It turns out that Thunderbolt works now
If you've been following my posts this year, you're probably aware that I hit a big problem with Thunderbolt on the then-new 2020 Apple laptops (the ones with the new keyboard but which were still Intel-based). Basically, treating the machine like an actual laptop, and hot-plugging the Thunderbolt connector to a monitor, dock or whatever would eventually lead to it locking up and/or just panicing and rebooting.
This was a thing from June when I got the machine... until about four days ago. That's when I finally decided to take the plunge and see just what would happen now that Big Sur had gotten off the "x.0" version numbers. You see, they released 11.1, replacing 11.0.1.
I loaded it on the box on the 24th, and so far... it's business as usual. I've started treating my little machine like a laptop again! I go between my desk and couch seamlessly! I know, it's like celebrating the fact that air is free and water is wet, but after the year I've had with this stuff, it seems justified.
So, yeah, if you've been suffering, try 11.1 and see what happens. Big Sur itself hasn't seemed to introduce any new craziness on either of my systems here. It *looks* different, sure, but everything seems to work about the same.
The only real regression I can see is that the stock ticker thing on the sidebar now shows at most six items. Previously, it used to extend down the whole screen if you had a bunch of stuff in there. Now you have to get picky about which ones will actually show up. I'm guessing this is some derpy oversight and enough people will rage about it that something will happen. Either that, or it's an opportunity for someone to write a small program to fix it and charge a nominal amount and make a tidy sum from the affected users. Whatever.
And so, in the lingo of the day, "it turns out" that Big Sur 11.1 fixed the problem where hotplugging Thunderbolt across sleep states would utterly break the box... at least for me. Hopefully this applies to everyone else, too.
Considering I was starting to hear reports of this also affecting M1-based devices, it's a good thing they got a handle on it when they did.
To those folks who reached out independently (and unofficially), thanks!