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Thinking about upgrading to Mac OSX Catalina? Some notes...

For current or would-be users of Apple Mac computers, with answers to many FAQs.

Thinking about upgrading to Mac OSX Catalina? Some notes...

Postby desmond » Tue Oct 08, 2019 1:11 pm

I'm important to note that at this time (a few days after release), many audio software and plugin companies are advising people to *not* upgrade to Catalina at this point, until such time as they have compatible software.

Catalina intentionally changes some core functionality going forwards, mostly for security reasons, and breaks a lot of old software, including *all* 32-bit software, which will *will no longer run* - this includes apps, utilities, drivers for hardware, 64-bit apps that link to 32-bit libraries and so on...

If you are interested in how this will affect you, there is a good utility called "Go64" available free here:
https://www.stclairsoft.com/Go64/index.html

If you run this in your system, it will scan your software and show you will apps that *will not run* on Catalina, so you can get an idea of what software you'd need to upgrade, replace or find alternative solutions for, should you want to upgrade.

(On my machine, there were over 1000 apps that were either 32-bit, or mixed 64/32-bit code, that won't run on Catalina.)

You'd also need to check the drivers for all the hardware you are using - if you are using scanners, printers, audio and MIDI hardware with drivers etc - you'll need 64-bit drivers for all of them, otherwise *they won't work*. In some cases for older hardware, that may mean new hardware purchases.

Also, due to the new security model, there are additional impacts where on first use under Catalina, more or less every software you use will request permissions to do things that they've been happily doing on your system for years, like accessing the file system and so on. This will be initially quite annoying, and you'll need to factor that hidden cost in.

There are also the usual bugs and issues with a new OS release. One impact is that as iTunes has been deprecated in favour of the new "Music" app, it's broken iTunes integration with apps that can look inside iTunes libraries - so things like DJ apps that can use your iTunes libraries for source material have problems.

My personal advice is, that if you are a light user, with a more or less default system, and your main use is web/email/social media and maybe a main app or two like Logic to make your art, and using little or no older hardware, you'll probably be ok.

For 99% of the rest of us, it makes little sense to upgrade at this time.

If you *do* want to try, I recommend you clone your system disk to a separate drive, and install the new OS on this drive - this will let you test the impact of the new version for yourself, without irretrievably damaging your current systems, and will let you easily revert should you need to. Once you're happy with the new system, then you can commit to it at a later date.

In summary - Catalina is a bit of a pain point at this time on the sort of systems most of us are using, and there aren't that many (imo) compelling reasons to upgrade. Give it a good 6 months or more for things to settle down, and for you to assess the impact of upgrading on your system, before thinking about it.

For the small few who like a gung-ho bleeding-edge approach and just want to go for it and see what happens - good luck, and let us know how it went! :thumbup:
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Re: Thinking about upgrading to Mac OSX Catalina? Some notes...

Postby IAA » Tue Oct 08, 2019 1:28 pm

Thanks Desmond that’s a great heads up :clap: . I’m not planning to go from Mojave for some considerable while and I hope the good folk at infinity loop understand :?

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Re: Thinking about upgrading to Mac OSX Catalina? Some notes...

Postby ManFromGlass » Tue Oct 08, 2019 1:41 pm

Thanks, Desmond. I wasn’t aware of the depth of the problem.
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Re: Thinking about upgrading to Mac OSX Catalina? Some notes...

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Oct 08, 2019 3:12 pm

I'm not a mac user, but I've been receiving press notices for some time now from various audio companies whose hardware or software is not compatible with the new Catalina OS.

These include Ableton, Apogee, Native Instruments, Presonus, Serato, Slate Digital, Numark, UAD and others...

I think Desmond's advice is spot on: don't upgrade yet. Wait until all the manufacturers have caught up with suitable updates for the 64-bit code.

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Re: Thinking about upgrading to Mac OSX Catalina? Some notes...

Postby ConcertinaChap » Tue Oct 08, 2019 5:41 pm

Personally I've always delayed upgrading by one version, so now Catalina's out I guess it's time to move to Mojave (I have the installer for that safely stashed away).

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Re: Thinking about upgrading to Mac OSX Catalina? Some notes...

Postby baward » Fri Oct 11, 2019 12:09 pm

Terrifying, thanks for alerting me!
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Re: Thinking about upgrading to Mac OSX Catalina? Some notes...

Postby Ylan Sthlm » Fri Oct 11, 2019 1:25 pm

I have very little 3:rd party software (for music that is, am running Logic Pro X).

Nevertheless I don't upgrade 'til Waves et. al. say it's OK. And even with their blessing, I wait till X.1 or X.2. And this time the betas have not been as robust as last time around.

In my case this takes some effort, since there are a few things I'd like to have in Catalina.

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Re: Thinking about upgrading to Mac OSX Catalina? Some notes...

Postby fruitcake » Fri Oct 11, 2019 1:56 pm

I’ve managed to keep my 2010 Mac Pro chugging along. There’s no more hardware upgrades left. I don’t have the time or patience to figure out the Metal videocard juggling act. I’ll stick with High Sierra as long as possible. It’s mostly working...for the moment.
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Re: Thinking about upgrading to Mac OSX Catalina? Some notes...

Postby Dave B » Sat Oct 12, 2019 10:48 pm

Just been to an Apple store today to look at stuff and did ask about the oldest specs supported by Catalina. It looks like they’ve drawn the line at 2012. Certainly that was for minis and mbps. So I might be able to scrape in on my studio mini if I feel the urge at some point. Just.

My lumbering old 2010 MBP is quite happy running High Sierra so it can be a main stage or recording / editing machine for a while longer. It has all sorts of whacky old school nonsense like a optical drive, FireWire and Ethernet ports. Pah - who uses any of those these days .? :D
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Re: Thinking about upgrading to Mac OSX Catalina? Some notes...

Postby Howdy Doody Time » Sun Oct 13, 2019 2:54 am

I upgraded yesterday. hoping it would fix yet another problem with my 2019 MBP - this time the drive thinks it's nearly full when there is 300 Gb of space. I'm OK though because I'd never trust it for music apps. Catalina fixed the disk space problem though.
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Re: Thinking about upgrading to Mac OSX Catalina? Some notes...

Postby desmond » Mon Oct 14, 2019 7:34 pm

Some notes from Mac developer Rogue Amoeba, regarding third-party AU plugins on Catalina (emphasis mine):-

If you use third-party Audio Units on your Mac (in Audio Hijack or SoundSource, for instance), you should be aware of changes made by Apple In Catalina. These changes mean that at present, many third-party plugins aren't compatible with Catalina.

Audio Unit plugins on Catalina are required to be both “code signed” and “notarized”. Plug-in developers will be the ones to worry about that. However, end users should be aware that very few third-party Audio Units currently meet these requirements.

If you depend on Audio Units in your work, be extremely cautious about updating to 10.15. Check with the developers of your Audio Units for updates, which will be necessary. Further, for the most critical production setups, setting up a test machine is a great way to verify that everything works as expected before updating your main machine.
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Re: Thinking about upgrading to Mac OSX Catalina? Some notes...

Postby ManFromGlass » Tue Oct 15, 2019 12:47 pm

So if one is a musician/composer who uses third party AUs then buying a new machine or used refurbished machine is not an option right now either unless one is fortunate enough to deal with a store that can install a pre-Catalina os.
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Re: Thinking about upgrading to Mac OSX Catalina? Some notes...

Postby desmond » Tue Oct 15, 2019 1:01 pm

ManFromGlass wrote:So if one is a musician/composer who uses third party AUs then buying a new machine or used refurbished machine is not an option right now either unless one is fortunate enough to deal with a store that can install a pre-Catalina os.

Well, it's always an option, but you just need to be more aware of what the various issues are to help with the decision making process.

It may still be possible to install Mojave on current machines, and maybe even ones that come with Catalina at some point.

Really, the best thing to do is not plan on upgrading for a good 6 months to let developers have time to test and release compatible versions. You still might lose old stuff, but that is *always* an eventual consequence of moving forward, sooner or later... and there are ways of dealing with that, too (eg, maintaining old systems to access old material, don't buy new machines but older ones if you have to replace your computer now, making sure important projects that require plugins no longer supported are correctly bounced out to audio/MIDI etc etc)
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Re: Thinking about upgrading to Mac OSX Catalina? Some notes...

Postby redlester » Tue Oct 15, 2019 1:29 pm

When the new Mac Pro ceases to be "coming this autumn" and is actually available to order, I wonder if they will give the option of having Mojave or Catalina at order stage? Could put a lot of potential pro or minted semi-pro users off purchasing for the time being?

I assume the issues discussed will potentially affect video professionals as much as audio?

Only being a Mac user for a year or two I don't know about historically, but do Apple make the new OS releases available in advance to software developers so that they can all be up to speed by the time it comes out, and if they do is it simply the case that it takes a very long time to sort it, some years longer than others? It would be nice not to have an annual "dead period" where much of the stuff people use doesn't actually work with the current Mac OS.
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Re: Thinking about upgrading to Mac OSX Catalina? Some notes...

Postby desmond » Tue Oct 15, 2019 2:07 pm

redlester wrote:Only being a Mac user for a year or two I don't know about historically, but do Apple make the new OS releases available in advance to software developers so that they can all be up to speed by the time it comes out, and if they do is it simply the case that it takes a very long time to sort it, some years longer than others? It would be nice not to have an annual "dead period" where much of the stuff people use doesn't actually work with the current Mac OS.

Yes, there is a beta period, but this is a few months tops. They generally make developer beta's available at the WWDC conference, which is around July. This also gets devs up to speed with things that are coming. Then devs spend their summer getting to grips with how the changes impact them, and what they need to do about it.

However, in some cases, the changes required are fairly severe (such as security changes mean your whole product's copy protection schemes will no longer work and you have to develop something new from scratch).

Also, there are simply many things in the early versions that aren't done yet, so it's difficult to write code against these early betas. Features either don't work, or aren't there, and it's impossible to second guess how these things will change. Not to mention documentation is pretty poor at this stage too.

In terms of Catalina, this time around the beta's have been *really* rough, and there are still things broken in the GM release. All this means that for devs, it's still quite a guessing game, and many have to wait until the GM release to really test their stuff and check compatiability with the release versions. The general consensus is that this time, both the iOS and Mac OS releases have been released not because they are really ready, but because of the schedule, and they aren't really fully baked yet.

This is why most third parties are saying "wait until we have something ready*.

There are few advantages to jump onto a .0 release, especially on a system that has fundamental changes (like dropping support for all 32-bit code, new security requirements for apps, and so on).

As for what the new machines will bring, we'll just have to wait and see...
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Re: Thinking about upgrading to Mac OSX Catalina? Some notes...

Postby baward » Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:53 pm

I wonder, is there a way to stop reminders/notifications regarding upgrading to Catalina? For me, they are appearing even though I have auto updating switched off.
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Re: Thinking about upgrading to Mac OSX Catalina? Some notes...

Postby desmond » Tue Oct 15, 2019 4:03 pm

It depends on a few things, if you Google around you'll get some things to try, including "Hide Updates" on the app store page, disabling app store updates and notifications, and so on.

https://www.macworld.co.uk/how-to/mac-s ... s-3681778/

Here's a proper way for Mojave notifications, that should likely still work:
http://osxdaily.com/2018/10/26/stop-upgrade-macos-mojave-notifications/
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Re: Thinking about upgrading to Mac OSX Catalina? Some notes...

Postby baward » Tue Oct 15, 2019 6:24 pm

Thank you, Desmond.
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Re: Thinking about upgrading to Mac OSX Catalina? Some notes...

Postby ManFromGlass » Wed Oct 16, 2019 1:05 pm

So Desmond - from what you know, is it really a major job to try and keep ahead of OS hackers? Every update mentions security upgrades. Is the Mac OS constantly under attack?
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Re: Thinking about upgrading to Mac OSX Catalina? Some notes...

Postby desmond » Wed Oct 16, 2019 1:20 pm

ManFromGlass wrote:So Desmond - from what you know, is it really a major job to try and keep ahead of OS hackers? Every update mentions security upgrades. Is the Mac OS constantly under attack?

Well, let's say you're a bank, and you have something valuable to protect. It doesn't take constant robbery attempts to make you decide to put a big lock on the bank vault door - it's just a prudent security precaution. And it also deters potential robbery attempts, as a bonus.

Apple have a focus on locking things down, to try to prevent bad stuff from happening that damages their platform, and their users (and their business interests too, of course!). iOS works well for them, because they can to a large extent control the code running on the platform, and what it can do.

The Mac, coming from a historical standpoint, can more or less run anything, and so the potential for damage is higher. They have bit by bit been implementing things to restrict the potential damage malicious code can do, and there are reasons for all the stuff they are doing.

For instance - SIP means nothing can tamper with essential system files. Gatekeeper prevents untrusted code from running, unless the user explicitly permits it. Notarisation let's Apple kill an app that's been reported as malicious... and so on...

The Mac has traditionally had far less attacks than the Windows platform, but *anything* online is potentially attacked, whether by a large fishing expedition, or targeted attacks on figures of note, like politicians, celebrities, journalists etc.

Apple want their users to be as safe as they can be on their platforms, and have implemented these things as precautions, and for good security practice. Basically, they think these things are good ideas for the good of everbody.

As so far, informed users can bypass, turn off, or get around these things if they choose too - for instance, I turn some of these things off, for good reason - but I know *why* I'm doing it, and I'm (mostly) responsible for what I run, and am aware of the security vulnerabilities I'm opening up...

As for minor security updates - that's just responsibly fixing problems as they turn up. Everyone does that.

So I'd say, don't see these things as a sign that the Mac is always being compromised, more as a sign that Apple are responsibly trying to keep the platform from being pwned as much as they can.
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