Catalina + Prestage Enrollment + Retrieving Activation Record Hanging

zinkotheclown
Contributor II

Has anyone tried enrolling a new Mac with Catalina (10.15.0) and it just hangs on "Retrieving Activation Record "?

1 ACCEPTED SOLUTION

zinkotheclown
Contributor II

I never found out the reason why our 2018 MacBook Air Retinas have the “Retrieving Activation Record” issue after installing Catalina but I found a workaround.

Once I get the “Retrieving Activation Record” issue, I reboot the Mac to the Recovery Partition.
I open Terminal and type in “touch /Volumes/Macintosh HD/private/var/db/.RunLanguageChooserToo” and then restart.
After the Mac restarts, I get the Language Chooser page. At this point I can summon Terminal as root with ctrl shift cmd + t.
I type in “sudo profiles renew -type enrollment”, hit enter, quit Terminal, and go through Setup Assistant. At this point the Mac enrolls to our MDM normally.

This still makes installing Catalina on the MacBook Air Retinas a little more complicated but not so much as re-installing the OS over and over again.

View solution in original post

32 REPLIES 32

zinkotheclown
Contributor II

Through trial and error, I think I discovered the cause.

I am using a USB-C Ethernet dongle when enrolling a MacBook. I am speculating that the Mac could not pull down the activation record due to the MAC address being polled was that of the dongle’s.

If I enroll the MacBook minus any Ethernet dongle and strictly with Wi-Fi, I am able to get the Mac to pull down its activation record.

zinkotheclown
Contributor II

In actuality, the USB-C dongle probably was not the issue.

The only way I could get my new MacBook Air Retinas with 10.15.1 to enroll was:

Confirm Mac is in correct Prestage Enrollment in Jamf Pro
Install Catalina
At Startup Assistant, disconnect ethernet connection and connect to WiFi network (otherwise Mac will stall at Retriving Activation Record)
The Mac does not indicate it will be enrolled to our MDM though DEP and it goes through Setup Assistant like a newly purchased commercial Mac
Reboot Mac into recovery partition and wipe and re-install OS
At completion of second macOS install, with ethernet connection, the Mac does bypass Setup Assistant and enrolls to our MDM through DEP.

zinkotheclown
Contributor II

I never found out the reason why our 2018 MacBook Air Retinas have the “Retrieving Activation Record” issue after installing Catalina but I found a workaround.

Once I get the “Retrieving Activation Record” issue, I reboot the Mac to the Recovery Partition.
I open Terminal and type in “touch /Volumes/Macintosh HD/private/var/db/.RunLanguageChooserToo” and then restart.
After the Mac restarts, I get the Language Chooser page. At this point I can summon Terminal as root with ctrl shift cmd + t.
I type in “sudo profiles renew -type enrollment”, hit enter, quit Terminal, and go through Setup Assistant. At this point the Mac enrolls to our MDM normally.

This still makes installing Catalina on the MacBook Air Retinas a little more complicated but not so much as re-installing the OS over and over again.

SteveC
New Contributor III

@zinkotheclown I'm having this issue with 2019 MacBook Air Retinas too. Did you narrow it down to just MacBook Air or could it be any T2 device on Catalina? I don't have a relevant MacBook Pro on hand to test with at the moment. Certainly puts a stop to any notions of zero touch deployment with these devices and Catalina.

thedanielmatt
New Contributor III

Having this issue now too. Anyone figure out a root cause? The workaround from zinkoftheclown is working, but I'd like to avoid that if possible.

pbileci
New Contributor III

Please tell me there's a better way to do this now. We have to enroll 1500 Macbooks with Catalina.

zinkotheclown
Contributor II

@pbileci I have not discovered any new ways to avoid this, but I found you only have to do this once and subsequent OS restores/activations will go smoothly.

MrRoboto
Contributor II

...

pbileci
New Contributor III

Our deployment went well using Ethernet adapters connected to a switch. We had a few here and there that didn't pick up the prestage enrollment but we used the trick where you just back up to the Language screen and run the terminal command to force enrollment. In most cases, we did not have to boot into recovery mode to force the Language screen.

SteveC
New Contributor III

@pbileci @zinkotheclown What procedure do you use to bring up a root terminal during setup in Catalina? For me ctrl-shift-command-T does nothing. Ctrl-option-cmd-T opens terminal but I do not have root access.

pbileci
New Contributor III

@SteveC You have to be at the Language screen or it doesn't work. In one or two cases, it wouldn't work on the Language screen. in those cases, I wiped them and reinstalled the OS.

lamador
New Contributor III

this is an ongoing issue. whether on wifi or ethernet. I have called apple enterprise support twice and have gotten conflicted answers 1. call us back when you see this issue and we can check on our end to see where the process is failing
2. no we cant check anything its ur MDM fault

so i call jamf and they refer me to this post and suggested i wipe and reload. I am tired of hearing that response. Defeats the purpose of zero touch or enrolling through DEP. very frustrating.

Andrew_R
New Contributor II

We've just been getting through a backlog of hardware and have recently hit new 2020 MacBook Airs, and we too are seeing the same problem. Either wired or wireless the Macs get stuck on "Retrieving activation record". Going back and reinstalling macOS generally works, although a couple of times it's taken a third try before it works. In my testing the workaround posted earlier works too.

Yesterday I was able to do some Wireshark captures of the process from the Language selection screen onwards to try and see what's going on. So far all I can tell is that a successful enrolment talks back and forth with Apple, and eventually does a DNS lookup on our Jamf cloud instance and continues, which makes sense. The failed enrolment talks back and forth with Apple, but never even does a DNS lookup for our Jamf cloud instance.

To me it appears then that it's not a Jamf issue, as Jamf isn't yet involved in the conversation, so I'd still look to Apple needing to resolve something on their end. I'm going to contact our local Apple reps next and see if they have any insight.

jkuo
Contributor

@zinkotheclown thanks for posting your solution, just ran into this and your steps worked for me!

SteveC
New Contributor III

I think I was having a different issue from the one others are describing here - in my case it was failing every time, which seemed to be caused by some strange network change behavior - I was re-installing the OS from Apple on one network, then performing the DEP setup on another. There is different remembering network behavior between OS and devices, and somewhere along the way the DNS settings were getting messed up. So for me the Catalina + Macbook Air Retina DEP setup is reliable now, at least for the 10 or so runs I've done, now that I am performing all steps without network changes. I am performing these on HP USB-C to ethernet dongles.

__AHN_IT_Admin
New Contributor

So we had this issue as well and can only attribute issues to battery level of new Mac "out of the box". For whatever reason this year our new fleet of MacBook pros have been coming out of the box at less than 20% and as days go by even less. After having 5 in a row fail remote management retrieval configuration I decided to plug them in and let them charge significantly before we tried enrolling again. Success! The next 5 all did exactly what they were supposed to do! Hope this helps! I know I wasn't about to turn on 250 Macs and reload the OS 2 or 3 times before getting it to work.

lamador
New Contributor III

@//AHN/IT/Admin Thanks for that tip. It's a new one and I am going to give that a try.

eorioj
New Contributor

I too am having the same issue it seams like the quickest way is to just let it fail out on wifi then go through the standard setup assistant. Make a a username you dont have listed in pre-stage then open terminal and type "sudo profiles renew -type enrollment" you will get a little box in the upper right corner, Just click it and Enroll

PatMullen
New Contributor

Trying to get a MacBook Pro16,1 to hook into its PreStage Enrollment. I've wiped and erased four times.
Ctrl-Shft-Cmd-T from the language chooser screen doesn't work for me, I just hear a beep. Like @SteveC, I find that Ctrl-Opt-Cmd-T bings up the Terminal, but as _mbsetupuser, not root, so "sudo profiles renew -type enrollment" doesn't work.

HCSTech
Contributor
Contributor

You can enable the root user on a Mac that hasn’t gone through setup assistant
Start up your Mac into single-user mode.
Mount the boot drive as read/write: /sbin/mount -uw /
Enable opendirectory: launchctl load /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.opendirectoryd.plist
Enable root password: passwd root
Reboot: reboot

tech2020
New Contributor II

We are currently enrolling 600+ 2020 MacBook Airs which are running MacOS 10.15.3 out of the box and few are able to properly get through the DEP process. My process to get them through is as follows, attempt a normal enrollment else after selecting the wireless it either hangs and needs a forced reboot or gets stuck at retrieving activation record at which point I choose the back button till I arrive at the first window (language selection), then open a root terminal by pressing Ctrl-Alt-Cmd-T execute the command

sudo profiles renew -type enrollment

if successful the prompt will return in <10 seconds and you can proceed with the enrollment else reboot and try again.
Notes
I have not needed to go into recovery to run additional commands.
Be sure the device has a decent charge >25% if dead out of the box then it will need to sit and charge before trying. To check battery life I launch the root terminal window>click apple menu through to system preferences>energy saver to view battery charge.

Questions welcome, sorry for any confusion. I wanted to share my workflow asap.

Helpful https://grahamrpugh.com/2020/02/21/resetting-dep-without-reinstalling.html

nstrauss
Contributor II

Hi all. I've been battling this bug for about a week now and have a decent mitigation in place that requires much less time and effort than booting to recovery to get root Terminal. My method involves a script run as root through a launch daemon that automatically tries to get the enrollment configuration until it succeeds. Hands off and usually works within a few minutes.

If you're interested in my mitigation here's the post.

https://nstrauss.github.io/mitigating-mac-enrollment-failures/

JH_215
New Contributor

I'm imaging 1.5k of these machines. There has to be another way instead of running these commands every time you image.

nstrauss
Contributor II

See my above post.

GabeShack
Valued Contributor III

Started getting this today. Interesting never had it happen before even with Catalina installs. Only difference is we migrated to Jamf Cloud. It also works normally from my home network...just not working at the schools network. Wish there was a way to test for connectivity for this process specifically.

My resolve was actually a few things:
1. Machines were originally shipped with Mojave, so I wiped them and redid with Catalina from Internet recovery mode.
2. Machine got stuck at retracing activation record.
3. (without running any of the above listed terminal commands) Wiped and reimaged with Fresh Catalina install again.

  1. Magically activation went through now.

Perhaps their servers were down or redirecting for the past half hour?

Gabe Shackney
Princeton Public Schools

Gabe Shackney
Princeton Public Schools

yehiamc
New Contributor

We also exprience this issue here, after wiping the new Mac's and reinstall the OS, DEP went through smoothly..

Hiller
New Contributor II

@tech2020 solution worked great for me, no reboots, just back to language selection, break out to terminal, one command, and continue on. But, man, what a pain. At least 1 in 5?

These are newest MacBook Airs.... shipped with Catalina.

nate_perrone
New Contributor

It's great the Terminal command works, but this issue should have a better solution if we want to move forward with touchless deployments.

rztalon
New Contributor

Update this is what we did and worked fairly quick. prior to that we charged for about 5-10 minutes.

rztalon
New Contributor

Update this is what we did and worked fairly quick. prior to that we charged for about 5-10 minutes. link text

omarluna
New Contributor III

We experienced this issue last year with macOS Catalina. After escalating this to our Apple Engineer, they came up with an internal document explaining that a low battery on the device causes the problem. We were quite skeptical about it, but there was a common factor. All our computers were in a warehouse for a few months. We do remote deployments, meaning that our users receive their laptops directly from the warehouse. Users configure the laptops themselves.

We confirmed that when the computers have a low battery (below 25%), the deployment failed 99% of the time.

When this happens:
- Turn off the computer and let it charge for an hour to be safe. - Turn it back on and press CTRL OPTION CMD + T. This will open Terminal. From there.
- On terminal, type profiles -Nv and you should get a "pass".

Then, try again. It should work now.

55feb6a656e6447393f8d83bf5003f2b

JeffBugbee
New Contributor III

@omarluna 's resolution worked for me. Low battery seems a big culprit here