Friday, February 22, 2013

Saved By Recent Item

Wow, one month since last post. Thought I'd use some of the extra time I've got on my hands to post stuff. Wrong.

Anyway, here's a simple story to blog about a small recent computing incident... I had managed to fill up the startup disk. I had mostly ignored the OSX warnings, though I did some half-hearted attempt to free up some space by deleting the low-hanging crud.

But the other day the warnings turned out to having been warranted. Login failed to start the Dock; and also didn't start finder. Which makes you pretty restricted.

Mysteriously, logging in managed to slowly launch a Chrome process. Weird, I don't have it set to open on login, and it doesn't normally do that, but this weirdness saved my bacon. Although surfing was not possible since the network wouldn't work at all, which is weird. Which, by the way, made the system updater report the lie that there were 'no changes', after a couple minutes.

Now, how did Chrome manage to save me? Well, it was not Chrome per se, but the system menu accompanying an open app. Chrome was the only open app. No finder, no cmd-tab app switcher. In the system menu, there is the "Recent Items" submenu, with an Applications section in it. And there it was, the bacon-saver: Teminal.

So, using a Terminal session to clean the start disk leaving upwards of 1GB, after a logout and login everything was back to normal.

Learnings: launch terminal now and then, to keep it available in the Recent Items. Or heed the OSX warnings and free up enough space to be able to log in. Or perhaps one can make Terminal start during startup.

Or perhaps this idea might work: always keep a file of some size, perhaps 100MB will be enough, in the tmp/ folder. It should be deleted during system boot, which should free that amount of disk space. But creating it in a login script might offset the purpose.

Of course, the real fix is to have Dock not require disk space to start up. Or make the OSX low-on-disk-space warning explain what might happen if you don't act -- that'd scared me into action, for one.

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