a life of coding

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Most Amazing Error Condition

I stumbled on a dumbfounding message today. It said: "The application Preview can't be opened -10810." I saw another one later that said: "The application TextEdit can't be opened -10810." I have seen strange errors when upgrading (I assume due to pieces of libraries cached in memory differing from the remaining code on disk), but I had not upgraded recently. Thinking that I may have run out of disk space, I decided to check "df -h". Opening a new Terminal window just said: "Could not open a new pseudo-tty."

"Huh. Thats odd..." A search brought up some old Linux threads mentioning a maximum number of processes-per-user. I couldn't think of any reason why I would have too many processes, so I went to an existing shell, typed "ps -ax" and got "fork: Resource temporarily unavailable." Further adding to the awesomeness of the situation. But, I had a possible out - if there were indeed too many processes running, I could sacrifice some and the problem would (temporarily) go away.

I did manage to run a "ps -ax", and I saw a large number of:

  502  4344 ??         0:00.00 (Google Chrome He)
502 4432 ?? 0:00.00 (Google Chrome He)
502 4433 ?? 0:00.00 (Google Chrome He)

... zombie Google Chrome processes! Hah! I have been running Chrome for long periods of time, and its process management system is not functioning correctly. Close Chrome, problem solved.

Man, that was a weird one.


  • That is interesting...
    I do admire Chrome's design decision to use a process-per-site for stability and security, assuming that operating systems have been doing processes for a long time so they must be pretty good at it. I'm assuming this is a Chrome bug, but it sure would be nice if the OS had a better solution to the presence of a zombie army than refusing to create more processes.

    By Blogger Mark Luffel, At 1/22/10 7:51 PM  

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