It seems that 10.5.3. is out to get me. Not that I believe I am being paranoid or anything but I have never had this much trouble with an OS X update before and I tend to be one of the "bleeding edge" crew in terms of installing these updates.
I am having problems with it now because I finally decided to reinstall my system, my justification being that I have played around with my current system so much and that it has so much crud on there that it would be quicker and easier to reinstall rather than manually clean up.
At the same point though I didnt want to be without my machine for any length of time, yet I didnt want to have to either rush the new installation or try to find the time to do it around the baby and work, so what I decided to do was to cheat a little. I installed OS X 10.5 onto an external USB drive that was connected to my mac and then afterwards booted from that.
This worked like a charm and very soon I was running a clean version of OSX 10.5.1, all well and good so far, I then started the Apple update process which performed various updates, including installing 10.5.3.
The updates went quite well and all of them seemed to install successfully and then I received a message from the 10.5.3 patch that the system would restart once various boot caches had been cleared. Ok, I thought no problem and sure enough the computer restarted quite happily. It then got to the Apple logo with the spinning progress indicator and stayed there like that for an hour, before my patience ran out.
I hard shutdown the machine, restarted it and this time it went ahead and rebooted happily, allowing me to log in and get to the desktop again. I then started installing just the applications that I use daily/weekly (everything else got left off), setting up my email client, firewall and so on. During all of this though I had a couple of odd hiccups, for example mail and/or itunes wouldnt shut down. Mail was also almost always timing out when checking for new messages, sometimes windows wouldnt focus properly and a notification would appear behind an inactive window.
My suspicion here was that the 10.5.3 patch hadnt applied correctly hence the problems, I did try performing some permission repairs, cache cleaning and various other os x maintenance voodoo, which got the system running more or less nicely but still I had the feeling that things were not quite right.
So my plan for today was to put or rather rerun the 10.5.3. combo updater and then afterwards xslimmer and providing all went well, to clone the disk from the external to the internal. This was when I was in my happy place :) Unfortunately other forces stepped in here and decided otherwise.
Again the install went successfully, no issues, cleared boot caches, restarted and got stuck on the Apple screen again. So again I waited and nothing happened so again I switched off and powered on as before but the system again got stuck on the Apple logo.
I tried shutting down for a bit and then powering on but it didnt help, I then booted into the original installation on the internal disk and that went fine, so I tried the external again and again it froze. At this point I tried some more voodoo, for example resetting the PRAM and so on but this didnt help either.
Not good - my nice, shiny clean installation was inaccessible. :(
I booted back into the original install and set the external disk to be the main startup disk (up until now I had been using the option key to bring up the boot menu), I made this change as it would allow me to use some of the startup functionality in the OS X "BIOS".
The first step was to boot into verbose mode (Apple + V), this displays all of the unix/linux type boot up info instead of the Apple logo and enabled me to see that the bootup process was freezing at this point;
localhost DirectoryService: launched version 53 (v514.19)
This didnt say anything to me so I tried googling, unfortunately I couldnt find anything that sufficiently explained either a) what the DirectoryService does b) what 31 means, if anything and c) if the launched version was relevant.
I then tried broadening the search and although a lot of other users had similar issues none had a working solution, though I did come across a post at Macfixit that was very similar to my issue and the user noted there that he had fixed the problem by deleting the DirectoryServices folder from /Library/Preferences.
Being the happy, risk-taker that I am :) I backed up the aforementioned folder, then deleted it and tried again, this time I got the following error;
localhost DirectoryService: dstouch: file was asked to be opened : no such file or directory
Hmmm... thats not a problem I thought, I'll just copy the working versions from my current install, set the permissions and be good to go, which is exactly what I did and exactly what didnt work.
I next tried various things, ranging from repairing the drive, (I was unable to repair permissions on the drive itself while booted from the internal drive, somewhat understandably), removing the files that I had just copied over, removing the whole directory, none of it worked.
I then booted from the OS X installation DVD and used that to repair the permissions on the drive and the drive itself, all of this completed successfully, so I was quite hopeful that it would work now but unfortunately still no joy.
Finally after trying all of that I couldnt see any other option besides a reinstall (something else which is recommended on the web), so I popped in the install DVD again and this time performed an archive and install.
This worked out quite well, the machine booted again :) It copied across most (I say most because I havent checked every single thing yet and I'm paranoid remember? :) ) of my data, so far so good. I ran software update again but this time left 10.5.3 off and let everything else install, tried a few reboots and so on and had absolutely no problems anywhere.
So with my confidence at a high again, I tried 10.5.3 one more time, again the install completed successfully, again it rebooted, this time though it did something as after a few seconds it rebooted again but after this second reboot it stuck at exactly the same point as last time :(
Now Im at an impasse of sorts, I dont fully understand why its sticking where it is, so I can try to do some more research there, or I can just do another archive and install, then install 10.5.2 and either leave it at that (I could play starcraft again) or see if 10.5.3 would work better if it were installed on top of 10.5.2 (even though I used the combo updater before). Or I could just install the 10.5.3 update from software update and see if that would be any different than the combo updater? Finally, I could just go clean up the current install as this is already starting to become just as much work... :(
Still, I dont like giving up on things and Im a sucker for problems, even self generated ones, so I think I will attempt to get to the bottom of this...