VMware, VirtualBox tools impacted by macOS Catalina memory leaks

Posted:
in Mac Software edited July 2020
An issue with the App Sandbox is causing problems for some virtual machine software users, with the issue inducing a kernel panic in macOS Catalina 10.15.6 when used for a long period of time.

VMware Fusion on macOS Big Sur
VMware Fusion on macOS Big Sur


Owners of virtualization tools including those from VMware and VirtualBox have been raising faults in support forums, claiming their systems crash when using the software. In cases where it occurs, crashes happen with a regularity that the apps were suspected of causing the issue.

Posts in the VirtualBox forums indicate that, on multiple Macs using macOS Catalina 10.15.6, there was a kernel memory leakage for wired memory, which grew the amount of memory in use by approximately 1 gigabyte per hour. Once the leak grew enough, it would cause a kernel panic, the spontaneous closing of programs, and in some cases crashes of the Mac itself.

Another thread on the VMware forums discusses how the same issue is present in VMware Fusion, again running on macOS 10.15.6. The posters all seemingly agree that the problem of lock-ups and crashes commenced after upgrading to that version, with earlier macOS versions not encountering the error.

A VMware engineer in the thread advised on Monday the problem was narrowed down to the App Sandbox. A core element of iOS and macOS for quite some time, the App Sandbox isolates apps and provides limited access to system resources and data, with the intention of keeping issues with an app contained to a single instance, and improving general security.

The engineer explains problem relates to a "regression in the com.apple.security.sandbox kext (or one of its related components)" in macOS 10.15.6. As part of the investigation, it was discovered com.apple.security.sandbox was allocating millions of blocks of memory containing just the text "/dev" and no other data.

A comprehensive report has been provided to Apple, to help with diagnosing and fixing the issue in a future update to the operating system.

At this time, there are no workarounds for VMware Fusion customers, aside from not installing macOS 10.15.6 in the first place or periodically rebooting the host every few hours to wipe out the memory leak temporarily.

It is unclear if the same issue applies to the beta of macOS Big Sur, but VMware is working to make VMware Fusion work on the future operating system release, via a tech preview.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 16
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,820member
    That’s interesting.  I have two machines running Catalina/VMware and have not experienced this problem on either of them.  

    Is this a new phenomenon with a recent MacOS update or has it always been a problem?  I guess I’ll keep an eye out,
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 16
    scartartscartart Posts: 201member
    sflocal said:
    Is this a new phenomenon with a recent MacOS update or has it always been a problem?  I guess I’ll keep an eye out,
    Only a problem with 10.15.6.
    killroywatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 16
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,317administrator
    scartart said:
    sflocal said:
    Is this a new phenomenon with a recent MacOS update or has it always been a problem?  I guess I’ll keep an eye out,
    Only a problem with 10.15.6.
    Not only is it just a problem with 10.15.6, it isn't manifesting for everybody.
    killroywatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 16
    killroykillroy Posts: 167member
    Like to see a list of which Macs, iMacs, Mac Pros it happens on.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 16
    One would assume that a mutli-billion dollar spending, overequipped test lab would extensively test its OS with the most cpu/memory intensive apps and environments before shipping it as a Pro-class product. 
    Apple currently ships beta quality software -  despite or thanks to its public alpha program.
    rg_ai
  • Reply 6 of 16
    One would assume that a mutli-billion dollar spending, overequipped test lab would extensively test its OS with the most cpu/memory intensive apps and environments before shipping it as a Pro-class product. 
    Apple currently ships beta quality software -  despite or thanks to its public alpha program.



    Let us know when you've actually been involved in writing an operating system used by hundreds of thousands of apps by millions of people around the world across a huge swath of hardware configurations.

    Until then your criticsm is pointless.

    edited July 2020 F_Kent_DRayz2016watto_cobrafastasleep
  • Reply 7 of 16
    jingojingo Posts: 106member
    This is bad, and entirely supports my personal decision not to update from Mojave, BUT (to WarrenBuffduckh) have you SEEN the problems Microsoft have with Windows right now? It is one serious problem after another - printers not printing, internet access only happening for some apps and not others, crashes, performance issues... the list just goes on and on.

    By comparison MacOS is an absolute model of stability and calm.
    F_Kent_DjuanguaporazorpitFileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 16
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,317administrator
    killroy said:
    Like to see a list of which Macs, iMacs, Mac Pros it happens on.
    It isn't consistent by model.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 16
    looplessloopless Posts: 227member
    And perhaps VMWare and others should have noticed this during the 10.15.6 beta test period? I would assume that running a VM for a long time and looking for memory leaks would be a pretty standard part of automated testing?  Or did they get an intern to start a VM and just say "looks good to me!".
    watto_cobrarg_ai
  • Reply 10 of 16
    killroykillroy Posts: 167member
    killroy said:
    Like to see a list of which Macs, iMacs, Mac Pros it happens on.
    It isn't consistent by model.

    Well something is making it inconstant.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 16
    I've used VMware, Parallels, and VirtualBox, of the three, VMware Fusion had to be the very least reliable. Virtualbox may be slow but I've not yet seen it crash a Mac. Parallels has always been rock-solid.
    razorpitwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 16
    p-dogp-dog Posts: 105member
    What about Parallels?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 16
    razorpitrazorpit Posts: 1,796member
    One would assume that a mutli-billion dollar spending, overequipped test lab would extensively test its OS with the most cpu/memory intensive apps and environments before shipping it as a Pro-class product. 
    Apple currently ships beta quality software -  despite or thanks to its public alpha program.
      You think Mac OS is bad, try using Windows 10.  :D
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 16
    sergiozsergioz Posts: 338member
    You don’t have to reboot your Mac you can just purge memory with a terminal command every two hours. You can use automation script to do so automatically. Until next update. 
    watto_cobrakillroy
  • Reply 15 of 16
    rg_airg_ai Posts: 2member
    I suffer from this beast since months ago. Annoyed from having received no real help from Apple so far I just narrrowed it down by myself to the same point (even the 1GB/h estimation). I have created graphs that show the memory leak. This morning I found this post! This is real coincidence! Thanks a lot!


  • Reply 16 of 16
    rg_airg_ai Posts: 2member
    sergioz said:
    You don’t have to reboot your Mac you can just purge memory with a terminal command every two hours. You can use automation script to do so automatically. Until next update. 

    Interesting! How excactly?
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