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Semi-Bricking a 2018 MacBook Pro

Thanks to B&H Photo for making this top-line Apple MacBook Pro available for testing. As this was written B&H Photo was offering it at a $100 discount( $100 e-gift card).

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:

2018 MacBook Pro

One way to brick a 2018 MacBook Pro

Just accidentally stumbled over this guy here, he says it like it is (now) with Apple.

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.

Anti-user,anti-partner, anti-admin.

DIGLLOYD: Perceptions plant seeds for the demise of companies—no company lasts forever.

CLICK TO VIEW: 2018 Apple MacBook Pro Recommended Configurations

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. [MPG: that last statement is untrue, but Joe corrects himself below]

(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:

definition for 'noble'— belonging by rank, title, or birth to the artistocracy

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.

2018 MacBook Pro
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