Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Don’t Interrupt the Installation

Adam Engst:

The details vary, but all revolve around problems at boot, with complete lockups, accounts not available, current passwords not working, the login window reappearing after the user enters the password, or a crash screen after login. So far, it seems that only Macs with the T1 or T2 security chip are affected—that includes the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (2016 and later), iMac Pro, MacBook Air (2018), and Mac mini (2018).


In the end, my advice is simply to go ahead with installing Security Update 2019-001 (Mojave), with two important caveats. First, make sure you have good backups before starting, in case the worst happens. That’s always a good plan anyway. Second, do not interrupt the installation process! It may take longer than you expect, but let it run as long as it needs.

I don’t know what I’m going to do once I get a T2 Mac because, since macOS 10.10 or so, probably 50% of my macOS updates get stuck and don’t complete the first time. I end up waiting several hours or overnight before giving up and hard resetting the Mac.

9 Comments RSS · Twitter

Same for me. I think it started when I replaced the SSD by an other one. Are you using an Apple SSD or did you upgrade your SSD too ?

@Jean-Daniel It happens for me on two different Macs, both with stock Apple SSDs. Sometimes I think it helps to unplug all USB and Thunderbolt devices before updating.

Agreed. I've had many installs that take hours, and many that have not completed within 12 hours (and are then “fine” after forcibly restarting).

What a mess.

Harald Striepe

For a number of years now I always have a minimal system 2nd boot on every system. Usually it's the previous version of macOS. For example my Catalina systems also have a Mojave boot. APFS makes it easier with Volumes. The recovery partition does not have enough easily accessible functionality for fixing things.

Sören Nils Kuklau

My nerdy compromise when there's no visible progress for a while is to pull up a log (odds are it's chattier than a mere "x minutes remaining" bar, and might give a clue as to whether anything is happening at all).

Which you can still do, albeit awkwardly.

Christopher Taylor-Davies

I left the update running, came back some time later and it was beach balling, and continued to do so for a long while. I foolishly interrupted it and the APFS volume was toast.
Could not log in even though the users still existed. Had to reinstall from scratch. Actually as the MacBook Pro was only 2 weeks old I took it back and swapped it for a new one on the faint chance that the hardware was faulty.

I've been using Macs since the 128k Mac, but I see the day coming when I abandon it as my primary platform. I expect that time to come roughly around the time Mojave stops getting security updates or when all reasonable Macs (i.e. ones with working keyboards and reliable graphics but without T-chips) are no longer supported. The clock is ticking.

This is a bit of a Yikes! moment, no? @Michael, literally 50% of the time system updates fail? @Peter do you have any T1 or T2 Macs? Does it ever eat the file system as Adam Engst is reporting or is that particular problem specific to this recent update?

Look, I use desktop Linux, I completely understand the concept of problematic updates! 😃 For instance, Pacman, Arch Linux's package manager, recently updated, but neither Kalu nor Pamac (two popular graphical frontends for Pacman) were updated, which means you cannot update Pacman if you want your graphical installer to continue functioning. Pacman itself wisely disallows that upgrade of incompatible tools since it will break core functionality. There are a few work arounds:
1. You either have to continually ignore the pacman update until the graphical tools are updated but you do have to be careful on Arch with partial upgrades.
2. Uninstall the graphical frontend and run updates via the command line.
3. I suppose you could probably recompile the graphical tools and fix the string listing compatible versions of Pacman.
4. See if the project themselves have an update on their project pages and download that version.

I told you that story, to say I empathize with the problem Mac OS is having with updates, but since my computer was just over $300 and the system software is free, I expect some bumps in the road. macOS is supposed to just work and I cannot fathom how regular update failures, ones that can destroy the entire file system apparently, can be considered functional? This is truly concerning.

@Nathan I haven’t seen any ill effects myself, which is why I thought Adam’s piece was worth emphasizing as something new.

Leave a Comment