Packaging and deploying software

I am about to send an email to a software vendor asking them to please consider shipping their apps in a deployable Apple PKG format and I wanted to ask if anyone has some boilerplate text, excellent blog entry or list of arguments I can use. I could have posted in the MacAdmins slack, tweeted or posted a lovely photo on Instagram, but instead I sent an email to the MacEnterprise mail list.

Hat tip to Rick Heil on the MacEnterprise for pointing me to this post on AFP548 by Gary Larizza in June 2010.

“This one is an oldie but a goodie. It hits all my pain points, such as not assuming GUI interaction and minimizing pre/post scripts.”

https://www.afp548.com/2010/06/03/the-commandments-of-packaging-in-os-x/

Gary outlines his thesis in six rules:

  1. Do not assume that your package will be installed interactively via the GUI or on the currently booted volume.
  2. Unnecessary actions are unnecessary.
  3. Licensing should have the option to be managed by Systems Administrators.
  4. Use pre/post-install scripts only when necessary
  5. Be true to the Operating System
  6. Naming Conventions are Necessary and Helpful

All software vendors should aspire to follow these rules.

We should always send feedback to software vendors explaining carefully why their Mac OS X installers are not optimal for deployment when they are custom apps (e.g. InstallAnywhere) and not in Apple package format (i.e. PKG). Also, if the installers (as well as the app) require the legacy Java 6 then this seems to be a security risk and it is our duty to provide feedback if we hope to improve the situation in the future.

Another great source of information is Der Flounder, Rich Trouton’s blog, is worth perusing because of Rich’s excellent documentation and many excellent posts, including this one about re-packaging app:

“Using AutoPkg to build installer packages from installer applications” from May 24, 2016.

Reference: Re-packing using Auto PKG

As Rich succinctly puts it: “One of the challenges Mac admins have to deal with are Mac application installers which don’t follow one of the following models: Drag-and-drop installation or Package installation”.

Greg’s managingosx blog has many articles on packaging and I thank you for taking the time to write all those posts. We benefit greatly from all the work of everyone in this community. Greg has spoken at many conferences and given great packaging workshops.

Reference: packaging blog posts on Managing OSX
My personal preference for software deployment is to use Munki to deploy apps and not have to deploy app manually. While Mac sysadmins may use difference software for deployment, I think we are all in agreement in not wanting to do this manually when it can be automated. I don’t have a large IT team, and simple solutions based with Munki are best for me. Hence my desire for vendors to use the Apple PKG format where possible.

 

 

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