Software

Mysterious Software Problem Is Bricking Mac Pros Across Hollywood

Mac Pro

A wave of crashes has hit production studios across Hollywood. Last night, Avid users began posting to user groups warning their fellows that the application had serious problems and could brick a MacBook Pro if rebooted. Several users referred to their “trashcans” being down, but it isn’t actually clear if the problem is confined to the still-shipping Apple Mac Pro that debuted in 2013, or if it affects MacBook and iMac Pro users as well. At least one iMac appears to have been hit. As a practical matter, workstation users are the most likely to be running Avid, but knowing which systems are affected may help users track down the source of the problem.

The issue does not seem confined to a single OS version, as macOS 10.11 through 10.14 have been reported as being affected. It is unclear if the issue actually causes a restart or if it strikes without warning if you happen to reboot a machine. The fact that the bug hit an entire team would seem to imply there could be instabilities in play as well, or some other failure that led end-users to reboot in the hopes of solving it.

The solution that has worked for some users is to rebuild the macOS installation while leaving data and folders intact. Avid has released a statement on the matter, saying:

Avid is aware of the reboot issue affecting Apple Mac Pro devices running some Avid products, which arose late yesterday. This issue is top priority for our engineering and support teams, who have been working diligently to determine and resolve the root cause. As we learn more, we will immediately publish information—directly to our customers and via our community forums and social media platforms—in order to resolve this issue for all affected customers and prevent any further issues.

Versions of the program that still use dongle-based security appear to also be impacted. This tweet, from @MarcusPun, claims the iLok software system made changes to a USB 3 driver that may have brought down the entire operating system.

Apple-Avid-Tweet

It’s not clear, yet, what the formal cause will be. In some cases, firewalls may have prevented the problem from occurring, but if it hit Budapest, it’s clearly spread beyond Hollywood. The Hollywood connection is simply due to a large number of people in the film, music, and TV industries all working with Avid software. For now, it’s unclear if this is a borked update, deliberate attack, or a combination of the two (like a payload maliciously sipped into an otherwise legitimate software update).

As this post was going to print, new information broke. The problem might be related to Chrome rather than being Avid-specific at all, but this does not explain why it started striking so many people last night. So far we’ve seen reports that it was caused by a virus, by a bad driver or code error, and now possibly by something Google did. If you run Avid, don’t reboot your machine. If you have to reboot your machine and it dies, rebuilding the OS while keeping files intact may restore the system without incident.

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