I myself semi-bricked a 2018 MacBook Pro by erasing the internal drive when booted off an inrernal. It was a half-day exercise to recover. Apple’s system reinstall from the recovery partition was a 100% abject failure. I’d pay $200 to REMOVE the T2 chip anti-feature.
2018 MacBook Pro: semi-bricked after erasing internal drive
Arne K writes:
One way to brick a 2018 MacBook Pro
Just accidentally stumbled over this guy here, he says it like it is (now) with Apple. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCl2mFZoRqjw_ELax4Yisf6w
I myself told everyone over the last 25 years to use Apple products because of the far better quality in hardware and software. Even when in service for a german university, we build up a large grid with Macs, from servers, xgrid, workstations down to imacs. And Apples new strategy kicked us in the nuts – and we administrators stood there out in the rain and everyone looked on us as total idiots.
In my eyes, the Gentleman at the head of Apple is just a book-keeper, being praised for to heave Apples stock over the magic 1t$ hurdle. At any costs. They cannibalize their true customers, their own software quality and their long lasting and repairable standing – just for an almost useless mountain of money. Because, as an obedient little book-keeper, you’re hoarding it – instead of spending it for the good of the company – and it’s faithful customers. Because this guy has no vision, is afraid of making the wrong move (so doesn’t move at all) and also of the creative chaos that made Apple great – so he organized and streamlined it - to control it. And buried the creative output with it. Apple has become the perfect creature of money oriented control freaks.
DIGLLOYD: Perceptions plant seeds for the demise of companies—no company lasts forever.
Joe M writes:
Lloyd, I have encountered the same problem on my iMac Pro, which also uses the T2 chip. This is a major issue because:
(1) Erasing the system drive and doing net-based macOS re-install is a common troubleshooting procedure. Apple support reps frequently walk people through this.
(2) Upon trying macOS reinstall from Recovery, the error is misleading: "Recovery server cannot be contacted". This implies a temporary issue, network security, etc. In fact the T2 chip will permanently block access to the recovery server. Net-based install is not possible, nor is booting from an external drive.
(3) It is not openly documented and no Apple support people I've spoken to -- including macOS escalation support -- know about it. With the advent of T2-based machines and Secure Boot, their very first step should be ascertaining if it's a T2 machine and has the user disabled Secure Boot and enabled External Boot. Without doing this they can easily steer the user down a non-recoverable path. You can boot into recovery and re-install a Time Machine backup -- provided you have it. They are trying to prevent unauthorized access to the encrypted system drive via booting from a network or external drive.
That is noble and valid, but the new unique procedures required for all T2 machines is not well documented or widely known. *Before* erasing the hard drive on a T2 Mac, or *before* encountering a situation requiring you to boot from an external drive, you must boot into recovery with CMD+R, choose Utilities>Startup, define the authorized admin user/password, then disable Secure Boot and enable External Boot. You cannot change these after erasing the system drive or if your system drive crashes and you need to boot from an external drive. They must be changed while your T2 machine is running properly, since macOS defaults to Secure Boot enabled and external boot disabled.
If *anyone* -- the user, corporate tech support, Apple support person, etc -- forgets about this and erases the T2 machine -- not only is the data gone but you cannot re-install macOS. It is essentially a semi-bricked machine. In my case I fortunately had a Time Machine backup. Restoring from this is permitted even if Secure Boot is enabled; it's apparently considered a trusted source.
MPG: booting from an external drive is possible (and I do so)—but you have to first set the option to allow it as Joe noted in point #3 and after. I had done so, but apparently this does not allow net-based booting. But possibly net-based booting would work if all boot security were disabled (making the MBP act like most previous Macs). But I had not done that.
I (Lloyd) do not agree with the “noble and valid” comment (on the face of it—Joe M’s meaning is not entirely clear to me, so my comments here are only on those 3 words not a comment on Joe M’s view). It seems more like “misguided and maternalistic” in terms of how many users want and need to use their machines. The idea that one has to rely on a trip to the Apple Store to unmuck a broken computer broken by the manufacturer is distasteful at best. The irony in Joe M’s choice of the word “noble” is so apropos that I hope he used the word for its double-entendre, one meaning of which is:
Apple’s actions certainly feel like a privileged class decreeing how computers are to be used and what is best for us. How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat, anyway?
As to “valid”, when a new feature has to be justified and/or causes wanton destruction (I wasted most of a day), that seems like prima facie evidence that there is a design problem—no one argues over a better screen or faster CPU or any feature that makes things safer/better/faster without a downside. The T2 chip falls outside that 'clean' group of things.
Don H writes:
If the motherboard or RAM fails on a 2018 Macbook, it will be extremely difficult (and expensive, and time-consuming) to recover the data from the soldered-on SSD:
"Touch Bar-equipped MacBook Pro laptops have always featured solid-state storage soldered to the logic board, making it impossible to remove for data recovery, as was possible with hard disk drives. For these Macs, Apple enabled last-ditch data recovery through a special port on the logic board, combined with a custom tool for Apple Authorized Service Providers.
Unfortunately, in its teardown, iFixit discovered that the 2018 MacBook Pro models lack that port, and MacRumors learned from internal Apple documents that Apple’s internal Customer Data Migration Tool does not work with these Macs.”
The comments for this entry provide a little more detail. What’s not clear is what happens if your T2 chip fails, which holds all the keys and is non-replacable.
Proper backups, as always, are critical, but are those guaranteed to work in the user’s favor a decade from now? What if a future T2 chip requires end-to-end encryption for backups which themselves become dependent on that same chip?
How many different ways will be locked out from our own data in the future? If I lose the ability to completely *own* my data (including the ability to migrate it to another computer or storage device without restrictions or Internet connectivity) then I will simply stop using computers altogether. More realistically, I will stockpile acceptable computers and tailor my life around their limitations as if we were in a post-apocalyptic environment. They work for me now, and they will continue working for the rest of my lifespan in that same capacity until the hardware dies. If I need Internet connectivity (which I have been narrowing down more and more as time goes on) I will do that on a current ‘disposable’ computer and carefully silo my personal data accordingly.
We’re not at that stage yet, but the trend is pretty ominous.
Connecting more dots (I’m in a paranoid mood this morning):
Ok, so this item is really only about the industrial controls for a production line, but what happens if/when the T2 chip itself becomes compromised with a trojan or other latent malware? Unless the entire process from design to fab is under bullet-proof control with independent auditors reviewing each step, who’s to say the linchpin for our data security can’t be successfully attacked at some point? The NSA itself has been breached at least twice (that we know of) - this isn’t just idle speculation.
DIGLLOYD: it’s not a good trend—disposable Macs is where we stand now. Backup.
I am reading your blog since many years and think you are doing a great job by providing lots of information even for people who are not subscribed to your paid content.
I purchased a new 13 inch 2018 MacBook Pro with quad core cpu last week and realized that the screen had a noticeable yellow tint (with True Color turned off) which couldn’t be removed through the color settings expert mode. I had a very similar problem with one of my iMacs back in 2012.
When I compared the Macbook 2018 side by side to my current 2017 model and also my 2015 model it became very obvious. There are many reports about those screen problems with Macbooks but I haven’t heard anyone reporting about a similar problem with the new model yet.
Can you verify that your screen is identical to the 2015 model or maybe run a screen test like the Eizo monitor test to check for any yellowish tint? I think many readers would be interested in such a comparison.
Also I would like to know if you ever had the chance to try out an Eizo ColorEdge CG318-4K or the newer CG319X DCI-4K HDR? I have been only using iMacs and Macbooks since many years and don’t know how such a display compares against a 5k-iMac especially regarding the brightness which is noticeably lower on those high end color displays.
DIGLLOYD: I am not seeing a yellow cast on the 2018 MacBook Pro 15" model, by itself or side by side with my 2015 MacBook Pro (and 2017 iMac 5K). My color discrimination is in the top 0.1% (as per tests over te years), so I don't feel the need to run a test. :)
haven't seen ay of the recent Eizo displays; Eizo is fairly hard to get ahold of. Plus, 4K is unacceptable at this point—I'd want 5K which is 14.7 megapixels, versus a measly 8.3 megapixels for 4K.