September 15, 2004

Acrobat Reader Fails to Launch

Alan sent this to me today and I think it deserves its own space in the blogosphere.

I just spent a better part of yesterday and this morning trying to fix my Adobe Acrobat Reader, which out of the blue stopped working. I thought I would share what I learned in case you run into the same bug. A little while ago my Acrobat Reader stopped working on startup. I didn't install anything new, upgrade Reader, it just stopped working. It would just hang at the startup splash screen and eat up 100% of the CPU cycles doing nothing. It will sit there and never finish, you have to kill it with control-alt-del. I tried uninstalling, reinstalling, reverting to 5.0, cleaning the windows registry, removing all plug-ins, checked for viruses that might effect Reader, nothing worked. When I was about to throw the computer out the window, I did one more google search, got lucky and found this little gem! (Hooray for google, yet again)

"As suggested, cleaning the "c:\documents and settings\yourusername\local settings\temp" directory helped tremendously. It appears Acrobat created 65,535 temporary files (0 KB each) named "Acr0000" through "AcrFFFF". I have a hunch that Acrobat uses a 16 bit counter for the temporary file names and that this counter overflows, which causes the application to hang."

And that is exactly what happened to me. I'm guessing whoever wrote that code, just incremented the name by one and asked for the file, and the loop is conditioned on file not found. Which in this case will never happen, so the dumb program just sits there reading empty temp files forever. I removed those tmp files and everything works now. Apparantly this bug has been around and reported, but Adobe just couldn't be bothered to fix it. What a dumbass bug. Argh!

Hope this will save you time and a few grey hairs.

Posted by rob at September 15, 2004 09:10 PM
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