This is a guest post for Computer Weekly Open Source Insider written by Tom Bridges as Principal Product Manager at JumpCloud – a company known for its identity, access and device management capabilities.
macOS Ventura Launched on October 24th as a replacement for MacOS Monterey, it brought with it functionality for enterprise IT, including Rapid Security Responses (RSR), designed to improve security without rehashing vulnerabilities – we also saw Passkeys to make it easier for you to manage. User ID.
It’s safe to say that many sysadmins can look forward to installing Ventura.
Bridge breaks down the reality of what’s happening in coal and looks at the implications of open source now emerging in this market sector – and so he writes as follows…
It’s important to understand that along with this major operating system update (which comes about once a year), administrators will have to manage application installation projects and patches for other applications. Doing this job when you have tens, hundreds, or thousands of customers to support can be difficult if you don’t have the right skills, tools, and approaches available to you.
However, there are some great open source projects that can make this easier.
Packaging and managing updates
For administrators, running software updates involves multiple tasks, from downloading the software to fixing the installation process. Some software will require assistance with the installation process, and you may need to add specific configurations or scripts to install on the machines you manage.
autopkg – https://github.com/autopkg/autopkg – Makes it easy to take care of all the steps normally required to package software and ship it to customers.
What Autopkg does is automate these steps so you can repeat them. Instead of doing these tasks manually, they can be automated to make things easier with what Autopkg calls “recipes” that cover all the necessary steps. The open source community around Autopkg has collected recipes that you can use or fork for your own purposes.
Once you’ve merged these recipes and got your application updated to the state you need, you’ll need to load those packages into a software management tool for actual distribution. Here’s why you need to know about Munch – https://www.munki.org/munki/. This package manager is used worldwide by businesses large and small because there is no better software management solution.
Munki was developed at Walt Disney Animation Studios and later released as open source. Using Munki, you can set up a web server to store packages and associated metadata so you can deliver updates and installations to users. It also supports Apple software and Adobe, so if you want to create a “one stop” for software updates, you can do so.
Let me remind you
With all the work that administrators have to do to manage updates, there’s another consideration to consider—control, because macOS puts users firmly in control of operating system updates.
For app updates, administrators can force updates for these apps, but a user-driven process will usually work better. For example, an application that does not go through a safe shutdown process will potentially result in lost work and angry users. Employees can defer upgrades multiple times to take place on their terms, which may mean “never”.
Push, refresh, refresh
This led to the next project to be aware of as an IT admin, which is Nudge – https://github.com/macadmins/nudge.
Nudge makes it easy to put together security and update reminders for staff, which can then be extended to employees and prompt them to update. By “pushing” such users, administrators can ensure that updates are made quickly and potential security issues are addressed more quickly. Nudge was created to help you without confronting your employees while making life easier for admins.
Taken together, Autopkg, Munki, and Nudge can help make the upgrade process easier and more efficient. If you want to improve your Mac management skills, then these projects should be on your list. Alternatively, you can use services that integrate these open source tools into a complete package management approach. Whatever you choose, you can rely on open source to make managing software on the Mac easier for your users.
These tools are not self-made.
They rely on contributors and project managers working hard to build them, update them, and distribute them freely as open source for all of us to enjoy. Let’s thank people like Greg Neagle, Eric Gomez, Tim Sutton, Nick McSpadden, Elliott Jordan, Bart Reardon, and all the other volunteers who have contributed code to these projects over the years for their work and generosity to the Mac. Administrative society!