macOS? More like mac-woe-ess: Google Chrome slip-up trips up SIP-less Apple Macs

On Tuesday, Google stopped the deployment of a Chrome update that damaged the file system on some macOS computers and prevented them from booting normally.

The problem affected enough Mac Pro workstations to get the attention of Avid, a manufacturer of professional audio and video applications. On Tuesday, the company assured customers that it was investigating the problem and then said Google had accepted responsibility.

Alerted by an error report, Google suspended its update process, the Chrome update application called Keystone, to fix the problem.

"We recently discovered that a Chrome update may have been sent with an error that damages the file system on macOS machines with System Integrity Protection (SIP) disabled, including machines that do not support SIP," said the giant. of the web in A support publication. "We have paused the launch while we finish a new update that solves the problem."

The problem was possible by disabling SIP, a security enhancement added in 2015 to macOS, as of version 10.11, which is active by default. Without SIP file protection, Chrome's Keystone updater managed to remove a symbolic link, or symbolic link, that the macOS file system needs.

"This symbolic link is not a directory in itself, but points to another directory ( / private / var ) that contains the software necessary for the operating system to boot and function properly, so removing the symbolic link / var caused the affected Macs to be unable to boot, "explained Rich Trouton, a Mac systems administrator, in a blog post.


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Users of macOS 10.9 and 10.10 may be affected because these versions of the operating system do not have SIP; Users with macOS 10.11+ should not be affected if they leave SIP in their default settings.

Developers, who often need access to protected system files, and users of audio and video software such as Avid tools, are among those likely to disable SIP.

For those affected by the error – dubbed / var-sectomy – Google has provided a command line correction that can be applied through the Terminal program when it is in macOS recovery mode.

From the Terminal, assuming the name of your main unit is "Macintosh HD", enter:

  chroot / Volumes / Macintosh  HD # "Macintosh HD" is the default value
rm -rf /Library/Google/GoogleSoftwareUpdate/GoogleSoftwareUpdate.bundle
mv var var_back # var may not exist, but this is fine
ln -sh private / var var
chflags -h restricted / var
chflags -h hidden / var
xattr -sw "" / var

Now restart. The Google Keystone update must be removed and the symbolic link / var must be restored. ®

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