Wednesday, December 30, 2020

No More Big Sur Internet Recovery

Mr. Macintosh (tweet):

Starting in early December, macOS Big Sur Internet Recovery was replaced by Catalina as the newest version available.


Why did Apple make this change? I didn’t report on this earlier because I figured it was a server side issue. Apple would probably fix it pretty quickly. The problem is it’s been almost a month now. Could this be a permanent change or is Big Sur Internet Recovery still having issues?

That’s the situation for Intel Macs. Apple Silicon Macs don’t support Internet Recovery at all, nor can they boot from many common external USB drives.

Jason Snell:

Macs running on Apple silicon are pretty great. But whenever there’s a major hardware transition, many wise people point out that it’s safer to wait rather than rushing in, because there are always growing pains.


Update (2021-01-01): Howard Oakley:

Although not disastrous, the effect of this on Big Sur users is serious. I already have several apps which require Big Sur, of which two rely on System Extensions which are incompatible with Catalina. For a Big Sur user to be forcibly downgraded to 10.15.7 means that they’ll then have to go through all the process of upgrading again, and probably have to re-install System Extensions and much else afresh before they work. If you’re running Time Machine backups to APFS, you’ll be unable to make any more backups – or even to access existing backups – until you’ve restored Big Sur, which may well then perform a full backup. Just what you didn’t want as you’re trying to recover lost time.

My greatest concern though is how we only get to learn this through word of tweet from third-parties like Mr Macintosh and sysadmin chat. When I looked at Apple’s System Status page, and that for Developers, there’s no mention of Remote Recovery services.

There are other critical macOS services which are also missing from those pages, whose outage has devastating effects on large numbers of Mac users.

Hector Martin:

PSA: if you try to partition an M1 mac with Disk Utility, it works, but it breaks recovery mode.

Presumably the bootloader hardcodes that recovery is partition #3... instead of using GPT partition type codes as it should.

Deleting the partition fixes it...


5 Comments RSS · Twitter

Didn’t I say these new “macs” were glorified iPads? I wasn’t joking and Apple’s moves are just proving it.

I’ll make another prognostication: If you’re on Intel go no further than Catalina. Apple messing with Mojave and adding Catalina features like “no snapshots” is just one indicator that they want all Intel on Catalina.

At some point, we have to realize that it's Apple's buggy, and we can either go along for the ride, or not. You don't have to accept the ride. There are alternatives, but they come with a lot of tradeoffs, and I should know because I tried in earnest several times to make it stick this last year.

Does it make me sad to see the old ways of things going? Yes, of course. I was raised on Mac OS X. But the hostility is futile, and tomorrow is surely coming. Staying on old OS releases as a strategy isn't going to do much to stop this, either.

I will also say that I trust that if macOS ever becomes completely untenable, we will all figure out an alternative and something will rise from the ashes. This industry is creative as hell.

It’s apparently a server side issue apple is working to fix. Internet recovery with big sir will likely be back next week.

I was installing the latest catalina update on my 2020 iMac and it hung. After finally getting it in recovery mode, the system drive was empty. I tried wiping the drive and reinstalling, but the install failed ever time.

I had to take it to the Apple Store this weekend, and they said it was not a hardware problem, but they kept having problems installing. Finally they got Big Sur installed. If it is not a hardware problem, and both catalina and big sur had problems installing on a freshly created APFS volume, something is seriously wrong with Apple engineering.

I'm so sorry Michael has to cover the decline of the Mac from an actual computer into this... whatever it is... hobbled movie player and security hole? It's a shame M1 chips are being wasted on this. From now on, I'll learn to live with all the shortcomings of Linux. At least I can, like, back up my files, fix things when they go wrong, and not have Apple shove iCloud (in all its pedestrian privacy and security violating glory) down my throat.

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