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macOS Big Sur: Apple, We Need to Talk

2020-07-02 6 min read Rants Teknikal_Domain Unable to load comment count

See, I have this love-hate thing with Apple Inc. I love the design of their operating systems, but I hate… just about everything else. And with the release of macOS 11.0 “Big Sur”, well, yeah, that took away most of what I like.

I get that it’s a move towards unifying the fragmented state of Apple device OSes, but still… I really think we lost something in the process.

Apple OSes

Just about every Apple device runs the Darwin kernel, which is their particular flavor of Unix that uses it’s own binary executable format (Mach-O), way of doing things, and the like. On this, Apple has built macOS, iOS, watchOS, tvOS, and iPadOS. Given that their main-line desktops and laptops (macOS) are about to start running ARM processors instead of x86, bringing them in line with the rest of the OSes, it seems natural that Apple is about to start some unification.

Big Sur

Representing the first major version increase since the initial OS X in 2000, macOS 11.0, named “Big Sur”, is the newest release of macOS, currently in public beta, and expected to properly launch around this fall. With it comes a complete graphical overhaul, support for iOS and iPadOS programs, and a few other security features. Some of these features include cryptographically hashing every file on your system disk (SHA-256), background software updates.

Why I Hate Apple

Apple as a company has some business practices that I just cannot stand, and well, cannot support. Just look at some recent events:

  1. Apple’s App Store is currently (at the time of writing) under investigation by the EU for antitrust
  2. Apple’s App Store policy is such that all purchases that originated somewhere in the app (even for services offered solely by the developer and not solely for said app), Apple wants a 30% cut of
  3. Apple’s App Store policy requires that you integrate with the App Store for subscriptions, which also includes auto-billing unless you opt-out of the free trial offered. REQUIRES
  4. Many, many of Louis Rossmann’s videos about MacBook repair also tell you about the seriously shady business practices that Apple has with their devices, including lobbying the government.

And I could go on. To me, and this is definitely my opinion, Apple is a company that makes its own captive (iDevice) market, and then acts like it can do what it wants since it’s too big to be taken down, and if people want their iDevices, well there’s only one company that they can give their money to.

Why I Like macOS

Do not get me wrong, there are plenty of things that I hate about macOS, and many are not just because I’m a Linux person that’s a little annoyed at an OS that assumes it’s running on one specific platform and will ruin itself and brick the device it’s running on if you attempt an OS upgrade. Yes that is an annoyance, but the entire way that all Apple OSes are laid out really reflects the company, where it sort of assumes that you’re an idiot that can’t be bothered to do much more than just click on icons, and oh don’t worry we’ll do everything for you oh also we’re Apple and this is our product so you’re doing things our way, no exceptions.

However, the design and aesthetics of macOS are something that I just find myself coming back to again and again, even in it’s earlier days (in some respects, more so), it’s a beautiful OS. Everything about it is aesthetically pleasing, to the point where I’ve been running an OS X theme on my main Linux laptop (Macbuntu is the name)… though admittedly half that is just because it confuses people when they see it and have no clue what they’re looking at.

My Issues

First off, realize that I’m a hackintosher , and a few of my gripes will stem from that. Anyways…

Aesthetics

The entire thing just looks like a giant iPad now. And while I get that if you’re merging everything into one that yes, that is the point, but I don’t know if that’s necessarily a good thing. Everything is rounded squares, the icons have lost, to me, almost all their sense of identity, there’s nothing that makes them unique anymore. Apple has tried to make some icons a more newer take on their older ones, but the problem is that there’s no consistent style from what I’ve seen - some are 3D, some are flat, some are a mix, none really look right when put next to each other, it looks like a bad cut-and-paste of multiple icon packs than the polished look that I’ve come to expect from macOS.

The original Aqua theme of OS X started out very 3D, very, well, unique. OS X Yosemite (2014) changed this to the flat look of today, something that I felt made it kinda lose its originality, but, as time went on, I conceded that maybe it was for the better (though an option to re-enable the old look would be nice), and now Big Sur has come in again with a drastic change, except… this one just looks out of place.

Signed System Volume

Apple has kinda had something like this for a while now, where every executable (even shell scripts!) are hashed and sent to Apple servers for… some reason, but now, every system file in the OS is given an SHA-256 cryptographic hash, all the way up through the tree, all the way to the root filesystem node, where this hash is called the seal. Even at boot the seal is checked, and if it’s invalid, the system will just halt and pretty much tell you that something is wrong, please re-install.

This (from what I’ve read) can be disabled in the recovery partition with csrutil authenticated-root disable, but to let you work normally, you’ll need to sudo bless --folder /<mount>/System/Library/CoreServices --bootefi --create-snapshot. (Which, according to the manpage, is invalid?) Apple please, I know that this is big from a security point of view, but from a hackintosh point of view, this sucks (which if you think about it, is kinda their end goal)

Background Updates

Okay what are we now, Windows? Software updates can now complete in the background. And by software, we mean OS upgrades. And I hope to every higher being that exists in this universe that I can turn that off, because otherwise that means making backups of everything before I shut the machine down before it destroys itself by attempting to complete an update when it next powers up. If they keep the current system, I can live (okay, not easily) with a persistent icon bugging me about having updates to apply, because regardless of the method, I, the user, still have to press the start button in the first place. It’s my computer, and I will have it update on my terms when I am good and ready. Yes, I know, I am not your typical mac user.

I just… really now, it seems we’ve taken a step forward (with compatibility), and then three steps backwards with everything else. My willingness to hackintosh might just die with Catalina… but we’ll see.

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