Monday, August 3, 2020

Catalina: More Trouble Than It’s Worth

Riccardo Mori:

I am the first to wonder whether it makes sense to write yet another part of this little saga, when Catalina is basically entering its last two months of active duty. But Catalina remains, I think, one of the most (if not the most) controversial Mac OS X releases, and now that I have finally had direct experience with it on a new machine I’m using just for testing, I can confirm.


When a couple of articles from this series on Catalina reached Hacker News in the past months, a lot of quips I got as response were from people who dismissed the problem altogether with remarks along the lines of These nerds must always find something to complain/whine about. There’s nothing wrong with Catalina. Well, that’s simply not the impression I’ve had and continue to have. And not because I have 309 emails of negative feedback and horror stories to prove it, but because this volume of feedback itself is an indicator, in my private sphere, of a larger discussion that has been going on publicly (in online forums and specialised mailing lists) since Catalina was released last autumn.

I was hoping to skip directly to Big Sur, but I’ll probably have to update to Catalina soon to use the latest Xcode.


Update (2020-08-24): TJ Luoma:

I bought a 16" MBPro in April (because WFH). It regularly-but-randomly reboots. Apple replaced the entire logic board and Touch Bar controller. Still happens. I happened to upgrade my Mac mini to Catalina - same issue happened. But at least the Mac mini could go back to Mojave.

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I feel like people just assume Big Sur will cure Catalina's ails, and I'm not sure what has happened in these betas so far to rationalize that belief. So far it's the same issues with an ugly coat of paint on top.

I can't move to Catalina, since I still occasionally need QuickTime or a 32-bit application, apart from all the notarization security theater that I don't want and the bugs I don't need. Absolutely nothing in Big Sur is remotely compelling for my work (professionally, scientific visualization and simulation/analysis; personally, web/photo editing and Xcode).

Unfortunately, I'm becoming more convinced that Mojave is the end of the line for me with Apple, and I've been using Macs since System 7.5 (and the Apple IIgs before that). In that time, I've gone from being eager to install Darwin and OS X Public Beta, to dreading the update process and postponing it until a year or two after release (after OS X 10.7). My TeX Live Utility users might be sad, but oh well.

@bok Big Sur fixes the Mail table view that Catalina broke, which is huge for me. Otherwise, my main motivation is that it’s easier to develop/test new stuff when running on the latest OS. The point is that not that Big Sur fixes all the Catalina problems, but that as a non-current release that isn’t even stable there’s little reason to use Catalina. It’s neither here nor there.

Can't say that Big Sur has be hopeful about the future of the Mac either. It is obvious they have invested a ton of effort on stuff, but now I wish they had just left it alone. Leaning more and more toward Linux or Windows because of all the annoyances in Catalina and the horrid layer of paint on Big Sur. I'm not a Mac or iOS developer so I can leave without hurting my professional life.

Catalina is the only release in ~25 years of being a Mac user that I have avoided. I sincerely hope Big Sur is an improvement.

I'm with Bok, Catalina set some really bad precedents. Veering away from POSIX compliance, "firm links", the whole "let's throw macOS on two partitions and make it invisible to the non-power user" but then have bugs like badly spawned Data, Data - 1 APFS partitions.... none of this is going away in Big Sur in fact they're going to double down pre- and post- "Apple Silicon."

But what really irritates me about Catalina's "new traditions" is that it was no big deal that they shipped with data loss. Or that they sat on security bugs for SIX MONTHS. THOSE are Apple's "new norms" until they prove themselves otherwise.

I don't believe a single word that comes out of Tim Cook's mouth. PROVE IT. Or not.

I'm not taking the Big Sur bait this time. 50% of my "retirement fleet" won't take it anyway and I see no loss whatsoever, I don't want "Big More of the Same."

I have been around the Mac since 1985. I have beta tested since 1991 and I will not install Catalina on any production machines I have, and have encouraged all my customers to do the same. This may be the first OS in over 35 years I will give a pass to.

Catalina was a hell of a note for the OS X name to go out on. But BS is unlikely to be your savior.

I'm still on High Sierra and I have a hard time coming up with compelling reasons to upgrade to Mojave.

Honestly, the only thing I can think of right now is that I can't upgrade to BBEdit 13 since it requires Mojave.

I held off on Catalina as long as I could. But I need the new Xcode. Its not tooooo bad, though I didn't upgrade until 10.15.6. But Mail is horrendous.

Its the first time I've not updated to at least a .1 release. Big Sur looks like an improvement though .

Its not tooooo bad, though I didn’t upgrade until 10.15.6.

It’s funny. I did go straight to 10.15.0 and was mostly fine, safe for a massive corespotlightd memory leak bug that they must’ve fixed around .1 or .2.

But! I’m still on 10.15.5, because I heavily rely on VMs, and… well….

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