Friday, October 2, 2020

Quality Management in Apple’s System Updates Over Time

Howard Oakley:

Surely the most important way to improve quality is to strengthen quality management processes throughout engineering – the principle of building it right first time, rather than expending more effort at detecting and remediating errors. Simply extending the cycle without changing quality management would be very unlikely to result in any improvement. But better quality management doesn’t entail making the cycle any longer, so cycle length is unlikely to be relevant, as was shown by Apple’s only real two-year development cycle with Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger.

This is right if you’re talking about the quality of next the major release when it first ships. But that’s far less important to customers than the quality at the middle and end of the release. Snow Leopard was not an unusually stable release at 10.6.0, but by 10.6.8 it was legendary, and you could keep using that version until you were happy with the state of 10.7.x. Some customers even skipped 10.7 entirely.

With the yearly release cycle, major versions no longer attain that level of refinement because development stops as Apple moves on to the next reelease. And developers are forced to upgrade earlier because taking advantage of the latest SDK requires the new version of Xcode, which requires a current version of macOS. You can now choose between the still buggy macOS 10.15.7 and the soon-to-be macOS 11.0.0, which will have issues out of the gate, as all releases do. Those are not great choices.

Nick Heer:

For the first few public releases of Mac OS X, Apple stuck to a development cycle of well under a year per release. Beginning with the Panther release in 2003, Mac OS X settled into something closer to an eighteen-month gap between x.0 public releases, with a long exception for Tiger. Then, with Mountain Lion in 2012, Apple stated that its intention was to begin releasing a new version of OS X every year; Mountain Lion had a shorter cycle than its predecessors, but it was still longer than any release after.

In all three eras of MacOS development cycles, you will find versions that are legendary for their refinement, and those which are the complete opposite.

Which recent releases are those? macOS 10.14.6 is better than any 10.15, but it retains it share of issues. macOS 10.13.6 has a common Mail IMAP syncing crash that was never fixed. macOS 10.12 was generally a rough release and retained serious PDF bugs throughout its life. My recollection is that macOS 10.11.6 was probably the best since 10.6.8.


6 Comments RSS · Twitter

The only thing that matters to me is UPTIME. Prior to Catalina I could leave any macOS machine on for.... weeks... months... they really were that reliable warts and all. Yes even Mojave. Mojave is the last "reliable" macOS full stop.

Catalina I can only leave them on for 3-4 days at MOST, then keychain starts asking for passwords to daemons I should not ever see, iCloud enabled apps that never gave me trouble before start asking for permissions to directories that they already have in "full disk access" and that is when I catch them. When I don't I'm greeted with a BLACK SCREEN and in either case I have to hard-shutdown the machines.

If you're still on Mojave STAY on Mojave. Catalina is not suitable for server or remote host, or any other "unattended" use. There, I said it.

And no, I will not "send logs" to Apple to be "seen and then /dev/null'd"-- The briefly multi-trillion dollar corp should have caught this stuff long ago and shouldn't "require any help" from normies.

Maybe hire more (Blackbox, yes brute force) QA and less "curation experts"..?

And maybe, just maybe have a couple 24 month cycles for new OS releases? That might settle some of that technical debt? At the very least go back to 18 months. This is a major OS, not some website you push on a "sprint" nor a TV show /sarc

One weird thing I've noticed just in the past few months on Catalina, possibly due to whatever updates arrived since May or so (?) is that when I wake up my MBP and start typing my password, it's no longer reliably capturing all of the key presses. Sometimes it misses the first few, sometimes it gets the first few and then misses the middle ones. I have never ever had an issue entering my password immediately upon waking it up. Not once in the 3+ years I've had it. Until now. And I haven't changed anything else on my MBP -- no new apps, nothing. Just updating the OS to keep it current. Ridiculous!

One weird thing I’ve noticed just in the past few months on Catalina, possibly due to whatever updates arrived since May or so (?) is that when I wake up my MBP and start typing my password, it’s no longer reliably capturing all of the key presses.

In general, Catalina seems plagued with buffering issues. See also Casey Liss’s “shotgun trackpad”, where it buffers clicks for many seconds, then executes them all in a row later on.

@Ben Catalina loses password characters on wake for me, too. :(

I would 100% still be on Mojave if the latest Xcode supported it, but I had no choice when iOS 13.3 or 4 was released and the accompanying Xcode said it required Catalina, I was in the middle of a project, my iPhone auto-updated iOS and I had no choice. I learned afterwards there’s a workaround, but too late for me. Catalina is working ok for me, the biggest problem is occasionally my laptop gets really hot because some random process decided to go to 100% for no reason at all (disk image helper and media indexer are common culprits), but that isn’t new to Catalina - what is new is that my laptop has no media and it still does it.

@Adrian: I can't recommend enough Rugarciap's Turbo Boost Switcher Pro. (and yes choose pro)

Catalina is the first OS where if I don't restart every 3-4 days even *with* TBsP I'll be greeted with a black screen. That to me is disturbing. But I (too) "can't go back."

I hope Apple finishes Catalina.

You might want to use something like EtreCheck that reports on your CPU, that has references to the CPU spec of max operating temperature, and if you're hitting that too much then contacting Apple (as a dev, endusers like me evidently are scum on their shoe).

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