A Mac just works as soon as you flick the power switch right? Apparently, this does not apply if you happen to be a user of a 2010-model Macbook Pro which features an NVIDIA graphics card and have recently made the switch to OS X Lion on such a machine. This is because we have gotten word that users are reporting issues with blank screens and kernel panics on their new OS shortly after making the upgrade, with broken graphics drivers being said to be the main cause of such problems.
Apple might love to claim that its computers and OS X operating system are stable, robust and pack enough features to “just work”, but it seems that the Cupertino giant might soon want to think of another tagline to promote its products, especially if this latest issue is of any indication. Apparently, word has it that certain users of the 2010 Macbook Pro models are suffering from various graphics related issues in OS X Lion that causes the OS to trigger kernel panics and blank out the display completely, even when not under heavy processing loads.
According to reports posted by both Ars Technica and Slashdot, Lion was shipped with faulty drivers for the NVIDIA graphics cards that are being used by the 2010-model Macbook Pros, and that these faulty drivers are the cause of countless complains that have been posted on Apple's support forums. Specifically, it seems that models which make use of the NVIDIA GT330M graphics card that is bundled in the 15-inch and 17-inch Macbook Pros are the most susceptible to this issue.
In addition, Slashdot has claimed in its report that NVIDIA is unable to offer technical support for users who are affected by this issue, as the OS X drivers for its graphics card are reportedly written by Apple themselves, and as such are the latter's responsibility. This might hold some truth, considering how NVIDIA does not have any drivers for the Lion version of its GT550M graphics card available for download on its driver page.
Ars also claims that some users have reported limited success in working around the broken drivers by making use of an open-source tool known as gfxCardStatus to forcibly run their notebooks using the integrated Intel graphics processing core, although one's mileage with the tool may vary, to say the least.
Furthermore, both Ars Technica and Slashdot have claimed that this issue was reportedly present in the beta builds of OS X Lion. This has caused some degree of frustration among Mac users, considering how the same bug was able to show up in the retail version of Lion without being fixed.
That being said, while there is no permanent fix in sight for the problem at this point of time, it would seem that Apple has offered users a solution which is reportedly capable of resolving the problem temporarily, at least until Apple manages to deliver a working driver for affected systems. Apparently, Ars has claimed that users need to access the hidden ~/Library/Preferences/ByHost folder in Lion, delete any files that reference a “windowserver” and reboot the machine to prevent such issues from occurring for the time being.
The catch? Well, users who often find themselves connecting their Macbook Pros to external displays will have to perform this fix on a regular basis, as the aforementioned files are reportedly recreated upon doing so.