I got bitten by the Apple Leopard blue screen problem

This is not shaping up to be the kind of experience I've come to know from Apple. Why wouldn't FileVault configurations -- on or off -- have been tested before releasing this already late Leopard debut?
Written by Dana Gardner, Contributor

Wow, talk about dissatisfaction. Here I am spending a rainy Saturday morning looking forward to getting to know Leopard and I am hung up on a blue screen with little to go on but coffee.

Fortunately, I have multiple Macs in the house and am writing this up on a Tiger-based machine. This really pisses me off, because I took all precautions (back up, Disk Utility, all updates/downloads, etc.) and I still got bitten by the Apple blue screen problem.

So I go to Google and type in "Apple Leopard problems" and up comes this CNNMoney.com entry by Philip Elmer-DeWitt that tells of others having the same "blue screen of death" problem. Then I go to Techmeme, and lo and behold the blue screen issue is the top link!

Damn! Not only am I angry that my Intel-based Mac Mini seems hosed, this is a bigger problem -- and it calls into question my ardent loyalty and respect for Apple. This just should not happen, and I shouldn't lose an entire Saturday morning to the basic install of an OS upgrade.

Ok, so I get over the emotional let-down part and it's on to a fix. I call Apple support and get through in about 10 minutes after holding. Not too bad. The guy was helpful and walks me through an "archive and install," which means rebuilding the OS -- and saving the settings -- I hope! I had to turn the computer off manually, and restart it while holding the "c" key down. As the Leopard disk was still in the drive, this begins a new install. When I get to choosing the install locations disk, I click on options and choose the "archive and install" option and click to keep my old settings. I hope they stick.

[UPDATE: The installer calculates more than 2.5 hours to do this "archive and install" business. My dissatisfaction continues to advance. I'm beginning to think that Leopard is not ready for prime time given that my conditions here cannot by that unusual or atypical. There must be many thousands of others using an Intel Mini with FileVault on. This is my crime?!]

Right now the thing is slowly going through the "Checking installation DVD" procedure. Apple support told be to definitely do that because others have suffered the blue screen problem if they tried to skip it. Yikes, at least two issues that prompt the blue screen!

However, from what little information I have, what seemed to hose my Leopard installation has to do with FileVault. If you have FileVault on, you could face the same problems I've had. Even on an Intel-based Mac.

If I were you, I'd turn FileVault off before an upgrade, but that requires sufficient disk space. Hope you have enough.

This is not shaping up to be the kind of experience I've come to know from Apple. Why wouldn't FileVault configurations -- on or off -- have been tested before releasing this already late Leopard debut? Why not warn me also that the Time Machine backups does not work with FileVault on? I have to choose between being able to automate back ups and security for my data? I should be able to get both.

I hope my re-install of my upgrade goes well, based on this "archive and install" option. I'll post again when I know more.

[UPDATE: I went back to my Mac as the second hour approached only to find the dreaded blue screen once again upon my monitor. That was it, just blue screen. I tried a manual restart -- and it went from logo to cranking gear to blue screen. Sure feels like Windows 98 right about now. Disappointment continues to build, and I'm now going back to phone Apple tech support. Jeez.]

[UPDATE: Tried to call Apple support and was told they can't handle all the calls right now and to call back later. This could be spreading fast. I don't know. I just know I bought an OS upgrade and I got a blue screen-disabled PC and I can't get technical support.

If you read this and you have an Intel Mini, I can only recommend that you do not install Leopard until you know more about what's going on. That suggestion might apply to any upgrading of Leopard until we know more. Thank goodness I attempted the install on a Mac other than my work machine, or I'd be unable to function as a business ... and no tech support until I don't know when. Not good. Not good.]

[UPDATE: Tried calling again, but tech support isn't taking any calls, it seems. And on the first full day of an OS upgrade! So I tried to do again what the first tech support guy suggested, the "archive and install" -- but now it tells me I don't have enough disk space to install OS X. Even though I had enough space the first time I did an install, and then the second time when I tried, per Apple's suggestion, the "archive and install."

I'm now currently totally unable to use this machine, a less than year old Intel Mac Mini that had more than 20 GB of unused space when I began my Leopard fiasco. I can not reach tech support at all, even if I were willing to wait on hold for an hour. I spent $129 on an OS upgrade and I lost the use of machine for who know how long. don;t know if my setting are saved. I know my data is because I did a full backup before beginning this wicked chore. I just don't know how to get back to Tiger and to then restore from my backup.

This will be the last time I upgrade Apple anything until I see that the rest of the world has worked out the bugs with Apple first.]

[FINAL UPDATE: Apple support was answering the phone Sunday, and after an hour on the phone with a very pleasant and knowledgeable technician I still had not working Mac Mini or Leopard upgrade. It turns out I did have the third-party file, "com.unsanity.ape.plist," on the machine (I have no idea how, perhaps the kids downloaded it). But even after clearing that out, the troubles with FileVault were what did this default upgrade in. The FileVault was somehow damaged, and I could not log in. We just got errors.

So Monday, in my copious free time, I will need to use the original Mac Mini disk and do a complete clean wipe, re-install, and then upgrade to Leopard. I will then use Backup to restore the Home from the machine that I captured before the Leopard experience.

So, I agree that Apple can not forsee every third party file and glitch. But this was a glitch that brought the machine down with no warning or recourse. That is more than a typical third party goof. It cost Apple a lot of unnecessary support, and it cost me at least three hours and probably more when I try and get all the settings and apps back to where they were.

But what really troubles me, and erodes my confidence in Apple, is the business with FileVault. I wish I knew in advance that this would provide serious complications for Leopard and Time Machine, because FileVault is an Apple feature -- not from a third party. And I wonder whether Apple's secrecy (some would say smugness) around its products prevents fully vetted betas runs of these major products in fairly typical use, which apparently makes me a beta tester whether I want to be or not.]

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