GoogleSoftwareUp clearing CS_VALID and Mac Freezes

PSA: In case someone else encounters similar symptoms where your MacBook freezes and the only indication is an error GoogleSoftwareUp clearing CS_VALID, I hope to save you a wasted evening of trying things and reading forums…

Symptom: My heretofore reliable MacBook started going into “beach ball” mode.  The active application remained responsive to keyboard, mouse and screen input but only until as long as it accessed things in memory.   Eventually, it, too, hung.  The only recourse was a hard power-down.  After rebooting, the problem occured again in about an hour.

<tl;dr>If your system is using a Crucial M4 SSD, you probably should update its firmware.</tl;dr>

One of the most helpful diagnostic steps in these situations is asking oneself “What recently changed?”  Earlier in the afternoon, I had been fiddling with my /etc/hosts file to do a more thorough job of blocking ads, web beacons, and the like (using this).  I don’t normally look at the output of Utilities → Console, but when I did , I found what I would dub “a metric buttload” of diagnostics. This one caught my attention:

A metric buttload of diagnostics.

Complete red herring #1: My first thought was I had munged something in the hosts file that was causing this program to continuously restart itself, killing the system.  Secondary thoughts include: “why is postfix running on my laptop” (answer: because I have the developer tools running and was hoping to find a solution more reliable than Cozi that my better half won’t complain about) and “this is a really useless error message.”  Undoing the /etc/hosts changes is really easy.  However, since I don’t really need MacOS Server, I uninstalled it. Another crash ensued, the same diagnostic was observed. Dumbass didn’t reboot?

As I was getting ready to head out with family, the beach ball returned.  A different message preceded this one:

CODE SIGNING: cs_invalid_page GoogleSoftwareUp clearing CS_VALID
If a warning were logged to a file and nobody was around to read it, would it still matter?

I power-cycled. At this point, I realized my full disk backup is just slightly less old than my tolerance for complete system annihilation without a backup.  I made hot-backups of important files onto another hard disk as it would really suck to lose these.  Upon coming back from dinner…

CODE SIGNING: cs_invalid_page GoogleSoftwareUp clearing CS_VALID
GoogleSoftwareUp, it appears your hand is in the “crash cookie jar”

The machine crashed about an hour after powered-up.

Complete red herring #2: Googling for error messages and visiting almost any site or forum that not part of the StackOverflow family is a waste of time.  The term GoogleSoftwareUp returned a lot of useless shit, including messages that Google Software Update was retired in 2008, there was a Google Chrome bug that crashed Macs because of some (GPU problem, memory leak, “toxins” in the diet, orbital mind-control lasers employed by the Koch brothers) and so on. As a safety measure, I removed the Google hegemony of applications: Chrome, Picasa, Drive, and Earth.  That worked… not at all.

.. along with the otherwise benign Printer Pro Desktop task, used to print from my iPad
The definition of insanity is repeating the same thing and expecting different results…

The real problem: a bug in Crucial m4 SSD drives’ firmware that causes the drives to lock up.  The symptom manifests itself after 5,184 hours of drive use (mine was ~5,400).  Once it starts, it recurs approximately every hour after powering on.  Crucial’s firmware update version 040H on December 4th, 2012 seems to finally remedy this problem as well as a few others created by previous firmware updates.   Installation steps are briefly:

  1. Unzip the download
  2. Burn the ISO to a bootable drive (CD, DVD, memory stick) using the Disk Utility tool.
  3. Power cycle the Mac, holding the “C” (or appropriate) key to boot from the external device.
  4. After experiencing some nostalgia at the state of computing when I was in college, answer yes to applying the revision 040H prompt.
  5. Reboot and update your system backup, crisis joyously averted.

The GoogleSoftwareUp message originates from Google Software Updater, a package surreptitiously installed with most (all?) of the Google applications on the Mac, e.g., not just Chrome, but also Google Earth, Picasa, Drive, Music Manager.  According to The Google, it should be running only once per day.

I should note that I don’t normally check my console logs, you know, for fun, so it seems plausible it’s been erring out for some time.  The only way to get rid of it is to remove all Google applications (including Music Manager, which is the odd duck of the bunch as its indicator resides in System Preferneces).  Next, run the Google Software Updater Uninstaller instructions.   Should you subsequently install any of the Google apps, the updater will reappear and resume its error logging.  Setting the run interval to “0” doesn’t seem to affect the error logging.  Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to be doing any harm, beyond annoying.


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