A wave of Macs that could not boot anymore was triggered by a latest Google Chrome update which corrupted a needed folder on the operating system. After installing the update, impacted consumers have discovered that they can no longer boot to macOS.

Yesterday we revealed that some Avid Media Composer customers could not boot their Macs when they shut down or restart. While it was a virus for some users, the idea was that a system folder was corrupted.

It turns out that this problem isn’t caused by a virus or an Avid update, but by a defective Google Chrome for Mac update that removes the /Var symlink.


Google Chrome Keystone Updater is removing the /var symlink causing account and boot issues

According to an open bug article from Google Chrome, the reason for this is a bug in Google’s fresh release of software update, called Google Keystone.

Chrome-bug-commentPost from Google Engineer

Mac blog Mr. Macintosh describes that users of MacOS 10.9–10.14 Mojave with SIP (Software Integrity Protection) disabled are affected.

They also state that many Avid consumers use 3rd-party video cards for video editing and need to deactivate SIP to use them, which could be why so many people in that collective have noticed the problem.

Google published a support article on how to solve this by deleting the existing Google update package and recreating the /var symlink.

We have lately found that a Chrome update may be shipped with a bug that damages the file system on macOS computers with System Integrity Protection (SIP). We’ve stopped releasing the latest update to solve the issue.

This problem can not influence you if you have not taken measures to disable system integrity protection and if your PC is running on OS X 10.11 or later.

To retrieve a computer impacted by this bug, boot into retrieval mode and then open the Terminal application from the Utilities menu.

You can execute the following instructions in the Terminal implementation:

chroot /Volumes/Macintosh\ HD   # "Macintosh HD" is the defaultrm -rf /Library/Google/GoogleSoftwareUpdate/GoogleSoftwareUpdate.bundle

mv var var_back  # var may not exist, but this is fine

ln -sh private/var var

chflags -h restricted /var

chflags -h hidden /var

xattr -sw com.apple.rootless "" /var

Then restart. The impacted version of Google Software Update is removed then the damaged part of the file system is restored.

Note: An earlier version of this page mentioned OS X 10.9 instead of OS X 10.11.

As for Avid, they are glad that the problem was not caused by their program and that they shared this declaration:

Today, Avid is confirming that the root cause for a reboot issue encountered by some of our customers has been identified and is unrelated to Avid and its creative tools. Google confirmed that a Chrome update “may have shipped with a bug that damages the file system on macOS machines.” Google has paused its release and provided instructions for affected users.

Avid is also pleased to share that it has received no reports of data loss by affected customers. From the beginning when this issue was made known to Avid, our teams actively worked with customers, Apple and partners to identify solutions and communicate them to customers. At this time, most affected Avid customers have recovered from this issue by reinstalling their macOS. Avid received no reports of incidents from customers running on non-Mac operating systems. To reiterate, this was not an Avid issue, as was reported in some early media coverage. We are proud of the coordinated response by Avid, Apple and our partners and we jointly thank our customers for their patience, support and assistance as we worked to quickly resolve this issue.

Avid CEO Jeff Rosica stated, “Avid is pleased that the reboot issue facing some customers is solved and while Avid products are not the root cause, we’re keeping an intense focus on bringing all of our customers back online and back to work. Over the past 36 hours, the deep dive of due diligence working closely with Apple, PACE and other partners exhausted all options and we’ve landed in the right place as quickly as possible. We owe our special thanks to Avid’s customer and user community for their typically strong show of support at this time, especially to those who welcomed our engineers into their studios to troubleshoot.”

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