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

 

Compressor Tips and Tricks

 

Issue: Stuck job in Apple’s Compressor app.

Resolution: Remove the historical jobs in your local home folder.

~/Library/Application Support/Compressor/History/V4

Compressor-History2

Note: to get to your home folder hold down the OPTION key and select the Go menu in the Finder.

Compressor is the best sidekick to Apple’s Final Cut Pro X and it gets used a lot. But occasionally something goes awry. It’s software running on a computer. So we troubleshoot. What looked like a stuck running job was mostly leftover evidence of an old job. The Apple support document I found didn’t mention this tip but instead talked about zipping up your settings folder which has all your custom compressor settings for things like YouTube outputs or anything custom. Didn’t seem useful to me to remove but this historical stuff, don’t need it and POOF this solved the issues. It’s not always this easy but something you just take the win and go with it.

Reference:

Resolve an issue in Compressor: Learn how to isolate, troubleshoot, and fix issues in Compressor.

https://support.apple.com/en-ca/HT203476

Zoom in on Privacy and Security

Recent attention on video conferencing app Zoom and security exploits brings attention to the various Privacy and Security settings on your Mac. Currently macOS 10.14.5 Mojave defines microphone and camera settings which should be verified periodically if they’re not being managed by MDM (mobile device management) and even in those case, just to verify.

Zoom update

If you’ve ever had Zoom installed you must launch it and then update it manually, unless you have Munki or other patching solution to manage your Mac.

 

Zoom Enable camera access

If you want Zoom to have access to your camera (useful for video conferencing) then enable it or leave it disabled until the moment you actually need it.

Privacy-Camera-OFF-Settings.pngMaybe this is a good time to review what apps have previously been granted access and disable them or not after you review the situation.

Privacy-MIC2-Settings.png

Check your microphone access as well. What apps are in your list?

Further research:

Check out Objective See’s excellent security tools such as Oversight to protect yourself from unwanted access to your camera.

Also check out this past talk at MacDevOps:YVR 2018 by Kolide’s Zach Wasserman about osquery and at the 11min mark where he talks about another app BlueJeans and how to investigate it with osquery.

The MacDevOps:YVR videos from past talks contain many security related talks as well as other awesome troubleshooting tech talks.

 

 

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

 

 

PostLab ❤️ Hedge

Great news everyone. Hedge has acquired PostLab and with this news the main developer Jasper Siegers joins the Hedge team. Great things will come of this collaboration. The brilliant idea of using version control for FCPX project sharing simplifies the whole process that has usually been left to huge media asset management systems that control data and projects. This is project sharing simplified and it’s about to get a lot more awesome with more developer time and a company to support it.

I am equally excited about Jasper coming to MacDevOps:YVR in June to talk about how and why he developed this app using GitLab and Docker and how version control for editors is useful and necessary.

Hedge is a small company in the Netherlands that makes the Hedge software to securely copy camera cards. I’ve incorporated this software with my Final Cut Pro X clients to secure their original footage on location as well as back in the office. Workflow post explains more.

I first wrote about PostLab last year

Some recent articles published about the news:

Fcp.co

Hedge announcement

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.