Tech & Science Is your macOS Catalina slow? This could be the reason

22:30  24 may  2020
22:30  24 may  2020 Source:   t3n.de

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macOS Catalina. © macOS / t3n macOS Catalina.

Professional Mac users complain about noticeable delays and hangups when using macOS. The effects are said to have occurred only after the update to version 10.15, called Catalina.

macOS 10.15 is said to have significantly lost speed for some users. There is talk of waiting times of up to one second for certain system operations and up to 30 seconds for app starts. After the well-known developers and authors Marco Arment and John Siracusa first drew attention to the problem in their ATP podcast , Textmate developer Allan Odgaard tackled the problem.

Simple workarounds work but are too radical

Odgaard was able to reproduce the problems and suggested some workarounds. According to his knowledge, macOS system functions are responsible for the delays. More precisely, these are system functions that require an Internet connection.

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According to Odgaard, the simplest workaround for eliminating performance problems is to cut the internet connection of the respective device. After that, his system ran perfectly.

The second method consists of deactivating the system integrity check (SIP, System Integrity Protection), also known as rootless. The SIP introduced with OS X 10.11 El Capitan ensures that programs and users can no longer change macOS system folders even with root rights.

SIP also limits access to running processes, which limits debugging functions, among other things. This is why some tools that intervene in the system, such as the macOS own terminal command opensnoop, only work without SIP protection. After the SIP was switched off, Odgaard noticed a significant acceleration of his system. In this way, however, he could not remedy all delays.

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Problems with Apple's certification function

During further investigations, Odgaard found evidence of a connection with Apple's new certification function. Apple originally introduced the stricter requirements for the certification of an app sold outside of the Mac app store last year. After several developers failed to meet the new conditions quickly enough, Apple extended the deadline for compliance to January 2020.

Until January 2020, apps were certified by Apple, , which lacked the hardened runtime capability or the developer ID signature. Secure timestamps for the code signing signature were not initially required either. In addition, developers were allowed to use an older SDK, and the sandbox decision com.apple.security.get-task-allow could have a value "that corresponds to all variations of true".

According to Apple, the certification of an app is quick and automated via the web. Odgaard, however, has doubts about the concept of speed. He had to wait up to seven seconds for authorization to call a new executable file - irrelevant whether the start was via Finder or a shell script. During the regular app launch, Odgaard noticed delays of between five and 30 seconds.

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For developers, Odgaard sees a particular problem in the fact that new versions of an app or component must be tested again and again in the development cycle, which would then lead to the delays described. Apple replied negatively to the error documentation and explained that the behavior was intentional ("by design").

Problems accessing the system folder and the keychain

Not enough. Access to system folders with user rights restrictions is also delayed, according to Odgaard. The request to display the name or icon of the respective folder is enough to trigger Apple's verification process, which runs via the system's sandbox process and takes around 150 milliseconds per request. The request is written to a cache. However, it is deleted with every restart. This error is also known to Apple.

Since the problem seems to be connected with Mac security, it is only logical that Odgaard also noticed delays when apps wanted to access the keychain, i.e. the central password management of macOS.

discussion about Odgaard's insights flared up

Under Odgaard's contribution and on Hacker News , as well as in developer blogs , a differentiated discussion has developed. Those who can confirm the problems in one way or another outweigh those who claim that Odgaard simply did not abide by the new Apple conventions and should therefore not be surprised that he is experiencing problems. Apple has not yet commented.

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