Here we go again

Literally days after the release of macOS 11.5 we get another 2.2 GB update called 11.5.1.

Two point two Gigabyte. Again!

If MS would have done this, everybody here would make fun of them. But since it’s Apple, we all smile and ‘happily’ stare at our blocked Macs for another 45 minutes.

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I’m glad they fixed a zero day vulnerability that has been actively abused.

I do wish it would have been a small update like most monthly Windows 10 updates that Microsoft provides, because those do install much faster.


Howard Oakley always looks inside the packages to see what’s new. Here’s what he wrote about 11.5.1:

I have now had a chance to examine exactly what is in this update. There are no files with changed version or build numbers among the bundled applications (in /System/Applications), nor do any files in the System Library (/System/Library) have changed version or build numbers. The component which Apple refers to in its security note is a private framework, IOMobileFramebuffer.framework, which in Big Sur is built into one of the dyld shared caches in /System/Library/dyld, caches which are believed one of the reasons for Big Sur updates invariably being so huge.

There are no changes in the firmware in T2 Macs, and no change in the iBoot firmware in M1 Macs. The version information for the kernel is also unchanged between 11.5 and 11.5.1.

From what I see, the change made in 11.5.1 is so minimal that its size is a tiny fraction of the size of the update. In other words, almost every byte in the 11.5.1 update is overhead, not the update itself.

Apple has released macOS Big Sur 11.5.1 update – The Eclectic Light Company


A somewhat ironic thank you to all who installed macOS 11.5 and helped to find and fix the bug that necessitated an 11.5.1 release. Was the bug introduced in 11.5? Are those of us hanging back on 11.4 safe?

The underlying reason for the large updates has to do with the added security / integrity of the OS partition…correct?

Personally, I just set the updates to install at night when I go to sleep, or when I leave for something that’s going to take awhile. But yeah, it’s very inefficient.

I’ve never happy when I have to install an update on any OS. Not because of the time it takes but because it’s another opportunity for something to go horribly wrong.

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“Our products use less power. That’s powerful.”
" In the fight against climate change, every voice matters."

It’s a bit ironic, to say the least, that a company that says it’s so concerned about the environment pushes out such humongous updates. Not once, but twice in 5 days time. To millions of computers.

Just for fun, and very roughly, if each update is 2GB larger than it should be, and there are roughly 100 million active Macs that will download the update any time soon, and (according to an MIT study) a 1GB download and active computer and peripherals cost 60CO2e grams, then those two updates cost an excess 24 million kg CO2e. That’s about 50 million miles of driving.

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Apple documents exactly how unsafe you are for running 11.4 in the security update notes for 11.5 :wink: (Seriously though, running un/under-patched OSs is getting riskier all the time.)

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Yes, it’s because of the Sealed System Volume. If even a single byte is changed, the entire volume must be updated. I can’t help but think this is a giant “oops” on Apple’s part.


That’s a whole lotta fixin’ going on!

I was happier when I was blissfully ignorant. Seems like some serious stuff going into these “point” releases. Likely due to the forced march to a new macOS every year.

And now we’re onto the new and ever more wonderful macOS Monterey.

Just imagine what it would be like if they pushed the update out on CDs or floppies!

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Don’t get me started. Yes I think we’ve all heard the goal to be Carbon Neutral by [insert future date here] but Apple has got to sack up and start moving towards the reliance on streaming content. Content Distribution Networks are running off of energy backbones that are anything but clean.

With local content storage being humungous the move towards “stream and store” has to happen.

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Carbon neutrality doesn’t mean they’re not doing things that cause carbon though, does it? I was of the impression that it meant they do some of that, but then throw money at things to offset it.

Sorry, I didn’t mean to take us off topic.

If you’re interested in the business of carbon offsets, Ben Elgin of Bloomberg published an interesting story about the Nature Conservancy in Dec 2020. You can find it on Youtube and

According to Howard Oakley the SSV is only part of the reason these updates are so big.