back to article POW! Apple smites Macbook Air EFI firmware update borkage

Apple has released an urgent fix for a problem that temporarily bricked a number of fanbois' Macbooks. Apple customers wailed last week after an update hobbled some users' machines. People using Macbook Airs from mid 2011 claimed the update wrought havoc on their pride and joy, turning that expensive silver machine into a …

  1. Ted Treen

    Ah well...

    A problem identified and then a solution offered in a week or so.

    And Jasper predictably extracts the urine.

    1. tirk

      Re: Ah well...

      It does say "biting the had that feeds IT" up there on the right. Though I think this is more of a gumming TBH.

    2. DougS Silver badge

      Re: Ah well...

      The question is more how could this happen in the first place? Apple controls the hardware and the software, and presumably there are only a handful of different versions ever released (unless they silently change stuff under the hood when it is the "same" model) It should be pretty easy for them to test, so it is curious how such a thing could happen in the first place.

      1. davidp231

        Re: Ah well...

        More to the point.. if it's effectively bricked, how can you apply the new firmware?

        1. Steven Raith

          Re: Ah well...

          Rumours abound that the machines weren't bricked, they just took a couple of hours to boot up after the update.

          I say just" (in, er, air quotes? you know what I mean), obviously....a two hour wait for a boot splash would be rather worrying, so it wouldn't surprise me if people fiddled with the power and had done more damage - although if the firmware had been applied before people started switching things off and on again, it *should* be OK. It's when you whip the power out while it's still writing the EFI update that you get real problems AFAIK.

          Still, the question about QA is a good one - Apple need to learn what caused this, and explain how this got through the net.

          Not that that will happen - not when there's this lovely rug that contains all the other 'dubious' update issues, slow turnaround of bug fixes, etc to pop it under.

          Steven R

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ah well...

      However much I sometimes disagree with his writing style, in this he has a point - how did this pass QC?

  2. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    EFI firmware update

    Great, another one in the eye for the idiocy of firmware that can be updated anyone without suitable controls ...

    When will the first 'efi update' scam that scribbles to the firmware be released?

    1. ThomH Silver badge

      Re: EFI firmware update

      That scam will be released as soon as Apple starts allowing third parties to post EFI updates via its software update channel.

      It can be downloaded direct from the web but either way you need to supply the administrator password to install.

      1. Lionel Baden

        Re: EFI firmware update


        Just promise them uber cool videos on their facebook feed if they install it :)

        1. DougS Silver badge

          Re: EFI firmware update

          The updates are signed, so I'm not sure exactly how someone is supposed to create hacked firmware without gaining possession of Apple's signing key.

  3. Andy Non


    But if their computer has already been bricked (converted into an impractical ostentatious chopping board) how are they supposed to apply the new firmware update?

  4. ThomH Silver badge

    Anecdote, anecdote, anecdote

    Yesterday I received three 2011 MacBook Airs, having seen them available for a bargain price and decided to help out a charity. I'm not a support person so having multiple of the same computer in my control has never happened before. I therefore may not have proceeded in the most intelligent fashion, criticise as you must.

    I decided to run all available software updates on all three, which were otherwise seemingly identically configured — each completely clean with the SSD given a volume name of 'Mavericks 10.9.2', implying a recent wipe and install though I doubt that will have had any effect on the firmware.

    All three have now been updated, including to EFI 2.9.1, and work perfectly.

    The only oddity was that all of them kept presenting the update as available even after it had been installed. In all three cases I installed the update last night and then again this morning, with software update now finally silenced. In one case I attempted to install twice last night, with the second go downloading and rebooting but not attempting to install anything. In the other two cases I stopped after the first try last night.

    So installation still seems to have some issues, but only so as to create extremely minor inconveniences — nothing bricked — and may just have been some sort of propagation problem as 2.9.1 replaces 2.9.

    1. Greg J Preece

      Re: Anecdote, anecdote, anecdote

      The only oddity was that all of them kept presenting the update as available even after it had been installed.

      That happens to me all the time on my Macbook Pro. The update will just reinstall itself over and over every time I run updates, if I let it.

      Kudos to Apple for getting a fix out quickly (though I really wish they'd talk to people more before turning up whenever they feel like and handing down a fix from on high). Thing is: if Airs really were bricked by the previous update, how do they go about getting this one?

  5. Anonymous Coward

    I'm just surprised it doesn't have a back up "BIOS" like most PC motherboards since about 2000...or does it?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hi Apple

    Many PC's from the last 3-5 years had what it's called "Dual BIOS", so if you damage a BIOS, you could press a key and the machine will boot from a backup BIOS.

    Isn't it time that your machines have this feature with the EFI?

    1. ItsNotMe

      Re: Hi Apple

      "Isn't it time that your machines have this feature with the EFI?"

      No...because "they just work". You gotta problem wif dat?

      1. Mitoo Bobsworth

        Re: Hi Apple

        No...because "they just work bork"

        There, FIFY.

  7. Deltics

    Temporarily bricked ?

    Surely it cannot be both "temporary" AND "bricked" ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Temporarily bricked ?

      The conclusion is that it was never bricked in the first place. But "Laptop patch causes boot problems, fixed in update shortly thereafter" isn't half as exciting as "Apple fanbois SCREAM as update BRICKS their Macbook Airs".

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Re: Temporarily bricked ?


        There is also the duck problem: if it looks like one (etc) it is reasonable to assume it is one. Good and detailed information can help, but that's not really one of Apple's strengths.

  8. razorfishsl

    I recently reported a 'self-distruction' bug in the EFI firmware for 13" mac air books.....

    When I say 'self destruction' I literally mean the whole machine.......

    The bug puts the computer CPU in 100% mode whilst the cover is fully closed & with the 'apple' lid light off........

    So if you then pop the machine into a computer bag It makes an excellent winter warmer, either the machine destroys its main board...(since the air intake is blocked by the bag fabric) or the battery runs out, depending on your luck.

    Maybe the initial update was to fix 'that' bug........

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019