Archive for September, 2016

Building a Casper smart group containing Sierra-incompatible Macs

September 20, 2016 4 comments

As part of preparing for macOS Sierra, I’m planning to provide a way for my customers to upgrade themselves to Sierra via Casper’s Self Service. Unlike the upgrade process I was able to provide for OS X Yosemite and El Capitan, where I could filter based on whether or not a particular Mac could run OS X 10.8.x, Sierra’s system requirements exclude some Macs which can support running OS X El Capitan.

To help make sure that Self Service wasn’t providing the option of upgrading to macOS Sierra to a Mac which couldn’t run it, I needed to compile lists of which Mac models could and couldn’t run macOS Sierra, based on the system requirements that Apple provided. For more details, see below the jump:

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Disabling iCloud Drive and Document Syncing

September 20, 2016 2 comments

In the course of my testing of macOS Sierra this week, I decided to turn on iCloud Desktop and Documents syncing. This was my reaction:

I can’t discuss the details of my testing yet because the macOS Sierra NDA still applies until Sierra is released on September 20, 2016. However, for those Mac admins who have also tested this and wish to block it in their own environments ahead of macOS Sierra’s release, I’ve built a management profile and made it available via the link below:

This profile has been tested and works on OS X 10.11.6 and later. It restricts access to the iCloud Drive settings in the iCloud preference pane by graying out iCloud Drive and making it non-selectable.

Screen Shot 2016 09 19 at 10 02 29 PM

Upgrading to macOS Sierra requires OS X 10.7.5 or later

September 12, 2016 8 comments

As part of Apple’s Upgrade to macOS Sierra documentation, there’s been a change in the system requirements for macOS Sierra as opposed to OS X El Capitan.

For OS X El Capitan, the earliest OS you can upgrade from is Mac OS X Snow Leopard 10.6.8.

Screen Shot 2016 09 12 at 1 43 07 PM


For macOS Sierra, the earliest OS you can upgrade from is OS X Lion 10.7.5.

Screen Shot 2016 09 12 at 1 44 16 PM


If you’re upgrading from 10.6.8, Apple’s guidance is to upgrade first to El Capitan and then to Sierra.

Screen Shot 2016 09 12 at 1 44 26 PM

Setting VMware Fusion to confirm you want to close an active VM

September 10, 2016 1 comment

I do a lot of work with virtual machines running in VMware’s Fusion hypervisor software. As part of that work, I’ll occasionally run into the following issue:

1. I’m running an application inside a VM.
2. I’m done with whatever it is and want to quit out.
3. The focus of my keyboard is not inside the VM
4. I click the Command () and Q keys to quit the application running inside the VM.
5. Instead of the application inside of the VM quitting, I see this.

Quitting vm instead of app

6. Then I say something like this.

Cursing symbols2

As part of this, I’ve often wished for some way for Fusion to warn me when I’m about to accidentally quit Fusion instead of quitting an application inside a VM. That led to me making the following observation on Twitter:

I was quickly informed that Fusion in fact had exactly that.

For more information, see below the jump.

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Portable home directories will not work on macOS Sierra

September 3, 2016 13 comments

As part of the pre-release announcements about macOS Sierra, Apple released the following KBase article:

As part of the KBase article, Apple included a Changes coming with macOS Sierra section which featured this note:

Screen Shot 2016 09 03 at 2 13 42 PM

Portable home directories (PHDs) were Apple’s attempt at providing roaming user profiles. Starting in Mac OS X 10.3.x, you could configure a person’s account so that the data in their home folder resided on a server in a network home folder. The data on the server was then synchronized with copies of the same data residing on the one or more Macs that particular person used on a day-to-day basis.

Portable home directories

It was also possible to configure what data was synchronized between the Mac(s) and the server, to conserve space on the server for only essential data.

Portable Sync Rules

Unfortunately, the idea was better in concept than it was in execution. Depending on how much data needed to be synchronized, the copying process between the server and the individual Macs could take a while.

Picture 1

Synchronization conflicts were also left for the user to figure out, which usually meant a call to the local help desk.

Phd conflict resolution

The synchronization agent itself was prone to crashing when working particularly hard.

Picture 7

The problems with the synchronization process, coupled with the increasing availability of continuous backup solutions like CrashPlan and Apple’s diminishing support for PHDs, helped make portable home directory deployment something many Mac admins avoided. Nine OS releases after PHDs’ initial debut in 10.3.x., it appears Apple now agrees with that sentiment.

Unplug USB and Thunderbolt devices when setting up Windows 8.x or 10.x using Boot Camp on OS X El Capitan

September 2, 2016 2 comments

As part of setting up a dual-boot configuration for a group at my shop, I was working with a colleague to set up a new Windows 10 installation using Boot Camp on a new Retina MacBook Pro. As part of the process, we did what we normally did and plugged in a USB flash drive to store the Windows installation files on.

The Boot Camp Assistant asked for the location of the Windows 10 .iso file, proceeded to repartition the disk, then rebooted into the Windows install process. When prompted where we wanted to install Windows, we selected the BOOTCAMP partition and clicked Format.

At that point, Windows formatted the drive. So far so good. We then selected the drive, clicked the Next button, and received the following error:

We couldn‘t create a new partition or locate an existing one. For more information, see the Setup log files.

Partition Error On Windows Install 01

Our thought at that point was that something had gone wrong with the format, so we booted back to OS X, had Boot Camp Assistant remove the Windows partition and tried again.

Same result, same error.

We went back to the Boot Camp documentation and read it over carefully. There is a note about unplugging Thunderbolt devices, but we didn’t have any plugged in.

Screen Shot 2016 09 02 at 1 42 21 PM

So we tried again, starting over from scratch. Same result, same error.

After some additional research, we finally found the answer: The note should have read “Thunderbolt or USB storage devices”. This additional information is included in an Apple KBase article for installing Windows 8 using Boot Camp, which has the following procedure:

  1. Shut down your computer.
  2. Disconnect all Thunderbolt and USB storage devices, except for the USB media which contains the Windows ISO installer.
  3. Try the installation again.

But the reason we had any USB drives plugged in was because we had thought Boot Camp Assistant was going to store the Windows installer on that flash drive. So why was Windows complaining?

The answer is Boot Camp in El Capitan does not store the Windows ISO installer on a USB flash drive. Instead, the Boot Camp Assistant will create a temporary FAT32 partition, name it OSXRESERVED, and store the Windows installation files on the OSXRESERVED partition.


Since the USB flash drive wasn’t being used as the source of Windows installer files, having it plugged in was causing the error to appear.

So we shut down, unplugged the USB flash drive, and again re-ran the installation. This time, no error and Windows 10 installed without a problem.

Plain desktop windows 10 screenshot 03 18 15 2

Opening Microsoft Works files on a Mac

September 1, 2016 5 comments

A colleague recently asked for assistance with opening a particular document, which was created using Microsoft Works. Microsoft Works had a long run as a lower-cost alternative to Microsoft’s Office for Microsoft Windows and MS-DOS, and was available in one version or another for about twenty years between 1988 and 2008. As a consequence, a number of older PCs still have it installed and Mac users will occasionally receive Works documents. Unfortunately, Microsoft Works was not ported to the Mac so it can be difficult to open these files.

After talking with my colleague and researching this issue, I found two ways (one is free, the other is using a paid application) to open Microsoft Works files. For more details, see below the jump.

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