FAQ: The background process terminated unexpectedly

Sawmill displays the following error: "The background process terminated unexpectedly, without returning a result." What does that mean, and how can I fix it?

Short Answer

Sawmill has probably crashed, so this could be a bug in Sawmill. See the long answer for suggestions.

Long Answer

This error message means that Sawmill tried to do a long task, like a report generation or a database build, and while it was trying to display progress for the task, it noticed that the task was no longer running, but had not properly computed and stored its result. A task always returns a result, so this means that something has gone wrong internally in Sawmill. The most likely cause is a crash: the background task crashed, so it will never able to complete and return the result.

A crash is often due to a bug in Sawmill, but it's also possible if Sawmill runs out of memory. Make sure there is enough memory available; if you watch the memory usage while you repeat the task, does it seem to reach a high level, near the maximum memory of the system, before failing? If so, you may need more memory in your system, in order to perform that task.

If it's not memory, try running the task from the command line. If it's a database build, you can run it from the command line using this: Building a Database from the Command Line. If it's a crash during the report generation, you can run it from the command line similarly to a database build, but using "-a grf -rn reportname -ghtd report" instead of "-a bd", where reportname is the internal name of the report. Run Sawmill from the command line with "-p profilename -a lr" to get a list of reports. For instance,

  sawmill -p myprofile -a grf -rn single_page_summary -ghtd report

will generate the single-page summary to a directory called "report". If this report fails, it may give a better error message about what happened to it.

Whether it fails or succeeds, email support@sawmill.net with the outcome of your test. If possible, include the profile, and enough log data to reproduce the error (up to 10 MB, compressed). Report that you are seeing a crash on report generation (or database build, or whatever), and we will attempt to reproduce it on our own systems, determine the cause, and fix it, or help you resolve it, if it's not a bug.