Apple 10.6.6 Update: Don’t Do It!

If you’re thinking of updating your OS X 10.6.5 system to the recently-published 10.6.6 update: please think twice about it, or at least, take a full backup of your system first.

Verbose boot message after 10.6.6 update

I’ve never had a major problem updating my previous MacBook or my 2010-model MacBook Pro to minor 10.5.x or 10.6.x versions, before yesterday, that is: after installing the 10.6.6 update without a hitch, and installing the subsequent updates after that upgrade (which included an update to Apple Remote Desktop Agent), my MacBook Pro can no longer boot into Snow Leopard.  The disk is fine, permissions are fine, but a normal boot attempt won’t get past the grey Apple logo and spinning progress wheel.  Safe boots do the same, and verbose boots stop while loading networking drivers, and the ‘vmnet’ VMWare virtual adapter device in particular.  The last boot messages that get posted are:

vmnet: Invalidating peer info for hub: 0, port: 0
vmnet: VNetUser-IfFree: freeing user If at [mem-address]

I’ve started a thread on this over at Apple’s Discussion forums, and it’s gotten a fair amount of attention, as well as an alarming number of “me too” replies so far, but no solutions.  Other reports say their systems stop booting while the Airport device loads. And still others say they’ve upgraded with no problem at all.

I’ve just run Disk Utility via the OS X installation disc (again) and while repairing permissions, got this “warning”:

SUID file "System/Library/CoreServices/RemoteManagement/ARDAgent.app/Contents/MacOS/ARDAgent"
 has been modified and will not be repaired.

I am fairly certain this is related to the boot problem: I’ve run permission repair several times now after multiple disc boots, and this is now the only feedback that gets returned, but it’s returned consistently.

Update: well, really, there isn’t much of an update.  I called Apple Support.  They acknowledged that many people are reporting similar issues with this update, and I wasted an hour on some rather unhelpful questions and suggestions (at one point, I was assured, multiple times, that my PRAM and NVRAM would be reset if I held down a keystroke combination while the machine was turned off without powering it on. No, I’m not exaggerating.).  Ultimately, the official recommendation was to completely wipe out my OS X partition and re-install Snow Leopard. All I did was install official Apple updates from the official OTA Apple distribution channels as prompted by the operating system. I guess I wasn’t truly surprised by the recommendation, but if that’s the advice that comes with a full warranty and the additional cost of Apple Care, the additional cost certainly doesn’t seem justified.

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13 thoughts on “Apple 10.6.6 Update: Don’t Do It!

  1. I’ve updated 3 Snow Leopard machines: a MBP15uni (failed); a MBP17Al (worked); and a Mac mini server (failed). By failed, I mean would no longer get past the start-up’s gray screen (first and Apple, then a circle with a line through it). I’m certain at least my failed 10.6.5 client had an Apple Remote Desktop update as well.

    It was pretty simple to reinstall 10.6 client and re-apply the update to 10.6.6 on the failed MBP successfully. But the mini running OS X Server is unable to “downgrade”, so it’s much trickier to get 10.6 Server running again.

    I’d definitely recommend people hold-off on updating any production OS X 10.6 Servers out there.

  2. I have the same issue but I’m kinda back working. My MBP wouldn’t reboot after the 10.6.6 upgrade. Same symptoms as mentioned above. Eventually did a complete TM restore back to 10.6.5. I’m still having lots of problems restarting. Most of the restart attempts fail but some work which is how I’m able to add this comment. Btw, I have exactly the same SUID file warning. Oddly, it seems holding the mouse button down during restart makes it work. The charge indicator on the power cord turns off. And I’m now unable to boot into the Snow Leopard DVD by holding the C key down. If I can get back into the DVD I’ll make a disk image of the startup disk, reinstall the OS from the DVD and then use Migration Assistant to restore. What a pain!

  3. I’m having exactly – and I mean exactly – the same problems. Even the SUID file warning was the same. I’ve had my computer for 4 days.

  4. Same for me… too bad I didn’t see this 4 hours ago. Doing a Time Machine reinstall after trying permissions, repair, etc. All showed ok, but that SUID file warning did not go away after second permission repair attempt. (iMac 21.5 inch purchased June 2010) 10.6.5 was running sweet. oh well, thanks for posting folks and being a beacon in the night.

  5. Further to my comment on Jan 13, I was successful with reinstalling a fresh Snow Leopard. But it still would only restart about 1 in 5 tries. I went to the Apple Store and they couldn’t get it to work until they installed a new logic board. Thankfully I had AppleCare. It’s working fine now. What an ordeal!

  6. Well, Time Machine install did not work. Attempting a fresh install from original disks. Hopefully this will work, but Murray’s comments give me pause. AppleCare… don’t leave store without it.

  7. So I am on my THIRD re-install of OSX 10.6. After upgrading to 10.6.6 my machine started hanging whenever it had to connect to external peripherals (Airport Extreme, Apple Monitor) when it hung I would hold the power button to force shut down. Then all hell would break loose. Same issue here with startup – spinning icon on startup with one out of 5 or so tries actually going through. Also – it would take forever to think about processes that would usually take seconds it had a spinning beachball for minutes. 1.) I tried re-installing from time machine. Same issue 5 days later. 2.) Clean install with copy from time machine backup. 3.) Clean install of 10.6 and migration assistant to get data back. Decided not to include apps as I initially thought it might have been something I installed. About to run 10.6.5 update and see what happens 🙂

  8. 10.6.6 has a major keychain problem! If you do the combo update from 10.6.4, your login keychain will no longer remember or change passwords. Keychain First Aid, Repair, and Disk Permission Repair does not fix it. Neither does removing the Keychain plists. I recommend just updating to 10.6.5.

  9. About the same for me, freezes at the same point. If I try to boot with the Mac OS X installation Disc, I get Kernel Panic.

    I realized that my computer does not crash, it is running in the background. It is the screen that freezes. My computer continues to load, and after a while I can type my password to login in. But without seeing a thing. I manage to start a desktop sharing and connect to my mac. And that is working!! So, I just make a huge backup of my hard drive!

    Hope that I could help someone. I don’t know if my Mac has the same problems as yours. It is kinda strange that the screen freezes at a certain point and the rest is still working perfect.

  10. I’m sorry to say this, but WTF is so great about Macs? I’m using a Macbook Pro and Fusion to run XP. I have NEVER seen or heard of problems like this with Windows. I used to be a loyal Mac person and only ran Windows because I needed good voice recognition software. Now I truly don’t understand why anyone bothers with Mac. When I called Apple Care for help with the cursor jumping all over the place on my Macbook Pro, from heels of my hands on trackpad while typing (with mouse plugged in), they told me to go to Sys Prefs and check “ignore accidental input.” Turned out it didn’t exist. Two different levels of tech people thought I couldn’t see my screen correctly and spoke to me like I was in the Home for The Slow. Finally got a third tier person who said, “oh, yeah, well, that option’s gone in this OS.” I get that Mac has cool hardware but the hubris of these people to just crank out updates that paralyze machines is completely absurd. Mac is prettier, yes, however, Windows seems to work whereas Mac problems like this one are posted all over the web. What a shame.

    • Thanks Win. I was with you all the way … until “Windows seems to work …”. Can’t agree there. I have at least as many problems with Windows updates as with OS X, if not more. Apple definitely shouldn’t be pushing out updates that cause problems like this, that’s for sure. But I’ve done much more routine Windows updates that appeared to be minor updates of underlying applications (not the whole OS like this one) that have hosed my Windows system, and that’s with Windows 7.

      Otherwise, I agree, and I hope that’s evident from my post and updates.

  11. Greetings! I know this is kinda off topic but I’d figured I’d ask.
    Would you be interested in exchanging links or maybe guest authoring a blog article
    or vice-versa? My blog covers a lot of the same subjects as yours and I feel we could greatly benefit from each other.
    If you are interested feel free to shoot me an e-mail. I look forward to hearing from you!
    Great blog by the way!

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