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OS X Operating Systems Bug Businesses Apple

Apple OS X 10.5.6 Update Breaks Some MacBook Pros 313

Posted by Soulskill
from the somebody-just-got-fired dept.
Newscloud writes "As PC Mag reported last week, Apple OS X 10.5.6 can break some MacBook Pros leaving some users (like me) with a dead backlit black screen after the Apple logo appears. While I initially thought I had a hardware failure, it turns out that there is a fix as long as you have an external display, keyboard and mouse. The problem only appears on the second restart, so if you sleep your MacBook a lot as I do, you might not realize the problem is related to the OS update you did the week before. The problem was related to older, incompatible firmware that Software Update wasn't flagging before the upgrade. This definitely gives weight to the argument for waiting a bit to run software upgrades."
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Apple OS X 10.5.6 Update Breaks Some MacBook Pros

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 27, 2008 @11:58AM (#26241761)
    Hi, I'm a Mac! Look at me, I can update myself! Hi, I'm a PC! Wow look at that, he's updating himself! So how's the update going, Mac? Hello? Hello? Hellooooo!
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      What do "I'm a Mac", "I'm a PC", and "Can you hear me now?" have in common? They are all phrases uttered by characters that I would tremendously enjoy brutally killing in the longest, most agonizing fashion possible.

    • You forgot to mention the Windows Genuine Advantage security check that rivals airport security and results in as many false positives.
    • by rolfwind (528248)

      I had a Vista desktop break itself through Automatic update. No fixing, had to reinstall the entire thing. Had the same happen to an early Ubuntu release, in 2005 actually. It's not that uncommon at all, by my experience. Rather aggravating for those who haven't learned to keep the home partition (data) and the binaries/other_OS_files completely seperate through partitions or even other harddrives.

      I suppose you don't hear about it so often, because I assume the Windows or Linux universe of machines is s

  • by Assmasher (456699) on Saturday December 27, 2008 @12:02PM (#26241793) Journal

    ...when they have such a small hardware deployment environment? Seriously... Linux runs on TONS of hardware, Windows runs on TONS of hardware. Apple's OSX runs (in a supported fashion ;)) on VERY little hardware.

    • by similar_name (1164087) on Saturday December 27, 2008 @12:07PM (#26241831)
      Exactly, I thought the whole point of Apple tightly controlling all the hardware was so this wouldn't happen. In agreeing with you I would add that Windows and Linux have nothing to very little to do with the hardware side of things.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by db32 (862117)
      Yeah...it seems when they sent their people out to check every purchased machine to make sure the user had updated their firmware they missed a few addresses. I bet those people didn't register their hardware or something...

      This wasn't a hardware problem, it was an obscure firmware issue. My MBP updated its firmware on its own many months ago and then took 10.5.6 with no problems.

      Also...Linux FAILS on TONS of hardware, Windows FAILS on TONS of hardware. With the exception of my laptop here and a thr
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by similar_name (1164087)

        Yeah...it seems when they sent their people out to check every purchased machine to make sure the user had updated their firmware they missed a few addresses. I bet those people didn't register their hardware or something...

        Seems to me the OS update could just check to see if the latest firmware was installed. That or they could have tested it on the older firmware.

        Also...Linux FAILS on TONS of hardware, Windows FAILS on TONS of hardware.

        Windows and Linux fail on more machines than Apple even supports. The number of hardware configurations that Apple supports compared to Windows or Linux is tiny.

        • by db32 (862117)
          Well, my guess is that they probably did and that it is a relatively rare combination that triggers the problem that got overlooked somehow.
      • Yeah...it seems when they sent their people out to check every purchased machine to make sure the user had updated their firmware they missed a few addresses. I bet those people didn't register their hardware or something... This wasn't a hardware problem, it was an obscure firmware issue. My MBP updated its firmware on its own many months ago and then took 10.5.6 with no problems.

        Even with that in mind, the install set that Apple needs to check is tiny compared to Microsoft - and yes, if this update relies on functionality only available after a certain firmware revision, then it should either apply it first, or block the update until the user applies the newer firmware. The same goes for the QAed version of the update - if the QA process was only applied to systems with a certain set of firmware revisions, the update should require those revisions and no other.

        It should never simp

      • by coryking (104614) *

        This wasn't a hardware problem, it was an obscure firmware issue.

        Semantics, really. Apple controls both the firmware and the hardware so it makes no difference. Unlike Linux or Windows, Apple knows *exactly* what hardware and firmware its operating systems will be running on. This gives them the luxury to test their updates on every combo in existence. A rational person would assume that Apple does such testing. I guess that assumption isn't proving to be safe, is it?

        • by db32 (862117)
          A rational person WOULD assume that Apple does such testing. A rational person would also assume that this was probably an obscure combination that somehow got overlooked and is now causing problems for a small number of people. An irrational person posts to slashdot about how Apple didn't do any testing and they just throw updates out there willynilly and its their supreme incompetence that has caused this for some huge group of MBP owners. I agree they probably could have done more, but you can't catch
          • by Kneo24 (688412)

            You are missing the point. Welcome to the fail boat.

            Apple has everything tightly locked down, correct? That's why there's a limited number of hardware configurations. So then why couldn't they have just put in some sort of check to see what firmware you had? That way when someone does try to do a manual update, it could tell them that they need to update their firmware and possibly even give them step by step instructions on how to do so (that's a stretch).

            I don't expect this kind of service from Microsoft.

    • Maybe because the bug can't be reproduced on the hardware every time?

      Their HCL does have every currently supported Mac, and they do test on them -- but it seems possible that it might be an issue once you throw user-installed kexts, etc. into the mix (I have no idea whether or not this this case though.)

    • You missed one: AOS X's core, BSD runs on tons of hardware.
  • Amazing (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 27, 2008 @12:08PM (#26241841)

    so if you sleep your MacBook a lot as I do

    I know some people really love their Macs but this is ridiculous.

  • by v1 (525388) on Saturday December 27, 2008 @12:09PM (#26241847) Homepage Journal

    Hooray, my MacBook Pro is working again. And this seems to confirm for me that the 10.5.6 update breaks some systems if you are running older firmware.

    Sorry but if you're skipping a firmware update, and running a major OS update on old firmware, you deserve a headache.

    The Software Update presents updates in the order Apple recommends you install them. Skipping one update to run another is a stupid thing to do. The worst combination I can imagine is a firmware and an os update being installed out of order.

    • by v1 (525388) on Saturday December 27, 2008 @12:13PM (#26241867) Homepage Journal

      I would amend this by saying Apple probably shouldn't have let him do this. There is a firmware update required to update to mac os 9 (from 8.6) and another on some machines before upgrading from 9.1 to 9.2. (imacs only I think?) Apple will not ALLOW those OS's to install until the firmware update is applied. Some machines also required a firmware update before installing OS X.

    • Sorry but if you're skipping a firmware update, and running a major OS update on old firmware, you deserve a headache.

      I didn't think mac users needed to know anything about that stuff. Why would the newest update not include or look for the older update to already be installed. It seems reasonable to me that many users would just choose the newest update without thinking they had to do all prior ones.

      • Exactly. This is where Apple is failing big time. It's just like any other computer system. You have to understand what is going on, have to RTFM (or at least run around on the Internet looking for information). Wait, did I say RTFM - Apple doesn't HAVE FM's. The documentation is the worst I've seen since the printed assembly dumps of CP/M.

        And yes, you shouldn't just click the "want to update your software" now when the bouncy ball shows up. You want to download the combo updater. But how the he
        • Apple is failing big time because you have to understand what's going on? Can you be more specific?

          The documentation is the worst I've seen since the printed assembly dumps of CP/M.

          /presses F1 , browses help screens. ...

          again, could you be more specific?
          What do you need to understand to do a software update? Click install... ?

          • by Kneo24 (688412)
            You are purposely being dense. You know very well what they meant. Apple is failing big time because they expect their users to know how to update the firmware for anything. It wasn't hard to figure out.
        • I've yet to see a FM, printed or not, that has workarounds for bugs in a very specific software upgrade. That is what knowledge base articles are for.

          This is why nobody has FM's for troubleshooting. Software and hardware are too complex to distill into a few pages of troubleshooting. The best you can hope for is "Is the computer plugged in" and leave the rest to a high quality knowledge base. And what is funny is the "Is the computer plugged in" sometimes turns out to solve the problem!!!

          Now, the questi

    • by jeremyp (130771)

      I think the point was that Apple failed to flag a required firmware update. I may be wrong, I haven't read the article yet.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TheRaven64 (641858)
      Wait, what? If the OS update requires the new firmware, it should refuse to install with the old firmware. Since they are both separate installs, it is entirely possible that a user might skip the firmware update. I did for a long time, since the firmware (EFI) update is a lot more effort than the normal updates.
      • by v1 (525388)

        since the firmware (EFI) update is a lot more effort than the normal updates.

        please elaborate? Here, they are functionally identical. Both download, both state they need a restart, both restart, install, and restart again. Nowadays you don't even have to hold the power button to unlock the firmware.

        • Last EFI update I installed on my MBP required:
          1. Run Software Update.
          2. Reboot (this reboot may have been caused by another update installed at the same time).
          3. Run EFI Updater tool.
          4. Reboot.
          5. Hold down power button for 15 seconds on reboot.
          6. Reboot again.

          This makes it very easy to skip, deliberately or accidentally, since installing via Software Update doesn't actually install the EFI update, just the update utility. Maybe they've simplified the procedure recently, but if so then they haven't released any new

      • Close, but Wrong (Score:3, Interesting)

        by coryking (104614) *

        The installer shouldn't refuse to continue, it should upgrade the firmware! OSX has a luxury no other operating system has--it runs on purpose built hardware under its control. Thus its installer has no excuse to not just update the firmware.

    • Then why would the update run on outdated firmware? There should be code in there that checks and tells you need to update the firmware before deploying the patch.

      Apples are supposed to be ez-mode after all no?

    • by antdude (79039)

      Did Apple release the firmware via its Apple Software Update for the old models?

  • by biocute (936687)

    Waiting on Apple? Look, if you're not the first one to greet and hug your dad, you'll feel less love next time!

    Obviously if your dad is Vista, the first one to greet and hug usually gets smack on the head.

  • by burris (122191) on Saturday December 27, 2008 @12:15PM (#26241889)

    Except after two months you still can't get the dual link dvi adapters [apple.com]. Those with 30" monitors were already pretty peeved that they haven't been able to use them. Now you have to buy a useless $30 attachment or go to the Apple store to fix your mac after a firmware bug. No thanks.

  • Some advice... (Score:4, Informative)

    by foniksonik (573572) on Saturday December 27, 2008 @12:27PM (#26241975) Homepage Journal

    Typically it is advisable to download and run the Combo update installer for these point releases. While Software Update is great for the little things, these bigger updates can cause issues for a variety of reasons if done through Software Update (sometimes files don't get updated that should be updated due to permissions or corruption or some other random change the update is not expecting to see).

  • Fear of the unknown (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lanner (107308) on Saturday December 27, 2008 @12:38PM (#26242065)

    This definitely gives weight to the argument for waiting a bit to run software upgrades."

    I'm going to pick on submitter here. This is your fear of the unknown. There is another guy who I work with that likes to pull this BS out of the air all the time when a new release comes out.

    His argument: Ohnoz, I'm scared.

    My argument: Here is the changelog. These are the real risks that are posed by continuing to use the old version. These are the benefits of upgrading.

    When I started working for the company, software was years and years out of date. He had used this excuse for a long time to basically not do anything he thought was risky, but had in fact amassed a huge amount of risk to the business that ended up costing us a lot of real money.

    Granted, there is some value to waiting a reasonable short period of time to gather your wits and read the changelog before upgrading/patching, but that should never be an excuse to coddle a fear of the unknown.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I'd say both of you were wrong.

      Machines NOT on the internet (or, completely firewalled off) do not need to be updated as religiously as machines getting direct exposure. Simple as that.

      Secondly, if you're running Unix-like systems, you can directly see what is being changed and back it up specifically, using any assortment of services. If an update doesnt work, just delete/restore from backup. Simple.

      On Windows, updates are inherently scary. Yes, there are single-issue updates, but they're a PITA do deal wi

      • Machines NOT on the internet (or, completely firewalled off) do not need to be updated as religiously as machines getting direct exposure. Simple as that.

        How are machines not on the Intertubes relevant in a discussion of Macbooks on /. in late 2008? In addition, there's no such thing as "completely firewalled off," unless you're still talking about computers with no 'net connection. If you don't worry about your systems' security post-firewall, then welcome to the year 1995. That's called the m&m security model: hard shell on the outside, soft on the inside, and it brings nothing but trouble in today's world of trojans, worms and malware. Unless you're

    • by earlymon (1116185)

      This is your fear of the unknown.

      I've been using OS X since the public beta. I used to auto-update. Now I wait. It is not a fear of the unknown - it is, sadly, a fear of the known.

      I was one of the guinea pigs who figured out how to resurrect a Mac from a bad update several years ago. In that case, it was screwed up permissions, AFAIR.

      Ever since then, I wait. I'm not feeling guilty making others the guinea pigs - maybe I should, but I don't. I wait because there was ONE update that was recalled and anyone who applied it on day one (it

  • Run Debian! (Score:5, Funny)

    by fuego451 (958976) on Saturday December 27, 2008 @12:48PM (#26242153) Journal

    You hardly ever have to worry about pesky OS upgrades.

  • Jobs should fire his OS validation team.

    It is completely unacceptable not to find this when you control ALL of the hardware.

    Pathetic. The mind just boggles.

    Apple really screwed the pooch on this one.

  • When I upgraded to 10.5.5 two issues appeared on my macbook pro (coreduo 15"):

    * Battery meter would get to between 40-60% and then the laptop would abruptly poweroff. When I was at 10.5.4, the battery meter would drain, as expected, down and warn as expected when it got to 10% or so.

    * After about 30seconds of being powered on, the keyboard and touchpad would become unresponsive. External keyboards/mice continue to work.

    Both of these issues are documented on apple's forums.

  • by earlymon (1116185) on Saturday December 27, 2008 @03:31PM (#26243365) Homepage Journal

    No, I'm not new here.

    Neither am I trolling, neither is this flamebait.

    It's just that there a LOT of posts complaining that if this were to happen with an MS update, the Apple gang would be crucifying them and a lot of negativity that this is funny.

    Mismanaged updates by either corporation - Apple or MS - is indefensible and inexcusable, and it's usually a real problem for the victims.

    The occasional screwed-up update from Apple is something Apple users are - unfortunately - used to experiencing. Ditto for the MS users. Given that I'm a user of both, that's just my experience.

    I think we excuse Linux problems (I'm a user of that, too) because the software was free. There's some merit to that, but as I think about that statement it does make me ponder... In any case, the real demerits of the OS choices are overlooked at times like this:

    1. Linux not liked because no corporation stands behind the OS potentially misbehaving. This is a real problem in the minds of many corporate managers who have to oversee risk.

    2. OS X is the "odd man out" where corp mgrs don't want that risk.

    3. MS may obsolesce something that worked for the whole organization in favor of something that seems to work less well, another risk issue for corp mgrs.

    The fact that an update involving any of the three might screw something up is neither a decision-point nor cause for immature glee.

    The problem from TFA is an unfortunate and foreseeable consequence of testing getting the short-shrift.

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