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macOS 10.15 Catalina

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Does anyone know how to kill the nagger for updating to Catalina? I have a lot of money invested in 32-bit software, much of which is unlikely to be updated, and I have no intention of using Catalina. I also have been progressively more and more disappointed with the direction the macOS has been moving in. This Mac user since 1985 is seriously considering going to Linux or even a PC (shudder).
I'm hearing grumbling on a listserve by nontechnical authors who have spent hours on the phone with Apple support trying to get their files back and their machines functioning after installing Catalina. I had posted a warning about the perils of installing Catalina, but Apple has been pushing upgrades hard. I don't know how widespread these problems are, but they seem to hit some people hard.
After trying the public betas of Catalina, I came to the conclusion that they may be the worst of all the betas Apple has released. When Catalina was released, I installed it on an external SSD. I managed to find my files, but it seems that I can no longer put them at root level as I have done since the old days. The days of the user being able to configure her or his Mac as they wished seem to be disappearing, if they're not already gone.

Adding insult to injury is the constant nag when you pull down the Apple menu to update to Catalina. I can turn that off, but it returns unless I turn off checking for updates. I left it checked only for the purpose of getting the quiet security updates that Apple sends. If I allow for this, the nag returns the next day. I understand the reason for locking down the operating system, but there is no need to perpetually nag the user to upgrade. I haven't moved to Catalina, as some of the software I use on a daily basis is not fully compatible as yet. After trying out Catalina, I may be a Mojave user for a long time.

I'm getting more and more fed up with Apple. Their products are good and their support is top notch, but the gap is narrowing between them and Windows. Pretty soon these two will be equally bad. In the last few years it seems as though Windows usability has gone up while Apple's has gone down.
 



I have found another bug in Catalina – if Mail is the frontmost application, and you try to click the name of a document in the Recent Items submenu of the Apple menu, you get the error message "The application “Mail” does not have permission to open <filename>."

I was not trying to open the document in Mail; I was trying to open the document in its default program (as if I had double-clicked it in the Finder). This only happens with Mail; the behavior is normal if another app is frontmost.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Is there any Catalina replacement for InDesign?
Affinity Publisher is certainly worth considering. It's inexpensive, and there's even a free trial available.
Is there a reasonable way back to Mojave?
If you find one, let us know!

You may be able to restore many of your documents from Catalina back to a newly installed prior system, and probably even many of the applications, but restoring preferences/settings is likely to be a problem, and Apple-managed files/libraries also may not migrate back. The ~/Library folder is probably a nightmare to coordinate/revert.

Anyone who wants to revert to Mojave from Catalina should have a Mojave backup, taken prior to the update. The challenge, then, is to locate the documents subsequently added and changed in Catalina and somehow migrate those files back to the Mojave system – an exercise that may not be easy. If any file/library formats have changed, those may not work again in Mojave.

Unfortunately, Apple's one-way Migration Assistant only updates newer systems, it won't help revert back to an older system.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
What fun!
CultOfMac said:
Catalina update bricks some unlucky Macs
A seemingly small number of Mac users are reporting that their machines have been bricked after upgrading to macOS Catalina.

It is believed a potentially unsuccessful EFI firmware update is responsible for the issue. All affected users see nothing but a folder icon when attempting to boot up their Mac.

Catalina, like all of Apple’s most recent updates, has its fair share of teething problems. Many apps won’t work correctly. Some features are broken. Certain eGPUs no longer do anything.

Most of the problems are small but frustrating, and should be fixed relatively easily with future updates. But there’s one that has left a small number of Catalina users with no Mac at all.
#applequality
 


I'd like to do the update to Catalina, however, since I use a fair bit of music software, I can't. Just about every music software vendor I deal with (Steinberg, Native Instruments, IK, PlugIn Boutique, Arturia ) have sent me warnings that their products are currently not capable of running under the new Mac operating system and that I should be patient.

In fact, one of the vendors I deal with, Melda, recently put up a page on their website suggesting that maybe it's time macOS users started switching over to Windows 10.

What I can't understand is this: surely, as vendors and developers themselves, the music software companies should be testing the betas of upcoming OS upgrades to ensure that they work with their products, and have updates available when the OS comes out or not too long after?

This is doubly troubling as the upcoming Mac Pro update is supposed to only be able to run Catalina on launch - and I can't imagine those users will be wanting to boot into Windows to run their music and DAW tools.
 


... What I can't understand is this: surely, as vendors and developers themselves, that the music software companies should be testing the betas of upcoming OS upgrades to ensure that they work with their products, and have updates available when the OS comes out or not too long after?

This is doubly troubling as the upcoming Mac Pro update is supposed to only be able to run Catalina on launch - and I can't imagine those users will be wanting to boot into Windows to run their music and DAW tools.
Maybe some software developers can comment here, but moving to a 64-bit-only codebase is not trivial, nor is dealing with the new restrictions created by a read-only operating system. Both are good things in the long run but could require substantial work to change code (or start over from scratch in some instances), test, and regress any issues. The new OS moves from kexts in a privileged part of the OS to Endpoint Security/SystemExtensions; that means three new frameworks to learn (DriverKit, EndpointSecurity, and NetworkExtension), and then packaging the driver in the app bundle - new and different, unfamiliar and probably daunting to most driver developers, at least at first.

More than just the normal human tendency to put uncomfortable things off, I suspect most developers of music software would prefer to add or improve features for their customers vs. working on making their software compatible with the latest and greatest, and some may even have been burned in the past if libraries, particularly runtime libraries, changed between early betas and the GM of an OS.

And finally, let's face it, not every dev is Jon Gotow of St. Claire Software (purveyors of Default Folder X and other tools) or Mike Bombich and associates of Bombich Software (Carbon Copy Cloner), whose businesses depend on deep knowledge of the OS and changes in it, and who are always there with compatible versions of their software on Day One (or before) of a new OS major version. (Disclaimer: no relationship to either outfit, just an extremely satisfied customer of long standing.)
 


...I suspect most developers of music software would prefer to add or improve features for their customers...
Surely 64-bit code is an improvement? Are all these developers running 32-bit in Windows too? Are they maintaining completely separate codebases? 32-bit is arguably obsolete. It's not like they didn't see this coming for years. Many of my apps have been 64-bit for years. Considering what many music software vendors charge, I think they could be doing better than "we'll let you know after Catalina ships."
 


I'd like to do the update to Catalina, however, since I use a fair bit of music software, I can't. Just about every music software vendor I deal with (Steinberg, Native Instruments, IK, PlugIn Boutique, Arturia ) have sent me warnings that their products are currently not capable of running under the new Mac operating system and that I should be patient. In fact, one of the vendors I deal with, Melda, recently put up a page on their website suggesting that maybe it's time macOS users started switching over to Windows 10.
Probably less painful than switching to Windows, if your setup will allow it: try installing a pre-Catalina macOS on a second drive to run your 32-bit apps from.

I created a fresh installation of Mojave on an external drive (hard drive, not SSD, although the latter should perform much better) then migrated my primary admin account (from the Catalina system) to Mojave. I was not sure if it would work, but it did.

Now I can get into the Applications folder of my Catalina volume, and, while running Mojave, launch the 32-bit apps that I need. There was no need to copy/reinstall the old apps onto the Mojave volume.

It’s true that I only have a couple of 32-bit apps to run, including MS Expression Media 2 (bundled with a really old version of MS Office, which replaced iView MediaPro some ten years ago), and Seagate’s BlackArmor Discovery, their NAS utility app. I have a good number of catalogs created in Expression Media, enough to make conversion to another program a great effort, and I can’t imagine Seagate going to the bother of updating their NAS software for obsolete hardware.
 


... What I can't understand is this: surely, as vendors and developers themselves, that the music software companies should be testing the betas of upcoming OS upgrades to ensure that they work with their products, and have updates available when the OS comes out or not too long after?
From what developer blogs I've read, a major issue is that macOS has become a moving target with inadequate documentation. Changing to 64-bit and the ever-increasing security are additional major issues, compounded by the lack of good documentation.

Apple changed some of the APIs between the betas, making Catalina development a moving target. Some software developers have had to reverse-engineer Catalina's innards to figure out the APIs. Developers had inadequate time to test the GM of Catalina.

The blame for this fiasco lies wholly on Apple, not the developers. Releasing a less than alpha-quality, poorly documented operating system is unconscionable.

I'm appalled that Apple's last releases for Mojave broke more than they fixed on all four of my Macs. It's not comforting to know that no bug fixes are coming for that fiasco.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Luminar isn't compatible with Catalina yet:
Skylum said:
MacOS 10.15 Catalina Compatibility
Apple has recently released macOS Catalina (10.15), a new desktop software operating system. For now, our apps are not fully compatible with Catalina, but we will fix all the compatibility issues in the upcoming updates.

Which Skylum apps are going to be compatible with macOS Catalina? Luminar 4, Luminar 3, Luminar Flex and Aurora HDR 2019. We suggest you avoid upgrading to Catalina until the compatibility issues are fixed if they will impact your work.
 


More iTunes/Music annoyances: I cannot name a new smart playlist or change the clever name Apple has decided to bestow on it. ...
Well, yes, you can. Rename it. Once it's been created with whatever clever name Apple decides to give it, don't try double clicking it in the sidebar (seems that's the way it used to work); single click on the name, wait for the list to display in the main window and then click the name there. What a waste of time, discovering that.

New issue (or perhaps not1.: smart playlists created in macOS Music and then sync'd to iOS lose their play order. It's reversed. e.g. load some new albums into Music, create smart playlist while in 'songs' view of all tracks with 0 plays; sync it to your iPhone and... it's now last track first. God, Apple, how far you've fallen....

1. My portable player of choice has been an iPod Nano. Failing. Discontinued. Thought I'd better start using my iPhone.
 


Code42 sent a hyperbolic message to the CrashPlan mailing list, containing exaggerations such as:
Code42 said:
macOS Catalina Creates Kernel Crisis for Legacy DLP
  • macOS Catalina entirely disallows kernel extensions
  • Legacy DLP products will cease to work
  • With the release of Catalina, Apple shifts the entire macOS to read-only, regardless of permissions
  • Kernel extensions are completely disabled
It is hard to tell how they can be this wrong. The first clue is the emphasis on "legacy" DLP (Data Loss Prevention) products. Code42 doesn't define this, even on their Next-Gen DLP product page. From the context, I think they use "legacy DLP" for "DLP products that use kernel extensions" (distinguished from their own product, which apparently does not).

Second is why they think Catalina doesn't allow kernel extensions? As I understand it, nothing significant has changed in Catalina regarding third-party kexts.

The point about macOS being read-only is also hard to understand. They must only mean the macOS operating system itself, but that was already read-only via SIP.

What I think is going on is that someone in marketing saw some announcements from the "legacy DLP" vendors that they haven't finished testing Catalina, with advice to hold off upgrading until the testing is complete, and decided this was just the opportunity to spread some misinformation.
 


Another tip I discovered today. The new Music and TV apps (and presumably also Podcasts and the other devolved iTunes apps) search the Store by default. To search your library for a particular item or groups of items, use Show Filter Field in the View menu.
How very "New Apple". I cannot understand consumers' increasing acceptance of subscription models for everything. Uber instead of owning a car, renting a PodShare instead of buying a home, subscription instead of permanent licenses for your software, streaming instead of owning a music and movie collection. Owning nothing, isn't that how serfs used to live?
 


CodeWeavers CrossOver Mac is an enhanced implementation of WINE, for running Windows programs on Mac. As the name says, Wine Is Not an Emulator, it is a compatibility layer. What it does is run the Windows executables on the host machine, but with the Windows API's reverse-engineered and replaced with code that makes POSIX calls in the host.

CrossOver Mac doesn't work in Catalina yet. Obviously running 32-bit Windows applications in Catalina presents challenges. The interesting thing is that CodeWeavers is solving the challenges, according to their interesting blog post:
CodeWeavers said:
So We Don't Have a Solution for Catalina... Yet
Catalina won't run 32-bit executables. It doesn't support 32-bit processes. It doesn't provide 32-bit system frameworks and libraries. In short, it won't run the 32-bit components that CrossOver has traditionally used to run 32-bit Windows applications.

So, we needed to find another way. We need to run 32-bit code within a 64-bit process which uses 64-bit system libraries to access OS functionality.

The CPUs in Macs still support the 32-bit-compatibility mode. Catalina does still provide a way for us to run certain specific code in this 32-bit mode in an otherwise 64-bit process.
What I'm wondering is whether 64-bit Windows apps will already work.

I've been thinking that what we need is a WINE project that reverse-engineers and replaces the OS X Carbon APIs. Previously, I dismissed the idea, because how would you run 32-bit code if Catalina doesn't allow it? But CodeWeavers is showing there is a way to do that.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Second is why they think Catalina doesn't allow kernel extensions?
Catalina kernels extensions are a major mess. See, for example:
Objective Development said:
How kernel prelinking works on macOS Catalina (or not)
In this article we’d like to outline some technical details about how the installation of a kernel extension works on macOS Catalina, about potential pitfalls in this process, what can go wrong, and what currently unfortunately does go wrong.
Eclectic Light Co. said:
Why Catalina may have problems with extensions
... At WWDC 2019 back in June, Apple announced that it wants to move away altogether from third-party kernel extensions, and announced their replacement in the form of System Extensions, which should do away with at least some of these problems. However, so far Apple doesn’t appear to have made much progress in encouraging developers away from kernel extensions. Some developers who have applied for new security certificates with which to sign them haven’t heard anything back from Apple since June, so the delay isn’t with third-party developers.

Maybe it will be a while before we see third-party apps replacing KEXTs with SEXTs after all.
 


I believe Epson does provide 64-bit drivers for Image Capture for my V750. (I can’t check from my iPhone.) Wouldn’t they also do so for the V500?
It depends entirely on how Epson supports the scanner. Some models (like my Perfection 4870) don't appear to have any device drivers. Every application (EpsonScan, SilverFast, VueScan) has its own built-in drivers that directly access the scanner via USB. Apple's Image Capture uses device drivers that must be supplied by Epson, but that's the exception here.

It appears that the V500 is different. In addition to the EpsonScan app, Epson provided actual device drivers, and nothing can access the scanner without those drivers. Epson would need to release 64-bit versions of them, which they don't seem interested in doing for this model.

As for the V750, it falls into the former category. According to the VueScan description, the app uses its own built-in driver and not the ones Epson provided. This probably explains why it is also supported by SilverFast.

Surely 64-bit code is an improvement? Are all these developers running 32-bit in Windows too? Are they maintaining completely separate codebases?
It's worth nothing that Microsoft appears to have no intent of dropping 32-bit support. Any Windows 10 system you find will almost certainly have a mix of both 32- and 64-bit apps. You can review them pretty easily because they are installed in different locations (C:\Program Files vs. C:\Program Files (x86)).

Many major apps (including Microsoft Office) ship in both 32- and 64-bit versions in order to retain compatibility with 32-bit plugins. And several major plugins (including Java and Flash) ship in both forms in order to be compatible with both kinds of apps.

As a developer, it makes a sense to maintain a 32-bit build (with or without a parallel 64-bit build), because it lets you deploy on 32-bit systems, which are still supported by Windows 10.

I've been thinking that what we need is a WINE project that reverse-engineers and replaces the OS X Carbon APIs. Previously, I dismissed the idea, because how would you run 32-bit code if Catalina doesn't allow it? But CodeWeavers is showing there is a way to do that.
If you can switch the CPU into 32-bit mode (which appears to be possible), the apps can be run. When your environment sees requests to load DLLs or make system calls, it needs to trap them and redirect them into code that you provide (reverse-engineering all of the system libraries).

In the case of WINE, it will be interesting to see what their approach actually is. Will they develop their own replacement 32-bit frameworks,, or will they use a hack (maybe IPC to a 64-bit process) in order to let the 32-bit app make 64-bit framework calls.

It should be possible to do this for Mac apps as well, but it is going to be a massive amount of work, since you're effectively need to implement every single system framework and kernel call.

If you do it by redirecting 32-bit calls into 64-bit frameworks, that will probably be the easiest approach, but it won't work for calls that don't have 64-bit equivalents (including all of Carbon). Those will need to be developed from scratch. And in order to avoid violating Apple's copyright, it will have to be done clean-room fashion based on the published API documentation, possibly with the addition of emulating any bugs that apps have come to depend on over the years.

Fortunately, Apple has been very staunch about app developers not using undocumented APIs (usually by breaking them every few years), so there would hopefully be no need to make clean-room implementations of them, which could be very difficult to do in a way that stands up to a possible copyright lawsuit.

In other words, yes, what you want is theoretically possible, but it will not be easy, and I wouldn't expect anything soon unless the project was started several years ago. For the time being, your best bet will be to run an older macOS in a VM.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Another potential problem (not yet confirmed):
Reddit said:
catalina 10.15 problem?
updated to catalina 10.15 today and now unable to airdrop anything over 30 seconds from my mac to my iphone (which is also up to date). this is only a problem as of the update as yesterday i airdropped over 30 mins of go pro footage to my iphone from my mac but now unable to do anything. i’ve reset the mac twice - is there a fix to this? also before anyone asks i have 70gigs of storage on my iphone free so a 3 minute video should definitely not be a problem.
Can any of you Catalina users check this?
 


It appears that the V500 is different. In addition to the EpsonScan app, Epson provided actual device drivers, and nothing can access the scanner without those drivers. Epson would need to release 64-bit versions of them, which they don't seem interested in doing for this model.
I have an Epson V330, and when I look that up on VueScan’s extensive list of scanners supported, the support page says
You need to install the Epson driver to use this scanner on Windows x86 and Mac OS X. On Mac OS X, this is normally already installed by Software Update, so VueScan should just work.
which appears to mean that for Catalina it just doesn't work until suitable 64-bit drivers are developed.
 



KJM

The update changed her fonts on Apple Mail, and left her unable to change the fonts in Mail.
What does that mean: Was she unable to find the font settings in Mail's preferences, or did she edit the font settings there and the settings did not stick?
 


I should have added: does anyone have any suggestions for her? Is there any Catalina replacement for InDesign? Is there a reasonable way back to Mojave?
I've been using InDesign CS3 (way old) on a Snow Leopard VM. Her version of InDesign will work on a Mojave VM (or whatever OS she was using before the upgrade). I also recently switched most of my work to Affinity Publisher (referenced in the Adobe topic on this site). It doesn't open InDesign files directly but does edit PDFs very well. Workflow isn't exactly like InDesign, but close enough that my productivity hasn't suffered. I'm not a power user (CS3 was good enough for me, after all), but I strongly recommend giving Affinity a shot. Good price, no software extortion... er... rental.
 



More iTunes/Music annoyances: I cannot name a new smart playlist or change the clever name Apple has decided to bestow on it. Seems to be based on the selection criteria as parsed by Apple's (almost intelligent) AI (absolute ignorance). Existing smart playlists appear to continue to function. Play counts/dates are updated. Changes applied.

No cloud music here at all; it's all on my Mac and, by extension, my iDevices. No subscription to Apple Music. Or Match. If that matters.

So I'm wondering if this is just me? And, thank god this isn't a production machine. And this isn't production software.
You now have to double-click on the name in the right side when the Smart Playlist is selected - it seems you can't rename it in the list of playlists on the left side any longer. (I created a new one just to test this - took a few tries to find where you could rename it now.)
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
In fact, one of the vendors I deal with, Melda, recently put up a page on their website suggesting that maybe it's time macOS users started switching over to Windows 10.
What I can't understand is this: surely, as vendors and developers themselves, that the music software companies should be testing the betas of upcoming OS upgrades to ensure that they work with their products, and have updates available when the OS comes out or not too long after?
That page explains the problem in the last section:
Melda said:
Switching from OSX to Windows
...
So what is the problem with Apple anyway?

Imagine you are a builder (the software developer of a DAW/plugin...) and you started creating a big factory some time ago. You have built the foundations, walls, started putting some equipment for various companies (your customers, the users) in it. And obviously the factory needs a roof, right? You started building your factory with a very specific roof manufacturer (Apple) in mind, which uses some odd roof attachment system, not a perfect one, but it does the trick. But suddenly this manufacturer comes in and says "sorry, we have a new attachment system, for which you need to make your factory one meter shorter and change the attachment bolts". Of course you, being the builder, know this is a total nonsense and all they need to do is a little gadget (converter) from the old roof attachment system to the new one. But they just won't do that, and even worse, they won't let you do that either. They just won't install the roof until you remake the entire factory. So you as a builder are in trouble. Your customers asked for this roof, which isn't special in a way, it just has a specific colour that other roof manufacturers don't make (and there are many of them, cheaper and often better ones). But to make it all work, you have to spend a huge amount of time rebuilding your factory for no good reason and after that some equipment (ProTools 10) now won't even fit in, because the factory will be too small. That's a situation without a reasonable solution and it happened several times before, but it seems to be getting worse than ever.

So the real question is, do you want the developers of your DAW and plugins to spend their days trying to fix the problems arising from system upgrades, or to improve their own software products, making them more functional, more powerful, faster, stable and easier to use? If it's the latter one, then the only solution seems to switch to Windows. The only one, who can make a difference is you, the customer.
 


I have to ask, is anyone up here really using Catalina? All through the public beta, I had Catalina running on two volumes, a "clean" volume, and a volume that is a clone of my "working" volume. There have been gross differences in the function between the two volumes with different things breaking between each.

On the "working" volume with the release of Catalina, the Dock will not display; although, checking Activity Monitor, it is running. "Killall Dock" will cause it to display. When I click on the Mail icon in the Dock, only the Activity window opens. A second click on the icon will open the main Mail window....
I’m using it on one of my two work computers (2018 Mac Mini i7) to use it in a production setup and test it before our regular users do (they have been told to hold off on updates until around x.x.3 as normal - for most of them I just tell them when it's safe).

So far, with this being a relatively fresh install, I have not run into any major bugs - Dock working as expected. But there are a few minor things – software compatibility, kext issues and such that will likely get ironed out in an update or two. As in past years, we suggest users don't update until about three updates in. In some ways I don't consider it bad - no major network issues with SMB or similar - macOS 10.12 and 10.13 were bad for that.

I did update this 2018 Mac Mini from Mojave 10.14, but had only been using the computer for a month or two after replacing an older 2012 Mac Pro quad-core that stopped booting after a Mojave security update. Could have fixed it, but figured it was time to finally upgrade that hardware, and the Mac Mini with 6-core i7 is much faster.

Possible fix for dock: you could write down (or screen shot) what is in your dock, and go into your user Library/Preferences and drag the prefs to the desktop then kill the dock to reload it (or logout/login or reboot) to see if the problem fixes with fresh prefs. (I've had to do this fix in the past for myself, and other users when the dock wouldn't behave itself.)
 


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