Mojave Links

This is the big release week for Mac Admins. I have tried to gather the relevant links from Apple and fellow Mac Admins. I will keep updating this document over the next few days, so book mark this.

If you have found something of interest you think needs to be on this list, let me know!

I will of course keep posting links in my weekly newsletter for Mac Admins. You can follow it here on this weblog or subscribe by email.

Also relevant: iOS Links

Mojave Reviews

There are many reviews out there. These are my favorites.

Books!

On Scripting OS X

Apple Support

Apple Reference

More Links

Updates and Releases

Mojave Book Updates

While you are all watching the progress bars downloading macOS Mojave, I have submitted updates to two of my books!

(Remember to archive the macOS Mojave installer app before updating!)

The service-formerly-known-as-iBooks is now called “Apple Books” or just “Books” across all Apple platforms. Whatever the name, my books are available there.

Both “Packaging” and “macOS Installation” have received updates with several new passages regarding macOS Mojave and other fixes and rewrites.

For “Packaging” I have also started the process of re-visiting all the examples. You never stop learning and I have certainly learned a lot in the last two years. Some of the scripting and writing styles I used when I started writing the book nearly three years ago now seem odd to me. This rewrite is a major process and so far I got to chapter 2. This remains a work in progress and expect more updates here soon. (All updates, as usual will remain free for those who have purchased the book.)

“macOS Installation” got less changes and updates than I expected for the Mojave update. We have been testing Mojave internally and the strategies for deploying High Sierra still work for Mojave. With the new APFS support for all drive hardware admins should be able to simplify deployment workflows. Nevertheless, I am sure that much more will be revealed over the next few weeks, now that the NDA is lifted and when the first update(s) drop(s). I will keep updating this book also.

The content of my third book “Property Lists, Preferences and Profiles” (PR3) has not really been affected but the Mojave release. I am also working on an update for this book with some new content added. When it happens you will learn about it here.

Go, get them on Apple Books!

Changes for “Packaging” 1.9:

(You can find a complete version history in the book.)

  • many minor typo fixes and rewrites
  • added note on removed pkgutil options
  • changed the sample script in the Payload-Free Packages section to enable SSH instead of ARD because of changes in macOS Mojave security
  • added a second simple package example to Building Packages
  • expanded the description on how to build the Boring Desktop pkg in Building Packages
  • updated script code across various scripts to match my coding standards which have changed since I started writing this book
  • updated the Github repository to include completed sample code to match the state of the project at the end of each section (so far for Chapter 2, this is ongoing work)
  • added a description for the undocumented –preserve-xattr option in Building Packages (Credit to Greg Neagle and Carl Ashley for finding and documenting)

Changes for “macOS Installation” v3:

  • Mojave updates:
    • added a note on the absence of the –converttoapfs option in the Mojave installer application
    • added new single user mode restrictions to the Secure Boot and Startup Security Utility sections
    • updated the UAMDM section with new Mojave payloads
    • added a description of the new –preservecontainer option for startosinstall in Erase Installation
    • added explanation of InstallEnterpriseApplication to the section about InstallApplication (10.13.6 and Mojave)
    • added a section of the relevant new Mojave features
  • added a description of Hardware Specific Systems and Installers
  • added a description of Configuration Profiles
  • expanded and clarified the Mobile Device Management description
  • added a workaround for the bug in SIU which prevents image creation with custom installer packages in Adding Custom Packages (Thanks to this MacAdmins Slack post.)

Weekly News Summary for Admins — 2018-09-21

iOS 12 release week! I already posted a list of relevant links for the iOS updates earlier this week.

Now, all MacAdmins are waiting for Monday, when macOS Mojave will be released. Well, most will alredy have the last version from the beta program installed. But, as with every other major release, it will be ‘interesting’ to see how well the beta testing holds up to ‘real world’ deployment.

Good luck, everybody!

If you would rather get the weekly newsletter by email, you can subscribe to the Scripting OS X Weekly Newsletter here!! (Same content, delivered to your Inbox once a week.)

Headlines

On Scripting OS X

News and Opinion

macOS Mojave

MacAdmins on Twitter

  • Arek Dreyer:
    “If you have two different versions of macOS installed on your Mac, guess which version of macOS Recovery you get when you shut down, power on, then press and hold Command-R? The version you set in Startup Disk (regardless of Startup Manager choice).”

Bugs and Security

Support and HowTos

Scripting and Automation

Apple Support

Updates and Releases

To Listen

Support

There are no ads on my webpage or this newsletter. If you are enjoying what you are reading here, please spread the word and recommend it to another Mac Admin!

If you want to support me and this website even further, then consider buying one (or all) of my books. It’s like a subscription fee, but you also get a useful book or two extra!

iOS 12 Links

iOS 12 release week. With all new releases for the entire iOS family there is a boatload of new features, support articles, user guides and references.

Even most of the features and guides are focussed on the end user and not admins, it is often also the job of a MacAdmin or consultant to be the most knowledgeable person on the OS, so these should be useful. And, admit it, while new OSes can be a pain for admins, but are still fun as an end user.

If you have any links that I missed that should be part of this list, then let me know and I will update this post.

Reviews

There is obviously a neverending stream of reviews out there. I like the excellent reviews from MacStories.

iOS 12

watchOS 5

Apple TV

Shortcuts

iWork

More

If you are looking for a book (or two, or three) to test the new Apple Books, please consider one of my great books for Apple Administrators!

References

The configuration profile reference is back in HTML! Thank you to whoever is responsible for this.

User Guides

Managing the Desktop Picture on macOS

Many organisations like to set or pre-set the Desktop Picture of managed Macs. There are a few options for Mac Admins.

One of the commonly used methods may break in macOS Mojave because of the new security and privacy controls for AppleEvents, also known as TCC.

Getting the Image File to the Mac

Unless you want to use one of the default macOS Desktop Picture images, you will first need to get the image file on to the client. The best way of doing that is with an installer package.

Note: installing a single image file to /Library/Desktop Pictures is actually the first exercise/example in my book “Packaging for Apple Administrators.” Get that for a more detailed description.

I will use the same example desktop picture as in the book. You can use your own desktop picture or download BoringBlueDesktop.png from the book’s resources.

Note: Desktop pictures on macOS can be many file formats. PNG and JPEG are most commonly used. The new dynamic desktop pictures of macOS Mojave have the heic file extension.

First create a project folder, with a payload folder inside:

$ mkdir -p BoringDesktop/payload
$ cd BoringDesktop

Then copy the image to the payload folder.

$ cp /path/to/BoringBlueDesktop.png payload

Then you can build a pkg with

$ pkgbuild --root payload --install-location "/Library/Desktop Pictures/" --identifier com.example.BoringDesktop --version 1 BoringDesktop.pkg

The resulting pkg file will install the image file in /Library/Desktop Picture.

Note: the pkgbuild command has many options and arguments. If you get one of them slightly wrong it can lead to unexpected behavior or even break the installation. I recommend using a script to run the pkgbuild command to avoid errors. You can find a sample build script here. Read the book for a more detailed explanation of pkgbuild and the build script. If you prefer, you can use munkipkg, which also simplifies and automates the process of building pkg installers.

This will provide the image in a location that the user might look for. However, for better management you want to set the desktop picture as well.

Lock Down the Desktop Picture

Once the image file is in place. You can set the desktop picture with a configuration profile. Many management systems will have an option in the ‘Restrictions’ payload where you can set the path to the desktop picture.

You can also use this custom profile:

You can learn all the ways to manage and install profiles in my other book ‘Property Lists, Preferences and Profiles for Apple Administrators’

With this configuration profile in place, the desktop picture is locked. The user can still open the Desktop preference pane but the selection will be ignored. You would need to be able to remove the profile to change the desktop picture again.

This is very useful in education and other strictly managed environments.

Suggesting a Desktop Picture

In other, less tightly managed environments, you might prefer to set an initial desktop picture, but allow the user to change it later.

The common means to do this has been to use an AppleScript command:

tell application "Finder" to set desktop picture to POSIX file "/Library/Desktop Pictures/BoringBlueDesktop.png"

If you want to run this from a shell script you would execute it with osascript:

osascript -e 'tell application "Finder" to set desktop picture to POSIX file "/Library/Desktop Pictures/Sierra.jpg"'

Note that this sets a user preference so it should be run as the user. See this post for details.

However, with macOS Mojave, Apple is introducing new Privacy and Security measures which require user approval for processes to send AppleEvents. This will put a severe limit on the use of osascript for admin scripts.

One solution would be to whitelist your management system’s agent which allows it to send Apple Events to the Finder. This requires managing the client with a user-approved MDM.

Another solution is to avoid AppleScript and Apple Events entirely.

Here comes the desktoppr!

To do this, I wrote a simple command line tool which can read and set the desktop picture. Neil Martin had the brilliant idea to call it desktoppr.

You can read the current desktop picture with:

$ desktoppr
/Library/Desktop Pictures/High Sierra.jpg

and set the desktop picture with

$ desktoppr "/Library/Desktop Pictures/BoringBlueDesktop.png"

When you have multiple displays, desktoppr will list all desktop pictures:

$ desktoppr
/Library/Desktop Pictures/HotStepper.jpg
/Library/Desktop Pictures/LyricalGangster.jpg
/Library/Desktop Pictures/MrOfficer.jpg

When you pass a file desktoppr will set it as the desktop picture for all screens:

$ desktoppr /Library/Desktop Pictures/NaahNananah.jpg
$ desktoppr
/Library/Desktop Pictures/NaahNananah.jpg
/Library/Desktop Pictures/NaahNananah.jpg
/Library/Desktop Pictures/NaahNananah.jpg

You can also set a specific desktop picture for a specific screen: (index starts at zero)

$ desktoppr 0 /Library/Desktop Pictures/HotStepper.jpg
$ desktoppr 1 /Library/Desktop Pictures/LyricalGangster.jpg
$ desktoppr 2 /Library/Desktop Pictures/MrOfficer.jpg

Managing with desktoppr

You can get the code for desktoppr on Github and an installer package here. The installer pkg will install desktoppr in /usr/local/bin. When you want to run it from a management script it is safest to include the entire path:

/usr/local/bin/desktoppr "/Library/Desktop Pictures/BoringBlueDesktop.png"

Since the desktoppr tool also sets user preferences, you still need to pay attention that it runs as the user.

For example, you could run desktoppr from a LaunchAgent (deployed in /Library/LaunchAgents so it affects all users:

This LaunchAgent will reset the Desktop Picture at every login.

If you want to set the Desktop Picture just once from a management or postinstall script (probably running as root) you can use the following to be safe:

When you find yourself building LaunchAgents or LaunchDaemons often (i.e. more than once) you should really consider using outset.

If you wanted to build an installer package that drops both the picture file and the LaunchAgent, you can do the following:

$ mkdir -p DesktopAndAgent/payload/
$ cd DesktopAndAgent
$ mkdir -p "payload/Library/Desktop Pictures/"
$ cp /path/to/BoringBlueDesktop.png "payload/Library/Desktop Pictures/"
$ mkdir -p payload/Library/LaunchAgents/
$ cp /path/to/com.scriptingosx.setdesktop.plist payload/Library/LaunchAgents
$ pkgbuild --root payload --install-location / --version 1 --identifier com.scriptingosx.desktopandagent DesktopAndAgent-1.pkg

Weekly News Summary for Admins — 2018-09-14

We got new iPhones and Apple Watches this week. You can read all about them in all the usual places. More importantly for admins, we also got release dates for iOS 12 (September 17) and macOS 10.14 Mojave (September 24). Are you ready?

The developer releases for the iOS family (iOS, tvOS, watchOS) are now labeled GM. macOS Mojave is beta 11.

Other than the Mojave release date, there was no Mac news at the iPhone event. This shouldn’t surprise or dismay anyone. The September iPhone event has been fully focussed on iPhone and Apple Watch for the last few years. This year, there wasn’t even room for the iPad. There may be some ‘silent’ Mac hardware releases over the next few weeks or Apple may even do a second event. While Apple has had November and December releases in the past, they are rare.

Keep in mind, that any new Macs that are released after the Mojave release date will likely require Mojave. The release window for new Macs that can still run High Sierra is very, very short indeed. Next week should be interesting.

In other news, it was revealed that a number of popular apps in the Mac App Store would exfiltrate the user’s browser history. The apps in question were promptly removed by Apple, but this does cast some doubt on the effectiveness of Apple’s review process.

If you would rather get the weekly newsletter by email, you can subscribe to the Scripting OS X Weekly Newsletter here!! (Same content, delivered to your Inbox once a week.)

News and Opinion

macOS Mojave

MacAdmins on Twitter

  • William Smith: “TOMORROW (Tuesday, September 11) Office for Mac transitions from the 2016 to the 2019 generation. Office 365 customers: Nothing to do. Volume License customers: AutoUpdate will hold apps back until the new Serializer is available September 24. Don’t push 16.17.”
  • Erik Gomez: “Apple: we don’t understand why you built umad, but okay… Me: because there’s so many MDM enrollment bugs!”
  • mikeymikey: “hey fruitco peeps Why isn’t 18A389 released on MAS? SUS feeds were updated and delta updates published – but no full installer app exists via “approved” download methods. MAS is still offering the prior product build. Kind of an important time for testing beta 11”
  • William Smith: “For #MacAdmins using MAUCacheAdmin to cache Microsoft Office for Mac updates to a local server for distribution, be sure to download v2.0 to get support for Office 2019 (16.17+) for Mac. GitHub
  • Felix Schwarz: “AppleScript support still hasn’t returned to Mojave’s rewritten DVD Player app as of beta 10. It was super-useful for remote apps to determine when a menu is shown, to eject DVDs, etc. Would make me sad if that change was permanent & something I’m working on couldn’t use it.”

Bugs and Security

Support and HowTos

Scripting and Automation

Updates and Releases

To Watch

  • William Smith: “Streamlined Microsoft Office for Mac Activation with Automatic Outlook Setup for Office 365 Thanks to @jeffreykalvass and his team for listening to #MacAdmins and making Outlook for Mac manageable with configuration profiles. Now in Insider Fast v16.18.”

To Listen

Support

There are no ads on my webpage or this newsletter. If you are enjoying what you are reading here, please spread the word and recommend it to another Mac Admin!

If you want to support me and this website even further, then consider buying one (or all) of my books. It’s like a subscription fee, but you also get a useful book or two extra!

Weekly News Summary for Admins — 2018-09-07

This week most of the Mac Admin news was about the imminent “AEpocalypse” or the effect of the new privacy and security controls in macOS Mojave on scripts and applications that send Apple Events.

Also Microsoft changed the OS requirements for Office after they got much feedback from the community, including many admins. (So, yes, talking to your reps and filing bugs, does sometimes help!)

If you would rather get the weekly newsletter by email, you can subscribe to the Scripting OS X Weekly Newsletter here!! (Same content, delivered to your Inbox once a week.)

On Scripting OS X

News and Opinion

macOS Mojave

MacAdmins on Twitter

  • Erik Gomez: “Most #macadmins have considered homebrew harmful for many reasons.… ” (Thread)
  • Uluroo: “Mac users: With the release of macOS Mojave on the horizon, let’s talk about the bits of macOS that haven’t changed in a while, that we’re surprised still exist, and that are fun little Easter eggs.” (Thread)
  • Caleb Coy: “#macadmins Slack team just hit the milestone of 20,000 registered members. Some will nit pick and argue that register != active. Frankly, I don’t care. This is pretty amazing.”
  • Jeremy Reichman: “User approval is definitely at the intersection between liberal arts and technology.”

Bugs and Security

Support and HowTos

Scripting and Automation

Updates and Releases

To Watch

To Listen

Support

There are no ads on my webpage or this newsletter. If you are enjoying what you are reading here, please spread the word and recommend it to another Mac Admin!

If you want to support me and this website even further, then consider buying one (or all) of my books. It’s like a subscription fee, but you also get a useful book or two extra!

Apple Remote Desktop, Screen Sharing and Mojave

Last week, Apple posted one of the first support articles specifically for macOS Mojave:

This article is not quite the bombshell that the infamous HT208020 for High Sierra is. However, in contains a few firecrackers which will affect many Mac deployments. You can test deployments with the public beta or developer release of Mojave right away.

Update: Apple has posted a new article describing how to avoid this with a Privacy Configuration Profile. Ben Toms has a wonderful summary.

The piece of information I want to focus on for this post affects Apple Remote Desktop client configuration (called ‘Remote Management’ in the ‘Sharing’ preference pane). Mac Admins have been using the command line tool kickstart to enable and configure Apple Remote Desktop access on clients with scripts through a management system.

In macOS Mojave, Apple will restrict the functionality of kickstart:

For increased security, using the kickstart command to enable remote management on a Mac will only allow you to observe it when sharing its screen. If you wish to control the Mac while sharing its screen, enable remote management in System Preferences.

This continues Apple’s effort to require user interaction for every configuration that can provide on going access to sensitive data or the system a Mac, like User-Approved MDM and the new privacy controls.

What this means for Admins

If you rely on Apple Remote Desktop for remote control and remote assistance, this will disrupt your installation workflow. The kickstart tool will enable ARD access and configure the users but not enable any access privileges.

You get a nice (red) warning in the shell and when you go into the Remote Management preference pane, no active access is enabled. You can only manually enable the access privileges in the ‘Sharing’ preference pane, which requires administrator privileges to unlock.

You can still use kickstart to disable Remote Management access.

This limitation extends to Screen Sharing. You can enable Screen Sharing (when ARD/Remote Management is disabled) from the command line with:

$ sudo launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/com.apple.screensharing.plist 

You have to restart System Preferences to pick up the change in the UI. This command will enable Screen Sharing access, but it will be observe only. (Note: you can use launchctl unload ... to disable.)

When you enable Screen Sharing manually in the ‘Sharing’ preference pane, it will grant full access.

Workarounds

I have (so far) been unsuccessful in determining where the restricted access setting is stored. My suspicion is that the TCC database is involved. If the setting is controlled from a protected settings file or database, then you can at least read that to determine the state and use that information to trigger a notification to the user that action is required. So far, however, I cannot get this information yet.

If you find any means of determining the state, please let me know and I will update this post.

Unfortunately, Apple has provided no alternative means of controlling screen sharing or ARD with configuration profiles from a UAMDM, leaving admins stranded without an automated solution.

Update: Rich Trouton’s recent post on an managing ARD access with with user groups is of interest to admins encountering this problem.

Admins that require ARD or Screen Sharing will have to rely on users actively enabling the settings. To make things worse, unlike the approval of an MDM profile or a kernel extension, the ‘Sharing’ preference pane is locked for standard (non-admin) users.

You can either provide a way for users to be temporarily promoted to admin or modify the Authorization database to allow standard users to unlock the ‘Sharing’ pane. However, unlocking the Sharing pane allows access to many more critical services, which is untenable from a security perspective.

It will have to be seen how this affects third party remote access applications. I have tried setting up Edovia Screens Connect on my Mojave virtual machine, but that currently uses the native Screen Sharing/Remote Management client, so it will encounter the same limitations. Other third party tools may have their own clients.

As usual, please, provide your feedback to Apple through the usual channels (macOS beta Feedback app, bugreport, your Apple representative, SE or technical support).

Weekly News Summary for Admins — 2018-08-31

Things are heating up in the iOS 12 and macOS Mojave beta cycle. Apple has announced an event on September 12, which will presumably present the new iPhones and Apple Watch. There may or may not be new Macs at that event, though in the past Apple would often have a second event later in the fall.

From the September 12 date and the schedule of past years, you can extrapolate the release dates and you will realize that we merely have weeks and not months left.

Even more concerning is that Apple has just recently released working versions of the profile payload to control the new privacy settings, especially for Apple Events. You can learn the details in this excellent post by Felix Schwarz. I need to highlight this piece from his summary:

I feel, though, that the most responsible way for Apple to handle this situation would follow the playbooks for Group FaceTime and 32 Bit deprecation: postpone the feature until it has matured – and make it available to developers behind a feature toggle until then.

Also, minor milestone: this newsletter has passed 300 subscribers! Thank you all for reading and recommending! (and don’t stop spreading the news!)

If you would rather get the weekly newsletter by email, you can subscribe to the Scripting OS X Weekly Newsletter here!! (Same content, delivered to your Inbox once a week.)

News and Opinion

macOS Mojave

MacAdmins on Twitter

  • Aron Griffis: “Working on a new Bash book. So far: Intro: You chose the wrong tool. Ch 1: Have you considered Python? Ch 2: Try calling Python from your Bash script. Ch 3: If you’re still here, try adding quotes.”
  • Jason Broccardo: “Tea leave reading: Once Apple is shipping Macs with their own A-series ARM chips, VMware Fusion will still works”
  • MacDevOpsYVR: “The next MacDevOps:YVR conference will be in Vancouver, Canada, June 12–14, 2019”
  • Zack McCauley: “Per @Contains_ENG recommendation to post this #MacAdmins please @Apple give us documentation, give us feedback, and for the love all that is left please don’t give us a feature that makes this so much worse on users” (Video)
  • mikeymikey: “! HEY #MACADMINS HEADS UP ! 2017 iPhone event: Sept 12 (T) iOS 11: Sept 19 (T) macOS 10.13: Sept 25 (M) ’16: 7 (W) iOS 10: 13 (T) mac 10.12: 20 (T) ’15: 9 (W) iOS 9: 16 (W) mac 10.11: 30 (W) NOW: 2018: 12 (Wed) iOS 12: 19 (Wed)? macOS 10.14: 26 (Wed)?”
  • Jason Broccardo: “Sys Admin’s idea of winning the lotto: You automatically get elevated past tier 1 on any support call because you’ve already covered all those steps in your troubleshooting before you filed a ticket.”
  • Patrick Gallagher Jr: “Firefox 63 for Mac will add support for using keychain certs.” (but with limitations, read this thread)
  • Carl Ashley: “Remember when we all though SIP was the worst thing?”
  • Kyle Crawford: “Our Apple SE said last year that they regretted how they handled Kext restrictions. Yet here we are again with #AEpocalyse.”

Bugs and Security

Support and HowTos

Scripting and Automation

Apple Support

Updates and Releases

To Listen

Support

There are no ads on my webpage or this newsletter. If you are enjoying what you are reading here, please spread the word and recommend it to another Mac Admin!

If you want to support me and this website even further, then consider buying one (or all) of my books. It’s like a subscription fee, but you also get a useful book or two extra!

Weekly News Summary for Admins — 2018-08-24

As we are getting closer and closer to the iOS 12 and Mojave release, more information is being released and discovered.

Mojave will disable Find-My-Mac, so the application Screens from Edovia has been “reverse Sherlocked!”

Scripting will become much harder for MacAdmins with the new privacy controls in Mojave.

If you would rather get the weekly newsletter by email, you can subscribe to the Scripting OS X Weekly Newsletter here!! (Same content, delivered to your Inbox once a week.)

Headlines

#! On Scripting OS X

News and Opinion

macOS Mojave

MacAdmins on Twitter

  • Thomas Reed: “There appears to be an issue in macOS where removing the ‘restricted’ flag from /Library/StagedExtensions/ causes installation of kernel extensions to always fail.”
  • Guillaume: “If you’re part of a IT or security team managing Mac, make sure you watch at least one of these talks before every Mac out there has a T2 Chip! https://t.co/1MGo5zqPk1 by @gregneagle And https://t.co/kIdpnP5xwh by @grahamgilbert”
  • Laurent Guigo:
    “after .local now .dev extension not enable for localhost develop built in server (no ssl)”

Bugs and Security

Support and HowTos

Scripting and Automation

Apple Support

Updates and Releases

To Watch

Just for Fun

Support

There are no ads on my webpage or this newsletter. If you are enjoying what you are reading here, please spread the word and recommend it to another Mac Admin!

If you want to support me and this website even further, then consider buying one (or all) of my books. It’s like a subscription fee, but you also get a useful book or two extra!