Another method for macOS upgrades via the JSS using Self Service

There are quite a few methods that people use to make macOS updates available to their end users. My method takes a little inspiration from those posts with a few differences. This time around I wanted to use the macOS installer app from Apple which has a neat little command line tool call startosinstall. There was no particular reason to use this method other than there were no requirements to install any particular packages post-install which you can do with a tool like createOSinstallerPKG. We had a few requirements:

  1. Computer has sufficient free drive space.
  2. User is not logged in to avoid the new iCloud Drive Document Sync feature.
  3. Ensure the user is plugged into a power source.
  4. Provide dialogs to give the user feedback such as a time estimate and dialogs on what to expect next.
  5. Make use of the JSS parameter to allow for customization and potential re-use for future operating systems.

Continue reading Another method for macOS upgrades via the JSS using Self Service

JSS Parameters

JSS script parameters are a great feature that allow you to create scripts that can be flexible in the values that are gathered. I’m not sure how often they are used but suffice to say they can be very useful when you have scenarios where common commands are used repeatedly and just need variables changed. Parameter labels can also be assigned to JSS parameters as shown in Rich Trouton’s blog post. Parameter labels can also be set by going to Settings > Computer Management > Scripts > clicking on the script and selecting the Options tab. This allows you to go from the generic Parameter 4, Parameter 5, etc. and have something more descriptive like “Free Space Required” or “Custom Trigger”.

However, JSS parameters have a few limitations. Below I’ll go over some of those limitations and the associated feature requests that would address them.

Continue reading JSS Parameters

Ensuring SIP is enabled

It has been reported that some of the new MacBook Pros (Late 2016) have been shipping with System Integrity Protection (SIP) disabled. Apple has addressed this with the 10.12.2 update release. You can read about SIP on Rich Trouton’s blog.

There is one obvious question that comes to mind, do you trust the computers have not been compromised in shipping, especially with SIP disabled? Perhaps SIP doesn’t play as much into this question if your organization works off the assumption that you cannot trust any bits that come on the drive on new computers and they must all be wiped. After all, if someone intercepts a computer during shipping, it would be just as easy for them to disable and re-enable SIP as needed.

One thing to note here is that if you wipe and image new computers, that alone won’t re-enable SIP as that information is stored in memory. If you don’t wipe and image and instead rely on something like DEP or another no-imaging workflow, you still need to report on SIP’s status and somehow take action against computers that have it disabled to re-enable SIP.

Two ways of re-enabling SIP that come to mind: 1) boot into the Recovery Partition and re-enable SIP and 2) reset the NVRAM. The first you cannot really automate much short of asking all  techs to reset PRAM on every computer coming in. The second can be done manually or via the command line. Our interest will be in doing this via the command line in order to automate this.

Continue reading Ensuring SIP is enabled

JSS does not accurately report installed profiles

A year ago or so ago I discovered a bunch of computers at my previous job would drop all profiles. We could never find the cause, but what was alarming is that the JSS would report the computer as having profiles installed when in fact none are.

There two simple ways to confirm this:
1. Type sudo profiles -H
2. Open up System Preferences and see if the Profiles pref pane shows up

Unfortunately, I was never able to reproduce the issue or find the cause. Therefore I could never get any further in troubleshooting with Jamf. Fast forward a year later, through some other issues I was reporting and troubleshooting, I was able to finally reproduce the issue. The steps are real simple:

  1. Type sudo rm -rf /var/db/ConfigurationProfiles in Terminal. This command will remove the profiles from the computer.
  2. Confirm profiles are not installed by checking System Preferences (if you had it opened, quit and reopen it) and running sudo profiles -H via CLI
  3. Type sudo Jamf recon -saveFormTo ~/Desktop/noProfilesInstalled in Terminal.
  4. Check inventory record for computer and see Profiles. How many profiles do you see?
  5. Type sudo Jamf mdm in Terminal
  6. Type sudo Jamf recon -saveFormTo ~/Desktop/ProfilesInstalled in Terminal.
  7. Check inventory record for computer and see Profiles. How many profiles do you see?

This is reproducible in the latest version of the JSS and probably goes back quite sometime since configuration profiles were supported in the JSS. For some extra data, the recon command in steps 3 and 6 should reproduce XML of all the inventory information getting collected by the Jamf binary. The jamf binary is ACCURATELY reporting whether profiles are installed. If profiles are installed the info will be enclosed in the <ns2:configProfiles> DATA HERE </ns2:configProfiles> tags and if profiles are not installed then it will simply list <ns2:configProfiles/>. In short, the issue is not on the jamf binary.

The implications of this are huge. Your end users could delete that directory and completely bypass configuration profile enforcement. Let’s take IBM as an example. All their users have admin access. Say they enforce filevault 2 key re-direction, some password complexity requirements, and some restrictions via profiles. Their end users could bypass all of that.

What does Jamf have to say:

Currently, the list of profiles that we see in a Computer Record is generated not through ‘Jamf recon’ or through utilizing the ‘profiles’ binary; but through the MDM command ‘ProfileList’. The MDM command would need to come from the JSS, and unfortunately, would inevitably fail considering the machine removed its MDM profile. Considering this, and what you mentioned with the need to know what profiles are currently on the client computer, what would be needed is essentially a feature within the Jamf binary framework that detects whether or not the MDM framework has been broken. And, if it is broken, repair it. In the end, an end user with admin privileges would be able to do just about anything. We have lots of customers that utilize a home brewed type of ‘self repair’ using LaunchDaemons. That too though, can be broken by an admin user.

What can you do in the meantime? Create an extension attribute. Extension attributes allow you to collect data in the JSS that is not otherwise gathered by the jamf binary. This data is collected at inventory or when you run the jamf recon command on a client. There are two that I like to use, but there are even more out there that list out ALL configuration profiles if you want to get even more granular.

Profile Count


profiles="$(profiles -C | wc -l)"
profile_count="$(echo $profiles - 1 | bc)"

if [ "$profile_count" -gt 0 ]; then
    echo "<result>$profile_count</result>"

if [ "$profile_count" -le 0 ]; then
    echo "<result>0</result>"

Profile Status:


#If profiles are on the computer it spits out:
#profiles are installed on this system
#profiles are not installed on this system

profile_status="$(/usr/bin/profiles -H)"

echo "<result>$profile_status</result>"

Create a smart group with the extension attribute as the criteria and then scope a policy to those groups. The policy should make use of the Files and Process payload option “Execute command”. Run the command:

jamf mdm

to re-enable mdm on the client.

If I can create an extension attribute, what’s the problem? The JSS is supposed to report accurate inventory information for each computer client. It should be accurate up to the last recon/inventory update it did on that client. If we cannot trust the inventory records in the JSS, what good is it? Apple is the one pushing MDM and our reliance on it. Jamf is supposed to be the biggest cheerleader behind that given their quick implementation on almost all mdm/dep/vpp features that Apple introduces. However, how can we trust MDM if the JSS isn’t reporting things accurately?

You might argue: just don’t give your users admin access. Unfortunately, that’s not possible in all environments, and usually there are some exceptions that need to be made. But even so you then start getting into how far down do you lock your computers. You might argue, if the user is removing profiles, they can just remove the jamf binary altogether. Yes, this is true, but that then becomes more of an organizational policy (HR) issue than a technical (IT) issue. The problem here is with reporting and gaining insight. If someone removes the jamf binary, at least the JSS can at least run reports on the last check-in for clients based on the data the JSS has and you can trust the record is accurate. But you cannot do this by looking at the JSS profile record for clients.

Feature Request
I was told to submit a feature request on JAMF Nation and so I did. I encourage you to up vote it if you are a Casper/Jamf Pro customer who uses MDM / Configuration Profiles through the JSS. The data that the jamf binary collects on installed profiles should be what is reported by the JSS. Do not rely only and primarily on the mdm command “ProfileList”. Currently, the JSS does NOT even properly report anything useful or accurate on locally installed profiles either. By allowing the JSS to display what the jamf binary reports based on actual profiles installed, companies can get accurate and insightful data.

The second part of this is that, the jamf binary SHOULD re-enable MDM of course IF AND ONLY MDM isn’t supposed to be disabled from the client.

Here are the feature requests regarding locally installed profiles and scoping to config profiles which I strongly encourage you to upvote as well:

Cables, Adapters, Devices For A Brave New Mac World

The announcement of the new MacBook Pros which only have USB-C ports will begin a frustrating, but needed transition to new devices that are USB-C capable. There’s a lot that USB-C can do, but it won’t be covered here. Here is one article I did find insightful by Stephen Foskett. I won’t try to guess how long this transition will take, but the prospect of having to only use one cable for connecting and powering devices is really exciting even if there is some initial confusion.

The purpose of this post is to get you to think about what you might need to transition with a spreadsheet linked at the end with links to the cables, adapters, and devices in question. Just note, that I have not tested and may not get to test all the devices I’ve linked in the spreadsheet. Prices may vary as well. The goal was to try and get the best value for functionality. I am also not affiliated with any of the vendors and sellers that I’ve linked to. With that all said, let’s get to the questions you should be thinking about.

Continue reading Cables, Adapters, Devices For A Brave New Mac World

iCloud: Is it being used in your environment?

With the introduction of Sierra, Apple has introduced a few new features to iCloud Drive that business environments may want to gather data on in order to remediate. Rich Trouton has documented the inner workings of the Desktop and Documents Folder sync feature on his blog so I will spare you the details on that. The other feature that Apple introduced is the ability to optimize storage which Anandtech covers.

Depending on your environment there may also be other concerns with employees using iCloud accounts on their company equipment. For example, Find My Mac is a service that could allow a person to locate a device and erase/lock the device. Perhaps a disgruntled employee sends the Lock/Erase command to the device or maybe the employee’s account gets compromised because they didn’t have 2 Factor Authentication enabled on their Apple ID. Whatever the reason, only Apple will be able to unlock the device for you after meeting their requirements (which may include proof purchase, identification, etc.) and perhaps you want to remediate against that.

There may be additional iCloud features that you might also want to disable such as “Back to My Mac” which allows a person to remote into their device.

You can draw your own conclusions as to whether these are important in your business environment, but the short of it is that if you have requirements that company data stay on company managed devices or managed cloud services then some of these iCloud features are going to be non-starting propositions in your environment.

And that’s not to even mention, no brand new OS release is without its share of bugs. There have been some few reported issues online that seem to be linked with users upgrading to Sierra while their iCloud accounts are enabled.

With some of the iCloud features that Apple has introduced, I thought it might be prudent to collect some information on computers before we start deploying Sierra so that we can gather information on whether iCloud is being used and if so what features that may matter to a business are enabled.

I currently work in a Casper environment and decided to write extension attributes that would gather this information which would then allow us to create smart groups that make use of this specific criteria (results from those extension attributes). Extension attributes are essentially scripts that run on a computer when inventory on the computer is collected. Therefore, if you work with other inventory/management systems it shouldn’t be too hard to modify these scripts so that it feeds into your management system of choice. I tried to comment as best as possible each script.

Here are the ones that I cared about:

  1. Determine iCloud account status
  2. Determine iCloud account details
  3. Determine iCloud Drive status
  4. Determine iCloud Document Sync status
  5. Determine iCloud Drive optimization status
  6. Determine Find My Mac status
  7. Determine Back to My Mac status

Some of these features feed off each other, but they do not necessarily have to be used all together. For example, you can’t have iCloud Drive enabled without your iCloud account being signed in and therefore none of the Drive Optimization or Document Sync features will be enabled.

I don’t blog often and this blog post actually prompted me to use Github for the first time so let me know if you’ve got any feedback. Hopefully you find this somewhat helpful.

Edit: One thing to note, is that some of these extension attributes do look for the logged in user to pick up the iCloud preferences. So the assumption here is that usually a user will be logged in when recon/inventory is collected from the computer and that there is one single user typically using the computer. It wouldn’t be too far fetched to go further and perhaps create arrays to get respective iCloud values for each user accounts through a loop.

Launchctl 2.0 Syntax

The other day I found myself looking to learn how to load and unload launch agents and launch daemons in OS X 10.11. I found myself on the MacAdmins Slack asking the syntax launchctl in OS X 10.11. And searching online just led me to this discussion on GitHub. The documentation for launchctl left a lot to be desired and it wasn’t very clear how to use it so I was encouraged to join the exciting world of blogging.

Before getting into the syntax, some basic understanding is probably appropriate. Starting with OS X 10.10, Apple re-wrote launchd and added new sub-commands and deprecated some familiar ones that we’ve come to trust over the years. In short, at some point Apple may break the use of the deprecated commands forcing you to use the new syntax. A good read up on launchd 2.0 can be found by Jonathan Levin’s presentation at MacSysAdmin in 2014.

With that out the way, lets get into the syntax.

Continue reading Launchctl 2.0 Syntax