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I just bought a new Mac Mini, and used Migration Assistant to move a user from an iMac to it. All went well, except a very strange behavior... the default OS X menubar icons like time, spotlight, etc (but NOT user installed app icons like dropbox or xmarks) appear and disappear in a very regular 8 second cycle.

They appear for about 2 seconds, and then disappear for about 6. This is a screenshot with the icons:

enter image description here

This is a screenshot without them:

enter image description here

This is very annoying and I have not found anything online with similar symptoms. Any ideas?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

SystemUIServer is the process that hosts all the Apple-provided "Menu Extras". Something is crashing it and launchd is restarting it. Check the "All Messages" log stream in for possible details of what's causing the crash. Also check ~/Library/Logs/CrashReporter for crash logs from SystemUIServer.

Try deleting ~/Library/Preferences/ and see if that stops it from crashing.

Compare the contents of /System/Library/CoreServices/Menu Extras/ from a clean install of Snow Leopard to your migrated-in copy and see if any old-and-busted menu extras got migrated from your old system that shouldn't have.

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@Spiff - You. Are. The. Man. iStatMenu was crashing... not sure why it didn't migrate properly. I removed as many references to it as I could find as well as running the uninstaller and SystemUIServer stopped crashing. However, I was still getting s stray error in the console log. I tracked down this post (…) which references a vestigial file the uninstaller fails to delete. Once deleted, all errors were gone. Thank you for a timely and accurate fix. – Robot May 3 '10 at 18:27
FYI, Apple has never published the APIs for SystemUIServer for this reason. Note that your third-party icon menus that used published APIs and lived in their own processes were fine, but the one that used unsupported, private APIs it shouldn't have been using ended up taking down a process that wasn't designed to host it. Shame on iStatMenu. – Spiff May 3 '10 at 18:37

Just upgraded to a new MBP and had this problem. Turned out to be the Little Snitch launch agents in Library>LaunchAgents. Trashed those and the problem went away.

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