Okay, so what was supposed to be a painless few mouse-clicks and a reasonable $19.99 payment turned out to be a nightmare. I am typically reluctant to install major OS upgrades immediately after they are released, knowing well they tend to “break” important things such as the applications and drivers I rely on the most. Major operating system updates also seem to be ridden with bugs and make so-called “older” computers slow. Personally, I don’t consider my mid-2010 unibody MacBook an “old” computer, but for a company always trying to push the latest and greatest notebooks, mine is a dinosaur.
I don’t plan on buying a new computer anytime soon, so I did my due diligence by researching all I could about this new Mountain Lion update. Most of the praise for Mountain Lion seems to relate to all the nifty new features it has. At this point in my life, performance is more of an issue than gimmicky features. With an (official) maximum of 4 GB RAM, I don’t need some bloated update hogging my precious free memory. I did see some mentions about bug fixes and performance enhancements, so I took the bait, forked out the (almost) twenty bucks and proceeded to download my new furry feline-inspired update.
This is where my problems started.
With past upgrades, most of my troubles began either during the install or shortly afterwards. In this case, I was doomed right out of the gate. After clicking on the “Download” link in the App Store program, I noticed that what should have been a 4+ gigabyte download finished in just one or two seconds. This was my first warning. The upgrade app opened anyway, so I figured this must be one of those “pre-update” updates, where you download a small installer that continues to download the real update at a later time.
Sadly, this wasn’t the case.
I ran the installer, directed it where to install itself and even provided my admin password, but the installer ended up greeting me with sad news:
“This Copy of the Install OS X Mountain Lion Application can’t be verified. It may have been corrupted or tampered with during download. Delete this copy of the application, and go to the Purchases page of the Mac App Store to download a new copy.”
The first thing I thought after reading this was, “PC LOAD LETTER? WTF does that mean?” Why couldn’t it be verified? How did it get corrupted/tampered with in the first place? Whatever. I chose to delete it and repeat the download process. I did this about ten times before I finally concluded that, gee, something must really be wrong with the download process! My suspicions over the ultra-fast, premature downloadcompunded once I discovered the update file was just slighter larger than 70 megs in size. This major update was supposed to be well over 4 GB, right?
Since I paid Apple exactly 1999 cents for this update, I firmly believed I qualified for telephone support. It’s funny to note how, despite my failed download, their payment systems worked well enough to deduct my bank account prior to delivering the goods. I’ll save that topic for a later blog. Suffice it to say at this point I chose to call Apple. Even if my payment wasn’t enough for to qualify for VIP roadside assistance, I still have AppleCare so perhaps that would work.
AppleCare wasn’t able to help me much. As friendly as the support rep was, she wasn’t able to solve the problem. She took me through the installer again, had me sign out and sign back in again and try to download the update. The problem is that the Mountain Lion update doesn’t always show up in the “Purchases” pane; you have to go to the account screen and “unhide” it. I’m not really sure why some purchases are hidden and others are not but, then again, there are many things I don’t get about how Apple operates.
When the Apple support rep gave up, she directed me to a Web page on apple.com that allowed me to file a support request with the App Store people. Unfortunately, they do not have telephone support so email is the only option. After filing the support request, someone responded fairly quickly (within 30 minutes) with a suggestion. This support page, titled “Corrupt Mountain Lion File @ App Store?” contains a rather lengthy solution by a user named Southern_Star. I tried this solution but to no avail. As frustrating as problematic installs can be, I try to think positively and learn from them. In this case, going through these steps and making use of the Console helped me discover a few kernel and driver issues my system was experiencing.
After giving up on this approach, I voiced my opinion to the App Store rep about the difficulties I was having with this install and asked him why my Mac doesn’t “just work” as it should according to Apple’s marketing group. That didn’t really help matters, but it did help release some steam built up from an install taking more hours than it should have just to get started.
I poked around in the Console app and saw these error messages:
I then reported them to the App Store support guy via email. He suggested I try a new solution found within the Apple Support Communities Web site. It appeared to be just another variant of the first solution I already tried. Furthermore, the support guy seemed to just be searching the support site the same way I had already been doing, not much of a value-add in my opinion. I had already begun attempting the following solutions myself:
1. I tried posting a reply to someone else’s message that discussed the same problem. As Weird Al might say, I was posting “me too” like some brain-dead AOLer, but at least it made me feel better.
2. I tried resetting the SMC according to Apple’s support page.
3. I tried reading this article by Geek News Central for inspiration.
4. I tried changing Internet connections, thinking that maybe Apple’s servers didn’t like my ISP. I even tried a VPN, thinking it might not like my IP address. I read several complaints from people who suggested their servers were overloaded, so at this point I thought it was just a server download issue.
5. Other sites I read suggested using safe mode to download the update. I rebooted my Mac while holding the Shift key, logged in and attempted the download again. This did not work.
6. I blew away all of the App Store config files in their various locations on my hard disk but still no joy.
This was all very frustrating to say the least. The actual steps weren’t terribly difficult to perform, but the time consumed by this effort was demoralizing and did not contribute positively to my overall user experience. I repeated some of these steps in desperation as I waited for another response from the App Store support guy.
Eventually I decided to try re-downloading the previous Mac OS X Lion upgrade just to see if my App Store connectivity was working in general. I was then greeted by a new error:
“We could not complete your request. There was an error in the App Store. Please try again later. (13).”
After reading that, I started to think out loud, “FRIGGA! FRAGGA! FRIG..ARRRGH! DAMN IT! WHY DO I NEED THIS UPGRADE ANYWAY?”
Yes, I really did say “frigga fragga” out loud.
After all, I talked myself into this upgrade, hoping it would speed up my system and fix bugs, not because I cared about an UI gimmicks, Facebook integration or even iCloud for that matter. I would have been able to simply ignore this update had it not been for Apple already charging me for it, which became my sole reason to press on and fight for truth, justice and an updated operating system.
A quick check at stackoverflow.com confirmed that I wasn’t alone in this matter. Hosed preferences? Okay, let’s open Safari and try to clean out everything there. Cleaning that out and repeating my previous App Store steps didn’t help either.
In a last desperate attempt at preserving my sanity, I found a solution! Yes, I know this is why you came to my blog and started reading this but I wasn’t about to let anyone get this advice for free without at least sharing some of my pain.
I finally decided to simply try downloading some random app that wasn’t related to Apple or system updates. I picked a free one to rule out any payment issues. I decided on downloading Virtual DJ from the Mac App Store, knowing well this update fiasco more than stole any free time I would have had to play with this new DJ app. As it started to download, I tried to make the App Store app re-download Mountain Lion in the same manner I had done the previous twenty-something times, the only difference being the App Store was already in the middle of another download.
Instead of telling me it was finished with a 4 GB download in two seconds, the Mountain Line line-item in the “Purchases” pane displayed a “waiting” message. I crossed the fingers in my mind and waited, even though I honestly felt this wasn’t going to make jack sheet of a difference.
Boy, was I wrong.
After Virtual DJ finished downloading, App Store immediately proceeded to properly download the Mountain Lion update! I couldn’t believe it. I had one of those disbelieving-due-to-lack-of-sleep feelings slowly creep up on me through the dry, grittiness in my eyes that was previously starting to take over my attention.
I watched over the process with an insane amount reluctance, finally going to sleep with confidence once the progress bar reaching the 200 MB point; that was much more than it had even reached in all of my previous attempts. I figured if it got that far than it was bound to complete as long as my Internet bill was paid up and Mother Nature wasn’t planning on sending a tsunami my way any time soon.
It sounds like such a simple fix, doesn’t it? I really wish I had tried that before all of the other more technically-compelling solutions provided to me before. I can’t say for sure that downloading an unrelated app alone fixed the problem, but if you are suffering from lack of a lion’s roar like I was then you may wish to give that a shot first.
Before I was really angry about this, but some positive things did come out of the whole venture. Let’s just say that, as a result of this experience, I don’t think I will ever forget my iTunes password for the rest of my “frigga fragga” life.