WinToGo 10 with a thunderbolt drive on MBP 2018

There is a good article for WinToGo setup on MBP2018, along with this article and my old post for MBP2012, but they are all just good for USB drives only. If you want to do a Win2Go with a thunderbolt3 drive, several days of rebooting is ahead.

WinToGo on External Drive
Bru-nO / Pixabay

Firstly, WinToUsb won’t list thunderbolt drives, making it impossible to create bootable disk. This means the old way of imagex/dism and bcdboot to make a bootable installable thunderbolt drive is your friend. Then Win10 boot setup fails with mysterious error “Windows setup could not configure to run on this computer’s hardware” during the preparation spinning circle interface. Nothing googled directly helps, including the popular “msoobe” command hack. After hours of trials, this post gives the correct steps of bootable disk partitions creation. Actually, the top article above mentioned the hack to format with “EFI System Partition”, which will do the same trick to create MSR partition automatically, but latest windows 10 seems unable to create these correct partitions with the hack, causing the preparation setup failure.

Secondly, the Windows 1803 version won’t install on thunderbolt3 drive with MBP 2018. It always fails with DMA Access Violation crash blue screen of death. DMA is related to the storage driver. Since MBP 2018 came out in the later half of the year, Windows 1809 version will have the correct thunderbolt3 drivers included and will install.

Thirdly, Windows 10 boots, installs, and freezes if boot camp drivers are added into the install media. After several rebooting and studying, the problem might be related to the AMD Radeon drivers and ReLive settings. The solution is to begin setup without the add-driver step. It means that the external mouse and keyboard have to be used during the install process. The built-in keyboard with touch bar and trackpad won’t work without boot camp drivers. So prepare an external usb keyboard/mouse for the setup.

Finally, Win2Go of Windows 10 can install and run successfully now. Though, standalone boot camp drivers install might take quite a long time and hang for some USB XHCI controller. Anyway, it doesn’t matter to have an unrecognized mass storage device after a forced restart. Everything works with super fast speed, including the AMD display card, the thunderbolt drive and all USB devices!

Several Updates:

The unrecognized devices listed in Win10 Device Manager could be T2 chip related, which are reserved only for OS X and unaccessible in Windows. Since ACPI power management is also controlled by T2, Win10 will have to use standard Microsoft driver for power management. This will sometime lead to some strange battery behaviors, like discharging even if ac power is plugged-in. The only hope is some future released BootCamp drivers.

Latest Raedon 18.40 bootcamp drivers are here, which seems to fix the power discharging issue when GPU is on.

Fix Office365 Activation 0xD000FFFE error

Laptop Activate Home Office

Just migrated my old rMBP 2012 to new MBP 2018 with Migration Assistant. Everything seems as good as the old one, but Office365 is not activated. When activating Office apps, it always fails, reporting unknown error 0xD0000FFFE.

Apparently, it is related to some existing license which was migrated. After Googling, some solutions like deleting folders under ~/Library/Group Container is surely unacceptable, as it will also remove your Outlook inbox folders!

This post has the official software to correctly remove existing license. Then re-activate Office365 will succeed happily.

Disable BTT accessibility popup

Just updated BetterTouchTool to V2.645 and found that the accessibility permission warning popup cannot be dismissed as the close icon of the popup panel is now missing. Actually BTT can work well for touch/click functions without accessibility permissions.

After some searching around, one github issue has some useful hint:

defaults write com.hegenberg.BetterTouchTool BTTDisableAcccessibilityCheck YES

Updates:

Only valid for High Sierra and previous OS X versions, Mojave will force to enable the accessibility for BTT.

Workaround MX Master pairing with High Sierra

Apparently High Sierra has well complained issues with bluetooth. My Logitech MX Master mouse also suffers from random disconnection. Today when I tried to disable bluetooth and reconnect, the mouse just won’t connect.

So I deleted it from MBP’s bluetooth devices, and found out that MX Master cannot pair any more again. Just like some other guys’ video shows, it keeps connecting and disconnecting when pairing.

My old tricks in Yosemite did not work again,  resetting the bluetooth module and remove all devices got no help after restarting the machine. Finally a glimpse of some words in some forum threads googled just saved my morning: complete shutdown, not restart.

Oddly enough, after a shutdown and fresh booting, my 10.13.6 High Sierra successfully pairs with MX Master!

Fix to delete time machine backups for no-responding finder

My MacBookPro was forced to upgrade to High Sierra, because XCode 9.3 is only available on 10.13 to support development for iOS 11.3. The new operating system looks quite the same, except the ridiculous wordings of the Chinese translation of system UI.

As usual, I made a Time Machine backup before the upgrade. Since my NAS disk was quite full, some old backups should be deleted after the system ran smooth. Well then, the Finder just turned frozen during the Time Machine deleting process, locking in the Time Machine tunnel interface.

After a hard rebooting and some googling, I found that the following steps might fix. It uses the command line to delete the dated backups and shrinks the size of the target Time Machine bundle :

  1. Connect to the target Time Machine Sparse Bundle file in the Finder
  2. Ensure that /Volumes/Time Machine Backup/Backups.backupdb shows in ls
  3. Delete old backups: sudo tmutil delete /Volumes/Time Machine Backup/Backups.backupdb/YOUR-MAC/SOME-DATES
  4. Eject the Sparse Bundle file in the Finder
  5. Shrinks the bundle: sudo hdiutil compact TARGET-SPARSE-BUNDLE-FILE

Fix MBP High Kernel_Task CPU in Sierra

Just encounter a strange high cpu problem of kernel_task in Sierra on my rMBP. It means that the kernel_task process is having more than 80% CPU usage in the process monitor. At first, it seems like some software problems, especially when atom editor is opened with a super long starting time. After closing atom, it does lower the cpu for a period, but running another software afterwards will also boost the kernel_task cpu percentage to 80%. It strongly suggests some underlying hardware problems there.

Comments in this post give a reason: temperature and fan control. Since it’s  now summer and super hot, the 10.12 OS X on my mbp is quite possibly reducing cpu speed for temperature compensation, causing the kernel task taking more cpu to consume. Resetting SMC in this article brings the fan control back and fixes the kernel_task cpu problem.

And installing some fan speed monitor/control software is also a good idea to keep an eye on it.

Fix MX Master Mouse Lag and Freeze Caused By Stuck Thumb Button

First thought is the bluetooth problem: tried everything related but not working at all. After a few trial and inspection, it seems that the thumb button of MX Master (located at side and pushed down by the thumb finger) is stuck, causing the mouse pointer not able to move smoothly.

Disabling the thumb side button in Logitech Options won’t help. It turns out like a hardware interference not a software driver setting.

This Inkandescent’s post and this operation guide will help fixing it. But the pull-up workaround in the first thread doesn’t work very well, so buying the T5 screw driver and loosing the thumb button board screws will be the final fix. Of course, the thumb button now won’t work anymore.

WinToGo 8.1 on rMBP mid 2012

This blog has detail instructions to install USB WinToGo for Mac. But things won’t go that smooth on pre-2013 rMBP.

Firstly, diskpart from Windows cmd within Virtual Machine seems to have limitations, especially for Win8.1. Partitioning can work sometime but formatting will probably fail. Therefore, diskutil in Mac is the solution for disk handling. But another problem occurs. FAT32 partition is tried but found to cause errors during imagex transfer due to large file size restrictions. But disktuil doesn’t support NTFS. At last, NTFS partition is formatted with diskutil with the help of Paragon-NTFS 14 in El Capitan.

Secondly, “bcdboot /f ALL” will create EFI boot mode for usb drive, under which Win2Go can be successfully installed but instantly turns into black screen when installing bootcamp/nvidia drivers. It’s because that pre-2013 MBP is not fully compatible with UEFI crashing the graphics/audio drivers under EFI boot. The solution is to boot with CSM-BIOS mode. That means when booting MBP with alt, “Windows” is the only menu choice not “EFI”. Clearing the boot partition and “bcdboot /f BIOS” for BIOS boot mode section. However, the “none system disk” error shows when booting the “Windows” option.

Finally, this article sheds the light. “bootsect /nt60 x: /force /mbr” to force using the win8.1 bootmgr will boot your MBP into Win8.1, with all bootcamp drivers ready to be installed.

Enjoy the Win2Go, thanks for the almighty Google and a whole day of rebooting!

Rescue Black Screen Fusion VM

My windows 2003 vm in vmware fusion turns into a black screen after an OSX crash. The guest system seems bootable but starts with total blackness. Fortunately safe mode works. Event log shows it’s unable to load vmx_fb.dll, which is the graphics driver of vmware tools.

The paradox is that vmware tool is unable to install in safe mode, which will always fail even though MSI service can be enabled with this method. Then manually deleting vmx_fb.dll and vmx_mode.dll in system32 folder also not works.

It seems the only way is to roll back vm to 2-month-ago snapshot losing all the intermediate stuffs. But this thread is the rescue. Additional vmx_svga.sys in drivers directory should also be deleted. Then the guest 2003 system can be started with the default vga driver.

Now enter the vm, reinstall vmware tools, and make a new snapshot for such emergency case.

Fix 10.11.4 mysterious trackpad reset problem after reboot

Just encountered a mysterious problem after upgraded to 10.11.4 that every time MBP reboots and logins, my trackpad settings like tap-to-click are lost. It’s mysterious because during the very beginning time after login it worked as normal, but a few minutes later trackpad settings were reset automatically. It also affected the Mac AirPlay to AppleTV which would not work except for the first few minutes after reboot.

Googling the airplay problem leads to login items. But removing all of my existing login items doesn’t fix the problem. (Of course, the trackpad plist is the first try which also doesn’t work.)

And the console log during possible resetting trackpad has messages like “kernel[0]: Sandbox: CommCenter(3359) deny(1) file-read-metadata /Library/Developer” and “otherbsd[4246]: Could not submit LoginItem job com.XXX.XXXYYY: 119: Service is disabled”;

More googling doesn’t find much useful info. Similar keyboard reset problem exists but has no fix yet. When analyzing the details of the console logs, one interesting thing is that there’re two login window app started msg around that time, when the failed login items are all at the second login window session and possibly kill my trackpad settings and airplay.

Then why on earth exists another login window session? The culprit is _xcsbuildd. As 10.11.4 upgraded Mac Server, with XCode server service included, which will run as user _xcsbuildd at background. The upgraded service’s second login session breaks some login items which seems indeed killing airplay and resetting the trackpad settings.

Simply disable xcode service in Server.app will not remove _xcsbuildd related stuffs. Use this methods to totally get rid of it.

Finally reboot and enjoy the hassle-free trackpad and airplay again.