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macOS 10.15 Catalina

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Good Advice!!
From this informed but ordinary macOS user - I waited until macOS 15.3 to install Catalina and updated to 15.4 when it was released (actually I waited a couple of days).

To date I'm happy and all is working well for me on my 2017 iMac 4K and communicating perfectly with my iPhone and iPad Pro. My critical applications are 1Password, Mail, Safari and Firefox, Numbers, Quicken, Messages, Notes, Reminders, Dropbox, Photos and iCloud (Desktop and Documents on iCloud), and Backblaze.

I do have concerns about my next Mac if it has T2. APFS has not been an issue even on my external disks and SSDs in a Thunderbolt 2 enclosure and one SSD on Thunderbolt 3.

I'm about to advise four other iMac and MacBook owners that I think Catalina is ready for them if they have no 32-bit applications. They all have the equipment to do Time Machine backups and none has a T2 Mac currently.

Thanks for all the information and warnings.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Here's more about the macOS 10.15.4 "bricking" bug that kills "a small number of" T2-based Macs:
Mr. Macintosh said:
10.15.4 Supplemental Update Bricking Small Number of T2 Macs
  • 1. Affected Mac Models
  • 2. Affected OS Versions
  • 3. Problem: 10.15.4 Supplemental BridgeOS Update
  • 4. Problem Description
  • 5. Can the dead Mac be brought back to life? YES!
  • 6. Why write about something that affects such a small number of Macs?
  • 7. Wait a few days before installing updates.
  • 8. Should I block the 10.15.4 Supplemental Update?
  • 9. Does Apple Know about this issue and are they working on a fix?
  • 10. Links
  • 11. Credit & Hat Tips

#applequality #bricking
 



Ric Ford

MacInTouch
macOS 10.15.4 and its Supplemental Update are a compelling example of what's wrong with Apple's software development process – here's the latest discovery:
Mr. Macintosh said:
10.15.4 Supplemental Update Resets ComputerName & HostName to Default
... Do you use the ComputerName, HostName or LocalHostName value for one of the following functions?
  • MDM Computer Scope
  • 802.1x Authentication
  • Active Directory
  • VPN
If you depend on the ComputerName or HostName for any of these services, it could wreak havoc for the user! ... Unlike other issues, this one covers all [Mac models, not just T2-based Macs]. ... If you set the ComputerName to a specific value, let’s say the SerialNumber, it will be reset back to factory default.

#applequality
 


macOS 10.15.4 and its Supplemental Update are a compelling example of what's wrong with Apple's software development process – here's the latest discovery:
#applequality
How common are all these problems with the Supplemental Update? I've seen none of them on my Mac Mini 2018, including the computer name one, which is supposed to affect all Macs. I don't usually put my Macs to sleep, but I did a test, and the computer awakened normally.

The only weird thing I've noticed is on my macOS 10.14.6 volume, which share the same container as the macOS 10.15.4 volume. Now, every time I open the macOS 10.14.6 volume (still my default startup), there is this message: "Your computer was restarted because of a problem."

Here are the first couple of the lines of the report I send to Apple on the first startup of the day:
Problem Details and System Configuration
{"caused_by":"bridgeos","macos_system_state":"shutdown","bug_type":"210","os_version":"Bridge OS 4.4 (17P4281)","timestamp":"2020-04-15 03:14:04.00 +0000","incident_id":"3126F0C7-05C1-48E6-81F8-D98ED471662F"> {
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
How common are all these problems with the Supplemental Update?
No one knows exactly how common the problems are, but many people seem to be lucky enough to avoid them.
I've seen none of them on my Mac Mini 2018, including the computer name one, which is supposed to affect all Macs.
I think you misunderstood that blog post. By "all Macs", he meant all models were affected, not just the T2-based models that were hit by the "bricking" bug.
 


every time I open the macOS 10.14.6 volume (still my default startup), there is this message: "Your computer was restarted because of a problem."
With the current firmware, after Safari (cleanly installed 12.1.2 or 13.1) is used in Mojave, and a Mac Mini 2018 is put to sleep, it always crashes and reboots after about two minutes (post-27286). Or after using Safari, and doing a shutdown and a cold-boot, a crash report is always issued.

I haven't found other apps or workflows that trigger this behaviour in Mojave with my setup (Catalina is OK in this respect).
 


Catalina started as a clean install for me with nothing brought over from Mojave. Because Catalina's bugs have been somewhat treacherous, I choose to use the Combo 10.15.4 updater.

Apple - If you are going to force people to update, then reliability becomes a requirement, not a goal.
 


With the current firmware, after Safari (cleanly installed 12.1.2 or 13.1) is used in Mojave, and a Mac Mini 2018 is put to sleep, it always crashes and reboots after about two minutes (post-27286). Or after using Safari, and doing a shutdown and a cold-boot, a crash report is always issued.

I haven't found other apps or workflows that trigger this behaviour in Mojave with my setup (Catalina is OK in this respect).
I was wrong - my 2018 Mini does have the Safari shutdown problem. I didn't notice it, since I never put my Mac to sleep.

I also didn't notice it was crashing on shutdown after using Safari, since I use Safari for email (Yahoo), and the first thing I usually do when I logon is open Safari to check email. I thought it was weird that the crash report was always issued on a startup. I guess the crash is as good as a shutdown (at least I haven't noticed any issues).
 


I was wrong - my 2018 Mini does have the Safari shutdown problem. I didn't notice it, since I never put my Mac to sleep. I also didn't notice it was crashing on shutdown after using Safari, since I use Safari for email (Yahoo), and the first thing I usually do when I logon is open Safari to check email. I thought it was weird that the crash report was always issued on a startup. I guess the crash is as good as a shutdown (at least I haven't noticed any issues).
I have had none of the problems reported here or any other problems with Catalina or Safari on my 2017 MacBook Pro. As a test, I booted back into the Mojave container and could not duplicate any Safari/sleep problems.

So, makes me wonder why or what is different about other machines. Other than four browsers other than Safari, I mainly use non-Apple programs Quicken and Parallels. I do have Blackmagic Disk Speed Test, OpenOffice, H&R Block tax software, Onyx and Coconut Battery, but these are seldom used, and I generally only keep mail, a browser, and Pages open at a time.
 



Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I'm still wondering if Apple's changes to the fundamental kernel extension (KEXT) mechanism might be involved in recent major Catalina bugs. The changes are to be completed with the next version of macOS. (I also wonder if the next version of macOS will be designed for Apple-proprietary ARM processors....)
Apple said:
About legacy system extensions
In 2019, Apple informed developers that macOS Catalina will be the last macOS to fully support legacy system extensions, and we've been working with developers to transition their software.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
I'm still wondering if Apple's changes to the fundamental kernel extension (KEXT) mechanism might be involved in recent major Catalina bugs. The changes are to be completed with the next version of macOS. (I also wonder if the next version of macOS will be designed for Apple=proprietary ARM processors....)
More on the topic and problems for third-party developers with Apple's KEXT elimination:
Michael Tsai blog said:
Not Dogfooding DriverKit
Phil Dennis-Jordan said:
I’ve spent a fair bit of the last 2 weeks with DriverKit, i.e. macOS 10.15’s device-drivers-in-userspace tech. I really wanted to like it, but so far I’m not impressed at all. It’s yet another one of those things where Apple clearly has no intention of using it themselves.…
 


After a few weeks of using Catalina, my impression is that Time Machine backup to a Time Capsule has become much slower, often taking hours to complete a backup. The most serious use of time appears to be when there is insufficient space for a backup, and it spends a long time removing items to make it fit. It is slower on a USB drive than it used to be, but nothing like over WiFi.

Is Apple pushing users away from Time Machine over WiFi? We only have laptops here (my late 2013 15" MacBook Pro Retina and my wife's 2013 MacBook Air), so it is really the most convenient way to ensure that we get regular backups of both machines.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
... We only have laptops here (my late 2013 15" MacBook Pro Retina and my wife's 2013 MacBook Air), so it is really the most convenient way to ensure that we get regular backups of both machines.
I'd suggest buying Samsung T5 or T7 SSDs for backup. Get one twice the size of your laptop storage and split it into separate partitions for Time Machine and Carbon Copy Cloner. (This is what I do, and it works well.). It should be vastly faster than a Time Capsule.

(You may want to add/use cloud backup, such as Backblaze.)
 


I'd suggest buying Samsung T5 or T7 SSDs for backup. Get one twice the size of your laptop storage and split it into separate partitions for Time Machine and Carbon Copy Cloner. (This is what I do, and it works well.). It should be vastly faster than a Time Capsule.
(You may want to add/use cloud backup, such as Backblaze.)
Ric, are you backing up over wifi, or by plugging into the computer?
If you are over wifi, what is your setup?
I'm a long-term Time Capsule lover.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Ric, are you backing up over wifi, or by plugging into the computer?
If you are over wifi, what is your setup?
  1. Plug Samsung T5 into MacBook Pro (if it's not already plugged in).
  2. Run Carbon Copy Cloner
  3. Choose Back Up Now occasionally from Time Machine menu in menubar [if you want to supplement the automatic backups Time Machine does]
 


  1. Plug Samsung T5 into MacBook Pro (if it's not already plugged in).
  2. Run Carbon Copy Cloner
  3. Choose Back Up Now occasionally from Time Machine menu in menubar
This is what I want to avoid, having to run Time Machine manually, and the Time Capsule was a great way to do it.

My personal system is this. I have three external hard disk drives (as I can't afford to buy large SSDs), each of which has a partition for Time Machine and one for SuperDuper to back up. I rotate between the three daily. One of them can no longer do the bootable backup since I moved to Catalina, and I can't change that partition to APFS, as it's not the first partition on the disk.

So I have four Time Machine backups: one on each of the three disks, plus the Time Capsule. The full backup usually gets done over lunch on the two out of three days I have a suitable disk plugged in.

My wife's computer only backs up to the Time Capsule and one of those three hard disk drives. Since she doesn't have a desk and works in various places, plugging in a disk is not something she does regularly, plus she is not at all technical. The Time Capsule is thus her most important backup. She's still on High Sierra, so it's faster for her, I think.
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
3. Choose Back Up Now occasionally from Time Machine menu in menubar​
This is what I want to avoid, having to run Time Machine manually, and the Time Capsule was a great way to do it.
Sorry, I wasn't very clear there. I'm just in the habit of doing extra, manual Time Mchine backups after finishing any little project, but there's no need to do that – Time Machine does automatic backups, as well.
... My wife's computer only backs up to the Time Capsule and one of those three hard disk drives. Since she doesn't have a desk and works in various places, plugging in a disk is not something she does regularly, plus she is not at all technical.
The Samsung T5 (and T7) are very compact, bus-powered devices (and vastly faster* than hard drives). It's trivial to plug one into the computer, and you can easily take the computer all around the house with it still plugged in, or eject and unplug it then plug it back in later at your convenience. Time Machine will automatically back up to it (after being appropriately configured).

Have you considered the situation when the Time Capsule fails? Will your wife lose all her backups? I strongly recommend having at least two separate backups, and it sounds like your wife only has one.


*Daily backups of a 1TB MacBook Pro SSD (about 75% full) using Carbon Copy Cloner typically take less than a minute per gigabyte of changed files - e.g. about 9 minutes to scan more than 750 GB of files (many different types), compare those to the existing backup, and copy 9 GB of changed files to a Samsung T5 (using macOS 10.12).
 


Some weeks ago, I posted a note that I've seen a Catalina bug in which the Finder disappears after startup, after all extensions are loaded, but that I could make it reappear by choosing "Finder" from the Recent Items menu or by clicking on the Finder icon in the dock. I noted that this problem was occurring on my 2017 iMac but not on an identically-versioned Catalina installation on my late-2013 MacBook Pro. This is not a major issue. Just an annoyance.

This week, through random experimentation, I discovered that the "lost Finder" problem may be related to the Dark/Light "Appearance" system setting in the General settings pane. The Finder disappears after startup when I've got the iMac set to "Auto", but the problem does not occur when it's set to either Light or Dark. (I'm still experimenting.)
 


Ric Ford

MacInTouch
Howard Oakley talks about issues involved in migrating to macOS 10.15 Catalina...
Eclectic Light Co. said:
Is it safe to upgrade to Catalina 10.15.5?
Now’s the time that those who’ve been cautious, and let the early adopters find all the bugs in Catalina, consider whether to upgrade. Is it safe to go ahead, in readiness for macOS 10.16, or are there still showstoppers which will make you regret it?

With Catalina, there can’t be a clear answer. Its two biggest problems for anyone upgrading haven’t changed, and will only get more challenging with 10.16: loss of 32-bit software support, and the security requirements imposed on executable code including notarization. If you’re still reliant on apps or any other software which uses 32-bit code, then you’ll only be able to run them in a Virtual Machine, or by dual-booting your Mac.
 


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