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Monday, March 14, 2011

Adobe AIR Application Installer running flat out on MacBook

My MacBook (model 5,1 - few years old) running Mac OS X 10.6.5 has had a few incidents recently where it's responsiveness takes a nosedive. That typically means that some process is pegging the cpu at 100%.

I run into fairly frequent problems with Firefox, especially if a browser window is running Flash - say, for a video feed or an advert. Depending on the level of ambient noise in my office, I can even hear the fan and/or disk in the laptop running at full speed.

You can use the UNIX 'top' command in a shell to find out who the culprit is, plus other tools like 'lsof', etc. But I find the Apple desktop utility 'Activity Monitor' (in your Applications -> Utilities folder) is more useful. Open it up and select 'All Processes' in the select menu at the top of the window. Then click on the CPU tab down below and then on the cpu column to sort the processes in descending order based on % cpu utilization. Look for something that is up near 100 %.

If there is nothing striking then look for something with very high Real Mem and Virt Mem and check out the DiskActivity tab as you might have a process that is so memory hungry that it has to page data out to disk.

The example in the screenshot shown above is a straightforward CPU hog. It is the Adobe AIR Application Installer. I figure this is involved in installing the Adobe AIR runtime libraries that are used by Flash.

I have no idea why this is running in the first place - and why is it using 100% of my cpu? Flash and associated technologies can be great but they do seem to be around when I have problems...

If you have the same issue, just select the AIR Installer line in Activity Monitor and click the big red 'Quit Process' button.

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