One of the great things about OS X is it’s based on the rock solid BSD operating system.
One of the crap things about OS X is you’re exposed to the underlying BSD operating system more than normal people would like. (as compared to the original Mac OS).
Recently a coworker started having all sorts of wonky things happening with his G4 tower. First, he couldn’t print. Then we noticed his file sharing had been turned off. When we opened the sharing panel in the preference pane and clicked the “turn file sharing on” check box, it would appear checked for a second, and then go back to being unchecked.
Turns out the temporary disk partition had filled up, which made his computer unhappy. This particular coworker always shut his computer down at night. This meant the daily, weekly and monthly maintenance scripts (that rotate log files, clear out scratch space etc.) that are standard on any unix style operating system weren’t running.
If you have a machine you don’t leave on overnight, or you let it go to sleep without waking up for administrator tasks, you should periodically run the Maintenance scripts on your own. There are two ways to do this.
The first, if you’re comfortable with the command line, is to run the following commands
Your-Computer: user$ sudo periodic daily Your-Computer: user$ sudo periodic weekly Your-Computer: user$ sudo periodic monthly
If, however, the command line makes you queasy, Brian Hill has created a free-ware application called MacJanitor which will run these commands for you at the click of a button.
You can find more general OS X troubleshooting tips over at Mac Attorney. And remember, when in doubt, just trash your preferences. That bit of old school voodoo can still work wonders.