29 Dec 2014

Get the F--k to sleep, Mac OS X Edition

Although I’ve mostly switched over to Linux on the majority of my computers, I have one remaining Mac OS X machine for stuff like photo/video editing, running Quicken and TurboTax, interfacing with odd bits of hardware (label printers, film scanners, etc.) and other stuff that’s just obnoxiously fiddly on Linux.

The machine runs 10.9.5 and doesn’t typically cause me much trouble. However, in the last week or so I’ve noticed that it keeps waking up from sleep in the middle of the night every few minutes, sometimes for hours at a time, but then sometimes sleeping peacefully for long periods as well.

The culprit, according to the system logs, is apparently a Dymo LabelWriter printer connected via USB.

12/29/14 9:29:52.000 AM kernel[0]: The USB device HubDevice (Port 3 of Hub at 0xfd000000) 
 may have caused a wake by issuing a remote wakeup (2)
12/29/14 9:29:52.000 AM kernel[0]: The USB device HubDevice (Port 4 of Hub at 0xfd300000)
 may have caused a wake by issuing a remote wakeup (3)
12/29/14 9:29:52.000 AM kernel[0]: The USB device DYMO LabelWriter 330 (Port 4 of Hub at 0xfd340000)
 may have caused a wake by issuing a remote wakeup (3)
12/29/14 9:31:28.000 AM kernel[0]: The USB device HubDevice (Port 3 of Hub at 0xfd000000)
 may have caused a wake by issuing a remote wakeup (2)
12/29/14 9:31:28.000 AM kernel[0]: The USB device HubDevice (Port 4 of Hub at 0xfd300000)
 may have caused a wake by issuing a remote wakeup (3)
12/29/14 9:31:28.000 AM kernel[0]: The USB device DYMO LabelWriter 330 (Port 4 of Hub at 0xfd340000)
 may have caused a wake by issuing a remote wakeup (3)
[Repeat several hundred times]

Unfortunately, aside from just unplugging the offending device every night, there doesn’t seem to be a good solution to this problem. Apple’s tech support forums are filled with similar tales of woe, stemming from all sorts of USB devices. There’s no way–at least, not that it would seem–to control which devices are allowed to wake the system and which aren’t.

Even worse, there doesn’t even seem to be a way of disabling USB wake altogether, and just using the front-panel power button to wake the system, which would be a viable if drastic solution. Reaching down to hit the power button isn’t much of a hardship, and is analogous to the way I have most Linux-based laptops set up anyway (wake on power button, not on keyboard/mouse). But Apple thinks they know better and doesn’t allow it.

This, to be honest, just sucks. Apple seems content to blame USB peripheral manufacturers for “not understanding Mac sleep”, as one forum poster put it, rather than just making their systems less oversensitive, or more configurable. Those obscure bits of hardware are the only reason I still have a Mac, so ditching them isn’t much of a solution.

I guess perhaps it’s what I deserve for buying a computer from a consumer-electronics company, but still, disappointing.

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