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macOS Big Sur 11.3 Reader Comment: Multiple Issues including Kernel Panics

Reader Joe M writes:

I thought I had waited long enough so it was safe, also it appeared some of the recent security updates were delivered first to Big Sur.

I upgraded my iMac Pro video editing workstation from macOS Catalina to Big Sur 11.3.1. Here are some issues I've already encountered:

- CMD+F in Finder periodically doesn't put focus in search field. Workaround: resize Finder window, try again, eventually it will start working. Or just give up and manually click on the search field.

- Finder sidebar does not show SD cards if SD card is "Untitled". Workaround: just use desktop icon, or rename SD card in Finder, eject then re-insert.

- Kernel panic upon shutdown if multiple OWC Thunderbolt drives are connected (with or without SoftRAID). This isn't new to Big Sur but also happened on Catalina. Apparently MacOS is issuing synchronous (not asynchronous) dismounts. Depending on response time of various RAID arrays, the cumulative response time exceeds some MacOS shutdown timeout and it panics. If MacOS issued async dismounts it might not happen.

On Catalina, SoftRAID 6.x did a workaround to dismount all drives during shutdown, but this apparently quit working on Big Sur. They reported it to Apple back in Catalina; still not fixed on Big Sur 11.3.1. Example of kernel panic attached.

- On Catalina and continuing to Big Sur I had a problem whereby attempting to enter recovery mode with CMD+R would enter a boot loop, culminating in a kernel panic. Re-installing Big Sur didn't fix it, removing all kexts didn't fix it. Finally I erased the machine and reloaded my files using migration assistant from a Time Machine backup, that fixed it.

Several of my co-workers have Apple Silicon machines which must run Big Sur and they reported no major problems. However those are not running 3rd-party kexts.

However Big Sur has a kext detection feature and under some conditions it disables them all and you must individually enable each one in Security & Privacy. I previously tried leaving them all disabled and it still had the boot loop problem on CMD+R boot. OWC tech support said there was a Big Sur bug so even when disabled some 3rd-party kexts may still load.

Currently the only kext that shows as loaded is SoftRAID when I do: "kextstat | grep -v com.apple".

MPG: there are many more problems, but maybe macOS Big Sur is not worse than macOS Catalina. For example, I use Image Capture.app a fair amount, and it has 7 new bugs. Tip of the iceberg.

The real workflow destroyers are what concern me most:

  • Kernel panics every day or two using Photoshop. This has been going on for months. Adobe is working with Apple; I’m told these are Apple bugs. I have supplied complete system info and kernel panic logs to Adobe which has passed them onto Apple. No fix yet, no workaround. When it happens I lose a minimum of 10 minutes and up to 30 minutes due to flaky display syncing problems after reboot (voodoo to make it work)—which is itself another bug.
  • As of the latest macOS update, Photoshop now runs at half the speed of my iMac 5K when scripted. Apparently this is an issue with my 28-core Mac Pro and does not affect lower core-count machines.
  • As of the latest macOS update,  have a 2-3 second delay after opening an image. Again, seems to be peculiar to the 28-core Mac Pro.

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