Automate those apps. Get some robot love 🤖 ❤️!

If only one person needs an application then I think about using Munki to deploy that app. If more than one person should have it then Munki is definitely the way to automate app deployment. And really, if you’re going to take the time to download an app from a website, mount a disk image or un-pack a ZIP archive, run an installer, type an admin password, close that installer … then for the love of all that is good just put the app into your Munki repo and be done with it. Automate it.

Using Munki to solve problems makes sense. Automation helps everyone in this case. But if you’re putting in one off applications into your Munki repo more often than you need to, you need to get those apps into Autopkg. Using Autopkg recipes to download the latest apps and put them into your Munki repo automatically is an automation love fest, but if your apps don’t have recipes what are you going to do? Manually add your apps to Munki? No way. We need a robot 🤖❤️. Recipe robot, that is.

Using Recipe Robot we can build Autopkg recipes for most apps then add the recipes to the Autopkg community to enjoy. Everyone wins.

I recently created recipes for two important apps in my media workflow: Kyno and Hedge. I’ll show an example of this workflow using Recipe Robot and Munki Admin to demonstrate the workflow.

Step 1. Feed the robot.

Drag and and drop the app you want to create your Autopkg recipes.

RecipeRobot-FeedMe

Step 2. Watch the robot do it’s work

RecipeRobot-start

Step 3. Robot is done. Recipes made.

RecipeRobot-Done

Various type of recipes can be made. I chose download and munki because those are what I am using to automate adding apps to my Munki repo. But there are other options: jss, Filewave, or “install” for example.

reciperobot-options.jpg

Step 4. Run those Recipes

You can use your recipes locally with Autopkg. Run them in Terminal or use Autopkgr , a very nice GUI app for automating the collection and scheduling of recipes. Note: Autopkg and Munki can all be run via cli (command line interface) but for this demo we are showing the GUI apps that are there provided by outstanding members of the community. Many Thanks to them and the contributors to their projects.

Autopkgr-notification

Autopkgr app can send notifications in macOS, emails, or post to your Slack group.

Step 5. See the recipes, Use them wisely

MunkiAdmin-Recently ChangedPKGS

Here is an example of newly imported Kyno and Hedge apps in our Munki repo (via Munki Admin GUI).

MunkiAdmin-Description

Add a display name, choose which catalogs the apps will reside in, and check that the description will help explain what the app is.

References:

Elliot Jordan – Autopkg talk at MacDevOps:YVR

https://youtu.be/Q_cvgGtJ71M

Elliot Jordan – Recipe Robot talk at MacDevOps:YVR

https://youtu.be/DgjO1mfMHtI

 

Use Munki to install a screensaver

Use munki-pkg to package up stuff and make your life easier when managing Macs using munki. Here is an example of installing a screensaver.

Why use munki-pkg? How else do you install stuff using munki, run scripts, and version your testing buildings all in one easy to use application? This is all possible with munki-pkg.

Munki-pkg makes package (PKG) installers, Munki likes pkg installers. Munki will also install apps, run scripts, install profiles, and do many things but packages are useful because we can put files in specific places, such as the main computer level screensaver folder, then run a script to set it as a default.

Download munki-pkg and create a working project folder.

Step 1.

Create the folders you need and place your files (payloads) in the right places.

munkipkg-payload.png

Step 2.

Create your post install script if you need one. Example: setting the screensaver you just installed as the default.

#!/bin/sh

defaults -currentHost write com.apple.screensaver moduleDict -dict moduleName Brooklyn path /System/Library/Screen\ Savers/Brooklyn.saver/ type 0

 

munkipkg-postinstall.png

Step 3. Build your package

Run munki-pkg on the command line and build your package. If you make changes then version up in your build-info.plist and build again.

munkipkg-build.png

 

 

Automate it! Hedge API example apps

Quick post to talk about some fun I’ve been having with the new Hedge API.

Background: Hedge is an awesome app for securely copying Camera Cards to multiple destinations to ensure data integrity and safety of the original footage. Hedge is one part of a workflow I build for my clients. Hedge is the first step in ensuring an easy and convenient transition from the cameras to the SAN to the tape archive powered by Archiware P5.

TL;DR

Using AppleScript and Automator I have built some apps to quickly set the file naming and data integrity preferences as we want them to be.  And also quickly change them to something else depending on the needed workflow.

API or Clickety click click

Copying camera cards copies is what we use Hedge for. Certain preferences like logs or receipts are great to have to ensure the copy succeeded. Also file naming conventions are good to have. Set and forget, right? But what if you did forget? Or if you’re new and don’t know the convention or you don’t read documentation. What do we do? One way to solve this is build an app that launches Hedge and sets the correct preferences. And if we want to copy USB sticks or something else then we can launch another app that prepares Hedge with a different set of preferences.  For extra points we just ask the user what they want with a nice dialog box and just do that.

hedge

Automator

Automator is awesome. Create workflows, apps, or services amongst many other things. For more info on Automator check out Apple’s official docs or this unofficial website of resources.

Automator.png

For this quick testing I used two AppleScripts with different preferences and settings defined. One for camera card copying and another for USB sticks that need different preferences set. The fancy automator app just calls the needed AppleScript. Make two apps and you have two different workflows without having to explain to users which prefs get set for what, or how the file naming should go to be consistent.

Example 1: Cam Card script (snippet)Hedge-Automator.png

Example 2: USB card copy (snippet)

Hedge-ApplesriptUSB.png

 

Automator can do many things. Call AppleScripts, Run shell scripts, pop-up dialog boxes etc and this is just a simple example of building single purpose apps to set Hedge via its new API. Very cool and so many possibilities.

AppleScript

What if we could just build one app which asked the user what they wanted to do? We can do that!

AppleScript-DialogQuit.png

Choose “Cam” and the appropriate preferences are set and file naming conventions applied.

Hedge-CamCard-Prefs.png

Hedge-CamCard-FileNaming.png

Choose “USB” and a different set of preferences are set. Magic.

Hedge-USBCard-Prefs.png

Hedge-USBCard-FileNaming.png

How do we do this? This piece of AppleScript chains an action to a response or button choice. Run a script or choose an action. The possibilities are endless. And thanks to the Hedge API we can set preferences on or off, and set destinations or many other things. We can do them programmatically and we can ensure they are set correctly. Fun times!

Hedge-API-Script-Quit.png

AppleScript vs POSIX:

I updated my AppleScript code with the POSIX path of the scripts it wants to load. It’s a major improvement! I had packaged up my scripts and my Hedge Setup app with munkipkg then deployed through Munki but when I demoed it — nothing worked…. because the start up disk drive was named something else. The fix: set a variable to be the POSIX path (Unix path in AppleScript friendly format).

Scripting and App Building

I hope that helped. We can do a lot of the same things with Python and in my testing I was working with a script written in python3 but since that’s not shipping on Macs in the current version of macOS by default (not yet!) then AppleScript was the quickest way to get this done. This is not restricted to AppleScript. Using Automator and your favourite scripting language you can build apps for your clients, co-workers, friends and family.

A note about the Hedge API:

There are two major calls I use in my scripts “setDestination” and “setPreferences”

The “setDestination” call looks like this:

open ‘hedge://actions?json=[{“setDestination”:{“path”:”/Volumes/LaCie/Testing/Test1″}},{“token”:”1234567890123345555″}]’

Note: the token is generated for you when you have a Pro license.

The “the setPreferences” call uses plist keys.

Note: I’ll have more say about using the actual Hedge API after it is officially announced.

No NetBoot, No problem: installr and bootstrappr

It’s 2019, and NetBoot is almost dead. All new Macs have T2 chips. Sent from the future to protect us from …. ourselves? No more NetBoot, no problem!!

When NetBoot first appeared and I was able to boot entire labs of Macs across the network I was amazed and overjoyed. It was awesome. Spinning globe, spinning…

Netboot-GlobeSpin.jpg

But in the years since I’ve moved on to no-imaging. Using Munki to manage software means no more imaging, just install Munki and a small config change to point to the Munki server, thereafter the software that should be there goes on, and what’s not supposed to be there goes away. Simple. Just install one package, well, maybe two, then you’re good.

Well, what if you want to streamline or automate these things? What if these are new Macs which don’t have users configured? What if we could do all this from recovery mode? Hmm… Enter bootstrappr and installr!!

bootstrappr

This awesome project allows to add packages to install in one step while booted in recovery mode. Plug in a USB stick with the bootstrapr script to run the package install magic or mount a disk image over http. Create a DMG with the included script make_dmg.sh. And now this is the best part: in recovery mode open the Terminal app from Utilities and type:

hdiutil mount http://server/yourDMG.dmg

Then:

/Volumes/bootstrap/run

When it’s done you can Reboot the Mac and you’ll have a set up customized to your liking with Munki installed and configured with custom settings.

installr

The installr script works in the same way but adds the macOS installer to the party. You can also mount the DMG over http and re-image a Mac and then add your custom packages. It’s awesome. Truly amazing.

One note: Added packages in Installr must be in a special format. From the installr site: startosinstall requires that all additional packages be Distribution-style packages (typically built with productbuild) and not component-style packages (typically built with pkgbuild)

productbuild --package component.pkg --version x.y --identifier com.example.component distribution.pkg

In one of my first tests with installr and pycreateuserpkg I was caught up by this, even though it is properly mentioned in the read me. Packages that work in Bootstrappr or munki directly don’t necessarily work when called by the macOS installer (startoinstall). Armin Briegel was helpful in the MacAdmins Slack and reminded me of this. Thanks Armin and thanks everyone on the MacAdmins Slack.

Many Thanks to Greg Neagle for creating these tools and Munki. Looking forward to hearing him speak at the next MacDevOps:YVR conference June 12-14, 2019. Greg will be speaking about his efforts to port some parts of Munki from Python to Swift. More info on the conference and speakers here: https://mdoyvr.com/speakers/

Also a shout out to Graham Gilbert who has worked on Imagr (MDOYVR talk), over the years, an imaging and automation tool which was also an inspiration (along with bootstrappr and installr) to Tim Perfit and his MDS project.

Update: corrected the names of installr and bootstrappr in the title because… autocorrect.

 

Blocking minor major macOS upgrades

Continuing our theme of welcoming our new macOS overlords, uh, I mean, blocking major macOS upgrades such as macOS 10.14 Mojave with AppBlock we shall examine some other methods of stopping the freight train known as Apple upgrades.

1) A smart person on the MacAdmins Slack posted a useful command to tell macOS not to download major upgrades.

In their testing, running:

`software update –ignore macOSInstallerNotification_GM`

blocks the installation of the Mojave notification package (at /Library/Bundles/OSXNotification.bundle).

However if it already installed, then it’s too late. They pushed out this command prior to that package being distributed by Apple, and they could subsequently see in install.log that the update is being found by softwareupdated but not being installed.

2) If you missed the chance to tell the Mac not to download major macOS upgrades then Rick Heil on his blog has detailed a way using munki to delete the bundle that triggers the macOS upgrade installer.

3) App Block

If your users are intent or their computers are all hell bent on downloading the install app then block it with App block detailed in my previously mentioned blog post

4) Warning

In an effort to get an early warning when users are about to upgrade I use Watchman Monitoring to send me an alert email when a Mac starts downloading the Install macOS app. Sometimes it’s enough of a warning to send an email to a user to ask them whether it is a good idea to upgrade at this time. If storage or software needed for production or backups aren’t qualified or tested thoroughly beforehand then upgrading in the early waves can be less than ideal and frought with peril.

In other interesting and related news, Victor (MicroMDM) was spelunking into the MDM Protocol for what prompts Macs like iOS devices to download major updates. Great post here

If you have any better ways to block macOS upgrades or want to contribute some great solutions let me know. Cheers

 

 

 

 

To install macOS Mojave, or not to?

InstallMojave

Just the other day macOS Mojave was released and now the armies of Macs armed only with the AppStore are silently downloading the installer and ready to upgrade. You can’t hurry too fast to be on the bleeding edge, hurry faster!

Just in case you don’t want everyone to install macOS 10.14.0 (dot zero!) in the first week of its release here’s a way to slow down the upgrade hordes using Erik Berglund’s AppBlocker script. Erik Berglund is also the author of ProfileCreator (for creating profiles) and the author of many other great scripts.

Note: for true binary whitelisting check out Google’s Santa project and Upvote (and Moroz and Zentral, two other Santa sync servers).

Step 1. Get it

Clone or download the AppBlocker project from GitHub

AppleBlockerProject.png

Step 2. Do it

Edit the AppBlocker.py script with the Bundle Identifier of your app to block, in this case for the Mojave installer from the AppStore it is:

com.apple.InstallAssistant.Mojave

You can also edit the alert message, and the icon that is shown, as well as decide if the blocked app should be deleted or not. The script is easy to edit in BBEdit, or nano (in Terminal). Use whatever your favorite text editor is to make the necessary changes.

# List of all blocked bundle identifiers. Can use regexes.
blockedBundleIdentifiers = ['com.apple.InstallAssistant.Mojave']

# Whether the blocked application should be deleted if launched
deleteBlockedApplication = False

# Whether the user should be alerted that the launched applicaion was blocked
alertUser = True

# Message displayed to the user when application is blocked
alertMessage = "The application \"{appname}\" has been blocked by IT"
alertInformativeText = "Contact your administrator for more information"

# Use a custom Icon for the alert. If none is defined here, the Python rocketship will be shown.
alertIconPath = "/System/Library/CoreServices/CoreTypes.bundle/Contents/Resources/Actions.icns"

UPDATED NOTE:

To determine the Bundle identifier of other applications you can use osascript

osascript -e 'id of app "iTunes"'
com.apple.iTunes

If you want to block more than one app use a comma separated list in the AppBlocker.py script:

['com.apple.InstallAssistant.Mojave','com.apple.iTunes']

 

Step 3. Run it

Put the script where you want to run it. The default location as defined in the launchd plist included with the app is “/usr/local/bin”. Put the launchd.plist in “/Library/LaunchDaemons/” and start up your launchd to block your apps!

launchctl load /Library/LaunchDaemons/com.github.erikberglund.AppBlocker.plist

Step 4. Automate it

For bonus points we automate! Bundle it all up in a package with munkipkg, then distribute it with Munki to all your clients.

Using munkipkg is easy. Create the folder using munkipkg

./munkipkg --create AppBlocker

munkipkg: Created new package project at AppBlocker

Then you fill the payload folders with those items you downloaded from the AppBlocker project. LauchD plist in the LaunchDaemons folder and AppBlocker.py in the “usr local bin” (create each nested folder).

AppBlocker-Munkipkg3.png

And finally create a post install script (no “.sh”) with the launchctl action to start your plist.

AppBlocker-Munkipkg4.png

Last but not least add this package to your Munki repo as an unattended managed install  that everyone gets. Of course, only do this after testing your package locally somewhere to verify that it works properly. Remember the saying: “You may not test very often, but when you do it’s always in production.” Be very careful with your testing but always automate all the things.

Updated after the initial blog post to explain how to add more than one app to block, and how to use osascript to determine the bundle identifier.

 

 

 

Be a NoMAD!

 

NoMAD stands for “no more AD” and has nothing to do with a nomadic lifestyle, nomads, ronin or other wandering IT professionals. Sorry.

NoMAD allows you to stop binding Macs to a corporate domain and instead get your kerberos tickets as needed. Connect to those file shares, change your password, and other fun tasks, without being stuck on the domain and constantly resetting your keychain from the insanity of password retention policies.

NoMAD-intro

Using Autopkg and Autopkgr to feed trusted apps into your Munki repo you can easily deploy NoMAD to your fleet of Macs.

And for bonus points you can add your preference settings as “updates for” NoMAD in Munki. One such add on is a setting for an auto mounting sharepoint.

Name your file: “menu.nomad.shares.plist” and open up your favourite text editor.

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC “-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN” “http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd”&gt;
<plist version=”1.0″>
<dict>
<key>Shares</key>
<array>
<dict>
<key>AutoMount</key>
<true/>
<key>ConnectedOnly</key>
<true/>
<key>Groups</key>
<array/>
<key>LocalMount</key>
<string></string>
<key>Name</key>
<string>Corp_Share</string>
<key>Options</key>
<array/>
<key>URL</key>
<string>smb://winserver5000/Corp_Share</string>
</dict>
</array>
<key>Version</key>
<string>1</string>
</dict>
</plist>

Create a package with munkipkg and add this to Munki. Set the package as an update for Munki and as your NoMAD agent gets installed your updates for NoMAD go with it.

More tips and tricks in the future.