Sunday, March 02, 2008

Apple Safari for Windows, Fixed

Just call me "Johnny Appleseed."

Planting solutions as I go about my merry way....

The Need for a Safari

Sometime in the past six months or so, Apple's Safari 3 Beta for Windows stopped working on my XP Home SP2 system.

It continued to work fine on Lavie's XP Home SP2 laptop, and performed flawlessly on the Vista Home Premium laptop.

But nothing I could do would revive it on our desktop system.

I like having it available, even if I don't use it regularly for web-browsing. I find it useful to have when cross-checking page rendering and performance between Windows-based web-browsers.

So not having it handy on my primary desktop system was a real loss.

Apple Safari...Animal Tracking 101

Previous versions had run relatively fine before, but somewhere along the line, something went bad-broke.

I started off easy enough by attempting to uninstall the bugger.  It uninstalled clean with no errors.

Then I reinstalled the latest version again from the Apple download page.

It installed fine with no errors.

Then I launched it.

It would pull up and I could see the browser GUI and it loading the default Apple start-page. Then I would get a Microsoft Crash Error box.  The contents of which were unhelpful.

Closing the crash box closed Safari for Windows.  No BSOD, no drama. It simply closed out.

I tried several variations of install/uninstall/reinstall. Always the same results.

I used my troubleshooting skills and fired up Process Monitor to keep an eye on its behavior. Maybe I could track down the source.

I set some filters, got it running, and launched Process Monitor.  Just like usual, Safari opened and then crashed.

I went through the results of my event capture and found lots of reads to the user\application data folder.  I also saw lots of "file not found" activity apparently as Safari accessed some Microsoft Visual Studio files (or at least tried to).  However, although I found lots of "File not Found" entries, I didn't find a single "Failed" entry to point to a smoking gun on the crashes.

I uninstalled Safari again, and this time dove into all the C:\Documents and Settings\username\Application Data\Apple Computer\Safari and C:\Documents and Settings\username\Local Settings\Application Data\Apple Computer\Safari locations it stores information into.


Still crashed.

Into the Field for the Hunt

Failing to find any obvious fixes on my own, I hit the Webs to see if Google might shed some light on the subject.

Unfortunately, while the search results were filled with helpful tips, they seemed heavily overloaded with Apple system Safari troubleshooting tips and the Apple Safari 3 for Windows links were few and far between.

So I rethought the searching direction.  Maybe if I could find the right Apple forum, I could find some Windows users and see if they had any tips.

So I did some modifications to my search terms and in a few clicks found two great forums that seem to have a number of posts useful to Apple Safari 3 for Windows users, like me.

Stalking "Seed" Big Game

Now that I was in the right savannahs, I could stalk my problem.

Didn't take long to find a number of users in both locations who were reporting similar experiences; Safari worked good in Windows, something happened, Safari broke in Windows; but not on all machines.

A few users reported that there might be a font-compatibility problem with Safari in Windows; only trouble is you have to disable the Windows fonts on your system, one-by-one, until you find the offending font (if that's really what the issue was).  No thanks for now.

Turns out that the overall recommended fix to folks was to try installing something known as a Safari "seed" release.

Best I can tell (being a non Apple guy), Apple refers to "seeds" like Mozilla refers to Firefox "nightlies;" these are periodic and cutting edge developer versions that are pre pre-release versions for developer testing and not consumed by the general public. 

Sometimes "stuff' gets fixed and improved; sometimes "stuff" breaks.

(I'm sure there is some symbolism of "seed" to "Apple" and growing something new as well.)

So I had to get the latest "Seed" release from Apple to try to see if it would resolve my problem.

After reading and re-reading the forum links I figured out what to do.

Lining up in the Scope

To get a seed release, you must first visit the Apple Developer Connection website.

Poking around on the site found lots of good information, but nothing clearly pointing to what I wanted, nor were the forums terribly helpful past this point.

I finally decided my best bet was digging through the dense bushes known as Pre-Release Software.

Sure enough, this page looked quite promising.

However most of the information seemed to suggest it was $ subscription based access. yet the forums sounded like the software seed I wanted should be freely downloadable.

Eventually I just tried clicking the link to log into the ADC Member Site.  I used my existing Apple ID credentials established a long time ago when I got my first iPod (BTW, this is different from my iTunes ID).

It accepted them, although I had to fill out a bit more "developer/IT administrator" specific information forms during the registration process for access to this area. Nothing too excessive. Once past that I was on the download page and quickly found the Apple Safari 3 for Windows "Seed" version that was very recent.

The Trophy Take Down

Once downloaded, I ran the installer.

In just a few minutes I had Safari 3 for Windows up and running on my system again. 


My impressions of this "seed version?"

Sorry.  Can't tell you.  Probably wouldn't be right.

Wish I could tell you what happened when I tried it over at the SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark website.

But I can't.

See when I registered on the ADC there was LOTS of "Don't tell, don't share" language all over the place.  Even on the download page there were Apple's dire warnings and reminders of non-disclosure of just about everything related to these "seed" builds.

So I won't tell you anything other than the public forum suggestions to try this seed version worked VERY well in getting Safari 3 running again on my Windows systems.

I suppose for what its worth, I'm going to install this version on my other Windows XP and Vista systems also to head off any problems I might be encountering with Safari 3 for Windows on those systems as well.  Just in case.

Don't want any bad apples anywhere in the barrels at the Valca home.



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