Miscellaneous Ramblings

More on the OS 9.x 'Sleep of Death' Bug

Charles Moore - 2002.06.10 - Tip Jar

Last week's "Sleep Bug" piece resulted in a lot of user feedback that may have raised more questions than it answers. Sleep problems have been noted in PowerBook 1400s, two models of Power Mac G4s, and iBooks. The bug seems to manifest in some versions of OS 9.1 and X, not just 9.2.2. Possible culprits include third party hard drives and the Palm HotSync software. One recommended solution is shareware, so you can try it at no cost.

Additional feedback is welcome. Please email Charles W. Moore with your comments.

"Sleep Bug" in Mac OS 9.2

From Chris Searles

Hi Charles,

In your your article on the "Sleep Bug" in Mac OS 9.2, you forgot to mention that people should try using the shareware Sleeper to cure such ills. My wife had the same problems on her iBook running OS 9.2, and using Sleeper instead of Apple's Energy Saver CP took care of them.

Chris Searles

Hi Chris,

I didn't forget; I didn't know about it. ;-)

Thanks for the tip.


Sleep of Death

Mike Paulus

Hi Charles,

Man, I have this problem on my Pismo, and it's horrible. I'm going to "downgrade" to 9.1. I was wondering, is there a way to downgrade the OS without doing a clean install (wiping the HD and starting over from 9.0.4).


Mike Paulus
Creative Director

Hi Mike,

You could try going through the System Folder and chuck all the specifically 9.2.2 stuff but leave everything else, then running the OS 9.1 installer (or 9.0.4 and then the 9.1 updater).

I don't know how well this will work in this case, but a similar procedure worked for me in downgrading from OS 9.0.4 to 9.0 when the former didn't work so well on my WallStreet.

It's good to stuff a copy of your System Folder first before trying something like this, so you can restore the status quo easily if it doesn't work out.


Re: 'Sleep of Death' a Hardware-Specific OS 9.2 Bug?

From Jay Austin

Hi Charles,

Just wanted to provide another data point and let you know that the "Sleep of Death" doesn't seem to be either hardware-specific or limited to OS 9.2. It's seized my PB 1400 running 9.1, and the posts I've seen on MacFixIt suggest that others have run across the problem with this combination, as well as other machines running 9.1 (indeed, all the way through 10.x, as you note). None of the workarounds posted have worked for me.

The thing is, my 1400 ran 9.1 without a trace of this bug until a couple of recent hardware upgrades - a WaveLAN wireless card and IBM TravelStar 10 GB hard drive. I think it has something to do with the hard drive, as sometimes putting the machine to sleep will yield an audible "snik" from the drive, as if power gets cut while the drive is still writing (virtual memory blocks?). Those are the times that it refuses to wake up from sleep - if I don't get the noise, but only a gentle rattle, then everything wakes up fine. I wonder if this is also true on your WallStreet.

Anyway, it's nice that you've brought some attention to this, and it would be even nicer if Apple would do something about it (though any future system updates are unlikely to work on my 1400). Yes, I know I can set my system to "never sleep," or use a third-party screen saver. But since it's a *laptop* it would be nice to close the lid every now and then, y'know?


Hi Jay,

Thanks for the supplementary info. I've used OS versions 8.1, 8.5, 8.5.1, 8.6, 9.0, 9.0.4, 9.1, 9.2.1, and 9.2.2 on the WallStreet. The only versions that manifested the S.O.D. problem are the two 9.2s.

I have gone as long as 15 (workhorse) days without a restart on the WallStreet in OS 9.1, with roughly half a dozen sleep/wakeup cycles per day.

I won't gainsay that the hard drive might be a factor in the problem, but for me, it only happens in 9.2.x.


OS 9.2 sleep of death

From MEL

"There has been a lot of traffic on troubleshooting forums about the so-called 'sleep of death' wake up from sleep bug that afflicts some PowerBook users, and perhaps others as well."

Charles, I enjoy reading your columns, and let me tell you, this Sleep of Death problem with OS 9.2 manifests itself on my Power Mac G4 733 Quicksilver. My solution, which ain't much, has been to just disable the sleep feature on that energy saver control panel.

I don't really want to downgrade back to 9.1, since I would have to deal with all of those gray CDs that originally came with my Mac.

When I am running Mac OS X 10.1 (the most current one I have), the sleep mode works to a degree. However, the Mac doesn't entirely go to sleep, as the fan stays on even if the screen goes dark and the drives spin down. Anyone reported anything like this?

Currently I have two hard drives on my G4: one with OS 9.2 and the other OS X. I use both systems interchangeably whenever I need to do certain tasks. One of my favorite features of OS X is its ability to create PDF files of just about anything using the print preview command. That is cool. It is too bad that whenever I run programs from the classic OS 9 environment from OS X.

Anyway, thanks for the great articles. I've read many at Low End Mac and Applelinks.

from Hawaii


I think I have heard of the partial sleep anomalies with OS X and the TiBook. Don't know what to do about it, though.

Incidentally, sleep works great in OS X on my Pismo - one aspect of OS X I have utterly no performance complaints about. The almost instant wakeup is wonderful, and I've had no sleep-related problems, even without restarting, for over a month once or twice.

Thanks for reading.


Article "Sleep of Death" at LEM

From Christoph Ewering


I f I remember right, this was a problem with HotSync.

Do you have Palm Desktop installed?

Switch of port-monitoring in HotSync. I had this sleep of death on my Pismo, but not with 9.2.x think it was 9.0 or 9.1.

After switching of HotSync "Sleep of death" was gone.

Dipl. Ing. Christoph Ewering
C & E Informationsdienste GbR
Autorisierter Apple Händler und Systemhaus in Paderborn

Hi Christoph,

Nope, no HotSync; no Palm Desktop.

So far, no S.O.D. problem on my Pismo either, under OS 9.1 or 9.2. Just on the WallStreet in 9.2.


Sleep in G4s running OS 9?

From g4

My G4/450 Sawtooth (OS 9.0.4) has an Adaptec 2930U SCSI card, and a friends G4/350 Sawtooth (OS 9.2.2) has an Adaptec 2906 SCSI card. Neither are able to "sleep" normally, usually crashing sometime during the time that the sleep program tries to execute - 30-60 minutes after the last keyboard or mouse activity.

Both SCSI cards are nominally OS 9 & OS X compatible, according to the Adaptec Web site. I have tried to get their firmware updater to update their V 4.0 firmware to the V 4.2, which is on their Web site, without success.

It appears to be part of the reason for a lot of crashes.

Anyone else have this dilemma?

Dan Brown

Sleep Bug

From Adam R. S. Guha

Hello, hope you are doing well.

It's been a while since we've emailed, but if you remember, I had asked for your advice a little over a year ago about buying a refurbished PowerBook G3 to replace my iBook.

Anyway, I had experienced a 'sleep bug' on that G3 that I got, a 333 MHz Lombard, when it was running 9.0. It had the same symptoms that you described, and the 'fix' turned out to be reinitialising the hard drive. An update to 9.2.1 fixed all problems, and the machine ran perfectly.

However, updating to OS X reintroduced the problem. This time the screen would simply stay black. There seemed to be no fix whatsoever for this, although after 10.1.2 came out, it seemed to happen less often.

My dad has a WallStreet 266, somewhat like your old machine, and he has mentioned no sleep issues (9.2.1 I think). However, I do know that he shuts his machine down after each use, so he doesn't often use sleep mode.

Recently (you may have noticed my article), I upgraded to a PowerBook G4/400 (the short battery life on the Lombard w/X was a problem for me), and I have had zero sleep issues. In fact the G4 is wonderful with OS X. I ran it solidly, no restarts, for 42 days straight. The only reason I had to restart was to install some software.

Anyway, I figured I would let you know that you aren't alone with your G3 sleep experiences.

Adam R. S. Guha

Hi Adam,

Good to hear from you.

These sleep issues are nothing if not idiosyncratic.

Sleep works fine under OS X in my Pismo too (and in OS 9.x for that matter). The bug, as I've experienced it only affects the WallStreet under OS 9.2.


Sleeping bug

From Alvin Chan

Hi, good you have a solution to this. I have that, too, on my iMac, and I use 9.2.2. The wake up for administration is clicked by default, right. I have clicked it again to see if it still fails wake up. Though I only have the video and HD to sleep, not the system.

Does putting the whole system [to sleep] disconnect you from DSL connection? We share the connection with my iMac as the server. The other is a PC. Sometime I leave the computer on overnight for long downloads and was wondering if I set the system to sleep (see that cute glowing orange light again), which is now set on never, will it not continue my download?

God bless,

Hi Alvin,

I don't have DSL, so anything I would say on that issue would be speculative.

I do often leave my computers downloading files overnight, but my dialup ISP kills the connection after 15 minutes of no activity, and the PowerBooks are set to go to sleep after half an hour, which all works fine for me.


1/3 2/3 rule

From Alvin Chan

Hi, Charles. I have set up a very good setup. When the recommended setting have failed, then I used what God himself uses to create. You can see in symmetry around us. Like our fingers it's always two-thirds longer than the next past connect to it, which is 1/3 shorter - symmetry.

iMac 350 settings: 128 MB, 213 virtual memory, 8000 K disk cache, OS 9.2.2.

I start out with the recommended settings that are from reliable sources, and if that doesn't work, I start use the 1/3, 2/3 rule. I started off with proven, well known recommendations I have read. For example, I used the 1/3 rules on this, 2/3 can also used: 6000 K disk cache then dividing that by 3 I get 2000 K, so the best disk cache is 8000 K.

I used the 1/3 rule on the major applications I use like SurfDoubler, but with the sum I got, I use them on both minimum and preferred so there will no swapping. I used that rule on VPC 3 and Netscape 7 PR1 (most especially). If that doesn't work I'll use the 2/3 rule, but I hope that is enough.

After midnight I made sure my DSL connection was not gonna crash, because my brother's PC shares the connection, that's why add more memory to SurfDoubler - just in case. I have planned the iMac not to be turned off already so that the DSL is always on so that even Dad can send emails. Though the system sleep is put to never so that DSL does not disconnect, the video and hard disk are set to separate sleep to conserve power. It is set to restart after a power failure so that they can still get connected even when I'm not here. The SurfDoubler is in the Start up. Automation rules =)

I guess you might try this too if if ever =)

By the way, Netscape 7, even though I have set it's min and preferred to 38 M, it still uses 62 as shown on the My Computer. I have reinstalled this and dumped preferences, any solution? This is isolated on Netscape only.

God bless,

Fascinating theory, Alvin.

I haven't been successful in downloading Netscape 7.0 for OS 9, although it works beautifully in OS X, so I haven't any answer about your memory allocation question. Things are fine in that department with my Mozilla 1.0 FC3 install for OS 9.


Sleep Of Death

From Kevin Weight


I haven't experienced the "sleep of death" phenomenon you've written about to any great degree. I've had an occasional problem with the computer not waking from sleep, but only very, very rarely. I'm running OS 9.2.2 on a 233 MHz WallStreet with 192 MB of RAM and a 20 GB Fujitsu hard drive.

The machine is the series II version with the backside cache and the 14.1" screen. I don't know if this will be of any help in determining the cause (or lack of cause), but hopefully it's of some assistance in narrowing the possibilities.

Best of luck in making the move to OS 9.2.2. I find it to be an excellent OS.


Hi Kev,

Glad to hear that OS 9.2.2 is working well for you.

The S.O.D. bug affects my WallStreet on about one in three wakeups, and my Pismo so far not at all.

Mine is also a PDQ with 512k of L2 cache, 192 MB of RAM, and a Toshiba 10 GB hard drive.


Re: Sleep of Death

From Ian R. Campbell


I have actually had that problem with my iBook, however, I run OS X on it. I just did the 10.1.5 update, and so far so good. It's been kinda bizarre and incredibly infuriating when my 1400 comes right up. The last time I ran my iBook off of 9 was when I first bought it, so my OS 9 system is languishing.

~ ian

Hi Ian,

Perhaps 10.1.5 has fixed it.


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Charles Moore has been a freelance journalist since 1987 and began writing for Mac websites in May 1998. His The Road Warrior column was a regular feature on MacOpinion, he is news editor at Applelinks.com and a columnist at MacPrices.net. If you find his articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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