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Apple starts to slowly get rid of the kernel extensions in macOS 10.15.4

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Published on Mar 26, 2020

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Apple starts to slowly get rid of the kernel extensions in macOS 10.15.4

Previously, drivers, and other types of low-level software were installed as “extensions of the kernel instead of in user space. In macOS Catalina, that behavior has become superfluous. This offers advantages to users, such as a reduced chance of system crash in case of problems with an extension.

Starting from macOS 10.15.4, it seems that Apple is beginning to phase out support for kernel extensions, which she calls “extensions of legacy system”, entirely. When a kernel extension (KEXT) is loaded for the first time in 10.15.4, users will see a dialog box that informs you that the kexts will be incompatible with a future version of macOS.

The same warning message will be displayed periodically if an app continues to use a kernel extension. The company has also published a support document that explains in detail the change.

Apple explains that these extensions of the system are based on “older methods that are not as safe or reliable as the modern alternative“. Surpassing them, the company says that developers will help to improve the methods of distribution of safety, reliability, and software to the macOS.

It is not clear when in this time the extensions of the legacy system will be deprecated. However, they will continue to work in macOS 10.15.4 and in a future version of Catalina.

The technical details for developers are available in the Apple document titled “kernel Extensions obsolete and alternatives of the extension of the system“.

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