Monday, December 4, 2023

Smaller and Faster Updates With Sonoma

Howard Oakley (Hacker News):

When a user accepts Software Update’s invitation to upgrade to macOS 13 or 14, rather than downloading a full installer app of about 12 GB, Ventura or Sonoma will instead attempt an update, in which only changed files are copied to the System volume, substantially reducing the amount to be downloaded, and increasing the speed of the update process. This also has the unfortunate side-effect that users who inadvertently start that update process have no easy way to abort it, and Ventura and Sonoma resulted in many upgrading sooner than they had intended [because Apple released them as updates rather than upgrades].

As far as I’m aware, Apple has made no announcements of changes in macOS updates for Sonoma, and there’s no evidence that any more of the contents of the SSV have been transferred to cryptexes, allowing them to be updated without rebuilding the SSV. However, the two unscheduled patch updates to Sonoma so far, in 14.1.1 and 14.1.2, have required the smallest updates since the days of Mojave. In the case of 14.1.2, the update was only 400 MB for Intel Macs, and 820 MB for Apple silicon, far below the smallest update sizes in Ventura. Although there’s some uncertainty as to exactly what was changed in 14.1.1, 14.1.2 contains two fixes to WebKit, thus in a cryptex, and some smaller updates in the contents of the SSV. In previous versions of macOS since Big Sur, those would have required larger downloads, particularly for Apple silicon Macs, which would have been at least 1 GB larger.

Although harder to quantify, macOS update installation times have also become steadily shorter, at least on Apple silicon models, whose 30 minutes ‘preparation’ seldom takes even half that time. Some of this improvement in speed may be attributable to the smaller size of updates, of course, but on Apple silicon Macs they are now sufficiently quick as to be little interruption.

I continue to have problems, on multiple Macs, where updates repeatedly fail to prepare. So it takes a while to redownload the updater and prepare multiple times. However, I agree with Oakley that, when they work, the updates are smaller and install much more quickly.


4 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

I continue to get a kick out of the suggestion that a 400 MB bug-patching update is “small“. Sure, in comparison to the unspeakably-obscene update payloads in recent years, but does nobody remember how things used to be in the old days? This slope feels like a gaslight.

Old Unix Geek

@Ben: agreed.

I remember distributing updates to C++ Windows software I maintained which were 8 or 16Kb, back in the days where size mattered because people still used floppies instead of network file access. The .COM tool I used generated a patching executable from a binary diff... I believe it was called BINDIFF.COM. It was great.

Courgette by Google was the most similar recent thing. Apple should consider adopting it.

I refuse to update. I don't care about "security" updates either. Apple has become so unreliable to me that I have little faith when the Mac reboots that everything will work the way it did before the update. Days upon days of production wasted trying to get Ventura to look and work like Catalina and Mojave and High Sierra before it. I also dread have to make whatever alerts disappear as the restarted apps ask for permissions to do dumb stuff. And the last Ventura update, broke whatever Bartender does to recreate narrow menu bar icon spacing and the icons were widely spaced again. This alone required several reboots to get the OS to sort its shit. It's like all I want to do is get work done, but Apple is too busy trying to force a stock, anti-pro workflow to give a shit about what I, the user, needs (or has been doing for the last 15 years or so).

Is there a website that says when it's safe to update? What are the current issues?

Like the one where it says if it's a good idea to buy apple hardware or if they were likely to get an upgrade soon.

Leave a Comment