12/1/2020: We in Social Sciences Computing Services are still evaluating the compatibility of Big Sur with various widely used software programs and campus online services. Some compatibility problems have been overcome, but others still exist. The version of Cisco AnyConnect now being distributed by the University at https://cvpn.uchicago.edu does seem to work with Big Sur, even though this version has not been Apple-certified for compatibility with Big Sur. Cisco very recently released a updated version of AnyConnect this is certified to be compatible, and we expect the University to make this version available for download in the near future. Big Sur also does appear to be compatible with the latest version of Box Drive and Microsoft Office 365. One issue that we are still actively working to resolve is that Big Sur appears to have a problem with establishing an SMB file sharing connection to our departmental file servers, ssdfiles.uchicago.edu and SSCS-fs0.uchicago.edu. Another issue is that the hard drive encryption program used by the Social Sciences Division, Dell Data Encryption, is not compatible with Big Sur, and Dell has not yet announced a release date for a compatible version.

We are urging users of existing Macs running MacOS 10.15.7 and earlier to avoid upgrading to Big Sur for now. However, we also recognize that our users may be buying new Macs that come with Big Sur already installed. We are committed to working with these users to resolve compatibility issues as they arise or at least to find satisfactory work-arounds until more permanent solutions are available from vendors.

In the coming days, Apple will release the latest upgrade to MacOS.  This is not a typical upgrade, but a complete replacement of the MacOS X operating system.  There are so many changes that there is both a new major version number and a restyling of the name of the operating system from Mac OS X to macOS 11.

Please do not click the upgrade button when it appears in the next few days or weeks.

Performing this upgrade will remove the computer’s ability to:

  • Use required anti-virus programs
  • Connect to the campus VPN
  • Integrate with Box
  • Synchronize with GitHub
  • Work with some configurations of LaTeX

There is no method to revert from macOS 11 to a previous version of Mac OS X.

If you have questions or would like help identifying when to upgrade your computer, please email: sscstech@lists.uchicago.edu

If you are currently using Mac OS X High Sierra (10.13.x), MacOS X Mojave (10.14.x), or macOS X Catalina (10.15.x)… The most recent version of macOS X Catalina (10.15.7) will continue to receive security updates for about two more years, while the oldest version of Mac OS X High Sierra may lose security update support at the end of the year.  While we do advise that you install security patch updates (updates that do not change your version number by more than 0.0.1), the upgrade transition to macOS 11 will affect your ability to connect to campus resources.

Please feel free to forward this message on to any of your colleagues or students who use Macintosh computers to perform work using campus resources such as VPN or Box.