Weekly News Summary for Admins — 2022-12-02

We got another round of betas for macOS Ventura 13.1 and iOS/iPadOS 16.2. If the schedule from previous years can be taken as guidance, next week is a good guess for the release date. Maybe a week more, since this week’s release was not labeled as release candidate.


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Jamf has released the session recordings from the Jamf Nation User Conference earlier this year on YouTube, accessible to all! There are 151 videos, many of which should be interesting, even when you don’t use Jamf as your management server. I have updated the resources page for my session, as well as my conferences overview page.

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News and Opinion

macOS Ventura and iOS 16

macOS and iOS Updates

Social Media

  • SentinelOne on Twitter: “10 wrong assumptions about #macOS #security A thread”
  • Basic Apple Guy on Twitter: “iCloud Storage Over the Years” (Image)
  • MartinLang on Twitter: “The SAPTechEd 2022 keynotes had lots of ‘Mobile Moments’ in them. Native Mobile apps are definitely a thing across SAP’s entire Solution and Tech portfolio. I wanted to share some of these mobile moments in this thread.”
  • Mr. Macintosh on Twitter: “Apple uses the terms ‘Shipping OS’ or ‘version of macOS that came with your Mac’ Purchased: M1 16″ MBP on 10/18/21 = Monterey 12.0.1 M1 16″ MBP on 11/30/22 = Ventura 13.0 The 16″ was shipped with Ventura, but it can still be downgraded to 12.0.1 My Apple Silicon macOS chart” (click for chart and short thread)

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Support and HowTos

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Apple Support

Updates and Releases

To Watch

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Just for Fun

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Weekly News Summary for Admins — 2022-11-11

The first Apple Silicon Macs with the M1 chip were introduced two years ago. The MacBook Air, MacBook Pro 13″ and Mac mini all kept the same enclosure designs as their Intel-based predecessors, but the chips inside were the largest change for the Mac platform since the Intel transition in 2006.


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At the JNUC conference earlier this year, I noticed that there were no chains of powerstrips running through the audience areas of the presentation rooms. You couldn’t charge your laptop or tablet in the sessions and nobody seemed to be bothered by this. Just this week I ran my MacBook Air M2 and my iPad Air on battery for two days before I bothered looking for my power supply. I still had enough power to run them for the rest of day, which was a good thing, since I realized I still had the US power plug from aforementioned trip to JNUC on my power supply.

Even though they seem to merely sip power, the new chips aren’t slouches either. Apple has had an exceptional position in power/performance ratio in the phone and tablet space, and now, unsurprisingly, Apple laptops are in this position, as well.

For desktop computers, where power use is not quite such a priority, the M1 Max and Ultra configurations provide astounding capability. The only Mac line that has not yet transitioned to Apple Silicon is the Mac Pro. Given the connectivity and expandability of the Mac Pro, it is not suprising this is the last model to transition. The Mac Studio hints at what might be possible, but we will have to wait and see. I could be ungenerous and point out that Apple missed their self-imposed two-year time line of transistioning to Apple Silicon, but honestly, with all the supply chain challenges and other world events that happened since then, it is an amazing achievement to be where they are now.

Apple Silicon is one of the reasons Apple has been the only computer vendor to show growth in the last quarter.

Another amazing aspect of the transition is how smooth it was on the software side. macOS ran without issues from the days of the Developer Kit. This was Apple’s third processor transition in as many decades and you could tell. Rosetta on Apple silicon provides amazing performance for the software that hasn’t been compiled for Apple silicon yet and it is fairly straightforward for vendors and developers to provide native and unverisal binaries. Even though some developers, especially those building electron-based apps, still don’t seem to understand the concept of universal apps.

Apple now has reached their goal of controlling the entire package, or at least the most important parts. They design and build the hardware, the interfaces, the silicon, the software, and many of the services that connect the device to the net and to other devices.

PowerPC was the core for Macs for 12 years. Intel chips lasted for 14 years. I am looking forward to what happens in the next 12-15 years.

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Weekly News Summary for Admins — 2022-10-28

Release week! If this were a printed newsletter, it would be quite heavy: lots of links and posts, both from Apple and the MacAdmin community.


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I think it is fair to say that the Ventura beta and release has some challenges for system administrators. On the other hand, the updated Apple Platform Deployment guide and several support articles were ready on day one with lots of great information.

Many MacAdmins were awaiting the release and the end of the NDA and ready with several posts on topics they learned about during the beta. The most posts were on the new “Login and Background Items management” but several other posts on other new features and issues, as well. As always, thanks to everyone who shares their knowledge!

Aside from the major releases for macOS Ventura 13.0 and iPadOS 16.1, we also got iOS 16.1, watchOS 9.1, updates for tvOS, HomePod, the apps formerly known as iWork (Numbers, Keynote, and Pages), a new Xcode 14.1 RC, updates for Apple Business Essentials, Safari, macOS Monterey 12.6.1, Big Sur 11.7.1, and iPadOS and iOS 15.7.1. Also, the next round of updates for all the platforms is available in beta on AppleSeed for IT and for Developers, and we got a beta for the iCloud web interface.

Much to catch up on. I hope this collection of links and posts will help.

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News and Opinion

macOS Ventura and iOS 16

macOS Ventura 13.0

iPadOS and iOS 16.1

watchOS 9.1

tvOS 16.1

HomePod Software

Services

Applications

User Guides

Apple Support

Reviews

Reactions and Posts

Login Items in Ventura

macOS and iOS Updates

Social Media

  • Mischa vd Bent: “Did you know about this nice feature with GitHub? Visual Studio Code is build into their website.”
  • John C. Welch: “One nice thing about MS (unlike Apple) having such detailed documentation about the powershell/VBA scripting implementation for Office, is that same model is the source for the AppleScript implementation, so you can use the PS/VBA docs to help you with AppleScript.”
  • Rosyna Keller: “In tons of places in macOS, including in Xcode’s log when notarization fails, there’s typically a “?” button in dialogs that if you click it, will bring you either to local or online documentation. In the notarization case, these buttons will take you to specific online docs.”

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Support

If you are enjoying what you are reading here, please spread the word and recommend it to another Mac Admin!

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Weekly News Summary for Admins — 2022-10-14

Apple’s macOS Ventura Preview page still states “Coming this October.” The rumors, past experience and practicality point to October 24 as the release date for macOS Ventura 13.0 as well as iPadOS 16.1 and the first round of updates for iOS 16, watchOS 9 and all the others.


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On the other hand, Stage Manager still seems to be quite a mess in both iPadOS and macOS. Also, there was no announcement for an Apple Event on October 18, which you would expect if Apple wanted to announce new iPads Pro and/or a new Mac Pro to go with the iPadOS and macOS releases. Apple could very well release new hardware after the system releases, but it would be unusual.

The Mac Pro is the last Mac which has not transitioned to Apple Silicon yet and the two-year transition timeline, ,promised at WWDC 2020 with the Apple Silicon reveal expires in November, two years after the first M1 MacBooks shipped. The Mac mini, which is currently available as M1 and Intel models, also seems due for an upgrade.

We did get a new round of betas this week, which brings macOS 13 to beta 11. As a MacAdmin, you really should log in to AppleSeed for IT and read the beta notes that Apple makes available there, regarding software update deferral.

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News and Opinion

macOS Ventura and iOS 16

macOS and iOS Updates

Social Media

  • William Smith: “As of Tuesday this week, version 16.66 of Microsoft Office for Mac was released and will be the last version to support macOS Catalina 10.15.”

Security and Privacy

Support and HowTos

Scripting and Automation

Updates and Releases

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Support

If you are enjoying what you are reading here, please spread the word and recommend it to another Mac Admin!

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Weekly News Summary for Admins — 2022-09-30

For me, this week was fully dominated by JamfNation User Conference (JNUC). It has been amazing and quite overwhelming to meet with all of you enthusiastic, smart, and inspiring Mac Admins!


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Jamf has been posting summaries of some sessions on the Jamf Blog. The sessions will be available for registered users (both virtual and in-person) in the conference portal for the next 60 days and then released for everybody on Jamf’s YouTube channel. I have a lot of catching up, and also a lot of re-viewing to do.

To everyone who took the time to talk with me, a huge thank you. All the kind feedback is both humbling and inspiring. To all who I missed or whom I couldn’t spend enough time with, because there was always the next engagement or meeting to run off to: I am terribly sorry! I hope we get a chance to talk at the next conference!

JNUC 2023 was announced for September 19–21 in Austin, Texas, USA.

(This news summary is unusually scheduled because of travel and time zones. I might also have missed some interesting links and posts. If you found something that I didn’t include, please let me know and I will include it next week.)

But the conference fun is not over: next week is MacSysAdmin Online and the speaker list was just released!

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News and Opinion

macOS Ventura and iOS 16

Security and Privacy

Support and HowTos

Scripting and Automation

Apple Support

Updates and Releases

To Listen

Support

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!

Launching Scripts #1: From Terminal

Scripts, no matter which language they are written in, are an incredibly important part of a MacAdmin’s tool kit.

Most posts, books and tutorials focus on how to write scripts. Admittedly, the skill to make the computer and all its software running do what you want is very important. But once you have a working script, you will have to consider how to launch the script at the right time and with the right input.

When I started to think about this, I realized macOS provides many ways to launch or schedule scripts. Some are fairly obvious, others are quite obscure and maybe even frivolous.

Over the next few weeks (i.e. when I find time), I will publish a series of posts describing various ways of launching scripts and workflows on macOS. This post starts with the most obvious: launch a script from Terminal.

The Basics: Launch from Terminal

It might seem trivially obvious that you can launch scripts and workflows from Terminal. Nevertheless, it does require some explanation and context. Launching from Terminal is the most basic form of launching a script. As such, it defines the ‘baseline’ experience of how we expect scripts to run.

Command lookup

When you enter something into a Terminal prompt and hit the return key, the shell will split the text on whitespace. The first element of the text is the command. If that text contains a / character, the shell will interpret the entire element as a path to the executable. The path can be relative or absolute.

If the first element does not contain a / then the shell will first look for functions, aliases and built-in commands, in that order. Then the shell will search for a command executable using the colon-separated paths in the PATH environment variable. It will use the first executable it finds.

If the shell fails to find something to execute, it will show an error.

This is why you need to the ./ to execute scripts in the current working directory. Even though the ./ seems redundant, it tells the shell to look for the executable in the current working directory, instead of using the PATH.

You can find this process described in more detail here. I also have a post on how to configure your PATH variable.

Shebang

Scripts are ‘just’ text files. Two things distinguish them from normal text files.

First, the executable bit is set to tell the system this file contains executable code. You do this with the chmod +x my_script.sh command. Here comes the trick, though. The text in the script file isn’t really executable code that the CPU can understand directly. It needs an ‘interpreter’ which is another program that, wells, interprets the text file and can tell the CPU what to do.

The interpreter for a script file is set in the first line of the script with the #! character combination. The #! is also called ‘hashbang’ or ‘shebang.’ The shebang is followed by an absolute path to the interpreter, e.g. /bin/sh, /bin/bash, or /usr/local/bin/python.

Note: the shebang has to be in the very first line (actually the first characters) of the script, you cannot have comments (or anything else) before it.

Note: you often see shebangs using the env command in the form #!/usr/bin/env bash. These are useful for cross-platform portability, but have trade-offs. I have an article just for that.

Arguments

The shell is only interested in the first part of the command line text you entered. The entire list of parts (or elements, split on whitespace) are passed into the command as its arguments. A shell script sees the first element, the command or path to the command as $0 and the the remaining arguments as $1, $2, and so on.

Other languages will handle this in a similar fashion, arrays or lists of arguments are common.

Environment

Shells also have environment variables. We already talked about the role of the PATH variable in the command lookup. In Terminal, you can list all variables in your current environment with the env command. Some of these environment variables can be extremely useful, like SHELL, USER, and HOME.

When you launch a script from Terminal, a new shell environment is created and all of the environment variables are copied. This is great, beacuse the script can access the environment variables, and might even change them. But the changes in the script’s sub-shell, will not affect the current shell. In other words, a script can change the PATH environment variable in its own context, without changing yours.

In other Unix-based systems, environment variables are a common means of providing data to apps and processes. In the interactive shell on macOS, environment variables are very useful for this purpose. We will see, however, that when you launch processes and scripts through other means, environment variables can be a challenge on macOS.

Note: A shell environment also contains shell options, which are also inherited to sub shells.

Input and Output

Shell scripts and tools also have input and output. When you launch a script from the the Terminal, both output streams (Standard Output and Standard Error) are connected to the Terminal, so the output will be shown in the Terminal window.

When you use a script with pipes, then its Standard Input (stdin) will be connected to the previous tool’s Standard Out (stdout). The last script’s stdout and stderr will be shown in Terminal.

One thing that is special about interactive Terminal input and output, is that it happens while the script or tool is running. That means you can get live updates on the progress.

When we launch scripts in other contexts, their input and output may be buffered. This means that the system waits for the script or tool process to complete before piping its output to the next tool or to the process that called it. This is not something you usually have to worry about, but again it is something you should have in mind when running scripts in non-Terminal contexts.

Conclusion

While glaringly obvious, launching a script from Terminal does have some intricacies. This post sets a ‘baseline’ for how scripts work on macOS. In future installments, we will re-visit some of these topics, and the differences will become relevant when we launch scripts in contexts other than an interactive shell.

In the next post, learn how to create a double-clickable file to launch a script from Finder.

Weekly News Summary for Admins — 2022-03-25

After all the announcements of the last weeks, this week feels quieter. Something must be going in on Cupertino, as we have not gotten betas for macOS 12.4/iOS 15.4 yet. Maybe the developers have to start preparing their WWDC sessions.


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News and Opinion

Books

macOS and iOS Updates

MacAdmins on Twitter

  • Mr. Macintosh: “The Mac Studio has arrived! I’ll go over a few details others might not have covered” (Thread)

Security and Privacy

🔨Support and HowTos

Scripting and Automation

Apple Support

Updates and Releases

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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!

macOS Monterey 12.3 removes Python 2 – Link collection

Note: I will update this post for the next few weeks with new and updated information. If you find anything that is interesting, ping me on MacAdmins Slack or Twitter as @scriptingosx.

Last Updated: 2022-03-23

What is going on!?

Tools

Updates

  • dockutil: command line tool for managing dock items
  • quickpkg: wrapper for pkgbuild to quickly build simple packages from an installed app, a dmg or zip archive
  • Mist: A Mac command-line tool that automatically downloads macOS Installers/Firmwares
  • DownloadFullInstaller: macOS application written in SwiftUI that downloads installer pkgs for the Install macOS Big Sur application
  • SUS Inspector 2.1: Inspect Apple software update service
  • mkuser: Make user accounts for macOS with many advanced options

Replacing Python

Support