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Asahi Linux Team Uncovers macOS Refresh Rate Bugs

The Asahi Linux team, renowned for its project to bring Linux to Apple Silicon Macs, recently stumbled upon a mysterious combination of bugs within macOS that could potentially create an unstable system.

At the heart of the matter lies the way recent versions of macOS handle refresh rates. This bug affects the latest MacBook Pro models featuring ProMotion displays, specifically the 14 and 16-inch variants. According to the Asahi Linux team, these bugs manifest during the upgrade and boot process and, when they converge, can make your Mac unstable, where it forever boots to a black screen. To remedy this, users are required to initiate a Device Firmware Update (DFU) recovery.

In their pursuit of fixing the issue, Asahi Linux’s team initially suspected that it might be linked to having an Asahi Linux installation on a Mac and then upgrading to macOS Sonoma, or installing Asahi Linux after a Sonoma upgrade. However, their investigations have revealed that the problem seems to be unrelated to the Asahi Linux project itself.

The Asahi team has issued a statement to provide some clarity, stating, “As far as we can tell, ALL users who upgraded to Sonoma the normal way have an out-of-date or even broken System RecoveryOS, and in particular MacBook Pro 14″ and 16″ owners are vulnerable to ending up with a completely unbootable system.”

Though the situation may sound alarming, the Asahi Linux team reassures users that their data remains unscathed. It’s important to note that only specific versions of macOS are affected, namely Sonoma 14.0+ and Ventura 13.6+.

The second bug kicks in if your display is configured to a refresh rate other than ProMotion. When this occurs, the system becomes incapable of booting into previous macOS installations or Asahi Linux. This includes recovery mode when those systems are set as the default boot OS, and also System Recovery, at least until the next subsequent OS upgrade.

Bug in action
Bug in action; Credit: Twitter

To address this, the Asahi Linux installer has been tweaked to detect the issue and will refuse installation if the refresh rate on affected machines is set to anything other than ProMotion mode. Additionally, it will perform an integrity check to verify the status of the System Recovery partition before making any changes.

The Asahi Linux team expressed their confusion, saying, “We do not understand how Apple managed to release an OS update that, when upgraded to normally, leaves machines unbootable if their display refresh rate is not the default. This seems to have been a major QA oversight by Apple.”

If you happen to be a MacBook Pro user who upgraded to Sonoma or Ventura, it’s essential to keep an eye on your display settings.

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Via The Register

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