This morning, when I sat down at my computer, I saw that SuperDuper! had a problem doing its daily backup. I tried to quit the application to no avail, and then I used ‘Force Quit’ on it, which made an error message pop up, with no way of making it go away. After another issue with Firefox hanging after trying to save a pdf, I decided the best course of action was to reboot the machine. However, after several attempts I realized Finder was not responding, so my ultimate solution was to hold the power key down until the machine shutted down.
After a lengthy startup (which had me worried), everything seemed fine, except that when I tried to open a shell via Terminal.app, I would see it go through the login process only to have [Process Terminated] in the window, instead of the usual shell prompt. I tried deleting the preferences for Terminal, yet the same result appeared.
I had recently modified my .bashrc file, so I thought that this might have something to do with my problem, but after editing the file with MacVim I still had the same problem. I tried to open Console.app to see if there was an error being sent to the logs, but Console just crashed right after starting it up. Uh oh… Time to hit Google!
After several search terms, I came out with this forum post, which seemed to describe precisely what was going on with my computer. So, I decided to follow the instructions in the post:
sudo launchctl stop com.apple.syslogd
sudo mkdir asl.broken
sudo mv asl/* asl.broken/
sudo launchctl start com.apple.syslogd
And voila! Everything started working again. It seems that the last hard reset corrupted the Apple System Log (ASL) databases, and that created a whole set of problems for Terminal, Console, etc.