It started with an apparently-failing keyboard, a common problem with modern Apple Laptops. Painfully for a Unix guy, it was the “|” key, either doubling or skipping.
For a first test, I just wanted to power-cycle the machine rather than drive 40 minutes to an Apple store, but since there was a security update and a Safari update, I made sure my backups were up to date, installed those, and after it came back up to the login prompt, powered off.
When I powered it back on, the screen flashed red during boot, and then came up to a screen complaining that the OS installation was incomplete, with boilerplate making it sound like I had nothing useful on the disk at all.
My external backup drive took forever to boot from (FFS, Apple, your OS has gotten that slow on spinning disks now?!?), but when it came up, it showed the perfectly-intact internal drive.
It also tried to start syncing with cloud services and kick off a Time Machine backup, which I managed to cancel despite the incredibly poor performance.
I made Yet Another bootable backup, just in case, which took a few hours, and then tried to bring it back up. Same error. Booted in Safe Mode and it came up, so I fscked the disks and rebooted again.
Same error. I manually selected the startup disk, told it to restart, and (without resetting the progress bar) it booted successfully.
Checked installed updates, and the most recent security update isn’t on the list, and isn’t available, either. Power-cycled again, and all seems to be well.
Immediately kicked off Time Machine, followed by one of the bootable external backups…
Oh, and my “|” key? None of this changed anything, but some vigorous testing seems to have destroyed whatever tiny bit of dust crept into Apple’s fragile design.
Three hours later, it’s offering me the security update again…
…and Time Machine is doing a full sync of 300+ GB, joy.
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Sometimes you have to double-click to enter text in the form (interaction between Isso and Bootstrap?). Tab is more reliable.