Apple has stopped offering standalone update installers for macOS system updates, starting with macOS Big Sur 11.0.1.
A few macOS administrators were facing issues while upgrading to macOS Big Sur 11.1, which was released last week. The bug seems to be causing the macOS 11.1 update to vanish from System Preferences.
Apple has stopped offering standalone update installers for macOS Big Sur
For a long time, the Cupertino tech giant offered users the ability to download smaller standalone update files rather than downloading a full OS install image. However, with the release of Big Sur, Apple does not offer standalone update installers to users anymore.
Standalone packages are beneficial for administrators who wish to update multiple Macs. The combo and delta packages come in smaller sizes because they only include the files needed for the specific update.
Despite recently releasing standalone installers for macOS Catalina and Mojave security updates, Apple has yet to release a standalone installer for macOS 11.1 or 11.0.1.
As explained by ArsTechnica, this is causing issues with users to update their Macs due to an MDM bug. The problem could be that Macs require the macOS Big Sur 11.0.1 update rather than 11.1:
Developer Victor Vrantchan, of the open source MicroMDM project, says he’s found the problem. Some Macs are erroneously requesting 11.0.1 instead of 11.1 from Apple’s update server—which update is then rejected if the machine in question is already running 11.0.1 or newer, as most such are.
After restarting, macOS Big Sur 11.1 update reappears in the System Preferences application but disappears again. According to the report, this problem is only faced by Macs linked with a Mobile Device Management system. Users have to remove the MDM profile while will make the update visible.
Removing the MDM profile—for you non-Mac folks and non-sysadmins, that’s Apple’s misleadingly named Mobile Device Management service, which allows education and enterprise orgs to manage and “supervise” fleets of macOS and iOS devices—also makes the update visible. That said, mortals should not try this workaround lightly; messing with MDM has potentially severe impacts on system security, and there’s no guarantee that re-enrolling the Mac in its workplace will go smoothly, either.
According to Mr. Macintosh, Apple is requesting users who need standalone updates to contact the company in an ”official capacity”.
Manual downloadable delta and combo updates for Big Sur are no longer available. I will let our resident #MacAdmins expert explain 👇— Mr. Macintosh (@ClassicII_MrMac) December 17, 2020
"If you have a need for individual downloads for Big Sur delta/combo updaters – please make sure that's filed in an official capacity with us" 🐸
Apple has not confirmed whether or not it has ended update packages for macOS entirely. Still, the lack of standalone installers for macOS Big Sur does not look good for users who rely on them.
There is an alternative solution in the Sharing pane in System Preferences found in the form of a Content Caching option, which allows one Mac to download updates and other Macs on a mutual network to download them directly from the local Mac.
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