Rosetta Keeps Running and I Want It To Stop


Gray writes: I recently purchased a La Cie USB drive. While setting it up I used the included utility to format the drive as a single Journaled HFS+ partition. A dialog appeared saying that I would have to install Rosetta in order to run the utility. I am using Mac OS 10.6.3. I downloaded Rosetta, installed it, formatted the drive, and am now using it successfully.

However, I then noticed a system slowdown accompanied by increased CPU activity revealed by MenuMeters. Activity Monitor shows a process “translate” is taking up lots of CPU cycles. Since it is a PowerPC-type process, I assume it is related to Rosetta. What is going on? It looks like Rosetta is the problem. How do I get rid of it? I don’t see it in any of the application directories.


Indeed, Gray, ‘translate’ is (one of) the Rosetta process(es). It shouldn’t be running like that unless you’ve got something actually using it, but perhaps there’s a problem. You can disable Rosetta by issuing:

sudo sysctl –w kern.exec.archhandler.powerpc=/usr/libexec/oah/RosettaNonGrata

To turn it back on, you set the handler back to ‘translate’, as such:

sudo sysctl -w kern.exec.archhandler.powerpc=/usr/libexec/oah/translate

That will likely solve the problem for the current session, but depending on how your Mac is configured, Rosetta may become enabled again down the road. This is because these sysctl values are not necessarily saved for future boots. To force them to be saved and set as you wish, you need to edit (or add) the /etc/sysctl.conf file and add the following line:


Once that’s in and saved to /etc/sysctl.conf the setting will persist amongst reboots. Editing files from the Terminal is a trick in and of itself, but I recommend using something like Bare Bones Software’s free TextWrangler to do so from a GUI. Otherwise you’ll have to use emacs, vi, nano or something else from the Terminal directly.

Additionally, it’s worth checking your System Preferences->Accounts->Login Items to see if the La Cie utility is listed there to launch at boot. If it is, remove it (by highlighting it and clicking the minus sign). Then this problem will be gone for good.