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I have a mid-2015 Macbook Pro (11,4) which suddenly started to crash randomly and extremely often (running Mojave) - as it was running fine in Safe Mode, I figured it was a software/OS error, so I made a clean install upgrade to Catalina, which didn't change anything.

Digging around on the Intertubes, it seemed likely that the culprit was a the AppleThunderboltNHI.kext, possibly in combination with failing hardware (SMC controller and/or CPU) - the computer doesn't hold charge, but has been working fine when connected to mains up until now (I have reset PRAM, SMC etc) - nothing makes any difference.

Sometimes the computer works for a short while if I first boot in Safe Mode, then let it sit for a while, then boot normally - but the crashes/kernel panics will come sooner rather than later.

I've tried to follow instructions to remove or rename the offending extensions, but haven't been successful, beyond managing to rename the AppleThunderboltNHI.kext, but it doesn't seem to make any difference, as it appears though it still gets loaded.

When I follow the steps provided by @user3439894 and @hellmaca for Catalina:
How to delete kexts in Catalina?

While I'm finally able to rename AppleThunderboltNHI.kext, I'm unable to unload it using

kextunload /System/Library/Extensions/AppleThunderboltNHI.kext

as it gives me the following error:

(kernel) Can't remove kext com.apple.driverAppleThunderboltNHI.kext; services failed to terminate - 0xe00002c7.
Failed to unload com.apple.driverAppleThunderboltNHI - (iokit/common) unsupported function.

Also, I'm unable to run kmutil. This is what happens (not using sudo, as this is in Recovery Mode):

-bash-3.2# kmutil
-bash: kmutil: command not found

If I try to reboot normally, I get the reboot loop. If I boot in Safe Mode, no crashes.

The only way I'm able to boot normally is after having booted in Safe Mode first, and then the panics come sooner or later (immediately if I use adjust an image in Photos, and quickly if I run Safari - Chrome works much longer).

I've worked with Macs since 1986, and while I'm no command line wizard, I've diagnosed and solved all types of issues, hardware, software, OS and firmware, and I've never been stumped like this. I've tried to get around this for two days now.

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    I'm curious how you made the jump from system instability to specifically implicating AppleThunderboltNHI.kext. Can you share your panic reports and any other lines of reasoning?
    – pion
    Feb 24 at 4:38

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