Goodbye, Charles Edge

“A man is not dead while his name is still spoken.”

Terry Pratchett — Going Postal

As you have probably heard, Charles Edge, prolific writer of books and blog posts, regular conference presenter, and host of the MacAdmins Podcast died unexpectedly last week-end.

This came as a shock, to me and the entire community. My thoughts are with his family, friends, and all the people he worked with in the many endeavors he was a part of.

We crossed paths frequently at conferences and local user group meetings in Los Angeles, on the MacEnterprise mailing list and IRC, and later on Mac Admins Slack. Somehow, Charles was everywhere and did everything. He also continuously motivated and encouraged others to do their “thing” and cheered them along all the way.

He was generous with knowledge, help, and advice, but most of all, with attention. At conferences and meetings, he would often be in a group, not only talking, but also listening and sharing. He loved geeking out, a fact that was demonstrated weekly on the Mac Admins Podcast.

I got invited to the podcast a few times, and even though I always suspected he know far more about… well… anything, he let me talk about my perspective and experience, neither taking the spotlight, nor hiding his enthusiasm, but sharing. It was infectious.

His enthusiasm went so much further than Mac Admin related topics. In my last conversation with him, just a few weeks ago, we talked about managed Apple IDs, Swift, Dungeons and Dragons and 3D printing. A “normal” chat with Charles… It saddens me deeply it was the last.

Reading and hearing all the memories of him, that everybody is sharing online, it is quite stunning how many lives and careers he influenced for the better.

He left a dent. Charles’ name will be spoken for a long time.

macOS 12.5 and iOS 15.6

macOS Monterey 12.5

iOS 15.5 and iPadOS 15.6

watchOS 8.7

tvOS 15.6

Other Updates


macOS 12.4 and iOS 15.5

The updates for macOS 12.4, iOS 15.5 and all the siblings dropped yesterday. Usually I would gather a list of links for these updates in the news summary on Friday, but since I will be on a vacation break and they will seem stale in two weeks, you will get them now. Enjoy!

Update 2022-05-19: added Apple Business and School Manager User Guides.

macOS Monterey 12.4

iOS 15.5 and iPadOS 15.5

watchOS 8.6

tvOS 15.5

Other Updates

User Guides



Twenty Years of Mac OS X

Mac OS X 10.0 was released March 24, 2001. Twenty years ago today.

The PowerBook, iMac, iPod, iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch are obviously big steps along the way from Apple as a ‘beleagured,’ minor computer maker with an uncertain future to the $2 trillion tera-corp they are today. It is easy to focus on the hardware. But Mac OS X was at least as important.

Back then, it was essential that Apple move forward from ‘classic’ Mac OS. Protected memory, multi-user setups, and support for multiple applications running safely side-by-side were the main advantages of Mac OS X over Mac OS 9. But Mac OS X also brought with it the Unix core (and shell), a new display technology, and the Cocoa frameworks.

The transition was rough for the existing Mac users. The early versions were not as complete and stable as one would have hoped. The processing requirements of early Mac OS X pushed existing Mac hardware to their limits. Many application vendors dragged their feet adopting Mac OS X and the new technologies and features available.

But Mac OS X made the Mac interesting for a whole new group of people. It was the only platform at then time that they had Microsoft and Adobe productivity app as well as the Unix shell and tools available. This was a huge bonus for web designers and developers, but also for scientists.

Apple built some of the best laptops of the time. It might seem strange now, but having a portable, battery-powered Unix workstation, which also ran Word, Excel, Photoshop, and could edit videos, was un-imaginable just a few years before.

Then, Apple stripped down Mac OS X, so it could run on on a phone. Up until then, portable devices had very basic and minimal operating systems. They were also locked down and installing additional software was complicated and often expensive.

The early versions of iPhone OS were also basic and minimal compared to Mac OS X, but they held the promise of extension and growth. The iPhone had potential and Apple delivered on that promise with every system update. They treated the iPhone as a computer, rather than a gadget. It took a few years, but with the iPhone, people went from having one computer, to two computers: one in your pocket and one on your desk or in your bag.

Today, Apple has a range of operating systems from the watch on your wrist to the large screen in your living room, all going back to Mac OS X 10.0 twenty years ago. macOS is just one element in this ecology of devices. We don’t just have one computer, we have many. A spectrum of computers, most of them wireless and battery-powered, each with different strengths. These computers might all be from Apple, or from a variety of vendors.

macOS is part of this spectrum. In the past years, Apple has changed the name and just last year the major version number of their operating system for laptops and desktops.

Sometimes it seems that Apple has lost sight of what makes Macs an important tool. With Apple silicon for Macs, it seems that Apple is re-focusing on the Mac and seeing how they can improve macOS, while also improving the eco-system as a whole.

“macOS 11” holds a promise for continued and even re-newed growth. Like the first “Mac OS X” twenty years ago, and the first iPhone OS, there is potential.

I am looking forward to the next twenty years!

macOS 11

Last week at WWDC, Apple had two big announcements for the Mac platform.

The first one was a new user interface design, much closer to iPadOS and iOS. Apple considers this the “biggest design upgrade since the introduction of Mac OS X.” Because of this, Apple also gives this version of macOS the long-withheld ‘11’ as the major version number.

You can take a look at the new UI on Apple’s Big Sur preview page or you can download the beta from your AppleSeed for IT or Developer account. It shares many elements, styles and icons with iOS or iPadOS.

The other major announcement is that the Mac platform will have a transition from Intel CPUs to ‘Apple Silicon’ chips built by Apple themselves, just like the iPhone and the iPad. The Developer Kit for testing purposes is powered by the A12z chip that powers the iPad Pro, but Apple was insistent that future, production Macs would have chips designed specifically for Macs and not be using iPad or iPhone chips.

These are big announcements, for sure. But what do they mean for the macOS platform? And for MacAdmins in particular?

Apple’s commitment to Mac

There was a time not so long ago, where you got the impression that the Mac platform was merely an afterthought for Apple. I think it started after the release of the ‘trashcan’ Mac Pro. During those years, I think there was legit concern that Apple would lock down macOS as tightly as they did iOS, breaking what makes the Mac special.

Some of the recent additions to macOS, such as the increased privacy controls with their incessant prompts for approval, deprecation of built-in scripting run-times like Python and Ruby and even the deprecation of bash in favor of zsh, have made some ‘Pro’ users nervous and afraid that Apple wants to turn macOS in to iOS.

Now the unification of the user interface can add to those concerns: will macOS turn into iOS and iPadOS in more than just look and feel?

On the other hand, Apple has been more vocal and open about their plans for the Mac. This started when Apple announced they were working on a new Mac Pro in April 2017.

In Mojave (2018), and then Catalina (2019), Apple introduced several technologies unique to macOS:

  • System and Network Extensions
  • File Providers
  • DriverKit
  • Notarization
  • zsh as new default shell, dash

These technologies exist because Apple wants (or needs) to increase the security of macOS. Kernel extensions, which provide unfettered access to all parts of the system are replaced with System and Network extensions and DriverKit. Notarization allows Apple to check and certify software delivered and installed outside of the Mac App Store. zsh allows Apple and their users to move forward from a 13-year old bash version.

But, if Apple wanted to lock down macOS as completely as iOS and iPadOS, they wouldn’t have to introduce these new technologies to macOS. Instead, they are introducing new technologies to allow certain characteristics of macOS to continue, even with increased security. This is a lot of effort from Apple, which convinces me that Apple sees a purpose for macOS for years to come.

What are these characteristics that Apple thinks are special for the macOS? Apple told us in the Platforms State of the Union session this year. Starting at 15:10 Andreas Wendker says:

“Macs will stay Macs the way you know and love them. They will run the same powerful Pro apps. They will offer the same developer APIs Macs have today. They will let users create multiple volumes on disks with different operating system versions and they will let users boot from external drives. They will support drivers for peripherals and they will be amazing UNIX machines for developers and the scientific community that can run any software they like.”

This short section makes a lot of promises:

  • Pro Apps: including third party pro apps, like Affinity Photo, Cinema 4D, Photoshop, shown previously, and Microsoft Office, and Maya which were shown in the Keynote
  • Developer APIs: no reduced feature set
  • Disk and OS management: multiple volumes, external storage and boot, multiple versions of macOS on one device
  • Peripheral ports with custom drivers
  • UNIX machines for developer and science tools (this includes Terminal, Craig Federighi confirmed this in John Gruber’s interview)
  • ‘any software you like’
  • ‘flexibility and configurability’ (earlier in the presentation)

Apple wants to assure us that they understand what the macOS platform is used for. Remember that Apple uses macOS themselves for many of these tasks and it is unlikely they would want to switch to Windows or Linux based PCs for their work.

With all these assurances you can consider the UI changes to go merely ‘skin deep.’ Whether you like the new UI or not, the wonderfully complex innards of macOS should still be there for you to explore and (ab)use.

Mac Transition

When Apple announced the transition to Apple Silicon in the keynote, it felt like a repeat of the 2006 Keynote where Steve Jobs announced the Intel transition. Apple is even re-using the names for the technologies ‘Universal’ and ‘Rosetta,’ albeit with version ‘2’ attached. This is of course entirely intentional. Apple wants to assure that they have done this before and it worked out well.

How well this will really work will depend, not only on Apple alone, but on the third party developers. While Rosetta worked surprisingly well during the Intel transition, there was noticeable lag in some cases, and the soft couldn’t really unlock all of the hardware until there was a re-compiled version. I remember that every developer would proudly announce the availability of a universal binary.

Some solutions never made the jump. Some software solutions got lost when Apple finally turned off Rosetta in Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, the same way some solutions did not make the jump the to 64bit and are ‘lost’ unless you hold on to Mojave.

It is fair to blame the software developer for the lack of maintenance. Not all developers have the time to put in the effort to continually update a product, or they moved on to other companies or projects. Not all software products generate enough revenue to warrant any maintenance effort. From the user perspective, software that they paid for, has an arbitrary expiration date, the software vendor blames Apple, Apple blames the vendor. This is understandably frustrating.

Apple and macOS are certainly in a different place in the market than they were in 2007, but we will have to see how well the third-party developers and vendors take to the transition this time.

macOS 11 for MacAdmins

Enterprises, schools, universities, and organizations and their users are also in a different place these days. The addition of mobile devices (phones and tablets) as essential tools for the employees has forced many organizations to change their management and access strategies to be more flexible. The massive requirement to work remotely from the Coronavirus pandemic has accelerated this shift.

But once you have reworked your deployment and management strategies to work with one different platform, then adding a third or fourth platform to the mix will be less of a barrier. It will still be a significant effort, but it will not be as daunting and impossible as that first change. The changing infrastructure requirements have worked in favor of Apple platforms for the past years, lead by iOS, but pulling macOS behind them. But Apple has not yet had enough time to lock-in to these kind of deployments.

In education, ChromeBooks are gaining ground, mainly because of the price point, but also because of a powerful management framework. Dual booting your Mac to Windows with Bootcamp will not be possible on Apple Silicon. Additional problems stemming from the transition might just be enough to push users and organizations ‘over the edge’ to switch platforms.

Apple must have considered all this and believes the benefits from building their own chips for the Mac platform outweigh the downsides. Less heat and better battery life are obvious, quick wins. Apple’s A-series chips have a dedicated Neural engine for machine learning processes, which was already demonstrated.

Apple has brought some of the security benefits from iOS to the Mac platform with the T1 and T2 chips. These provide Touch ID and a secure enclave for certificates and encrypted internal storage. By removing the Intel chipset, Apple can tighten the security even more. The new Apple Silicon based system will have new startup options and more flexible secure boot settings. External boot will not only still be possible, but not be disabled by default which will simplify many workflows for techs and admins. When you have multiple macOS systems on a drive, you will be able to disable security feature per system, so you can have a ‘less secure system’ for experimentation or development, while keeping all security features enabled for the system with your personal data.

Device Management

There weren’t many news about MDM at WWDC itself. The changes that were shown are refinements to existing workflows rather than big changes. With all the other changes, stability in MDM and management will be helpful.

We have finally been promised a true zero-touch deployment for Macs with “Auto Advance for Mac,” but are still lacking details about the exact implementation.

But there are still some huge gaps in the MDM strategy. Application deployment (VPP) is still unreliable. There is no way for organizations to purchase and manage in-App purchases and subscriptions in quantity. Many essential settings and features of macOS still cannot be set or controlled with configuration profiles or MDM commands. MDM still has no solution for installing and managing software from outside the App Store. PPPC settings are still changing and complicated to manage for admins.

Apple considers the ability to run iOS and iPadOS on macOS a huge bonus. How useful this will be in reality, outside of games, remains to be seen. But it will certainly make managing apps from the Mac App Store more essential than it is now.

The acquisition of Fleetsmith, on the other hand, will have a big impact on the Apple MDM market and users. I have described how the changes to the service have affected the users and admins in my newsletter last week. While this has cast an unnecessary shadow on the acquisition, we still don’t know what Apple’s plans regarding Fleetsmith and MDM are going to be.

Strange New World

The changes MacAdmins got for device management are useful and necessary, but evolutionary in nature. (There is nothing wrong with that.) The Fleetsmith deal shows the possibility of more and larger changes to Apple’s device management strategy in the future. It might take years before we will see the implications of this.

Versioning is always influenced by marketing. The switch from version 10 to version 11 is more than just the end of an odd versioning convention. The time where Mac OS X stands apart from the other Apple platforms is over. Apple is promising a family of devices where the user interface, hardware, and software will be unified, while preserving the special characteristics of each platform.

Apple is has explained why and how they want to distinguish macOS from the other Apple platforms. They will have to live up to these promises over the next few years. There is a balance to be kept between implementing beneficial features from the other Apple platforms and maintaining the ‘flexibility and configurability’ of macOS. There is also the possibility that some of these Mac characteristics will make their way to other Apple platforms. (multi-boot, virtualization, or custom device drivers on iPadOS?)

Not everyone follows the WWDC announcements closely. As MacAdmins we will get many questions about the news from last week that does surface. We have to inform our organizations and our fellow employees what these changes means for them and their workflows and help them make an informed decision on which platform (Apple or other systems) matches their requirements.

There are bound to be issues with Apple’s plans. We will need to watch Apple’s strategy, give feedback on missteps and requirements. It is certainly a frustrating process, but Apple has changed features because of feedback from the MacAdmin community in the past.

If you haven’t enrolled in AppleSeed for IT yet, now is the time! Download the beta, start testing and providing feedback!s

Autumn 2019 Schedule

As I am emerging from vacation, I made an overview of my agenda for the next few months and realized there are quite a few public events. It might be useful to share my public agenda. If you are coming to any of these events, I’d be really happy to meet you!

Sep 6: Moving to zsh Class

Half-day class covering zsh on macOS. We will cover:

  • why Apple is switching the default shell
  • how this affects you and your users
  • how to configure zsh to increase your Terminal productivity
  • how to transfer your bash configuration
  • scripting zsh

The class will be held in the Pro Warehouse training room in Amsterdam on Sep 6, 10:00–14:00. You can sign up at the Pro warehouse page.

You can combine this training with the next event.

Sep 6: Dutch MacAdmins Meeting/Pro Academy Opening

We are celebrating the opening of the Pro Academy by hosting the Dutch MacAdmins meeting. Participation is free. Among many other presentations I will show how (and why) to build a command line tool in Swift.

Presentations will be (mostly) in English, so the event is suitable for international guests. Participation is free and you can sign up on Eventbrite.

Oct 1–4: MacSysAdmin Gothenburg

I am really excited about presenting at MacSysAdmin again. My topic is “Moving to zsh,” where I will discuss the changes (not just the changed shell) in Catalina and what they mean for MacAdmins.

There are still a few tickets available, but this conference usually fills up. So don’t delay and go register if you haven’t done so yet!

Oct 30–31: Scripting macOS Class

This is our ‘entry to scripting’ class, where we teach the basics of shell scripting. This will be the second time we are teaching this class and it will be updated for Catalina. Most of the examples used to teach scripting come from real administrator workflows.

This is a two day class held in the Pro Warehouse training room in Amsterdam on October 30 and 31. You can sign up at the Pro warehouse page.

Nov 12–14: JamfNation User Conference

I am not going to JNUC myself, but my co-worker and director Mischa van der Bent is. He will be presenting on “Offboarding in a Modern Deployment Workflow”, a topic which will include, among many other things, our Erase&Install application.

Book Updates

I am working on updates with Catalina content for all three books. They should be published around the Catalina release date, maybe a little later.

As always, if you have already purchased one of my book, the update will be free in the Apple Books application on your iOS device or Mac. There is no need to wait for the update if you are interested now. Purchase now and get the update when it is ready!

I am also working on new books. I had been working on some interesting content, but the experiences from the scripting classes and the Catalina announcements have made me take a step back and re-evaluate the plans and progress so far. Re-writing will be necessary before I am happy enough to publish.

From the topics in all the events above, you should be able to deduce at least one of the topics, though.

MacAdmins Podcast, Episode 102: Erase All the Things

I had the honor of being on the MacAdmins podcast again!

In this episode, we talk about the EraseInstall app we built at Pro Warehouse, how much fun it can be to build something in Swift and Xcode, the new Macs, my weekly news summary and a bit about Book #4.

Thanks again to Tom, Charles and Marcus and everyone else who makes the MacAdmins Podcast. You are wonderful hosts!

(Though it was very weird to hear you in single speed…)

Listen to the Episode!