Yesterday, Mr Macintosh website reported of Google Chrome Keystone updated to remove the /var symlink on NON SIP protected Mac computers, causing account and booting issues. Few MacAdmins started to report that their systems would not boot properly. And they had following issues:
- 1. After rebooting the affected system it would Kernel Panic. The system will reboot only to KP again
- 2. User Logs out and the system shows the Setup Assistant.
- 3. The System Kernel Panics into a boot Loop.
The MacOS versions 10.9 – 10.14 Mojave were affected by this. It seems the issue affects all Macs that have SIP (System Integrity Protection) Disabled or turned off.
Google Chrome keystone update causes booting issues
AVID users were some of the first to report the issue. They said that AVID Media Creators use 3rd Party Graphics cards connected to their Mac Pro. When the issue hit yesterday, it was thought that AVID was the main cause of the problems since all the users experiencing the issue had AVID software.
Only later after a MacAdmins dived deep in an investigation. After investigation from some of the top minds in the MacAmins Slack Chat #varsectomy channel it was found that the Google Chrome Keystone Updater was at the heart of the issue.
How to check if the /var symlink was modified
You can check to see if the /var symlink was modified by running the following command.
ls -ldO /var
The following outputs appear. The first one below means that your /var volder is SIP protected (notice the restrictedflag) and the proper sym link /var -> private/var
[email protected] 1 root wheel restricted,hidden 11 Apr 1 2018 /var -> private/var
The next one means that your symlink is broken and the folder is NOT SIP Protected.
drwxr-xr-x 5 503 wheel – 170 Sep 24 14:37 /var
If you find /var in this condition you are affected! If you LOGOUT, SHUTDOWN OR RESTART your Mac will NOT Boot! You will need to boot into recovery, repair the /var symlink and reset the restricted flags. And there are two ways to fix the issue. First is to fix from MacAdmins User Juest and second is from Google Support, you need to use commands while booting through macOS Recovery.
Community hates automatic updates from Google Chrome
On Hacker News, users are discussing about sudden updates on Google Chrome Keystone which cause such issues and prefer using Safari or Firefox instead of Chrome. One of them commented, “I’ve always hated that “service” (more like malware given this news) like everything else that installs itself into the autolaunch sequence without permission, and remove* it whenever I notice/remember it, but it keeps coming back whenever I touch Google Chrome, which I prefer not to use in favor of Safari/FireFox because of reasons like this.
Things like these (including secretly signing you into Search when you sign into YouTube† or refusing to support PiP on iPadOS/macOS) just solidify Google’s image in my mind as a forever scummy, intrusive company that I wish I could leave behind like I did Microsoft, but sadly Google Search and YouTube still don’t have good enough alternatives yet.”
Another user commented, “The trends that Google has spearheaded have had a real effect on me over the years.
I feel alienated from my computer. Subtle things will just change. If I really dig I might be able to find out why, but I don’t have the time, so I just accept it.
Usually very small things that are barely noticeable. My Chromecast extension disappeared and was integrated into the browser. My brain could not help but notice this benign change, which caused a hard to place sense of unease.
Or when Google decided to remove rotation from the home screen on Android 2.3 — it wasn’t a huge problem, but I could have sworn that something changed. Users were conflicted, many convincing themselves that the homescreen never rotated at all.
It has made me not trust my computer. I second guess myself much more. If some option no longer exists, I wonder if it was just my imagination or if it was quietly deprecated while I wasn’t looking. Does it even matter?
I think that we are being trained to see devices as ephemeral, and not to get too attached to them.”
To know more about Google Chrome Keystone update and the issue regarding this, check out the Mr. Macintosh website.