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How do I unlock Catalina's protected file system?

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With Catalina 10.15, Apple went further into increasing the security of its OS and the system's/root partition is now locked upon system startup. One of the consequences is that, by default, /System/Library/Extensions folder (/S/L/E) is locked and can not be modified in any way. In the same respect, other reserved folders such as /usr/bin or /usr/sbin are locked too.


This can be a problem for such situations where a vanilla kext has to be replaced and can only be so in /S/L/E. For instance, this is the case for IO80211Family kext which requires replacement by an older version to retain support for dropped wireless cards.


The trick is basically to mount Catalina's root partition in Read-Write (RW) mode instead of Read-Only (RO) mode. This can be accomplished through Terminal with the following command:

sudo mount -uw /

followed a restart of the Finder through Terminal command:

sudo killAll Finder

or simply by relaunching the Finder from the Apple menu:

Apple_Menu.jpg     Finder_relaunch.jpg


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