Build a macOS Application to Run a Shell Command with Xcode and SwiftUI – Part 2

A long time ago, I wrote a post on how to build a simple App using SwiftUI that would run a shell command. Amazingly, the tutorial still works!

This is particularly useful for MacAdmins, because we sometimes want to provide a simple UI for some command or script. However, some things have changed since I wrote this tutorial three years. While the code still “works,” there are some things that can be improved. Also, when I wrote the original post, there were some features I didn’t expand upon, because the post was already very long, and, to be honest, back then, I didn’t really know how they worked, myself.

When I re-visited this earlier because of a question in the MacAdmins Slack, I was really surprised that I didn’t need to update code to make it work. That said, there are the matters I didn’t explain last time. Also Swift has changed in some ways. That means it is time for the second part.

You can get the sample code from the first part as a starting point.

Get the output of the command

In the first part, we ran the say command, which doesn’t have a text output. Often times we want to run shell commands to get information from the command’s standard output (or sometimes standard error). To grab the output of commands, we need to prepare the Process object, which means we cannot use the convenience method Process.run() any more.

The say command has an option to change the voice being used. You can list the names of voices available to the say command by running say -v '?' in Terminal. We’d like to get that output and populate a menu with the available voices in our UI.

Note: the output of the say -v '?' command does not show most of the modern voices available in macOS. Most of the voices listed are quite old, funny, and, to be honest, awful. As has been mentioned before, I am using the say command as a convenient example for a shell command. If you want proper speech synthesis in your app, you should not use the say command but the proper speech synthesis API.

We will start out experimenting with code in a macOS Playground in Xcode and later add it to the app from the first part. When you create a new Playground in Xcode (File > New > New Playground), make sure you select ‘macOS’ for the platform above the template picker and then ‘Blank’ as the template.

Start with this code:

let process = Process()
process.launchPath = "/usr/bin/say"
process.arguments = ["-v", "?"]
let outPipe = Pipe()
process.standardOutput = outPipe
process.terminationHandler = { process in
  let outData = outPipe.fileHandleForReading.readDataToEndOfFile()
  let output = String(data: outData, encoding: .utf8) ?? ""
 print(output)
}
try? process.run()
process.waitUntilExit()

You will recognize some of the code from the first part of this tutorial. We create a Process object and set its launchPath and arguments. Note that the Process.run() convenience method, which we used in the first part, takes a URL to define the executable, but the launchPath is a String containing the path to the executable. We also (this is the new part) create a Pipe and set it as the standardOutput of the process.

The process will run the say command asynchronously. Since we want to work with the output , we have to give the process some code to execute when the command is done. We set this terminationHandler to a closure. The code in this closure grabs the data from pipe we connected to standardOutput of the process, converts it to a String and prints it.

At the end of our code, we tell the process object to run(). The waitUntilExit() is necessary here, because that is all this particular playground code does and we want to be sure that the command and the termination handler get a chance to do their work, before the code ends. In an app, where many things may be happening at the same time, you usually will not use waitUntilExit(). We will see that later when we implement our solution in SwiftUI.

Many outcomes

This code grabs the standard out from the command. Unix commands have different results that can be interesting. Some commands print to standard error instead of (or together with) standard out. All unix commands also have an exit code, which should return 0 for successful runs and a non-zero value for failures. Some commands use different non-zero value to give information for different errors.

All of this is available from Process objects. However, you have to set up the pipes and connections and get the data back in the termination handler, and the code gets quite complicated and tedious to set up. We have the seen the Process type has a convenience method to create and run a command without the pipes. I don’t know why it doesn’t have a convenience method when you are interested in all the data, but the good news is, we can create an extension to build our own.

Replace the code in the playground with the following:

import Foundation

extension Process {
  @discardableResult
  static func launch(
    path: String,
    arguments: [String] = [],
    terminationHandler: @escaping (Int, Data, Data) -> Void
  ) throws -> Process {
    let process = Process()
    let outPipe = Pipe()
    let errorPipe = Pipe()
    process.standardOutput = outPipe
    process.standardError = errorPipe
    process.arguments = arguments
    process.launchPath = path
    process.terminationHandler = { process in
      let outData = outPipe.fileHandleForReading.readDataToEndOfFile()
      let errorData = errorPipe.fileHandleForReading.readDataToEndOfFile()
      let exitCode = Int(process.terminationStatus)
      terminationHandler(exitCode, outData, errorData)
    }
    try process.run()
    return process
  }
}

let process = try? Process.launch(
  path: "/usr/bin/say", 
  arguments: ["-v", "?"]
) { exitCode, outData, errData in
  let output = String(data: outData, encoding: .utf8) ?? ""
  print(output)
}
process?.waitUntilExit()

You will recognize the code from our first example in the launch function in the extension. But here, we have added the configuration for a second Pipe for standardError, in the closure we get the Data for the standard out, standard error and the exit code and pass them in to the closure passed in a termination handler.

This method simplifies using the Process type. We just have to pass in the path to the command and the arguments array and give a closure that is called when the command completes.

async/await

But it still uses a closure for the termination handler. This breaks our code into different fragments that are not executed in the order they appear in. Since macOS Monterey 12 and iOS 15, Swift has had a concurrency feature called async/await. With this, your code appears in a more natural order.

When a function has the await marker, the system knows to suspend the code at that point until the function returns a result. While this code is “on hold” other threads or tasks can run, such as the UI handling, so your process or app isn’t blocked. When the function returns, the code continues after the function, so the code that processes the output of the function comes in the logical order, which makes it easier to read and understand.

For some reason, the Process type has not yet been updated to use this new feature. We can however, add this functionality using an extension. Add this method to the extension:

  static func launch(
    path: String,
    arguments: [String] = []
  ) async throws -> (exitCode: Int, standardOutput: Data, standardError: Data) {
    try await withCheckedThrowingContinuation { continuation in
      do {
        try launch(path: path, arguments: arguments) { exitCode, outData, errData in
          continuation.resume(returning: (exitCode, outData, errData))
        }
      } catch let error {
        continuation.resume(throwing: error)
      }
    }
  }

If you want to get more detail how async and await work, I recommend the WWDC session “Meet async/await in Swift” from WWDC 2021.

With this, we can change our code to run the say command to:

guard let (exitCode, outData, errData) = try? await Process.launch(
    path: "/usr/bin/say",
    arguments: ["-v", "?"]
) else { exit(0) }

let output = String(data: outData, encoding: .utf8) ?? ""
print(output)

The code is now in a more sensible order. If you can afford macOS Monterey as a minimum system requirement, you should consider adopting async/await.

Now that we have our output of the command, we have to parse out the names of the voices. This code will turn the output of the say into an Array of names, ignoring the language code and sample text:

func parseVoices(_ output: String) -> [String] {
  output
    .components(separatedBy: "\n")
    .map {
      $0
        .components(separatedBy: "#")
        .first?
        .trimmingCharacters(in: .whitespaces)
        .components(separatedBy: CharacterSet.whitespaces)
        .dropLast()
        .filter { !$0.isEmpty }
        .joined(separator: " ")
      ?? ""
    }
    .filter { !$0.isEmpty }
}

So we can add these lines to get an Array of `voices:

let voices = parseVoices(output)
print(voices)

You can find the stages of code for the playground in this gist.

Updating the app

Now that we have assembled all the pieces working in a playground, we can move on to putting these pieces in our SwiftUI app. The goal is to have a popup menu with all the voices above the field where you can enter text.

We will be using some features that were introduced in macOS Monterey 12.0. If you have built the project a while ago with an older version of macOS, the project may be set to build with older versions of macOS. To verify and, if necessary, update the deployment target for the project, select the blue project icon at the very top of the item sidebar, then select the gray “SayThis” icon under the “Targets” section. Then select “General” in the tab list. The second section is called “Minimum Deployments” and should show macOS 12.0 or later. When you change this from an older version, Xcode may prompt to update some other settings in the project, you can accept those.

First, we want to use the extension to the Process type we created in the playground earlier. Create a new file in the project (File > New > New File…), select “Swift File” from the templates, and name it ‘Process-launch’. Copy and paste the extension code from the playground (with both methods) to that file. You could have all the code in a single file, but it is cleaner and more maintainable to have one file per type or extension. This also allows you to copy that file to other projects to use it there.

Next we need two more state variables to track the state of the popup-menu that we are going to add. In the ContentView file, add these two lines right under the existing @State variables:

  @State var voices: [String] = []
  @State var selectedVoice: String = "Samantha"

The first is where we are going to store all the available voices that we parse from the output of say -v '?'. The second variable will store the current selection.

Next, we will insert the popup menu for the voices into the UI. In the body, insert this below the title and above the HStack:

      Picker(selection: $selectedVoice, label: Text("Voice:")) {
          ForEach(voices, id: \.self) { Text($0) }
      }

First we create a Picker view, which is not really proper terminology for macOS. But since SwiftUI is designed to share objects across all platforms, a ‘Picker’ will render as a popup menu in macOS. We attach the selectedVoice state variable to the selection of the picker. Then, we loop through all the items in the voices state variable to add them to the picker.

At this point, you should see the popup menu in the preview and when you run the project. You cannot select anything from it, though, which makes sense as the voices array is empty.

We need to populate the voices array before the UI appears. SwiftUI offers a special modifier to do this. You can attach a .task modifier to any view and its closure will be run asynchronously once, before the view appears for the first time. Add this code to the end of the VStack block, right below the line that reads .frame(maxWidth: .infinity, maxHeight: .infinity):

    .task {
      guard let (_, outData, _) = try? await Process.launch(
        path: "/usr/bin/say",
        arguments: ["-v", "?"]
      ) else { return }

      let output = String(data: outData, encoding: .utf8) ?? ""
      voices = parseVoices(output)
    }

You also need to copy the parseVoices() function from the test playground and add it to the ContentView struct.

This will populate the popup menu with all the voices. Build and run to test. It will still not actual use the selected voice. We need to update the runCommand() method to:

  func runCommand() {
    let arguments = [message, "-v", selectedVoice]
    let executableURL = URL(fileURLWithPath: "/usr/bin/say")
    self.isRunning = true
    try! Process.run(executableURL, arguments: arguments) { _ in
      self.isRunning = false
    }
  }

We have achieved what we set out to do. You can find the project with all the code for this point here.

Refinements

However, there are some refinements and improvements that we can and should still add to the code.

First, the runCommand() function still uses the old convenience handler with a termination handler. We can change it to use our new await Process.launch():

  func runCommand() async {
    let arguments = [message, "-v", selectedVoice]
    self.isRunning = true
    let _ = try? await Process.launch(path: "/usr/bin/say", arguments: arguments)
    self.isRunning = false
  }

This will now generate an error in the Button because we have changed the runCommand() function to be async. Change the code of the Button to

        Button("Say") {
          Task {
            await runCommand()
          }
        }
        .disabled(isRunning)

By wrapping the await runCommand() function in a Task { } we are telling the system that this code should run in the background and not return immediately. This is necessary to run code blocks with async functions from UI elements.

The say command will use the voice set in the system settings when no -v option is given. We want to provide a way to recreate that behavior in our UI. We can add items to the Picker by adding elements before the ForEach:

      Picker(selection: $selectedVoice, label: Text("Voice:")) {
        Text("System Default").tag("System Default")
        Divider()
        ForEach(voices, id: \.self) { Text($0) }
      }

Also change the default value of the selectedVoice variable to "System Default".

Then we have to change the runCommand() method to only use the -v and voice name arguments when their value is not “System Default”

  func runCommand() async {
    var arguments = [message]
    if selectedVoice != "System Default" {
      arguments.append(contentsOf: ["-v", selectedVoice])
    }
    self.isRunning = true
    let _ = try? await Process.launch(path: "/usr/bin/say", arguments: arguments)
    self.isRunning = false
  }

You can find the code for this here.

Out of the Sandbox

The say command provides a fun example to play around with. You will probably already have plenty of ideas that you want to try out. There is one thing that might trip you up here: sandboxed apps do not get access to all available command line tools. If you want to run such ‘prohibited’ commands, you will need to remove the sandbox configuration from the app.

Better Extension

The extension I put together here will work in most situations, but there are conditions where different parts might not work well. Quinn the Eskimo has published this code which goes further and is probably “even more” thread safe.

Launching commands is an “expensive” task. You should always do some research to see if there is some framework that can give you access to the same functionality natively in Swift. Nevertheless, sometimes it might be necessary, and sometimes it might just be easier to call out to an external command.

This tutorial should help you along the way of using these tools effectively.

Managed Xcode Deployment

Over on the Jamf Blog, I have an article on “Managed Xcode Deployment.” In it I explain what the special challenges for managed deployments of Xcode and how MacAdmins can solve them.

Most of the challenges from Xcode come from the fact that it is a very big application. But there is also the problem that Xcode doesn’t really play by the rules that all other third party applications in the Mac App Store have to abide by, because it does install extra software and requires administrator privileges on first install…

Check out the post for my solutions!

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RAID and macOS

RAIDs are a strange edge case that are rarely useful outside of servers, but when they are useful, they are very important. RAID is an acronym for ‘Redundant Array of Independent/Inexpensive Disks.’ It is a technology where you combine multiple, physical disks into a single virtual drive for redundancy, speed, or both.

Often the RAID system is handled by a dedicated controller in an external enclosure, but sometimes, you want or need to work with drives directly. macOS has some basic RAID functionality built-in and there are good third party options if you want to go further.

RAID Levels

If you are unfamiliar with RAIDs, we need to get some terminology sorted out first. There are different kinds of RAIDs which are called ‘levels.’

In this post, I am going to focus on level 1 or ‘RAID 1.’ With RAID 1, the data is ‘mirrored’ between two or more drives, so that each drive carries a complete copy of the data. This protects from data loss because of drive failure. Note that RAID 1 does not protect from other common reasons for data loss, such as file system or individual file corruption, accidental or malicious file deletion. A RAID is never a replacement for a good backup strategy. Since the data is mirrored on all the devices, a RAID 0 will only have the capacity of the smallest drive in the set. It is generally recommended that drives in any RAID set should be of the same capacity and type, for best performance and efficiency.

A level 0 RAID (or ‘RAID 0’) is not actually redundant. In a RAID 0 the data is ‘striped’ across two or more drives so that writes and reads happen in parallel, which increases the data bandwidth available. Since the data is spread evenly (striped) across all drives in the RAID 0 set, failure of a single drive will result in complete data loss. The capacity of the stripe raid is the capacity of the smallest drive in the set multiplied by the number of drives in the set. Having drives of the same type and capacity is even more relevant for RAID 0 performance.

There are more RAID levels, such as 0+1, 10 and 5 and dedicated disk controllers will have more options (such as combining multiple drives of different sizes more efficiently), but we will focus RAID 1 (mirror).

Here, there be dragons

Warning: many of the commands shown here to setup and experiment with disk drives and RAIDs may or will lead to loss of the data on the drives involved, so be careful. I strongly recommend disconnecting any drives other than those you are experimenting with from the Mac you are working on.

I would also recommend to experiment with a set of drives that contain no relevant data at all. Two USB sticks will do just fine to explore and test the functionality. Drives do not have to be of the same capacity and type for testing, but I do recommend that for actual use.

Apple RAID

macOS has built-in support for software-based mirror and stripe RAID called “AppleRAID.” This also provides a third option to concatenate drives, but concatenation provides neither redundancy, nor performance, so I do not recommend using it.

You can use the Disk Utility app to setup a RAID. It has a nice assistant that you an access from the File menu called RAID Assistant. It will ask you what kind of RAID you want to setup and allow you to select the drives and create a new RAID volume. This will delete the data on the disk drives and there are few features that are not exposed in the Disk Utility UI, so I will focus on how to do it in the command line.

You can keep Disk Utility open to get a visual representation of what is going on, though the Disk Utility app often has problems keeping up with changes done from the command line. You may have to quit and restart the app to force it to update its status. You want to enable “Show all Devices” from the View menu to see the physical drives as well as the file systems and virtual drives.

First, we need to identify the disks that we want to work with. When you run diskutil list it will list all the disk on the system. Usually disk0 will be the built-in drive, and disk3 will be the (synthesized) APFS container inside (with the System and Data volume). But depending on what Mac you are using, what your configuration is, and what devices you had attached to the Mac before you started this, the numbers may be different.

Again, to be safe, unmount and disconnect any drives or file servers with data that you care about at this point, and the connect the two drives you want to use for experimentation. Their data will be erased!

Run diskutil list again and identify the device identifiers for the drives you will be working with. They should look like this:

/dev/disk4 (external, physical):

For me, the two drives where disk4 and disk5, so I will be using those numbers in my examples, but be sure to replace those with the device numbers on your system, other wise you might be working with the wrong disk or volume.

Promoting a drive to mirror RAID

One of the features you can use from the command line is to ‘promote’ an existing drive to a mirror RAID without data loss. Apple RAID promotion works (as far as I can tell) only with HFS+ formatted Volumes, so let us reformat the first disk (disk4) as such:

> diskutil eraseDisk JHFS+ DiskName disk4 
Started erase on disk4
Unmounting disk
Creating the partition map
Waiting for partitions to activate
Formatting disk4s2 as Mac OS Extended (Journaled) with name DiskName
Initialized /dev/rdisk4s2 as a 59 GB case-insensitive HFS Plus volume with a 8192k journal
Mounting disk
Finished erase on disk4

Using the command line, we will be able to promote this HFS+ drive without have to erase it (again), so copy some (un-important) files to it now.

diskutil has a sub-group of commands dedicated to the RAID functions called appleRAID or ar for short. I am going to use the short form. You can run diskutil ar to get a list of the sub-commands for working with Apple Raid. You can read the diskutil man page for details.

Next we have to enable AppleRAID on the drive. Enabling RAID on single drive seems a bit pointless, but this prepares everything on that drive, so that we can add more drives later.

> diskutil ar enable mirror DiskName
Started RAID operation on disk4s2 (DiskName)
Resizing disk
Unmounting disk
Adding a booter for the disk
Creating a RAID set
Bringing the RAID partition online
Waiting for the new RAID to spin up "8D05B6EB-DCFB-426D-885B-ED8C76DC2484"
Finished RAID operation on disk4s2 (DiskName)

The volume and the files you had copied earlier are still there. But the volume is now listed under “RAID Sets” in Disk Utility. You can see the single drive in the RAID Set in the UI there. You can also get this info in command line with

> diskutil ar list   
AppleRAID sets (1 found)
===============================================================================
Name:                 DiskName
Unique ID:            8D05B6EB-DCFB-426D-885B-ED8C76DC2484
Type:                 Mirror
Status:               Online
Size:                 63.8 GB (63816400896 Bytes)
Rebuild:              manual
Device Node:          disk6
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
#  DevNode   UUID                                  Status     Size
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
0  disk4s2   467826B1-BBA2-4671-99CE-5CBB04E06882  Online     63816400896
===============================================================================

To make this a real mirror RAID, we need to add the second drive:

> diskutil ar add member disk5 DiskName                
Started RAID operation on disk6 (DiskName)
Unmounting disk
Repartitioning disk5 so it can be in a RAID set
Unmounting disk
Creating the partition map
Adding disk5s2 to the RAID Set
Finished RAID operation on disk6 (DiskName)

This will add the drive to the RAID. This will delete any data that might be on disk5!

When you look at the RAID in Disk Utility (you might have to restart the app for it to pick up the new status) you will now see both drives, but one of them has the status “Rebuilding” with a percentage. The status of the entire RAID set is now “Degraded.” The RAID system is still in the process of mirroring data to the new member. You can use the volume to read and write data at this time, but it is not redundant yet. If the first drive fails during rebuilding, the data will be gone.

Once the rebuilding is done, the status of the RAID will change to “Online,” which is the “good” status. At this point the data on the RAID will be resilient to the failure or removal of either of the drives.

You can also create the RAID with both drives from the start, but this will erase all the data on both drives (this is what RAID Assistant in Disk Utility does.

Before we can try the other way of creating a mirror RAID set, we need to “break” the mirror we have built so far.

> diskutil ar delete DiskName
Started RAID operation on disk6 (DiskName)
Unmounting volume for RAID set 8D05B6EB-DCFB-426D-885B-ED8C76DC2484
Destroying the RAID set 8D05B6EB-DCFB-426D-885B-ED8C76DC2484
Finished RAID operation on disk6 (DiskName)

If you waited for the rebuilding to be complete, both individual drives will each contain the data of the former mirror RAID. If the rebuilding was not complete yet, only the first drive will contain the data, the second drive will be empty.

Create a new RAID set

Now let’s build a new empty mirror RAID with both drives included from the start:

> diskutil ar create mirror DiskName APFS disk4 disk5
Started RAID operation
Unmounting proposed new member disk4
Unmounting proposed new member disk5
Repartitioning disk4 so it can be in a RAID set
Unmounting disk
Creating the partition map
Using disk4s2 as a data slice
Repartitioning disk5 so it can be in a RAID set
Unmounting disk
Creating the partition map
Using disk5s2 as a data slice
Creating a RAID set
Bringing the RAID partitions online
Waiting for the new RAID to spin up "FE3E7A3F-E4BF-4AEE-BC3C-094A9BFB3251"
Mounting disk
Finished RAID operation

Note that we can build an APFS volume on the RAID set with the command line tool. RAID Assistant in Disk Utility will build a HFS+ volume. In this new empty RAID set both drives will be online immediately.

When you replace the mirror with stripe in this command you will get a striped RAID 0 volume. (performance instead of redundancy)

Drive failure

We can simulate a drive failure by unplugging one of the members. Sadly, macOS does not seem to have a notification for this event. Once you have removed the drive you can run disktutil ar list and see the status is “Degraded” and the which member is “Missing/Damaged.” You can keep using the volume in degraded mode.

Once you plug the drive back in it will appear as ‘failed.’ You can start the process of repairing or rebuilding the mirror with

> diskutil ar repairMirror FE3E7A3F-E4BF-4AEE-BC3C-094A9BFB3251 disk5  
Started RAID operation
Unmounting disk
Repartitioning disk5 so it can be in a RAID set
Unmounting disk
Creating the partition map
Adding disk5s2 to the RAID Set
Finished RAID operation

Note: Syncing data between mirror partitions can take a very long time.
Note: The mirror should now be repairing itself.  You can check its status using 'diskutil appleRAID list'.

The UUID is the UniqueID of the RAID set you see with diskutil ar list. The warning you get at the end is fair. The rebuilding process will take a while. How it takes depends on how full the volume is and how fast the new member drive is.

Downsides of AppleRAID

There are quite a few downsides to the built-in AppleRAID functionality. There is no notification or warning when one of the drives in a mirror goes offline and the RAID is running in degraded state. The RAID will also not automatically rebuild when a missing drive re-appears. (There is an AutoRebuild option mention in man page, but whenever I tried to enable that, the entire disk management stack froze in a way that required a reboot.)

AppleRAID can be useful to quickly stripe some random disks for performance. But generally, if the data was of so much concern that I am considering RAID 1, I would not rely on AppleRAID.

SoftRAID

There is a wonderful third party tool for managing software based RAIDs on macOS called SoftRAID (14-day free trial, then a tiered license). And, much to my delight, it also comes with a command line tool. Creating a RAID is not something you do regularly, so I went ahead and did this in the GUI app. Once that was setup, I used the command line tool to get the RAID’s status:

> softraidtool volume DiskName info

Info for "DiskName":

Mountpoint: /Volumes/DiskName
BSD disk: disk4
Total Bytes: 59.6 GB (64,016,478,208)
Free Bytes: 59.6 GB (64,016,478,208)
Volume format: unknown
Volume is DiskName
RAID level: RAID 1
DiskName ID: 09DF05C72BFFAD20
Optimized for: Workstation
Created: Jul 17, 2023 at 3:33:39 PM
Last Validated: never
Volume state: normal, 
Volume Safeguard: enabled
Total I/Os: 5,610
Total I/O Errors: 0
Total number secondary disks (including offline ones): 1

Disks used for this volume:
bsd disk:    SoftRAID ID:         Location and Size:
disk7     09DF053ECE82F980     (USB3 bus 0, id 4 - 59.8 GB)  secondary disk, 
disk6     09DF053D23386500     (USB3 bus 0, id 5 - 59.8 GB)  primary disk, 

The SoftRAID software also comes with a menubar app that shows the status of the RAID.

When you unplug one of the drives, the ‘Volume state’ changes to ‘missing disk.’ When you plug the missing drive back in, SoftRAID will automatically detect it and rebuild the RAID, when necessary. Rebuilding went so quickly that I had a hard time capturing the state from the command line. The more changes you apply to the degraded RAID the longer the rebuild takes.

> softraidtool volume SoftRAID info
SoftRAIDTool status: waiting for disk5 to finish (00:00:01)

Info for "SoftRAID":

Mountpoint: /Volumes/SoftRAID
BSD disk: disk5
Total Bytes: 59.6 GB (64,016,478,208)
Free Bytes: 59.6 GB (64,016,478,208)
Volume format: unknown
Volume is SoftRAID
RAID level: RAID 1
SoftRAID ID: 09DF06D95024CBE0
Optimized for: Workstation
Created: Jul 17, 2023 at 3:53:16 PM
Last Validated: never
Volume state: rebuiding, out of sync, 
Volume Safeguard: enabled
Volume progress: 15%
Current offset: 7,343,685,632
Time remaining: 00:07:24
Total I/Os: 22,752
Total I/O Errors: 0
Total number secondary disks (including offline ones): 1

Disks used for this volume:
bsd disk:    SoftRAID ID:         Location and Size:
disk4     09DF053ECE82F980     (USB3 bus 0, id 4 - 59.8 GB)  primary disk, 
disk7     09DF053D23386500     (USB3 bus 0, id 5 - 59.8 GB)  secondary disk, rebuiding, out of sync, 

You can parse this output using awk to get just the volume state. This is useful for reporting the state to Jamf Pro with an extension attribute:

#!/bin/sh

# reports the SoftRAID status

softraidtool="/usr/local/bin/softraidtool"

if [ ! -x "$softraidtool" ]; then
    echo "<result>SoftRAID not installed</result>"
fi

volumestate=$(softraidtool volume SoftRAID info | awk -F ': ' '/Volume state/ {print $2}')

echo "<result>$volumestate</result>"

Keep in mind that Jamf Inventory Updates (aka as recon) may run very infrequently (recommended default is once per day, and it shouldn’t run much more often than that to avoid database bloat), so the data in your Jamf Pro may be hours or sometimes longer out of date. If you want to react to changes in the RAID status more quickly, you should rely on other tools than Jamf Pro.

Conclusion

The best solution for RAIDs will always be a dedicated hardware controller. But there also good reasons (cost) to just put together a “bunch of disks” into a RAID. The built-in AppleRAID functionality works, but has limitations, especially for mirror RAIDs. SoftRAID is a great tool to overcome these limitations. For Mac admins, both can be managed and monitored with command line tools, which allows automation and integration with your management system.

Weekly News Summary for Admins – 2023-07-07

We got the third set of betas for macOS Sonoma and iOS 17 this week. I hope your testing is going well. Mine actually is, so far.


(Sponsor: Mosyle)

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Summer is in full swing and the number of posts and articles is declining as people are taking well deserved breaks. This means that this news summary will also go on summer break. It will return on September 9, with a large summary of what happened over the summer, just in time for the final stretch of beta releases and testing before the Fall releases.

That doesn’t mean you won’t hear anything from me. I am planning to use the time to write and finish a few articles that I have been tinkering with and work on some other projects that I have been mulling about. If something really interesting happens that is relevant to MacAdmins I will post about it.

I also plan to post and re-share interesting links on my Mastodon account. With all the turbulence in the social media space, that is the service I am using most right now. There is a nicely sized community of MacAdmins and related experts in the Fediverse now. I will also be (as always) active on the MacAdmins Slack.

I hope you get to enjoy a well-deserved break or at least a bit of a quieter time. See you in September!

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Security and Privacy

Support and HowTos

Scripting and Automation

Updates and Releases

To Listen

Just for Fun

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!

Weekly News Summary for Admins — 2023-06-30

The year is already half over. Summer is in full swing in the northern hemisphere. Nevertheless, MacAdmins everywhere are very busy publishing their wonderful work, in blog posts, GitHub repos, and at conferences and meetings. Several interesting posts and updates this week, thank you all!


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Mosyle is the only solution that fully integrates Enhanced MDM, Endpoint Security, Internet Privacy & Security, Single Sign-On, and Application Management on a single Apple-only platform.

Click here to learn why Mosyle is all you need to work with Apple.


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

Security and Privacy

Support and HowTos

Scripting and Automation

Updates and Releases

To Watch

To Listen

Just for Fun

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!

Weekly News Summary for Admins — 2023-06-23

Busy week with a surprise security update for most Apple platforms, beta 2 for macOS Sonoma, iOS and all their siblings and beta for Xcode 15 with a brand new SDK for visionOS 1.0, which means that you can start building apps for visionOS and play around with visionOS in the simulator…


(Sponsor: Mosyle)

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The only Apple Unified Platform for Business

Mosyle is the only solution that fully integrates Enhanced MDM, Endpoint Security, Internet Privacy & Security, Single Sign-On, and Application Management on a single Apple-only platform.

Click here to learn why Mosyle is all you need to work with Apple.


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

visionOS 1.0

These links lead to various pages on Apple’s Developer site and are targeted towards that audience and not admins. Nevertheless, I believe they may contain interesting bits for all Apple users.

macOS and iOS Updates

Security and Privacy

Support and HowTos

Scripting and Automation

Updates and Releases

To Listen

Just for Fun

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!

Weekly News Summary for Admins — 2023-06-16

I am still catching up on WWDC videos and processing all the news. But overall it is looking like the system upgrades for this Fall are going to substantial improvements with regards to managing Apple devices.

We also got a new round oof betas for macOS 13.5 and iOS 16.6 this week.


(Sponsor: Mosyle)

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The only Apple Unified Platform for Business

Mosyle is the only solution that fully integrates Enhanced MDM, Endpoint Security, Internet Privacy & Security, Single Sign-On, and Application Management on a single Apple-only platform.

Click here to learn why Mosyle is all you need to work with Apple.


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.)

macOS Sonoma and iOS 17

Social Media

  • Ricky Mondello on Hachyderm.io: “The feature that allows you to share passkeys and passwords in iOS 17 and macOS Sonoma is not at all limited to families. You can set up shared groups with any collection of close contacts. And you can set up as many groups as you’d like.”

Support and HowTos

Scripting and Automation

Apple Support

Updates and Releases

To Watch

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!

Weekly News Summary for Admins — 2023-06-09

Wow, what a week!


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If you think your company or product is a good fit to sponsor this newsletter, please contact me!

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.)

WWDC 2023

WWDC 23 is on and started with an amazing keynote. When they introduce three new Mac models, including the new Apple silicon based Mac Pro in the first 20 minutes, then you know it’s going to be in for quite ride. After 80 minutes, there was a moment where it wasn’t quite certain there was going to be a “One more thing…” and I thought I would have been happy if they had stopped there. New Macs, Apple silicon transition completed, many good new features for macOS, iOS, and watchOS.

But they didn’t stop and introduced the ‘Vision Pro,’ which is neither a ‘VR’ nor a ‘AR headset’, but a ‘spatial computer’ with a ‘spatial operating system.’ Whatever Apple calls it, this was the preview, mainly for the developers and it will not be available until next year and even then only in the US, so I will take my time until I make my judgement about this. This opinion is a step up from my former opinion of any VR/AR/spatial computer from Apple (or anyone), which can only be described as ‘indifferent.’

The potential of the Vision Pro and concept of ‘spatial computing’ seems great. The question whether Apple can achieve that potential remains. The price point and limited availability are clear signs that Apple is aware that this platform is maybe ‘not quite ready yet.’ But other platforms, like the Apple TV, iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and back in the day, even the Mac and the first PowerBooks took a few years to really find and define their purpose, too.

Sessions for MacAdmins

Apple has released more than 170 sessions for WWDC. Most of those sessions are focused on developers and not people who manage and deploy Macs and other Apple devices. Here is a list of sessions that I think MacAdmins should watch.

If you haven’t seen either of these, you really should. They give an excellent overview of what Apple thinks is relevant for the upcoming platforms. You might have other priorities, and that is fair, but getting the overview picture and an impression of where Apple is heading is important.

Don’t miss this

Always a great overview of what is will happen for Mac and iOS management. Covers many topics that don’t quite merit their own session.

Business & Education

Apple has a “Business & Education” topic in the developer app. These will be in-depth explanations of some specific new features.

Other interesting sessions

While these sessions will likely be very focused on developer topics, they often contain interesting explanations of how to use and sometimes how to manage these features.

And now, on to the news…

Apple devices

macOS Sonoma and iOS 17

Community

News and Opinion

Social Media

  • mikeymikey:open 'x-apple.systempreferences:com.apple.Software-Update-Settings.extension?action=showBetaUpdates'” (Thread)

Security and Privacy

Support and HowTos

Scripting and Automation

Apple Support

Updates and Releases

To Listen

Just for Fun

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!

Weekly News Summary for Admins — 2023-06-02

This is the Friday before WWDC. Next week we will know more about Apple’s plans for the upcoming platforms, and whether the virtual headset is real or continues to be vaporware. Will there be new Macs? Finally a Apple Silicon Mac Pro!?


(Sponsor: vast limits)

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Provide productive AND secure digital employee experiences

uberAgent is an innovative digital employee experience monitoring and endpoint security analytics product for macOS and Windows. uberAgent helps enterprise IT provide fast, reliable, and secure devices & applications that boost employee productivity while strengthening cybersecurity. Try for yourself and get your free 100-user community license at uberagent.com.


Next week Friday we will also have seen the “What’s new for Enterprise” session that is probably hiding behind all those (admittedly quite funny) made up session names in the WWDC Slack for now. This will be the really interesting session for us Apple admins.

But the most interesting things released next week will be the beta of all the platforms. Check your AppleSeed for IT logins. Warm up your internet lines for the gigabytes of downloads. Get Apple Configurator ready in case you need to downgrade devices. Backup important data on the devices you want use for testing. Get the Developer app on your devices updated, so you can watch the videos.

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.)

Focus

I will be presenting at the JamfNation Live events in Wiesbaden and Amsterdam. (Be sure to checkout the events in London and Paris, as well. You can still register.) Attendees to the German event will have the honor of listening to me presenting in German for the first time in nearly two decades. The language for the Amsterdam event will be English, in case you were wondering if it might be worth crossing a border to go there.

We took the opportunity to do our Benelux MacAdmins Meetup the evening before the Amsterdam JNL event (June 19). The event is free but requires registration as the seats are limited and filling up quickly. I will be taking part in a panel discussion on Patch Management. Dean Hager (Jamf CEO) will be the special guest.

Later this year, I will also be presenting at MacSysAdmin in Göteborg, Sweden. The program isn’t published yet, but you can already register!

When you run across me at any of these events, feel free to say hi! I will have some Scripting OS X stickers for those who know to ask…

News and Opinion

Security and Privacy

Support and HowTos

Scripting and Automation

Updates and Releases

To Watch

To Listen

Just for Fun

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!