of the issues I described here https://tickett.wordpress.com/2011/05/08/macbook-pro-2011-freeze-crash-issue/ and pre-4.0.7 works fine in the 32bit kernel.

Fingers crossed- this will fix for any of you running 64bit kernel.


I have recently started using Time Machine to backup my Mac and love knowing that I can, not only do a full system restore, but a full system restore to almost any point in time!

Time Machine fairly intelligently takes a full copy of your system the first time you perform a backup and then incrementally adds new/modified files on each subsequent run.

The first thing I noticed was my incremental backups were rather large 20GB+. Which, over wireless takes a really long time and will soon fill up my fileserver. Surely I’ve not added/modified 20GB worth of data in an hour? Well, no- I haven’t but I run VirtualBox which reads/writes to a virtual hard disk image of roughly 20GB- so even a single 1KB file modification will cause Time Machine to backup the entire virtual hard disk.

This is easily fixed- by opening up Time Machine preferences, clicking options and adding ~/VirtualBox Vms to the exclusions list. I also chose to exclude a few more paths after a little more research:

My incremental backups are now normally under 100MB and I use a different backup tool on my virtual machines.

I may decide to add my outlook mailbox to the exclusion list going forward as I’m connected to an exchange server (all the data is stored on the server). Time Machine backs up the entire mailbox every time as it is stored in a single file.

And finally, the default behaviour of Time Machine backing up once every hour seems a little excessive (although I’m often travelling and not connected to my network so the backups are skipped anyway). I was quite surprised not to find any configuration options within the Time Machine preferences but google showed plenty of tutorials- I used http://blog.fosketts.net/2010/05/28/tune-apple-time-machine-frequently/

The article explains how to alter the desired /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.backupd-auto.plist using Vi but I’m more familiar with nano:

  1. Open Terminal
  2. sudo nano /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.backupd-auto.plist
  3. Locate <key>StartInterval</key> (you will see the value below 3600 (this is in seconds which equates to 1hour)
  4. Enter the new value in seconds- say 36000 for every 10hours
  5. Press Ctrl-X to exit
  6. When prompted to save changes press Y and enter


I mentioned a few posts back that I was going to try and create a script (if no-one beat me to it) to automate the process of configuring a samba share to be used with Time Machine. I’ve had a go…

Here is the automator script: http://www.tickett.net/downloads/setup_samba_for_time_machine.zip

There are still a few steps required but it removes the need to open the terminal and lookup your computer name, mac address etc

1. Mount your samba share
2. Right click the setup_samba_for_time_machine automator script (downloaded above) and select Open With, Automator Runner

3. Select your samba share mount point, click choose

4. Wait a minute and you should see a message similar to above. Now launch Time Machine and point at the samba share!

I’ve never used Automator before so I expect the script can be improved considerably… I expect there are currently a few limitations:

  • The .sparsebundle file must not already exist
  • Your computer name must not contain any spaces
  • Others?

I have also seen an error when trying to backup one of my Macs that the image isn’t big enough even though it is set to the same size as the hard disk drive? (Should we be making the .sparsebundle image larger than the hdd size?)

Feel free to modify the script and please feedback and changes/comments etc- I will most likely blog later about the way the script works (I found it quite hard using google to solve issues such as: How do I determine the size of the hard disk drive? How do I display a simple message/popup/dialog?)


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