View Full Version : crashed and burning.

05-26-2006, 01:43 PM
I am in a class of ten Syracuse University computer graphics students who are currently finishing up work on a two-minute animation, started and almost completed in two weeks. We're running Lightwave 8.5 on a lab full of G5's. It's Friday now, and since last Thursday Lightwave has crashed upwards of 270 times.

270 times.

WTF mates. I'm not sure what the official record is, but I hope we're **** close.

05-26-2006, 01:56 PM
What exactly is crashing. Is Lightwave Modeler, Layout or ScreamerNet crashing? What are you doing when it crashes. More detail here will help in trying to troubleshoot your problem.

05-26-2006, 02:23 PM
boy - you'd think after the first 100 crashes you would've posted and asked for help.

05-26-2006, 02:40 PM
Hah, modeler and layout crash all the time when we do anything. That might be a bit of a generalization, but we've crashed for about a million reasons. We put a poster on the wall so that we can keep score of who crashes how often (though I think it's probably more like golf, you win for a lower number of crashes).

I'm not so much looking to troubleshoot here, I just thought it was a pretty incredible number of crashes for a fairly short amount of time. We've actually crashed OSX four times, which was kinda neat. Sorry if this thread is a waste of space, but misery loves company and I thought I'd share the accomplishment (or frustration).

05-26-2006, 02:47 PM
I've moved this to the appropriate support area. If you can provide some info on repeatable crashes NewTek staff or the users here may very well be able to assist you. Some details about the functions you are using in the project may also be useful.

05-26-2006, 04:47 PM
Well, for starters, here are some of the problems we've been running into consistently:

opening Layout
opening Modeller
closing Layout
closing Modeller
rendering anything
canceling a render
saving scenes
adding items (sometimes)
deleting items (always)
thinking about graph editor
not thinking about graph editor
clicking the mouse a _little too long_
Opening a scene and rendering immediately
loading items from a scene
leaving the computer unattended to take a leak
snakes on a plane

An added bonus:
Closing lightwave crashes safari! It causes kernel panics and even quits quicktime. iTunes can't even escape it's wrath.

once I headbutted the G5 and lightwave crashed. Though, it might have been crashing anyways.

Any feedback as to how to properly use this program and avoid upwards three hundred crashes in a week would be very helpful- I've only been using lightwave since 5.6, so I'm probably very n00b.


05-26-2006, 07:34 PM
"We've actually crashed OSX four times" and "Closing lightwave crashes safari! It causes kernel panics and even quits quicktime."

I'd suggest it is time for the Syracuse admins to earn their pay.

While Lightwave does find interesting ways to crash, those machines have something seriously wrong with them. Cheap-O RAM is often the cause of G5 woes of that magnitude. Especially if you have a lab full of them doing the same thing.

05-27-2006, 12:55 AM
As far as the machines go, all our lab G5's are less than a year old using 1.5 gigs of Apple RAM (not cheaper 3rd party stuff). While the computers do have to stand up to freshmen tooling away on them, no students have admin privileges so there aren't any unauthorized/3rd party modifications or plugins. The computers are all operating on fresh installs of OSX, and we've re-installed Lightwave on a number of computers.

It just seems that given our extreme number of crashes (and from so many different causes), Newtek can't compare in stability to similarly priced applications.

That said, the computer graphics program here still uses Lightwave as a 3D app., and Newtek's updates have kept the school so far. Not trying to flame Lightwave here, but I'm sure you can see where we're coming from. Also, an update since the last post: we've hit 289 on our crash count.

05-27-2006, 01:45 AM
Are you using :

FPrime or
the Hub

All of these can reduce stability.

05-27-2006, 07:30 AM
I can understand how that would be frustrating. While LW does have its issues with stability, you do seem to have achieved a new level somehow. Especially if it is causing kernel panics and causing other apps to crash. That just screams memory problem, but it sounds like that situation is covered.

05-27-2006, 01:48 PM
I've been thinking along the common-denominator lines, because you're situation is so extreme, and on so many computers -

Are the computers all networked? If so, how about taking one off the network and seeing how it performs?

This seems like a recent problem from what you're writing, do the computers crash with the same object loaded? There may be a corrupt file that everyone is accessing, because you're all on the same project.

I'm also assuming that all the computers are using the same OS and Lightwave version, and it may be a bad combination. Try changing the combination in one of the machines.

How are the machines configured btw? Has any of it changed recently?

In any case, I wouldn't blame Lightwave entirely for your current troubles, your situation is worse than it was with Lightwave on OS9. There were serious stability problems back then, but more often than not they were repeatable, you knew what was causing the crashes. Since upgrading to OSX 4 years ago (and a G5 2 years ago) my crashes have only been about once a week, under constant use, and usually under heavy ram usage.

Brian Redoutey
05-30-2006, 09:18 AM
I'd check the RAM. The stuff my G5 shipped with was actually defective and i had less go wrong than what you're describing. I ended up downclocking the RAM to 333mhz and putting it in a windows based system next to the mac. It has run fine for more than 2 years this way. Apples RAM seems to be of worse quality than the 3rd party stuff somehow. Swap the sticks in their slots and see if it crashes differently, that's how i discovered my RAM was bad, it changed how the system crashed. And yes i was having kernel panicks.

I'm surprised you've been so tolerant of crashes. I've had various 'less than ideal' experiences and have since moved on to other 3D packages. I agree it's time for the administration to step in. Despite the problems I've had with LightWave, I'd even say it's not LightWave, it's something at the system level of your hardware.

05-31-2006, 09:31 PM
I was hoping to get an update on how it's going Apaulcalypse, still crashing ?

06-05-2006, 04:17 AM
have to add i have had quite a few crashes recently, quiting, closing an object or scene, hitting F9, or F10, with or without render preview on, but i think i may have tracked it down to radiosity as the scene renders fine with it off, which is a pain as i kinda need it on, does lightwave like texture images under a certain size or dpi, as i have done my textures at 300dpi, one is 10mb, and the other 2 are 37mb each. now obviously i want to keep as much detail in the image as poss (as most of my stuff is for print) but does LW prefer a certain image size limit?
could this be a problem for Apaulcalypse?
also i am using 24bit tga files as the 16bit equivalent from photoshop doesn't seem to load.
any insight on that and could it be a problem elsewhere?

06-05-2006, 10:28 PM
I've never heard of a bug with Radiosity, it's more likely that it's a ram issue; using radiosity requires a lot more. Try converting your textures to 8-bit, if they don't have a lot of different colors in them they will probably look exactly the same, and use 1/3 the texure memory. You could also try reducing the size of the textures to as small as possible, it may help. ( dpi makes no difference )

If you still have trouble try lowering your Segment memory limit ( in the camera properties ), until your Segments stat (right below the button) says 2 or more.

06-06-2006, 02:17 AM
hmm, would be very suprised if it was a ram issue, as i have plenty.
and there are omly like 70mb of textures in the scene.
tga files don't have the option of 8bit color and i have had problems with other image formats. may have to try tiffs again.

06-06-2006, 09:41 PM
hmm, would be very suprised if it was a ram issue, as i have plenty.
and there are omly like 70mb of textures in the scene.
tga files don't have the option of 8bit color and i have had problems with other image formats. may have to try tiffs again.
You have loads of ram, I'm jealous, but Lightwave can't use more than 3gb - and it has problems using more than a couple hundred mb of textures. 70 doesn't seem like too much.

I just tried 8-bit tga's out of photoshop and it works, but how about trying PNGs? I've never heard of a problem with them, but I did have a problem with tgas once. You could also try Radiosity with no textures, and see if it's unstable or not.

Are you using any other plugins in this render?

06-07-2006, 03:18 AM
hmmm, maybe i have set my ram in the cameras too high then as i have set it at 3gb, that could be swallowing the ram for any other usage (though not the system as that can access up to 16gb i think).
no plugins as it is just a still shot intended for press use.
strange on the tga format as when you save you don't have an option to save as 8bit, just 32, 24 and 16bit.
i'll give png's a go.
i did get it to render in a new scene with lower res textures one less area light and at a smaller output size. i'll try another couple of your suggestions today if i can, thanks :thumbsup:

06-07-2006, 05:19 PM
My regular job is Mac maintenance, and, according to my experience, macs and Lightwave are very stable. Every 6 months I backup my HD, reformat with zero ou data and reinstall everything. Why? Well, It's a fact that virtual memory on Mac OS X scramble the hard drive where Mac OS X resides. During the 6 months period I run Cocktail (for mac os x specific system maintenance like repair permissions) and Disk Warrior on a month basis. Some time it's a good idea to delete your prefs too. How I said before, all the 86 machines under this practice work very well.

06-08-2006, 02:31 AM
so by saying that the drive gets scrambled would it be worth partitioning the drive so that the OS resideds in a seperate area to the files and scratch space? that way the OS wouldn't get touched?

06-08-2006, 07:34 AM
You are right, Linux (and Unix I Think) work that way, but to do this in Mac OS X it's not easy. I see some people posting solutions to create a separete partion for swap (it's how a separete partion for scratch is called) on OS X, but it's not easy and not supported. In fact, OS X was not designed to work that way, may be in Leopard... Actually I prefer to keep the maintenance routine described early and this really works. I saw someone talking about memory problems. It's a good idea to check memory before fixing the hard drive. I recomend memtest, it's slow to do a reasonable test (from 5 to more loops of test), but is a more complete and thrust test than Apple Hardware test or Techtool.

06-08-2006, 10:48 PM
I read somewhere that OSX doesn't frag hard drives nearly as much as previous OS's, that it's not something you have to worry about - last time I defragged was OS7 :P

06-08-2006, 10:54 PM
You are right, but you have to keep your mac with no jobs for some time to it start to defrag automatically, but when I said that the HD it's scrambled, it's about directory, not files. Check for your self, time to time run DiskWarrior or Drive Genius, but keep a good distance from techtool (I've lost 2 hard drives using it!!!).

06-08-2006, 11:31 PM
Oh, thanks - I'll try that

06-09-2006, 10:15 AM
MacOSX has a slew of built-in mechanisms to fix disk issues as they happen. As such, fragmentation of the drive is not normally something you'll have problems with.

What *will* cause problems is apps that insist on reading and writing gigantic files into memory, such as the mailbox files that Mail.app works with. Generally speaking, very large files being written or read from can cause brief pauses in other apps' disk access if RAM is in short supply, and if you have a lot of apps currently in use.

That said, memory protection in OSX is stellar, especially compared to OS9 and previous versions of the MacOS. One app (Lightwave) cannot affect another app (Safari) unless something is seriously wonky, and that usually points to bad hardware. My guess on the original issue is that since this was in a school lab, all of the RAM was probably purchased from the same vendor. It is also possible that the wrong type of RAM was purchased. But all fingers point to the RAM. If LightWave itself was that unstable, it certainly wouldn't have the following it currently enjoys.

06-10-2006, 02:04 PM
But all fingers point to the RAM. If LightWave itself was that unstable, it certainly wouldn't have the following it currently enjoys.

I must agree on this point.

EVERY time I've seen a Mac perform unstably running Mac OS X (meaning random App crashes and kernel panics), I always traced it back to bad RAM.

I had three G4's that I purchased from CompUSA with extra RAM installed and I then installed additional RAM. They were very unstable from the beginning. Random application crashes and kernel panics.

I stripped out ALL the RAM from each leaving only the original APPLE installed RAM and they ran fine for over a week without any crashes rendering around the clock. I then added back in the extra ram one at a time and ran them for a week. It turned out that all the extra RAM that CompUSA had installed was not completely compatible with the Mac. The additional RAM that I had purchased from MacSales.com was fine. Once I replaced all the CompUSA installed RAM with new DIMMS the machines have been all running fine ever since.

My G5 has recently started having stability issues. Again I pulled out ALL the RAM except the Apple factory RAM and it's been running fine for over a week rendering non-stop. Now I'll start putting back in the additional RAM one pair at a time to locate the bad RAM.

The first thing I'd suspect on random application crashes and kernel panics in particular is bad RAM. All this RAM that turned out to be bad passed the Apple hardware diagnostics by the way.

One thing that can help is to run Rember (http://www.versiontracker.com/dyn/moreinfo/macosx/24508) on the bad machines. Let it run the RAM tests continuously over a weekend. If the RAM is bad you'll most likely either get failures during the test, or a crash or kernel panic. If so, strip out all but one DIMM (unless your on a machine that requires pairs, in which case test one pair) then run Rember again over night. Test each DIMM (or pair) this way until you locate which RAM is bad.

Hope it helps.

06-11-2006, 02:46 AM
Has there been an OS update recently?
My G4 tower QS D800 and Ibook G4 used to hate earlier version of Tiger but were fine with .4 and .6
In all other versions pulling the RAM helped.
You also did not mention the OS version etc..

06-12-2006, 08:52 PM
You can find 2 kinds of memory:good or cheap. Sometimes I turn stupid and use cheap. They work very well, for some time. Bad RAM can cause your computer to work badlly, crash (Kernel Panics) and don't turn on. And all of this can occur in a progression.
What I saw was that for Macs with problems:
85% - Hard Drive problems (65% logic problems/20% hardware damage)
10% - Bad memory
5% - Other things (logic board, video board, power supply, FireWire port with dust!!!-frequent crashes-just blow the firewire connectors, PRam battery, etc.
And more, use bad ram also and it f... your hard drive!
Then, check your hard drive, ever, for prevention and correction, after that, memory, then firewire ports (it' true, dust with moisture can leave you in a unconfortable situation).

06-13-2006, 07:35 AM
If LightWave itself was that unstable, it certainly wouldn't have the following it currently enjoys.

right. Chilton, I respectfully disagree. it does not follow at all. Lightwave has the following it has, because of :

1. its relative cheapness
2. its High quality rendering output
3. its industrial nature

all three which add to its current stability dilemma. to be cheap they cut corners (such as with screamernet) and now pay the price (competition can lean on years and years of very expensive R&D while dropping thier price so that they are much more attractive in the market). The renderer was so good way back in the past that they've been afraid to touch it... and they lost the edge in rendering technology. And its industrial nature is such that it allowed the architects of Lightwave to add features willy nilly, with little or no attempt to make them a usable part of the experience.

Lightwave has serious problems, but despite that, and because of it... LW is still useful, still relatively cheap, and still outputs a good render. Lets not sugar coat it.

06-13-2006, 09:38 AM
I'm not sugar coating anything, but understand that I am referring to the original post, not the subsequent RAM discussion.

I won't debate that LW has *some* problems--most software does. But if I had an app that crashed almost 40 times every day (5x per hour?), there would be *no way* to get anything done in it. Cheapness and quality would still not convince me to use something like that.

Nick Hilligoss
07-06-2006, 10:48 PM
LW 8.3 on my PC can crash when I do anything at all, on occasion. So I use LW 5.6 unless I absolutely need a feature if doesn't have, because it at least does what it claims to do and never crashes.

But on the Mac G5 Quad at work I only have LW 8.5, no Mac version of 5.6 as far as I know. LW 8.5 on the G5 has always crashed occasionally when I try to render, from the day the new machine was delivered. (I've never used Radiosity so its not that.) After 2 or 3 attempts I've usually got lucky and the frame has rendered. It doesn't often crash from other causes, just once or twice over 4 months.

Today, though... the scenes that rendered ok yesterday all crash as soon as I hit F9 or Render Scene. A new scene with only 1 simple 1-poygon object crashes LW. I've removed the dongle, put it back, re-booted OS-X, it still crashes every single time. (So far it's only 14 crashes in a row, so I can't compete with hundreds of crashes!) The system doesn't crash, its only LW that dies, but that's what I need to get an urgent job done.
I've got 2 x 2 gig sticks of Kingston RAM. I've just tried removing one and rendering, then the other. Didn't help - 2 more LW crashes. Time to go home and get my PC, and try and transfer the objects and scene files. If that doesn't work I'll use the images and build all new objects in LW 5.6, and work all weekend re-doing everything.

I've already paid for LW 9 for the Mac. Frankly, I don't care what bells and whistles it has, if it isn't more stable and reliable than 8 (on either platform) I will never be upgrading my own PC version to 9.

07-07-2006, 10:05 PM
Hi Nick
Have you tried the suggestions we posted earlier?