Postfix Problems Causing Mac To Slow To A Crawl
Tuesday 13 March 2012
About 4 or 5 months ago I purchased a new Macbook Pro. It’s been a nightmare since then:
1 - fan constantly running at a low but too audible level and spinning up to full far too frequently – I took it to a questionable Mac repair shop in Halifax, they told me it was fine the first time, when I contacted them a second time they told me that they’d charge me for a diagnosis. Clear the computer was not ok, but I was loathe to pay them to once again tell me the computer was fine. Calls to Apple did not help.
2 - Apps crashing all the time - calls to Apple may have helped slightly. I reinstalled the OS and the offending apps and that seems to have cleared up a bit.
3 - Lately I noticed that the machine had slowed to a crawl to the point where it became completely unusable. I couldn’t help but thing that all or some of my problems were related. Google searches did not help, and I went into total meltdown mode, not sure how to rectify the problem given the complexity of getting a new machine up and running with all of my existing apps, developer-related software, files and config….
Googling around, did provide one piece of sage advice that I encountered in my travels and filed away for future attempts at digging myself out of the dark pit of Mac hell that I had fallen into: take a look at the system.log using Console - in that writer’s case suggesting that hard drive problems might be apparent and that I/O errors might be an indicator. After giving up late last night and deciding I would worry about how to move foward this morning I took a break and drowned my sorrows in some Jura Superstition. Before going to sleep I popped back into my office and remember to try that one bit of advice – opening the system.logs and seeing what I might see. What I saw was this, and a hell of a lot of it:
Postfix mail queues were causing massive system congestion as far as I could surmise. I wasn’t even sure what the hell Postfix was doing on my machine at all. I must have installed it at some point years ago when I was just getting the lay of the land with systems admin and then forgotten about it, it then got migration along to new computers. I popped in to Terminal and tried disabling Postfix and then deleting the queue
sudo /bin/launchctl unload -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/org.postfix.master.plist
postsuper -d all
It was magical. Suddenly the computer was blazing fast, and I haven’t heard the fan run at all since then. I’m hoping I’ve seen the last of these troubles with the Mac, I was on the verge of jumping the Apple ship entirely but I didn’t know where else I could turn. One thing that I decided as a result of this nightmare was that I need to get a Time Machine backup running on both of my Macs. I’ve already lost one hard drive in the past year – fortunately it was mostly tv shows and movies that were highly expendable: was I ever really going to watch the entire canon of French new wave cinema?