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OS X 10.11.3 and iOS 9.2.1 Bring Bug Fixes

Apple has released OS X El Capitan 10.11.3 and iOS 9.2.1. The release notes on both updates border on the nonexistent. For 10.11.3 in the App Store app, Apple says:

This update contains bug fixes and security updates.

The support document referenced for additional details gives only two specific changes, the second of which is likely of interest mostly to enterprise users.

Fixes an issue that may prevent some Mac computers from waking from sleep when connected to certain 4K displays. Third-party .pkg file receipts stored in /var/db/receipts are now retained when upgrading from OS X Yosemite.

For iOS 9.2.1, Apple says:

This update contains security updates and bug fixes including a fix for an issue that could prevent the completion of app installation when using an MDM server.

Again, that’s relevant chiefly for enterprise users.

The updates also address a handful of security vulnerabilities: nine in 10.11.3 and nine in iOS 9.2.1. As a reminder of how much code is shared between OS X and iOS, five of the vulnerabilities were the same on both operating systems.

You can install the OS X 10.11.3 update (661 MB on an iMac with 5K Retina display) via Software Update or from Apple’s Support Downloads page (662 MB for the delta updater from 10.11.2 or 1.47 GB for the combo updater from any version of 10.11). Install the iOS 9.2.1 update (37.7 MB on an iPhone 6) via Settings > General > Software Update, or through iTunes.

Unless the enterprise-related fixes are essential for your organization, we recommend holding off on these updates for a week or so. When Adam updated to 10.11.3, his iMac hung at a black screen with a Restarting progress bar two-thirds filled. It came back up properly — fully updated — after he powered it down, but on the off chance that his experience is indicative of a more general problem, delay the update for a bit and watch for reports from other users. When you do decide to update, make sure to make a backup first!


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Comments about OS X 10.11.3 and iOS 9.2.1 Bring Bug Fixes
(Comments are closed.)

I am the only one who thinks it's outright rude of Apple to not even hint at which bugs they fixed? How hard would it be to at least give a brief list of apps/areas in the OS where code was patched?

Especially on iOS where a rollback is tricky to impossible, you'd think it might be polite to tell users what fixes to expect before they decide to walk across that one way bridge.

I now have to install 10.11.3 to find out if the Calendar date format bug, the Calendar week no. bug, the duplicate Archive bug in Mail, or the loss of Finder window settings bug were fixed. I have no idea what to expect. If I'm unlucky none of the above and at best I'm not stuck with new issues. Thanks, Apple. Very sweet way to treat your users.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2016-01-20 10:25
Nope, you're not the only one. :-)
Matti Haveri  2016-01-21 12:50
> I now have to install 10.11.3 to find out if [...]

This is why I always first install OS X updates to a test partition (I have two Carbon Copy Cloner backups on other partitions as well).

And I usually install iOS updates to some non-critical device first.

And as an old habit I use the OS X combo update and update iOS via iTunes which AFAIK does a combo-like non-incremental install.
eric_s_ford  2016-01-25 18:35
I applied the update to my MacBook Pro (mid-2010). No issues but there definitely were a couple of long delays with no indication of anything happening (dark screen at one point). I bit my nails and waited and, eventually, the display came back on with a new progress message and updated time to go. In the end, the update completed successfully without my having to resort to a forced power-off restart. My recommendation: start the update and go out for a few beers and everything will be fine when you get home (if not, you won't care, anyway).
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2016-01-25 19:20
How long do you think you waited? I let it go 15 minutes or more with no progress bar movement at all.
Hank Roberts  2016-01-26 09:21
> hung at a black screen with a Restarting progress bar
> two-thirds filled. It came back up properly — fully
> updated — after he powered it down

Same thing observed here with a 2011 17" MacBookPro -- and I left it updating overnight and found it that way in the morning.

As this is one of the models with the known flaky graphics chip, I was a bit nervous.
How widespread is this 10.11.3 upgrade failure? I had this failure too - but without a positive outcome on my 2 month old 21.5" iMac Retina.

I succumbed to the constant nagging and upgraded to 10.11.3 (from .1). Final reboot hung at 70% - The End. Safe mode - hung too. Recovery health was ok, but no normal boot possible.

Apple Genius diagnostics and mucking about in single user mode apparently broke things completely, with following conclusion: "El Capitan can no longer see Fusion as fused; we must boot to an older OS and reformat SSD and HD separately; then El Capitan will see it properly fused."

Explanation and solution seem peculiar, and the fix means erase/install + restore from backups. I have plenty of backups, but - bought iMac to escape unreliable PC hardware. Yet this is the only computer I've owned since 1985 with a complete hard drive failure. Never once had to wipe install and restore from backups.

My advice is stay away from Geniuses till this is resolved.
More info: I waited many hours hung at 70% before powering off. On repowering on, it hung at the same 70%. Per Apple Store, my system did update to 10.11.3. It doesn't seem it was the install that hung, but the first boot post-install (and all subsequent boots).

But perhaps the first boot that hung was still finishing the update - no way to know what it was doing, given all we get is an Apple logo and an unannotated progress bar.

I should have waited overnight.

So we don't know what's in the update, nor when the update is happening vs. finished.

And Apple doesn't even seem to be honoring App Store update preferences anymore for that matter, but wording reminder notifications ambiguously. It's hard to tell when you are asking to be reminded later vs. telling it to DO the update later. I saw an unexpected message that suggested it tried to do an update before I wanted it to.

If there is an option to not even check for updates, that's what I will elect in the future.
Sys Prefs > App Store > Automatically check for updates

At least on the Mac we still have the option to do things manually and stay in charge of our own kit.

On iOS 9 Apple no longer gives us the choice. You can't even tell it to stop nagging you. The only thing you can do is shut it up for a few hours. Then it will start to spam you again. Cause God forbid I think for myself and take responsibility for my own life and my own gadgets.
If you tell iOS 9 to remind you later (as I just did), it isn't ready to give up so easily. It just thinks you are playing hard to get? "I can install between 2 and 4 AM if connected to power! How about that, then? Does that sound better?" Then you can Install Tonight (technically, tomorrow morning) or Remind me Later. So you have 2 opportunities to accidentally install or schedule an install. Perhaps if you make sure to not be connected to power between 2 and 4 AM, it won't start the install next time you are connected? I don't know who wants to bother testing that.

I haven't had a chance to play more with App Store settings on OS X since my Mac went down. I thought one could do just what you describe, but AppleCare told me it was impossible to disable auto check for updates. It looks to me like you are quite right though.
Paul Albert  2016-01-29 14:40
Little Snitch does it for me all the time. I just deny forever any Apple connection. And change that at will.

Great software
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2016-01-26 10:16
Just got another report of a freeze during update in email:

"Had similar experience with the 10.11.3 update on my Mac Pro. I have a SSD on a PCI Card as the Boot and Main Drive on the Mac Pro. After a shutdown and reboot it has worked perfectly. The update on my other Mac’s has installed normally."
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2016-01-26 15:32
The person who reported this said that the combo updater worked on another try.
xairbusdriver  2016-01-26 12:04
Also had the freezing Mr. Engst had on my wife's MBP. Same "fix": Power Off, wait.

But I also have filed a Bug Report about the behavior of Software Update. I assumed I had mistakenly clicked "Install All" the 1st time, but when I updated my mini when I VERY carefully asked to update ONLY the iMovie app and NOT the OS, the very same "Update All" action occurred.
I encourage anyone thinking about performing any update where this 10.11.3 is included in the list to be ready to see it update, whether you want it or not.
Josh Centers  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2016-01-26 14:38
Ever since updating to El Capitan, I've been having problems with my external Dell monitor with my 5K iMac. Often, the monitor would not wake up alongside the Mac. I would have to unplug it and plug it back in, sometimes several times, to get it working again.

I'm happy to say that this update seems to have fixed that, so I highly recommend it if you're having a similar issue.
Derek Roff  An apple icon for a TidBITS Contributor 2016-01-27 15:16
3-week old MacBook Pro 15" Retina. Having read this article, and the comments, I waited a week before trying to update. I was given optimism by the small number of problems reported here, and on a general Internet search. I started the upgrade via the App Store app, before going to bed, and left it for 10 hours. My unsuccessful upgrade experience is ongoing, and is in some respects similar to that described by iftid. When I touched the keyboard this morning, it revealed a black screen, with the white-outlined mouse pointer, and nothing else. Since it had had 10 hours to finish whatever activity, I didn't think waiting was likely to help. I pressed the power button, to turn it off, waited, and then pressed the power button again. After a few seconds, I got the white Apple logo on the black screen, with a white progress bar under it, at about the 60% mark. The progress bar didn't advance. After perhaps thirty seconds, the screen flashed, but came back about the same. After another flash or two, the Apple logo and progress bar disappeared, and I again got the mouse pointer arrow. I repeated this process, with the same results.

I called AppleCare, and we tried booting in Safe Mode, with roughly the same non-results. We booted into Recovery Mode, and ran Disk Utilities> First Aid. It reported no problems, although I noticed one change. Before I ran First Aid, the disk size reported 499.99 GB, and the amount used was identical. After running First Aid, the amount used was shown as 323 GB, which is roughly what I expected. AppleCare recommended that I reinstall the operating system from Recovery Mode, which I did. After two hours of downloading (rural DSL at 12 Mbps) and installing, my computer returned to the same state as when I woke it this morning- black screen with mouse pointer only.

I called AppleCare again, and we repeated the steps, with the addition of resetting the NVRAM and the SMC (System Management Controller- holding shift-control-option and tapping Power). No improvement. They next recommended erasing the disk, and reinstalling the Operating System on an empty disk, after which I was told to use Migration Assistant to restore the data from my backup.

This install onto an empty disk worked. I got the startup screen, and after setting up my "new computer", I got to the desktop, and was able to verify the OS as 10.11.3. I am now in the Migration Assistant data restore phase. Within a few hours, I may have a working computer again. All in less than twenty-four hours, with only three calls to AppleCare, and five hours of fairly active work/attention to the computer.

When I do this again (I have three more computers awaiting this update), I will follow the suggestion of downloading the Combo updater from Apple Support, and avoiding the App update method. I don't know if that will work better, but it couldn't be much worse than my experience so far.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2016-01-27 15:49
OK, you win the upgrade horror story of the week. Sorry to hear it was so hard!
Hi Adam, I hate to be cynical here, but when the comments above are viewed as an aggregate, don't they all imply something is deeply disturbing about the 10.11.3 "release"?

In my opinion, I would say it's worth waiting at least until 10.11.4, unless there is a compelling reason for an immediate update (to 10.11.3).
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2016-01-27 16:54
Yes, I have to agree. With all the reports coming out of the woodwork, it's seeming like a good idea to just sit this one out, unless Apple re-releases it.
Kevin Malloy  2016-01-27 18:11
My late 2009 27" iMac has been doing this for a while now whenever I update the OS. It doesn't come up no matter how long I wait. My work around is this... I Screen Share from my MacBook Pro to the iMac and find that it thinks there's a login screen on the iMac (the iMac is still blank gray). I log in using Screen Sharing and the iMac comes up and finishes the installation. Subsequent reboots work fine. Odd... I've been assuming that the iMac is slowly failing (because of some USB issues). Oh, I also have a 2nd monitor (Cinema Display).
Jim Puskar  2016-01-27 18:59
I actually began experiencing slowness/crashes/freezes on my mid-2010 MacBook Pro shortly after updating to El Capitan. I upgraded to OS 11.2 in hopes that it would solve some of my problems, but, alas, no luck. I'll take Mr. Engst's advice this time and wait until OS 11.3 shakes out a bit.
@Derek, did you not try to recover from Time Machine because you didn't have a Time Machine backup, but had data saved in some other way?

Or because your TM backup didn't include all system files?

Or were you advised to not recover from TM?

Does AppleCare generally recommend skipping Time Machine recovery?

I have been told that it would only reinstall the problem that caused the 10.11.3 update to fail.

In Disk Utility, that fluctuating of disk free space from 0 to what you'd expect, which you mentioned, seems to be another common feature. That has happened to me repeatedly. It was why Apple Genius thinks my fusion is "de-fused." But you don't have Fusion in your MBP. So I don't think Fusion is the problem, and I remain skeptical about the special reformatting that Genius Bar recommended.

I haven't recovered yet, still considering options.

Took several more hours at Apple Store.

The assumption is the OS X upgrade corrupted the GUID Partition Table on my Fusion drive, so the startup partition could not be located.

Perhaps I powered down too soon during the 10.11.3 "multi-hour stalled reboot after upgrade" that others here have also reported - and that action resulted in the GPT corruption. Some waited overnight - not a bad idea.

The GPT cannot be repaired on a Fusion drive until the Fusion's logical volume group is deleted to break the drives apart; then the drives have to be separately reformatted, then combined again into a logical volume group. This can only be done in diskutil, from Terminal.

All data on the drive is lost, requiring clean OS install and Time Machine restore.

Out of curiosity, I wonder if GPT can be repaired from Disk Utility for a non-Fusion drive, or if repair of it via Disk Utility or diskutil results in complete data loss. Does anyone know?
With my system recovered, I now see that one day before the 10.11.3 upgrade failure, I had installed the OS X El Capitan Recovery Update Version 1.0 from the App Store. It supposedly "improves" OS X Recovery. Since OS X updates also write to the Recovery partition, perhaps a lack of coordination between these updates, especially on Fusion drives, is responsible for troubles.
John Beare  2016-02-10 15:45
After reading this article when it fist came out I followed Adam's advice and waited until recently to install 10.11.3. Unfortunately, I proceeded to install the upgrade on an external, non-fusion drive before returning to read the comments. My experience on the external drive was as reported by others: the installer stalled, I shut down the computer overnight and the installation finished the next day. However, I did read the comments before attempting to upgrade my Mac mini which has a fusion drive. Now, I won't! If they haven't already done so I suggest those who have had troubles send feedback to Apple.