I have to reluctantly conclude: macOS Monterey is a horrible product, in terms of quality

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I’ve been a macOS user since MacOS X first appeared. After the initial boot, macOS became a platform that I loved not only for the experience, but also for its stability and performance. I would easily have a laptop running for several months without a single reboot and without issues. I’m reasonably technical (having been part of a team that once won an Apple Design Award) and know the lower levels of the operating system. Again, I could do the things I should be able to do and “it worked”.

In recent years my experience has been completely different and I have reached the end of the line. A few months ago I decided to move my older versions of macOS (a Mojave and a few macOS Catalinas) to macOS Monterey and, boy, do I wish I had never done that (in Mojave’s case, I really wanted it because there were no longer security patches).

A list of issues I’ve encountered in various versions of Monterey:

  • An LG 4K monitor which is not recognized as 4K but as 5K. Notable: this same monitor is well recognized on the only Mac M1 here. Also note: I have 5 different Macs in this household, it’s clearly not a hardware issue if all Monterey x86 Macs don’t recognize the monitor correctly, but the same hardware before the upgrade did, the only x86 Mac still running Big Sur does, and the M1 Mac running Monterey does.
  • A monitor that directly after “upgrading” to a Mini showed only black until the SMC was reset, a problem that has returned several times
  • If the user’s display preferences are set, this may cause WindowServer to crash, making it impossible for that user to login (login, start Windows Server, crash, return to login screen). I had to enter through another user, clean the preferences of the affected user, after which login was possible again (although all preferences were lost)
  • Booting a system with a USB SSD connected (SanDisk) via USB ends in a situation where the entire disk is not visible (missing in system information) until you physically disconnect/reconnect the drive . Two Thunderbolt drives connect well, as does a USB RAID
  • Connected wired keyboards/trackpads (all Apple) unable to wake a system from deep sleep, you have to physically disconnect/reconnect them to get them recognized
  • A monitor as a second monitor on an iMac. When the monitor is off, the main screen works but the input (trackpad, keyboard) gets stuck for about half a second the whole time.
  • If you are using software that allows connections from outside and you are using Application Firewall (ALF) to protect your system, at some point using ALF meant that a certain service would stop to work after a few hours because the kernel had stopped forwarding connections to the software. Stopping and starting the software got it working again for a few hours. This software worked well in Mojave and several earlier versions. It seemed like the kernel was running out of resources and stopping and starting the software freed them up. I had to stop using the firewall as a result.
  • Manually started services work fine, but when started via launchd they cannot be reached.
  • And the latest: under 12.5.1, the system suddenly freezes for all login requests (e.g. you can’t ssh into the system, or use ARD, etc. Nothing that requires TCP/IP, Ping works, but no TCP/IP port Most of the time this will resolve itself after a while as if the kernel was “stuck” and at some point “unstuck” “, but sometimes it doesn’t and you have to hope that you are logged out and can click the reboot button or you have to do a hard reboot. The last time an unfreeze happened after about one o’clock.

And this list is not even complete. In my opinion, macOS Monterey 12.5.1 is as buggy and shaky as anything I’ve had to work with in decades, and that includes older Microsoft Windows. This is now especially the case for anything related to sockets, ports, traffic, etc., i.e. kernel-level stuff.

I have my suspicions about what may be at play here:

  • Apple doesn’t spend as much power on x86 as it does on M1 (which pisses me off as I’ve spent thousands on all those machines)
  • Apple works hard to add security (e.g. the kernel being able to merge a read-only and write-only volume into a single filesystem, very neat, and a lot that is now connected to software being signed) but doesn’t do a very good job of writing decent code that can handle all different situations (“happy flow code”)
  • The “unlocked” behavior of 12.5.1 really gives the impression that Apple has put in place a stopgap measure to ensure that if the system crashes, there is some sort of low-level “reset”. Or, Apple knows it’s unreliable, but has some sort of garbage collector in place that occasionally cleans things up so they start working again

Apple has always been this weird combination of “insane level of attention to detail” in one place and “insane level of negligence” in another. But I have to conclude that now that Monterey is at 12.5.1 it is still buggy, fragile, unreliable. It’s a PoJ and I’m so sorry that after 20+ years of using Apple I have to give up on having something as sturdy as it was years ago. And the story of recent versions is that they have gotten worse and worse in terms of reliability over the years.

I started investigating moving parts of my (so far 100% Apple) environment to another OS because the level of reliability got so low that I lost faith in its reliability.

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