Saturday, November 02, 2013

Killing Kernels

My computer’s been acting up since I upgraded to OSX 10.9, so I’ve been peeking at the Activity Monitor to see if I can learn why it's crashing.
After checking the Activity Monitor app a few times throughout the day, I started to recognize a pattern. Occasionally, I’d see a new process called kernel_task sitting up at the top, consuming almost a gig of RAM.
Hmm, I thought, something fishy’s going on here; I’ve never seen this process before… I’m used to Firefox, Chrome, Rubymine, or occasionally Emacs at the top, but kernel_task? Naturally, I immediately wanted to kill it. This (I decided in the moment) is why my computer’s been crashing. If I just kill kernel_task, I’ll free up memory for the rest of my programs and maybe even stop my computer from crashing.
Before I enthusiastically killed the thing, I thought I might as well google it. I wasn’t worried it was a virus; I was worried it was a weird bug in the new OS or something related to this greedy iPhone or Polaroid bluetooth thing called distnoted I caught getting away with 3.5 gigs a few weeks ago.
Good thing I landed on this forum post before I killed it. Turns out, kernel_task is the operating system itself. This is simply an informed guess, but I think OSX 10.9 may have changed the Activity Monitor’s default process view from My Processes to All Processes. I wasn’t used to seeing kernel_task in the list, so when it showed up I figured it didn’t belong. Lesson learned? Well, no, not really.

No comments: