While watching a tv series encoded with divx, in avi package format on a Macbook installed with Leopard, I noticed that Front Row would randomly crash and return to the desktop.

First step in investigating what was causing the crash is to look at the syslog.

  • Open up Terminal (Applications => Utilities => Terminal)
  • Go to the /var/log directory (cd /var/log)
  • View the syslog file (less system.log)
  • Go down to the latest entries in the log file (Shift + G)
  • Look for a line saying “Saved crashreport to /Users/[username]/Library/Logs/CrashReporter/Front Row_2008-04-27” or something to that effect. The username will be your Mac OS X username and the date attached to the Front Row text will of course be different.  These crash logs are created whenever a program you are running stops for some unknown reason (i.e. a crash).
  • Press “q” to quit the “less” program.
  • Goto the CrashReporter directory (cd /Users/[username]/Library/Logs/CrashReporter). Replace [username] with your username.
  • Open the latest Front Row crashlog with “less” (less Front Row_2008_2008-04-27). If you’re having trouble typing the name, just hit the Tab key, which will attempt to fill in the blanks as best as possible, creating spaces with escape characters.
  • Look for the line saying “Crashed Thread” and note the number beside it. In my case it was “22”.
  • Now use the search function within “less” by hitting forward slash “/” then typing “Thread 22”. This is case sensitive so make sure you capitalize “T” in Thread.
  • You should see Thread 22 Crashed: followed by what file was related to the crash of Front Row.  In my case it was listed as “com.yourcompany.XviD_Codec”.

If you continue reading, you’re doing the following AT YOUR OWN RISK.  You can royally screw up Front Row and any type of movie/video watching by performing the following, so if you have any qualms, do not perform the next steps.

My fix was to move the AppleIntermediateCodec.component and AppleMPEG2Codec.component files from /Library/QuickTime to a backup directory and replace it with Xvid_Codec 1.0 alpha.component which is detailed in another post on how to watch xvid encoded avi files on Mac OS X. To move these two files elsewhere, create a backup directory on your home directory (mkdir ~/QuickTime_backup) then use the “mv” command (mv AppleIntermediateCodec.component ~/QuickTime_backup/) (mv AppleMPEG2Codec.component ~/QuickTime_backup). Now install the alpha xvid component for Mac.

Make sure QuickTime isn’t running, or fully Quit QuickTime and then start Front Row and attempt to watch the same file that was causing Front Row to crash before.

The reasoning behind removing these two QuickTime codecs is that they aren’t on another MacBook book of mine, which doesn’t have Front Row crashing problems.  That’s the only logic I have behind this fix.

So far, the change has worked.

Best of luck.