To update the OS X or not
January 23, 2018 5:27 AM   Subscribe

I'm going to have to get a new internal SSD for my MacBook Pro, and this is a good a time as any to update. I'm running a very stable build of 10.11.6.

I (2012mbp non-retina) mostly run Lightroom and atom/cli for web development. what broke on my last update was my displaylink driver and the fact that Lightroom crashes every time my computer goes to sleep.

I'm not integrated into the Mac ecosystem so I don't care much about the new notification features. Will I get a performance gain updating to a Sierra or High Sierra?
posted by tedious to Computers & Internet (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
In my experience, OS X updates haven't been as disruptive as iOS updates. I don't think you'll get a performance boost out of the update, but you also shouldn't get a performance hit. The one new feature that comes to mind is the new file system, which manages space more efficiently and is a lot faster in some situations. Privacy management in Safari (if you use it) is much stronger.

You could look for specific information on your display link driver to make sure it is compatible with High Sierra. Ditto for Lightroom.

Is Apple still pushing out security updates for 10.11? That's another positive of updating: you get first access to security updates.

On balance, I'd do it.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 6:29 AM on January 23, 2018


The only Mac OS currently patched against Meltdown is High Sierra, 10.13.2.

For a MacBook Pro 8,2, processor benchmarks improve between 10.12.6 and 10.13.0, but then get slightly worse for 10.13.2 due to the mitigation. Whether these benchmarks are relevant to your situation, I can't say.
posted by zamboni at 6:31 AM on January 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


^^^^ what he said.
posted by uberchet at 7:14 AM on January 23, 2018


I semi-borked my macbook pro with an update recently, it was a hellish process to wipe the update and put it all back together again. Like the IOS updates that "downgrade" your iphone, in my experience OS updates do the same to older macbooks.
posted by jbenben at 7:20 AM on January 23, 2018


I'm on 10.13.2 I have a couple of year old Macbook Pro. I do web dev/photography and Atom/Adobe suite run great.

You should do it for the security benefits.
posted by gregr at 7:32 AM on January 23, 2018


Upgrading to High Sierra does involve some sweeping changes, particularly to the underlying file system, and things can go wrong. Make sure you're well backed up. Check Roaring Apps' compatibility DB to see if there are issues with any software you rely on. Having a bootable clone is a good idea. If you're doing an in-place upgrade, I've heard it's prudent to check the boot drive before doing the upgrade.

Since you're replacing the drive, I'd be inclined to install High Sierra to the new SSD, and Migration Assistant your data to the new install, but apparently that's not foolproof either.
posted by zamboni at 8:46 AM on January 23, 2018


On OSX High Sierra, versions of Office before MS Office 2016 for Mac 15.35 have significant issues. Reports indicate that 2016 had a few issues that have gradually been fixed and the current release seems fine with High Sierra.

My Office for Mac 2011 limps along with much caution. Word, Excel, and especially Powerpoint crash more often; so I save more often. Copying from pasteboard into Powerpoint no longer works, but dragging in a file can substitute. Copying a slide within Powerpoint can loose color, but duplicating the slide and dragging it can substitute. Etc. My pal with MS Office for Mac 2008 has these problems also.

I've tried Libre Office & Keynote & Windows in a VM, but I want to run several kinds of video clips in presentations that they can't handle even with appropriate drivers added. I probably will pony up for 2016. Office for Mac 2019 may take until November to release.

posted by gregoreo at 9:21 AM on January 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


(Office 2016 on the Mac is SO MUCH BETTER than 2011; I would definitely update. And I cannot IMAGINE limping along on 2008 unless the Mac in question literally cannot run anything more modern; the 2008 release was just plain BAD -- so bad, in fact, that I often just ran Windows Office in a VM instead of using it.)
posted by uberchet at 10:04 AM on January 23, 2018


Are you running Lightroom CC with a cloud plan, or are you on Lightroom Classic/Lightroom 6 or an earlier version? Adobe only supports its non-CC software on specific OS releases (and even at that, not for long), so if you're still running Lightroom 5 or earlier I'd stick to the last dot release Adobe says will work. Otherwise, go High Sierra. I'd do a clean OS install on the SSD, let it set the partition up as APFS instead of HFS+, and then use Migration Assistant for docs and most apps.

For your Adobe app(s) you may need to install them fresh instead of migrating them, and if so you may run into installation issues. It's annoying and the error message is uninformative but the documented workaround does work.
posted by fedward at 10:14 AM on January 23, 2018


Generally speaking, I do not install Mac OS updates absent a compelling reason. The number of times I've had significant performance increases have been outweighed by the times I've gotten performance hits, un-helpful "features", or pointless UI changes that require you to re-learn something you've gotten down to muscle memory with years of practice.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:30 PM on January 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'd do a clean OS install on the SSD, let it set the partition up as APFS instead of HFS+, and then use Migration Assistant for docs and most apps.
Good lord, why?
Generally speaking, I do not install Mac OS updates absent a compelling reason.
That's probably going to lead to more eventual hassle than you'd expect. You're missing security updates, for one thing.

I certainly don't jump on updates on release, but I'm generally on board by .1 or .2 -- once I'm sure everything I need is going to be supported.
The number of times I've had significant performance increases have been outweighed by the times I've gotten performance hits
This isn't borne out by industry benchmarks for OS X updates since its introduction, to be honest. I wonder what's different about your computers?

Expecting a computer operating system to be unchanging is pretty unrealistic.
posted by uberchet at 2:44 PM on January 23, 2018 [1 favorite]


"The only Mac OS currently patched against Meltdown is High Sierra, 10.13.2."
FWIW, Apple released a security update the other day to address Meltdown/Spectre on Sierra 10.12.6 & El Capitan 10.11.6.
posted by Pinback at 2:52 PM on January 23, 2018 [2 favorites]


Good lord, why?

Why to which part? Fresh install on the SSD? That seems obvious to me. APFS? Seems fine so far. Migration assistant? I haven't had any problems with it, even though other people have. I pay for an iCloud storage plan now anyway, so instead of using MA what I personally would really do now is just log into iCloud and start working, but I've used Migration Assistant without issue many* times.

* I upgraded the Mac mini Server mentioned here to an SSD right around the time the RAM started going bad, and it had a nasty habit of corrupting the boot partition when it crashed. I thought I must have damaged the logic board but apparently the RAM was just failing, as diagnosed in that thread. I used Migration Assistant to restore the non-system directories on the SSD after a few crashes, and that's not counting the other, happier uses on new computers over the years.
posted by fedward at 3:26 PM on January 23, 2018


To the notion of a fresh install. It's borrowing extra work OP probably doesn't need to do. MA is awesome, but in this case you don't even need it.

I'd use CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper to clone the existing install to the fresh drive, and then swap the new drives.

Then just update to current. Should be fine. If it's not, THEN go down the fresh-install path.
posted by uberchet at 4:24 PM on January 23, 2018


I pay for an iCloud storage plan now anyway, so instead of using MA what I personally would really do now is just log into iCloud and start working, but I've used Migration Assistant without issue many* times.
Also, this is super confusing. iCloud storage isn't a replacement for Migration Assistant unless your use case is super, super narrow. You won't get applications that way, for example. I doubt you'll get all your configuration options, either.
posted by uberchet at 4:27 PM on January 23, 2018


FWIW, Apple released a security update the other day
Released January 23, 2018
For certain values of the other day. You might be thinking of the initial retracted language that said Sierra and El Cap were covered.
posted by zamboni at 4:28 PM on January 23, 2018


No, I was thinking of that one I linked - which popped up in my updates list yesterday, my time ;).
posted by Pinback at 4:37 PM on January 23, 2018


iCloud storage isn't a replacement for Migration Assistant unless your use case is super, super narrow. You won't get applications that way, for example. I doubt you'll get all your configuration options, either.

My use case is indeed that narrow, which is why I didn't suggest it in the first place. My idiosyncrasies seem off topic, however, so I will keep them to myself.
posted by fedward at 5:33 PM on January 23, 2018


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