Archive

Author Archive

Backing up Der Flounder Revisited

February 12, 2021 Leave a comment

Nine years ago, I wrote a post on how I backup this blog. Overall, the reasons I’m backing up haven’t changed:

  • I like this blog and don’t want to see it or its data disappear because of data loss.
  • WordPress.com’s free hosting doesn’t provide me with an automated backup method.

To create the backups, I make a nightly mirror using HTTrack. As time has passed and host machines were replaced, I’ve moved the backup host a few times. For the last move, I decided for budgetary reasons to move off of using Macs and onto a Raspberry Pi. For those wanting to know more, please see below the jump.

Read more…

Categories: Backup, Linux, Raspberry Pi

FileVault login screen differences between Intel and Apple Silicon Macs

January 17, 2021 5 comments

As new Apple Silicon Macs (ASM) have begun making their way to organizations which use FileVault encryption to secure their fleets, a difference between Intel Macs and ASMs has become apparent.

Intel Macs:

  • Supports account icons and password blanks at the FileVault login screen
  • Unable to support username blanks at the FileVault login screen
  • Unable to support smart cards for login at the FileVault login screen

Screen Shot 2021 01 16 at 5 50 36 PM

ASMs:

  • Supports account icons and password blanks at the FileVault login screen
  • Supports username and password blanks at the FileVault login screen
  • Supports smart cards for login at the FileVault login screen

Screen Shot 2021 01 16 at 6 00 32 PM

Screen Shot 2021 01 16 at 6 13 52 PM

Why the differences between platforms? For more details, please see below the jump.

Read more…

Adobe Flash is dead – let’s get it removed

January 1, 2021 9 comments

After 24 years and 1078 known security vulnerabilities, Adobe Flash has reached end of life status as of December 31, 2020.

Screen Shot 2021 01 01 at 1 25 22 PM

To assist with the process of removing Adobe Flash, I’ve written an uninstall script which will completely remove Adobe Flash. For more details, please see below the jump.

Read more…

Setting up AutoPkg, AutoPkgr and JSSImporter on an Amazon Web Services macOS EC2 instance

December 20, 2020 1 comment

One of the outcomes of the recent Amazon Web Service’s Insight conference was AWS’s announcement that, as of November 30th, macOS EC2 instances were going to be available as on-demand instances or as part of one of AWS’s reduced cost plans for those who needed them long-term.

There are a few differences about AWS’s macOS offerings, as opposed to their Linux and Windows offerings. macOS EC2 instances are set up to run on actual Apple hardware, as opposed to being completely virtualized. This means that there are the following dependencies to be aware of:

  1. macOS EC2 instances must run on dedicated hosts (AWS has stated these are Mac Minis)
  2. One macOS EC2 instance can be provisioned per dedicated host.

AWS has also stipulated that that dedicated hosts for macOS EC2 instances have a minimum billing duration of 24 hours. That means that even if your dedicated host was only up and running for one hour, you will be billed as if it was running for 24 hours.

For now, only certain AWS regions have EC2 Mac instances available. As of December 20th, 2020, macOS EC2 instances are available in the following AWS Regions:

  • US-East-1 (Northern Virginia)
  • US-East-2 (Ohio)
  • US-West-2 (Oregon)
  • EU-West-1 (Ireland)
  • AP-Southeast-1 (Singapore)

The macOS EC2 instances at this time support two versions of macOS:

macOS Big Sur is not yet supported as of December 20th, 2020, but AWS has stated that Big Sur support will be coming shortly.

By default, macOS EC2 instances will include the following pre-installed software:

For folks looking to build services or do continuous integration testing on macOS, it’s clear that AWS went to considerable lengths to have macOS EC2 instances be as fully-featured as their other EC2 offerings. Amazon has also either made it possible to install the tools you need or just went ahead and installed them for you. They’ve also included drivers for their faster networking options and made it possible to manage and monitor Mac EC2 instances using AWS’s tools just like their Linux and Windows EC2 instances.

That said, all of this comes with a price tag. Here’s how it works out (all figures expressed in US dollars):

mac1 Dedicated Hosts (on-demand pricing):

$1.083/hour (currently with a 24 hour minimum charge, after which billing is by the second.)
$25.99/day
$181.93/week
$9493.58/year

Now, you can sign up for an AWS Savings Plan and save some money by paying up-front for one year or three years. Paying for three years, all cash up front is the cheapest option currently available:

$0.764/hour
$18.33/day
$128.31/week
$6697.22/year

Now some folks are going to look at that and have a heart attack, while others are going to shrug because the money involved amounts to a rounding error on their existing AWS bill. I’m mainly going through this to point out that hosting Mac services on AWS is going to come with costs. None of AWS’s existing Mac offerings are part of AWS’s Free Tier.

OK, so we’ve discussed a lot of the background but let’s get to the point: How do you set up AutoPkg to run in the AWS cloud? For more details, please see below the jump.

Read more…

Resizing an AWS macOS EC2 instance’s boot drive to use all available disk space

December 19, 2020 2 comments

I’ve started working with Amazon Web Service’s new macOS EC2 instances and after a while, I noticed that no matter how much EBS drive space I assigned to a EC2 instance running macOS, the instance would only have around 30 GBs of usable space. In this example, I had assigned around 200 GBs of EBS storage, but the APFS container was only using around 30 GBs of the available space.

Screen Shot 2020 12 19 at 3 23 59 PM

After talking with AWS Support, there’s a fix for this using APFS container resizing. This is a topic I’ve discussed previously in the context of resizing boot drives for virtual machines. For more details, see below the jump.

Read more…

Identifying Universal 2 apps on macOS Mojave and later

November 21, 2020 Leave a comment

As Apple introduces its new Apple Silicon Macs, it’s important that Mac admins be able to identify if their environment’s software will be able to run natively on both Intel and Apple Silicon as Universal 2 apps or if they’ll need Apple’s Rosetta 2 translation service installed first on their Apple Silicon Macs to allow their apps to run.

To assist with this identification effort, Apple has provided two tools:

Both have been around for a while and initially helped identify the original Universal binaries, which were compiled to support both PowerPC and Intel processors. They’ve now been updated for this new processor transition and either will be able to identify if an app’s binary was compiled for the following:

  • x86_64 (Intel)
  • arm64 (Apple Silicon)
  • Both x86_64 and arm64 (Universal 2)

For more details, please see below the jump.

Read more…

Categories: Mac administration, macOS

Installing Rosetta 2 on Apple Silicon Macs

November 17, 2020 14 comments

With Apple now officially selling Apple Silicon Macs, there’s a design decision which Apple made with macOS Big Sur that may affect various Mac environments:

At this time, macOS Big Sur does not install Rosetta 2 by default on Apple Silicon Macs.

Rosetta 2 is Apple’s software solution for aiding in the transition from Macs running on Intel processors to Macs running on Apple Silicon processors. It allows most Intel apps to run on Apple Silicon without issues, which provides time for vendors to update their software to a Universal build which can run on both Intel and Apple Silicon.

Without Rosetta 2 installed, Intel apps do not run on Apple Silicon. So for those folks who need Rosetta 2, how to install it? For more details, please see below the jump.

Read more…

Preventing the macOS Big Sur upgrade advertisement from appearing in the Software Update preference pane on macOS Catalina

November 12, 2020 10 comments

Not yet ready for macOS Big Sur in your environment, but you’ve trained your folks to look at the Software Update preference pane to see if there’s available updates? One of the ways Apple is advertising the macOS Big Sur upgrade is via the Software Update preference pane:

Screen Shot 2020 11 12 at 2 25 15 PM

You can block it from appearing using the softwareupdate –ignore command, but for macOS Catalina, Mojave and High Sierra, that command now requires one of the following enrollments as a pre-requisite:

  • Apple Business Manager enrollment
  • Apple School Manager enrollment
  • Enrollment in a user-approved MDM

For more information on this, please reference the following KBase article: https://support.apple.com/HT210642 (search for the following: Major new releases of macOS can be hidden when using the softwareupdate(8) command).

For more details, please see below the jump.

Read more…

Categories: Mac administration, macOS

Detecting kernel panics using Jamf Pro

November 10, 2020 4 comments

Something that has (mostly) become more rare on the Mac platform are kernel panics, which are computer errors from which the operating system cannot safely recover without risking major data loss. Since a kernel panic means that the system has to halt or automatically reboot, this is a major inconvenience to the user of the computer.

6lYdt

Kernel panics are always the result of a software bug, either in Apple’s code or in the code of a third party’s kernel extension. Since they are always from bugs and they cause work interruptions, it’s a good idea to get on top of kernel panic issues as quickly as possible. To assist with this, a Jamf Pro Extension Attribute has been written to detect if a kernel panic has taken place. For more details, please see below the jump.

Read more…

Extension attributes for Jamf Protect

November 4, 2020 1 comment

I’ve started working with Jamf Protect and, as part of that, I found that I needed to be able to report the following information about Jamf Protect to Jamf Pro:

  1. Is the Jamf Protect agent installed on a particular Mac?
  2. Is the Jamf Protect agent running on a particular Mac?
  3. Which Jamf Protect server is a particular Mac handled by?

To address these needs, I’ve written three Jamf Pro extension attributes which display the requested information as part of a Mac’s inventory record in Jamf Pro. For more details, please see below the jump:

Read more…

%d bloggers like this: