Yay for boring macOS updates

23 November 2022 by Lincoln Ramsay

I’ve been a Mac user since the classic days. But I’ve also used BSD/*nix so I jumped over from the classic Mac OS to Mac OS X with the public beta and never looked back. Those early days were rough though. The system was improving fast, but that meant major changes all the time, which broke things. Then there were the transitions. Apple is on its third processor family, but there have been at least 5 architectures (once you factor in 32/64-bit variations). All this has meant that doing major OS updates has always come with risk.

I don’t have detailed notes, but I am fairly sure that almost every upgrade has broken (or removed support for) something I was depending on. It has been common for me to delay installing new releases, for years in some cases. It was especially bad when I upgraded from an older Intel machine to an M1 machine.

I don’t know what possessed me to install Ventura only days after it came out. Faith in Time Machine is definitely part of it I guess… The thing is it just … worked? Well, technically it failed, but then it worked. There is the obvious System Settings rewrite (that to be fair, isn’t any worse than the initial Mac OS -> Mac OS X preferences UI change) but otherwise it’s just … the same? I read a review that kinda complained at how “boring” macOS updates were these days, but boring is fine, especially if it means everything keeps working.

Naturally, after writing the start of this post, I waited and sure enough, there were problems that were not immediately obvious.

The upgrade failed to install once. I don’t actually know why though, since I was on my work computer and I only noticed an issue because the upgrade prompt was on the screen again. I had a brief look for logs or something but … didn’t find anything (and a quick Google didn’t turn up any places to look). I just clicked the upgrade button again and the next time I looked it had upgraded.

I had an AppleScript + Automator solution cobbled together to allow the function keys to be function keys in a few, specific apps, while normally doing media/brightness/etc. This broke because System Settings can’t be “UI scripted” with the same commands System Preferences could (makes sense). Rather than attempt to figure out how to script System Settings (which looks like a nightmare), I did some searching and stumbled onto an app that does what I want in a better way. It’s called Fluor and unlike my solution, it toggles the setting as you change apps, not just when starting/stopping them.

Apache config was reset so I had to go in and enable the userdir config again. I feel like that happens on every upgrade… One day I’ll stop having a local “start page” but not today.