[Pharo-project] Fwd: [Newbies] squeak locks up on windows / help me debug it...

Bill Schwab BSchwab at anest.ufl.edu
Sat Jan 10 10:40:28 EST 2009


If I am reading this correctly, you are the newbie looking for a stable Smalltalk.  If you are new to the language, please stick with it for a while; it is worth the time to learn it.  You mentioned some things that might suggest you have experience with Smalltalk in general and are simply looking for a new dialect - I could be accused of that also.

As Chris pointed out, Pharo is not yet intended as a stable release.  3D is not really a priority for the project - part of me wishes it were, though I quickly realize that I need a platform for other work first.  Robust process synchronization, ANSI assignment (giving me back the ugly but widely used underscore), Seaside, SSL and a good user interface framework come to mind as the real essentials.

I cannot personally vouch for the stability of Squeak.  I have watched it for years, and occasionally used it for real work, usually for small tasks for which it had the necessary pieces waiting to be brought together.  One such project was 3D visualization of stacking boxes on carts - the trick was to buy the right cart, and Alice was helpful.  I do a lot of CAD these days (in my other life, I design and build medical gizmos), so if faced with a similar problem now, I might simply fire up QCad.  Still, the experience showed me that Squeak 3.6 to perhaps 3.8 was able to do a fair amount of translating, rotating and render without crashing too much.  It did occasionally quit though.

For years I too read the Squeak was rock solid.  A time or two, somebody would run into something somewhat scary and patch it.  I am cautiously optimistic, but plan to take it one step at a time.

My interest in Pharo is to find a path off of Windows, which (mincing words here) I consider to be a flaming piece of junk in the early phases of melting down into an abyss from which not even quantum tunnelling will allow escape.  I would greatly enjoy being wrong, but I cannot take that chance.  I have not reached the point of switching, but I get closer with each new frustration from Windows and each update of Pharo.  I have been studying alternatives to Windows for a long time, and my interest in choosing one is steadily increasing.

That brings me to a question: is your trouble with Pharo and B3D, or is it more about Vista?  I have my gripes with even XP doing screwy things.  Many times, I have caught Explorer incorrectly/partially rendering selection states and having opening scroll bars set such that extant list items are not reachable until the window is resized - genuine high school kid mistakes, and this is in commercial software.  Ok, maybe the fault is with device drivers or in our IT department's work in deploying the software.  One thing I can say for certain: I do not own these bugs, because none of my software runs on the offending machines, and I do not have administrative privileges on them.  Back to your problem, one possible scenario is the B3D crashed (I have seen it happen), and that Vista dragged it out into a slow spiral??

I doubt you will ever get excuses and propaganda from Pharo users and developers, but you will find a mission of creating a clean system into which other code can be loaded.  We are not trying to re-develop every Squeak package ever written.  We will hopefully have a list of packages known to work well, and will hopefully expand that list over time.

I started having problems with recent Pharo images freezing (immediately from load), and discovered that I was using a very old VM on one machine; grabbing a recent VM fixed it.  You might try that.  I would also suggest that you test both Croquet on your Vista machine (that should hopefully get the latest 3D efforts) and also try to find an XP or 2k machine to test your code.  My sincere evaluation is that Windows is slowly collapsing before our eyes.  An older system might do a better job of allowing you to isolate the problem.  And yes, it could be the very alpha-ish Pharo.


Wilhelm K. Schwab, Ph.D.
University of Florida
Department of Anesthesiology
PO Box 100254
Gainesville, FL 32610-0254

Email: bschwab at anest.ufl.edu
Tel: (352) 273-6785
FAX: (352) 392-7029

>>> cunningham.cb at gmail.com 01/10/09 3:41 AM >>>
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Chris Cunningham <cunningham.cb at gmail.com>
Date: Sat, Jan 10, 2009 at 12:41 AM
Subject: Re: [Newbies] squeak locks up on windows / help me debug it...
To: "A friendly place to get answers to even the most basic questions about
Squeak." <beginners at lists.squeakfoundation.org>

It is worth noting that Pharo is currently under heavy development.  The
Pharo team is busy ripping out parts of Squeak they don't want in the base
image and adding other parts that they do want.  From all reports it is very
nice to work in, but it is not a stable release at this point.  If you want
to keep working with it, be prepared to submit bug reports to that list if
you encounter issue like this one.

Otherwise, pick up the squeak 3.10, 3.9, or 3.8 to try out the tutorials
until Pharo is more stable/released if you don't want to be that involved in
the development (or early beta/alpha? testing) of it.

On Fri, Jan 9, 2009 at 4:39 PM, Cameron Sanders <
csanders.personal at functional-analyst.com> wrote:

>  I thought the Pharo base image (3.10 with a few fonts & Balloon3d added)
> running on Windows was looking pretty stable (compared to other images).
> But after an hour of editing code on a Vista machine --an hour since the
> last save—Squeak has abandoned me. It is unresponsive. Trying both control
> and alt in combination with '.', 'l' (lower case L), 'c', does nothing
> apparently useful.
> The process stack reported by Vista shows it to be incurring page-faults
> like mad. [OK, that has subsided while I typed this email.] My machine has 4
> GB of RAM, I am running two instances of internet-explorer, and I have
> turned off the Windows search-indexing service. I know Vista has a
> guess-the-next-program pre-loader that could be a little overzealous in
> displacing programs from RAM… but still… it seems like this 101MB program
> shouldn't generate any page faults when the other two leading memory pigs
> are using less than double that much virtual memory. Vista's Resource
> Monitor claims I am using only 43% of physical memory. The page-fault count
> for Squeak.exe doubled while I typed this message.
> When I click the Squeak icon on the window frame of the running copy (upper
> left on Windows), I do see the menu for VM Preferences. It shows me the menu
> and allows me to invoke actions. It will allow me to toggle the "Show output
> console" on and off. The output console shows me changes to memory (as I
> have that option checked). I can use my mouse wheel to scroll this console.
> Control-'.' and Control-c (and lower case L) in this console do not change
> anything.
> After mucking around in the console area, I am now getting "WARNING: event
> buffer overflow" just moving my mouse around in squeak. After turning the
> console off, the pointer is now invisible except when you click. It appears
> that the overall squeak window is repainting itself properly.
> -- Help me debug it
> I have an interest in building a commercial application in Squeak. The FAQs
> says squeak is stable. Given the active community of developers (including
> The Great Ones), I imagine that it is stable, and that I am just doing
> something dumb… repeatedly. However, for Squeak to be adopted more broadly,
> it can't go zombie on users, even when the user does something dumb. That's
> an absolute.
> What is the longest uptime a squeak image has ever endured (while doing
> something useful)? Which version was that and on what platform?
> So I am willing to work to help make squeak more robust, but as a complete
> newbie with it, I need much guidance. So right now, with this hung-up image,
> what should I do? Should I attach to it with gdb? And if so, then what? [If
> the internal process control is working, I won't be able to make heads or
> tales out of it from gdb, right?]  Or can I launch another squeak and send
> it a signal in some way [is it listening?]? What is most useful in this
> case?
> [Is there a way in Windows/Vista to signal an app so as to force a core
> dump?]
> Thanks in advance,
> Cam
> PS: I want to emphasize that I do not care about the code lost in this
> particular instance (it was tutorial code), instead I am looking for a
> stable free development environment… and I'm willing to help make one.
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