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While I was working with my (unibody, 10.5) MacBook, suddenly the display was covered by a grey shade and a message - in four languages - appeared, ordering me to restart the computer, and of course nothing else was working.
While I know that I should describe in detail all programs running etc., does anybody have an idea about what kind of problem could possibly have caused this? I don't believe it ever happened in almost three years with the same computer.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

This is called a Kernel Panic, and it probably wasn't your fault. They usually aren't a huge deal. This Apple doc has information about what happened, and directions about what could have caused it and how to fix it.

In says about the problem:

This message indicates that an error occurred in the core of the operating system, which is referred to as a “kernel panic.”

A kernel panic can be caused by damaged or incompatible software or, in rare cases, by damaged or incompatible hardware. The most likely cause of the problem is that a system file or folder has been moved, replaced, or damaged.

See the To Solve This Problem section for directions about recovery.

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Great, this seems to be exactly what happened to me. I had deleted some "Application support" files for programs I had deleted. I hope I deleted one file too many. Thanks! – DaG Feb 27 '11 at 9:38

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