Best of 2018: the conferences

Part of a series of blog post on the “Best of 2018”

Part 2: the conferences

There was NAB in April and the FCPX Creative Summit in November (see more in my previous best of 2018 post here)

New conferences were the theme this year and I’ll start with one I couldn’t attend but really wanted to:

Query conf

⁃ all about osquery

⁃ Great group of people got together in San Francisco to discuss security with open source project originally from Facebook and now a verifiable industry (Kolide, uptycs etc)

⁃ Videos of the talks were posted on their site.

⁃ I had to miss this conference last year because it was just before MacDevOps: YVR and I could not be I two places at once.

Objective by the Sea

⁃ Awesome location. Maui. First time conference and my first time in Hawaii and it was spectacularly beautiful.

⁃ Great people. What a wonderfully diverse group of IT, Security experts and vendors

⁃ Patrick Wardle love fest. Everyone love Patrick and his Objective See free security tools. Look forward to his future projects with Digita Security

⁃ Looking forward to seeing how this conference evolves in the future. Especially if they end up doing more than one a year in different locations. Mahalo to the organizers for putting this together. As a fellow conference organizer I know it is not easy. It takes lots of love and Patrick and his team have lots of love to give. Thanks everyone!


Disclaimer: I am the organizer

In 2018 we had our fourth annual conference and it was an amazing group of speakers and attendees. Many people took up my Quick Talk challenge. It is my firm belief that everyone has solved a problem and has knowledge they can share. I love it when people step up, literally step up on stage, and present a story, a solution to a problem, a tech problem they solved. We cheer them on.

What is MacDevOps:YVR?

Just the facts:

⁃ June 2019 will be the 5th annual conference

⁃ Inspired by DevOpsDays held everywhere all over the world this is an inspirational conference to bring together the creators of open source Mac projects and those in IT that use them.

⁃ Bringing a diverse group from around the world to learn about participating in software projects to manage Mac, the aim is to dispel the fear around version control (git), cloud (AWS, GCP, Azure) and various programming languages (Python, Swift, PHP etc)

⁃ Learn about what’s new in various open source projects we depend on: Munki, MunkiReport, Crypt, etc

⁃ Be inspired to share your our own solutions to problems with Quick Talks

⁃ 2019 will be partly security focused with a diverse group of security talks

⁃ Diversity and Inclusion will be front and centre of our IT panel. We are bringing in an amazing group to discuss.

⁃ Hack night. Working on gathering a team of MunkiReport contributors together to help organize some collaborative hacking and programming.

– Workshop. Learn how to make munkireport plugins. MunkiReport server is in PHP but the plugins are written in anything : bash, Python etc

Speakers for MacDevOps:YVR 2019 are on the MDO website.

June 12-14, 2018 join us in Vancouver, Canada for the firth annual MacDevOps:YVR conference.

Many thanks to the crew that that helps me organize this every year and makes the live event as good as it is. Without you I could not make it happen. Also many thanks to my awesome sponsors for helping us pay for bringing in speakers from around the world and paying for the event. Last but not least, thank you for all those that have attended and spoken at this event in the past. I love you all. You are amazing!


Use Git/GitHub to contribute to these community resources:

⁃ List of all conference videos Conference videos

⁃ MacAdmins Podcast community calendar GitHub repo

– Charles Edge has compiled a list of conferences and it is a great long list. Thanks Charles!

Root Me Baby One More Time!

UPDATE: Apple has posted a security update. 2017-001

Root-a-pocalyse. Root down. Root a toot toot. Many funny tweets today about a very serious issue. A bug was discovered in macOS 10.13 that enabled anyone to login with a root account. With no password. Wow. Seriously. Yeah, that’s bad.

Bug discovered by Lemi Orhan Ergin.

I tested by clicking on the lock icon in System Preferences. Normally this requires an admin account. I was able to authenticate with “root” and no password. This actually also set root to no password. You can choose a password here and this makes it for you. How convenient. You can also login to the Mac via the login window. With root. And no password. Crazy.

If your Mac is off it’s safe. Not joking. If your FileVault protected drive is encrypted and your mac is turned off then you’re good. If you Mac is turned on and you’ve logged in at least once (or at least decrypted the drive on boot) then you’re not safe.

What can you do? Change the root password and set the shell to false. Until Apple fixes this. Should be anytime now. Or soon.

dscl . -passwd /Users/root “random or very secure password here”

dscl . -create /Users/root UserShell /usr/bin/false

Read a comprehensive explanation on Rich Trouton’s site:  Der Flounder blog


Setting up Secure Munki

So you’ve set up Munki to deploy software to your Macs by following the basic set up here: Set up Munki, and now you want to set it up more securely.

You need two things. 1) a cert and 2) a secure repo


The optimal situation is a trusted secure certificate for your server from a reputable certificate authority, if you don’t have that, or want to use the self-signed certificate your server has then your Munki Mac clients will need to trust this certificate.

Export out the cert from Server Admin if you’re using that to manage your Mac mini server. Place this cert file on your clients (using ARD, or other methods) then use the security command to get the Mac clients to trust this cert.

security add-trusted-cert -d -r trustRoot -k “/Library/Keychains/System.keychain” “/private/tmp/name-of-server.cer”

REFERENCE: Rich Trouton’s blog goes into more detail and details a way to script this.


Use htpasswd to add a password to your Munki repo.

htpasswd -c .htpasswd munki

Edit the htaccess info

AuthType Basic
AuthName "Munki Repository"
AuthUserFile /path/to/your/munki/repo_root/.htpasswd
Require valid-user

Encode this password for Munki:

python -c 'import base64; print "Authorization: Basic %s" % base64.b64encode("USERNAME:PASSWORD")'
Authorization: Basic VVNFUk5BTUU6UEFTU1dPUkQ=

Push out this password to your Munki clients with ARD (or use some other method)

defaults write /Library/Preferences/ManagedInstalls.plist AdditionalHttpHeaders -array “Authorization: VVNFUk5BTUU6UEFTU1dPUkQ=”

Change the Munki RepoURL on all your clients to use the new secure URL

defaults write /Library/Preferences/ManagedInstalls SoftwareRepoURL “https://munkiserver/munki_repo”


Consult the Munki Wiki for: Basic authentication setup for Munki 

Ala Siu’s excellent write on securing munki


Consider using a server made for securing Munki, like the Squirrel server from the MicroMDM project. More on this in another blog post.

Consider using certificate from a known reputable certificate authority such as Let’s Encrypt (the Squirrel server above automates the setup with Let’s Encrypt).


Another project which seeks to combine all these open source projects in the Munki ecosystem is Munki in a Box. There’s a secure branch of this project which setups a basic authentication as well but while it aims to simplify setting up a secure Munki it may be a bit confusing to set up at first glance. Test, and test again.