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Google Chrome update corrupting some macOS installs — but there's a fix

Issues were largely reported to happen to the Mac Pro, though it is likely due to its usage in creative industries

Google has confirmed the existence of an issue in a Chrome update that has reportedly affected movie studios that use the Avid video editing suite on the cylindrical Mac Pro, with the company offering a solution to the issue it claims will recover affected machines.

Reports on Monday surfaced claiming video editors in Los Angeles were discovering their Mac Pro workstations were refusing to boot or would "slowly crash" during use. While initial reports proposed the issue was malware or a virus affecting Avid Media Composer version 8.8 or later on a 6.1 Mac Pro running a version of macOS prior to High Sierra, investigations led to the issue with the Chrome update.

After publishing a list of commands for Terminal to fix the problem late on Tuesday, Google Support has since produced a support page explaining both the error and a more refined Terminal command list.

According to Google Support, the issue was a Chrome update that had a "bug that damages the file system on macOS machines with System Integrity Protection (SIP) disabled," as well as machines that do not support SIP. Google has paused the release of the Chrome update while a new update can be finalized without the bug.

Users who have not taken steps to disable SIP, and are running OS X 10.9 cannot be affected by the issue at all. The videographers had a higher rate of incidence for the problem, because to enable hacks for external GPUs to work on Thunderbolt 2 chains, SIP has to be disabled.

The recovery process for affected Macs requires users to boot into recovery mode, then to go to the Utilities menu and open the Terminal application. Assuming an afflicted computer's boot drive is called "Macintosh HD" Google recommends running the following list of commands in Terminal, then rebooting.

chroot /Volumes/Macintosh\ HD

rm -rf /Library/Google/GoogleSoftwareUpdate/GoogleSoftwareUpdate.bundle

mv var var_back

ln -sh private/var var

chflags -h restricted /var

chflags -h hidden /var

xattr -sw "" /var

Google has amplifying information in regards to the Terminal commands on the support page.

The command list is very similar to the previously published advice, with the goal of creating a symlink fix while enabling the removal of Keystone's LaunchAgents, but with the addition of a line to turn the existing var folder into a backup.