Big Sur Is Here, but We Suggest You Say “No Sir” for Now

Originally published at: Big Sur Is Here, but We Suggest You Say “No Sir” for Now - TidBITS

Apple has released macOS 11 Big Sur, but we advise delaying upgrades to production Macs thanks to significant behind-the-scenes changes.


And I’ve never seen you say “Yes, Sir” for Catalina either, due to the unresolved Mail loss problems.


I updated this morning and have been putting my Mac through its paces on critical tasks. It has been a nonevent so far. I’ve always been a zero day updater and would have been this time if Apple hadn’t had server issues yesterday. Apart from updating a few incomparable programs (Little Snitch, Bartender[beta], CCC[beta] and a few others) it’s been smooth sailing. Most important, my Keyboard Maestro macros all appear to work fine.

That said, I agree that people who don’t like living on the edge should avoid updating. I hear System 7 is great. :stuck_out_tongue:



Heh, that’s why I’m also still stuck on 10.14.6 :roll_eyes:

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That’s true. For those who use Mail, there still seem to be problems. Check out the comments at the bottom of @mjtsai’s article.

Personally, I’ve been running Catalina for quite some time with no problems at all, but I don’t use Mail. Most people are using Catalina now. To give a sense of the uptake, our analytics for the last 30 days on show:

  • Catalina: 74%
  • Mojave: 13%
  • High Sierra: 8%
  • Sierra: 2%
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The article links to a Macworld page on how to create a bootable USB installer. For sake of completeness, here’s a link to Apple’s own rather extensive page on the topic.

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I finally updated my 2017 iMac 27" to Catalina on Tuesday, after clearing the final hurdle that was still holding me back — my old Canon printer/scanner/copier is now using Apple’s drivers rather than Canon’s old 32-bit software. I routed around the Mail concerns by switching to Mozilla Thunderbird.

My mum’s old 2014 iMac is staying on Mojave for foreseeable future, and I’m going to get it booting from an external SSD to speed it up.

Suffice to say, both machines now have ‘automatic updates’ turned off. I’m not against upgrading, but given recent history with macOS, iOS and iPadOS, I’ll wait for the kinks to be ironed out.

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Apple’s Big Sur forum has lots of reports, including a “bricked my Mac” thread: MacBook Pro bricked after failed Big Sur … - Apple Community

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I’ve updated to Big Sur on two MacBook Airs, a 2013 & a 2017 model — no issues whatever, either during the install or in using these Macs subsequently.

I do use Mail, have complex Gmail accounts — no issues with Catalina, and Mail under Big Sur is running nicely. All MS Office functions smoothly, and ChronoSync for backing up travels at its accustomed high speed.

Only thing I’ve struck re OS 11.0.1 is that custom Finder folder icons have been replaced by the new generic ones; and copying directly in Get Info from backups fails — suspect a change of filetype is an issue there. However, drag copying empty folders with custom icons works…

It’s been over 20 years with big cats & Californian landscapes… Here’s toasting 11!


Installation went fine.
Not happy with the small fine font changes or the new mail menu over the emails.
In Mail, you can change the left column items, small medium or large, but not the top menu size. With the 16" MacBook these sizes are crazy!

I’m segregated with my still chugging 2012 MacMini and on Mojave…leery of Catalina (since I have many utilities that run but never had updates for Catalina). As for “Big Slur”, I am hesistant to even recommend it to those that love being “FIRST” adopters. Even my work has issued emails and posts to Not Update as its not supported yet. I would like a fly-on-the-wall perspective of those that test the OS with apps. I get that Apple has created an obfuscation with annual OS release, and a mantra that perverts the support we have to give. Devs must be frustrated as well. Note: Bombich issued a warning not to upgrade to Big Sir until CCC is validated working. I prefer to wait…about 6 months. Backup Backup Backup… :grimacing:

We got a bunch of those as well at work. Every department sent out warnings about how people were under no circumstance supposed to upgrade because this or that would break. Which leads me to two questions:

  1. Why don’t Mac admins de-activate auto updating before handing Macs to employees?

  2. What’s the hold-up? Apple has been telling devs (well the whole world in fact) about Big Sur for months now. There’s public betas to test against. If you can deliver the update 2 weeks after macOS gets released, is it perhaps you should have just started updating your code two weeks earlier? Did many devs simply speculate it would take Apple until Dec to release Big Sur? Or are devs not getting the required resources? Has Apple’s documentation somehow become lacking?

/OT At work we have one of these stupid Cisco VPN solutions that requires a whole bunch of proprietary junk (yes, of course, kexts are involved too – the Linux people love it dearly) to do what is really quite simple and could be done with built-in OSS libraries just fine. And once again this time the whole campus is being warned not to install any updates until Cisco can get off their rear ends and update the suite of software we are required to use. I swear every single macOS update (no matter how big or small) it’s this Cisco VPN baloney that seems to need some serious updating that then appears to take three months to finally make its way to the central UC software repositories. Ugh.

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That’s a great question to ask the admins who haven’t done it. Seems like a no-brainer to me. :slight_smile:

On the JAMF Pro managed macs, they can policy that. But there are numerous pre-managed Macs that can get upgraded, as well as personally-owned model that are used for work, that could have issue. AYOR at your own risk would be the warning, until fully supported. Where I work, there are apps like Crowdstrike, Code 42, as well as email changes (back end) to work with MSFT and other non-Apple company products. As Simon mentioned, we also have seen issues in the past with VPN product compatibility (Sonic Wall). Fortunately, we are dropping Sonic Wall ever since Dell sold them off and their Mac product dev being close to six months.
BTW- I forgot about a test MacbookPro that I left on a shelf (Early 2015 13" Retina w/OWC Aura SSD) that I will now be masochistic and upgrade to Big Sur. Whopping 12.18GB download … atleast its not a critical device so I will post back if it doesn’t brick or does!
(Update- fans ramping up and “About 18 minutes remaining…” I started 23mins ago…)

Mail crashes regularly for me since installing Big Sur. Annoying.

It’s because deactivating auto-updates isn’t enough.

macOS nags and/or notifies about the Big Sur update, and Apple has made it nigh impossible to disable the notifications, if you’re running anything newer than macOS Mojave 10.14.6 (18G103).

if a user decides to press the shiny Upgrade Now button, there’s nothing you can do to stop it.

I decided to jump right in as soon as the download issues were resolved. 2016 MBP 15" with Touch Bar here.

My take:

  • The new Apple icons are crap as they lost their essential distinctiveness in the dock. Ghost of Joni Ive? Replaced them with the old ones where possible.
  • Had one kernel panic so far and a few app crashes. Stability is not up to scratch yet.
  • Using CMD-T in Safari takes up to 10sec to produce the new tab.
  • Top Right now sits a date&time item that can’t be (re)moved or modified; it’s in the way and I absolutely hate it. Why use that as the Notification Centre handle? Apple could have chosen some distinct icon, but no. It has to go regardless!
  • MP3’s I add to Music get uploaded to iCloud, but they don’t show up on my iPad and iPhone.
  • Little bits of confusion and wrinkles here and there, but no further big issues (so far).

So, for a production environment, not yet indeed.

That’s true. It can be better controlled on Jamf-managed macs. But the majority of macs in our fleet are pre-jamf, and those are the ones that we have the most trouble with when it comes to the annual nightmare of a new macOS release. Our ability to lock those down is somewhat restricted by management demands.

I find these numbers incredible, considering the likelihood of mail loss that was warned about here and still remains unresolved. Why have so many moved to Catalina with such a risk? Are they able to upgrade to the latest devices and thus forced to use Catalina? Are they just uncaring about losing mail? Do they immediately take the “latest and greatest” without weighing the risks? The move to Catalina by so many is just confounding.

Some of us don’t use Apple’s Mail app, so this particular bug is a non-issue.

I do nearly all of my e-mail work through the providers’ web-mail interfaces (Google, Yahoo,, Comcast, etc.) On those rare occasions when I want to access mail with a Mac app, I use Mozilla Thunderbird.