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OS X El Capitan and unsigned drivers

Discussion in 'OS: Mac OS' started by N0FY, May 4, 2016.

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  1. N0FY

    N0FY XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    I'm new to using the Mac for logging and radio control and had a fit getting everything to work so I thought I'd post my experience for others. I use an Icom 746Pro with a West Mountain Plug and Play to provide the CIV interface via USB and a virtual serial port. The issue is the West Mountain drivers are not signed yet. The current version of OS X is not tolerant of unsigned drivers now Apple has integrated System Integrity Protection (SIP) to prevent malware attacking users. I totally applaud the addition of SIP to further protect me, that's why I love Apple. However, we you need a work around, which to turn SIP off, which you can do as follows:

    Boot you Mac to the Recovery System, holding the command R down during boot.
    Click the Utilites menu and select Terminal.
    Type "csrutil disable" and press return.
    Close the Terminal app.
    Clikc the menu and select Restart

    If you later want to re-engage SIP, repeat the steps and use the "csrutil" argument to "enable".

    There were prior workarounds but they went out the window with El Capitan.

    I hope this is helpful to another Ham and I've saved them the hours I spent tracking this down.

    Tom N0FY
  2. K3DCW

    K3DCW QRZ Lifetime Member #212 Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    Thanks, Tom.

    Ultimately the solution is for West Mountain to provide signed drivers. There are other manufacturers that have long supported OS X that also haven't provided signed drivers (yet); (I'm looking at you, Timewave!)

    I don't now if the West Mountain hardware is FTDI-based, but if so perhaps this solution will work for their gear (like it does for the Timewave Navigator) even though Timewave hasn't signed their drivers.

    1) Install the unsigned drivers. Reboot
    2) Install the signed FTDI drivers from then reboot
    3) Plug in your equipment and it is recognized without having to disable SIP.

    Although OS X comes with a signed FTDI driver, for some reason it won't pick up on the unsigned Navigator driver; but by installing the FTDI-provided drivers it does pick up the device definitions and works just fine. These steps work for the Navigator, but YMMV with West Mountain products.

  3. N0FY

    N0FY XML Subscriber QRZ Page

    West Mountain's products use the Silicon Labs chip.
  4. K3DCW

    K3DCW QRZ Lifetime Member #212 Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

  5. N0FY

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  6. K3DCW

    K3DCW QRZ Lifetime Member #212 Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    The drivers available from Documents/Software/ work just fine in El Capitan, as evidenced by the many users of the Yaesu/Kenwood/Icom rigs with the chipset installed.

    They do need to update their release notes, but they will work on 10.11.4.
  7. WG0R

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    I have been holding off upgrading to El Capitan and staying with version 10.10.5 until some of these driver issues get resolved. I also went from Navigator to Signalink due to fighting driver issues with unsigned Navigator drivers for almost 2 years. When in transmit mode, the system hung until reset. Signalink fixed this, but I am not willing to jump into a cloudy lake of additional driver issues at this point, when things are working alright. Is there any permanent resolution to resolve the root cause in place at this point? If so, what is the timing of the projected fix?
  8. K3DCW

    K3DCW QRZ Lifetime Member #212 Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    There are a variety of issues, mostly related to changes in the USB stack made by Apple. There are some work-arounds, and there are some ways to avoid it. In a lot of cases, it seems to be a "conflict" between standard USB devices (using USB1 standards) and newer USB2 and USB3 ports on the Macs (with the new USB stack). Sometimes changing the USB port that you plug into will make all the difference. Sometimes plugging into a powered hub can fix issues. I found that when I switched to a Thunderbolt-connected dock, all issues with USB devices disappeared when I connected them to the dock; but that's a $250+ solution in most cases. There have been a ton of issues with USB audio devices; not just amateur radio but also professional audio devices. Sometimes, the fix is as easy as changing from mono to stereo in the MIDI setup ( For others, it is indeed a driver issue. There is no one single issue, but it does seem that nearly every issue can be resolved and that El Capitan can work just fine for amateur ops.

    As far as a fix? That's entirely up to Apple and whether they feel that there is indeed an issue. I know they're aware of it. I know they're working with some amateurs to get the specific causes identified. However, I suspect that it may not get fixed anytime soon, and that's a shame.

    BTW, the Navigator works just fine, if you install BOTH the Timewave Driver AND the updated FTDI driver mentioned above. Timewave has dragged their feet for 18+ months on releasing a signed driver, despite repeated assurances that they were working on it. I guess as long as there is a work-around, it isn't a critical issue on their part.
  9. WG0R

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    Thanks, Dave! Good input. I think I might wait a bit longer, since I am exploring some new digital modes, and would like to have a functioning system without added issues right now. I'll keep an eye out for the release notes as they release updates, and hopefully find some note that addresses these issues.
    Re the Navigator, I attempted one of the workarounds that supposedly resolved the issue I had, and had several discussions with Timewave for 1 1/2 years, but I couldn't get the workaround or any other try, including a couple of VMs to successfully allow any transmission without immediately hanging the system. I started trying to get it to work with Win8 with Bootcamp, then VirtualBox, then VMWare, and ultimately got it going with native mac and Signalink.
  10. K3DCW

    K3DCW QRZ Lifetime Member #212 Volunteer Moderator Platinum Subscriber Life Member QRZ Page

    As always, YMMV, but everyone I know who has installed the OS X Lion driver for Navigator followed by the FTDI VCP driver from the FTDI site has had a fully-functioning Navigator natively under OS X; no need for VMs at all.

    However, what's important is that you're happy with where you're at and what you're getting done.


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