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macOS Big Sur: Labview crashes on launch

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Hello, please consider addressing compatibility with macOS 11.


Exception Codes: 0x0000000000000001, 0x0000000000000000

Termination Signal: Illegal instruction: 4
Termination Reason: Namespace SIGNAL, Code 0x4
Terminating Process: exc handler [958]

Application Specific Information:
Attempt to pop an empty graphics context stack.

Message 1 of 39

According to the chart here, it would seem that your OS is not supported.

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My support system ensures that I don't look totally incompetent.
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Message 2 of 39

There is a good chance that LabVIEW 2021 might run on Big Sur but as always, there is no guarantee.


While the Mac platform is the original platform on which LabVIEW was released, it has long since been marginalized in terms of number of sold licenses in comparison to Windows. As such the number of resources that are put into MacOS X specific things in LabVIEW are rather limited. NI has usually been able to support new Mac OS versions with some delay and that delay has sometimes even skipped an entire year. With Big Sur having been released in June, there is a good chance that it might be supported in LabVIEW 2021 that is expected somewhere in Spring 2021 when NI traditionally holds their NI Week event.


MacOS Big Sur has changed several things that started already with earlier versions in terms of security. LabVIEW has unfortunately failed to fully change things there as it wasn't required but only strongly recommended by Apple to do so. Now with Big Sur many things have gotten mandatory in order for an application to even be able to start.


That all said, I would not expect support for ARM based Macs in LabVIEW 2021. That is a bigger project to tackle. While all the building blocks are there, there is still some considerable work to be done for every new platform release of LabVIEW.

NI has an ARM version of the runtime engine for a long time for their lower range cRIO realtime targets and also the according LLVM compiler backend, but there are also differences. The realtime runtime engine is just the runtime execution system to run the deployed VIs not a fully fledged IDE. And there are no GUI components and therefore no interaction with a complex and difficult to tame window management interface. And the ARM code generated for these platforms through the LLVM compiler is not compatible with the ARM implementation on a Mac since the realtime hardware does not contain the optional NEON extension for hardware floating point support, so the whole system and all code needs to generate software floating point emulation. The Mac silicon however contains the full ARM FPU implementation and then some more and MacOS is accordingly compiled to use that. But you can not mix and match softFP and hardFP code on the same system. That is about as incompatible as 32-bit and 64-bit code under the Intel architecture.


I'm sure LLVM will have support for the Apple silicon and most likely already has by specific source code drops from Apple engineers to the project, since their XCode development environment uses under the hood LLVM too. But adding a new compiler backend to a development system like LaVIEW is a lot more work than throwing a compile switch in the project. If for nothing else it adds at least one new platform that must be added to the continous integration (CI) test framework that is run every night to verify that the code is still compiling and able to start up. And you need to integrate the according real hardware into that framework too. But almost always the interaction between components is even more complex and you also have to make real source code changes to adapt to new corner cases, symbol clashes, and many other things and all that without breaking the currently about one dozen other platform releases of LabVIEW. If a developer fixes a bug in the code for MacOS but breaks compilation for one of the Windows or LabVIEW realtime platforms in the process, he has a lot of explaining to do next morning after the CI results appear on the desktops of the other 100+ developers. 😀

Rolf Kalbermatter
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Message 3 of 39

Same problem for me and I am sure all other Mac users. It is not just professionals using Macs, it is also a majority of my science and engineering students. If National Instruments wants LabVIEW to be used by college students, including those in engineering and the sciences, then they will quickly provide support for Big Sur in the 2021 release and also migrate to Apple silicon ASAP. It will take a decade to run its course, but LabVIEW will fade into oblivion if NI makes it too difficult to use the Mac to teach the next generation of engineers and scientists. I hope they don't let that happen...

Message 4 of 39
I had several programs that could only run on Windows (SolidWorks for example), as most engineering students do. I was dual booting my macbook, but mostly booting up into Windows so I could get my homework done. I don't think a Mac is the best choice for engineering students.
Message 5 of 39

A lot of electronics companies I have worked for recently use mainly Macs in the offices, with most of the Engineers having Macs as their main computer. I have also seen a lot more Linux machines being used in software labs and production areas as a lot of companies produce Linux based equipment. I have been pushed more and more to go away from LabVIEW because of its cost, and to start using Python and other cheap/free Linux tools.


I hope that NI do maintain the LabVIEW Linux and Mac editions. If they do not intend to maintain these versions for more than a year or two from purchase then maybe they shouldn't charge around £5000 for a copy of the pro version.

Message 6 of 39

I also have the experience that many new technology companies are primarily Mac with some linux on the side. 


The duration when Labview does not work on the latest macOS is simply the time I devote to developing alternatives. 


NI seems to be playing right into the innovator's dilemma. From my perspective they've retreated upscale, and are leaving a giant opportunity at the low end. 

Message 7 of 39
Accepted by Jim_Kring

The crash should be fixed in a future LabVIEW release. For now, the workaround is to go into Terminal in Big Sur and execute the following commands:


defaults write NSGraphicsContextAllowOverRestore -bool YES
defaults write NSViewAllowsRootLayerBacking -bool NO
Message 8 of 39

Hooray! This works!

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Message 9 of 39

Thank you, Darren! Worked for me, too.

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Message 10 of 39