TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Changing Spots

Volume Number: 23 (2007)
Issue Number: 11
Column Tag: MacEnterprise

Changing Spots

New ways of manipulating Directory Services in Leopard

By Philip Rinehart, Yale University

User Account Changes

Occasionally, questions about user accounts and how to maintain them appear on the Macenterprise list. Leopard changes the landscape, as NetInfo no longer exists. What does this mean practically? All user account information is now stored as flat text files. No more messing around with command line utilities like nicl, nidump, etc. All access is now accomplished using the command line directory service utility, dscl. Let's take a look at how it works.

DSCL

Dscl, Directory Service Command Line, utility was originally introduced in Tiger. With the death of NetInfo, it is the new way of manipulating user accounts. Also, astute users may note that NetInfo Manager is now completely gone, so any manipulation of NetInfo attributes must be accomplished by using dscl. Directory Service attributes can be changed, appended or deleted. Let's take a very basic example.

   dscl . -read /Users/myuser

This example operates on the local node by using the period, and returns all of the attributes for myuser. The command returns a list of all of the values that would have been seen in NetInfo Manager. They are printed out as a single line for each value. While interesting, it only begins to tap dscl for its true power. Here's a second example, listing all the users on the local system, as well as their UniqueID values (UID).

   dscl /Local/Default -list /Users UniqueID

This command is a really quick way to list any attribute of any user that is stored in the local Directory Services store. Notice a slight difference in this command? Instead of using a period, the full node is specified, in this case, the local database, /Local/Default. Let's step back just a second. Since NetInfo is gone, where is all the information? Here is the complete path:

   
   /var/db/dslocal/nodes/Default/Users

Explore the contents of the directory, notice how everything is a plist? One of the decisions made when moving away from NetInfo is that all of the information is now stored in xml plist format in the above directory. As an interesting side effect, any properly formatted plist that is added to the user will now appear on the system as a valid user. Returning to our UID example, now that the UID is known for any user, it is a pretty simple operation to change a UID on the fly. Back to dscl:

   
   dscl /Local/Default -create /Users/myuser UniqueID 503

This command takes the current UniqueID value for myuser and overwrites or it with the new value. Instead of the user's previous value for UniqueID, a new one has now been put in place. Note that use of the create option will completely overwrite any current value. If the value does not exist, it creates it in the plist.

PUMP IT UP

All of our example dscl commands will work in Tiger. Dscl in Leopard has been beefed up considerably. It now has the ability to read subkeys through the use of additional command line options. If you ever looked at a NetInfo record that contained mcx information, you know that mcx settings are typically sent to the client as a plist. Now that this information is stored in a flat plist with nested values, dscl needs a way to manipulate the data. New options have been added, readpl, readpli, and createpl, createpli. Unfortunately the syntax is difficult to master, as it requires a very specific format. Here's a somewhat simplified example for managed preferences.

   dscl . -readpl /Users/myuser MCXSettings mcx_application_data:com.apple.finder

Note the syntax of the key, colons separate nested values. In this particular case, the managed preference key for the Finder is read. This example should give you a taste of how the command works, but getting the path exactly right can be a bit tricky. Fortunately, there is a way out of the weeds, with a new mcx options for dscl..

MCX!

One of the major complaints in previous versions of OS X was the inability to easily understand and manipulate managed preferences. Leopard is the first version of OS X that has options to help manage via script, or the command line. It has also been quite difficult to troubleshoot managed client preferences, and to truly understand what is going on when managed preferences are applied. Let's look at our friend dscl again, this time with an eye toward the options that were added to dscl. Here's a very simple example:

   dscl . -readmcx /User/myuser

Note how the information is returned. Each managed preference is returned as a set of values with a consistent format. So for example, if a Finder preference was managed, the value might look like this:

App domain: com.apple.finder
Key: ComputerViewOptions_Arrangement
State: always
Value: None

Cool! The mcxread option is useful, but even more useful is the ability to set, import and export keys with dscl and its associated mcx commands. Imagine being able to set preferences from the command line from a client! A sample process could be:

   dscl . -mcxexport /Users/myuser -o /tmp/export.plist com.apple.finder

This command exports the managed client settings for myuser. The settings can then be altered in the exported file, export.plist with any text editor. Once finished editing, use this command to import the changed values:

   dscl . -mcximport /Users/myuser -d /tmp/export.plist

One note about this command, the -d option deletes any keys that existed previously. It is equivalent to calling mcxdelete for every key found in the import file. There are many options available for command line managed preference manipulation of preferences, which are not documented in the manual page. So how can you find the proper options? Use the flag -mcxhelp.

   dscl . -mcxhelp

This short command returns all of the options available, and is quite thorough in its description of how to use the command line options.

What if you only want to see what managed preferences are being applied? A new command for Leopard, mcxquery has been added. It can be called directly to present all of the options for any known user, group or machine. Here's how:

   mcxquery -user myuser -group mygroup -computer mycomputer

This command returns a list of all managed preferences for all three options. Additionally, it specifies exactly which domain the management is being applied from. If it is a user management preference, it indicates the managed preference. Very useful! Now that Leopard is finally out, a whole new world of discovery awaits us. As always, see you on the lists!


Philip Rinehart is co-chair of the steering committee leading the Mac OS X Enterprise Project (macenterprise.org) and is the Lead Mac Analyst at Yale University. He has been using Macintosh Computers since the days of the Macintosh SE, and Mac OS X since its Developer Preview Release. Before coming to Yale, he worked as a Unix system administrator for a dot-com company. He can be reached at: philip.rinehart@yale.edu. The MacEnterprise project is a community of IT professionals sharing information and solutions to support Macs in an enterprise. We collaborate on the deployment, management, and integration of Mac OS X client and server computers into multi-platform computing environments.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Together 3.6.1 - Store and organize all...
Together helps you organize your Mac, giving you the ability to store, edit and preview your files in a single clean, uncluttered interface. Features Smart storage. With simple drag-and-drop... Read more
Cloud 4.1.1 - File sharing from your men...
Cloud is simple file sharing for the Mac. Drag a file from your Mac to the CloudApp icon in the menubar and we take care of the rest. A link to the file will automatically be copied to your clipboard... Read more
OmniFocus 2.7.1 - GTD task manager with...
OmniFocus helps you manage your tasks the way that you want, freeing you to focus your attention on the things that matter to you most. Capturing tasks and ideas is always a keyboard shortcut away in... Read more
CleanApp 5.1.1 - Application deinstaller...
CleanApp is an application deinstaller and archiver.... Your hard drive gets fuller day by day, but do you know why? CleanApp 5 provides you with insights how to reclaim disk space. There are... Read more
ForkLift 3.0 Beta 2 - Powerful file mana...
ForkLift is a powerful file manager and ferociously fast FTP client clothed in a clean and versatile UI that offers the combination of absolute simplicity and raw power expected from a well-executed... Read more
Sublime Text 3126 - Sophisticated text e...
Sublime Text is a sophisticated text editor for code, markup, and prose. You'll love the slick user interface, extraordinary features, and amazing performance. Features Goto Anything. Use Goto... Read more
1Password 6.3.3 - Powerful password mana...
1Password is a password manager that uniquely brings you both security and convenience. It is the only program that provides anti-phishing protection and goes beyond password management by adding Web... Read more
WhatsApp 0.2.1880 - Desktop client for W...
WhatsApp is the desktop client for WhatsApp Messenger, a cross-platform mobile messaging app which allows you to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS. WhatsApp Messenger is available for... Read more
NeoFinder 6.9.3 - Catalog your external...
NeoFinder (formerly CDFinder) rapidly organizes your data, either on external or internal disks, or any other volumes. It catalogs all your data, so you stay in control of your data archive or disk... Read more
Amadeus Pro 2.3.1 - Multitrack sound rec...
Amadeus Pro lets you use your Mac computer for any audio-related task, such as live audio recording, digitizing tapes and records, converting between a variety of sound formats, etc. Thanks to its... Read more

Paperback: The Game (Games)
Paperback: The Game 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: You are an author trying to finish kitschy paperback novels. Complete Westerns, Science Fiction, Romance or even a Crime... | Read more »
How to Rule With a Firm Hand in My Majes...
My Majesty is a kingdom management sim not unlike August’s magisterial hit, Reigns. It’s essentially a reskin of developer Tigrido’s previous management sim, Dictator. As supreme ruler of the land, you must consult with a number of subjects to... | Read more »
Our 5 Favorite iMessage Sticker Packs
At long last, iMessage joins the ranks of messaging apps the likes of LINE and Whatsapp, adding an impressive collection of stickers. They’re a great way to add a little something extra to your daily conversations. [Read more] | Read more »
How to get past Vulture Island's tr...
Vulture Island is a colorful and quirky mish-mash of platforming and puzzles. It’s creative and fresh, but sometimes the game can throw a curveball at you, leaving you stuck as to how you should progress. These tips will help you explore smoothly... | Read more »
The new Clash of Kings is just for Weste...
If you’ve played the original Clash of Kings, you’ll probably recognise the city building, alliance forging and strategic battles in Clash of Kings: The West. What sets this version apart is that it’s tailor made for a Western audience and the... | Read more »
Frost - Survival card game (Games)
Frost - Survival card game 1.12.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.12.1 (iTunes) Description: *Warning: the game will work on iPhone 5C and above and iPad Pro / 4. Other devices are not supported* | Read more »
How to build and care for your team in D...
Before you hit the trail and become a dog sledding legend, there’s actually a fair bit of prep work to be done. In Dog Sled Saga, you’re not only racing, you’re also building and caring for a team of furry friends. There’s a lot to consider—... | Read more »
How to win every race in Dog Sled Saga
If I had to guess, I’d say Dog Sled Saga is the most adorable racing game on the App Store right now. It’s a dog sled racing sim full of adorable, loyal puppies. Just look at those fluffy little tails wagging. Behind that cute, pixelated facade is... | Read more »
Let the war games commence in Gunship Ba...
Buzz Lightyear famously said, “This isn’t flying, this is falling – with style!” In the case of Gunship Battle: Second War, though, this really is flying - with style! The flight simulator app from Joycity puts you in control of 20 faithfully... | Read more »
How to get a high score in Fired Up
Fired Up is Noodlecake Games’ high score chasing, firefighting adventure. You take control of a wayward firefighter who propels himself up the side of a highrise with blasts of water. Sound silly? It is. It’s also pretty difficult. You can’t... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

15-inch 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for...
B&H Photo has the 2015 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro (MJLQ2LL/A) on sale for $1799, including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Amazon also has the 2015 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro (... Read more
Toughbook Celebrates 20 Years of Ruggedized M...
Panasonic System Communications Company of North America, Division of Panasonic Corporation of North America (Panasonic) today celebrates the 20th anniversary of its industry-leading Toughbook mobile... Read more
12-inch 1.1GHz Gray Retina MacBook on sale fo...
B&H Photo has the 2016 12″ 1.1GHz Gray Retina MacBook on sale for $1199.99 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro (Apple refurbished...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pros available for $829, or $270 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free: - 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pros... Read more
Save 30% on Camera Guard’s Secure Protection...
To celebrate the release of macOS Sierra, Miami-based security solutions company, ProtectStar has announced a special 30% discount on Camera Guard Professional for Mac 2016. This innovative security... Read more
DVDFab Special Deal – Get a 1-Year Free Licen...
Beijing, China based specialist in the field of DVD, Blu-ray and video backup solutions, Fengtao Software has launched its Autumn Special Deals 2016, giving a 1-year free license of a randomly picked... Read more
21-inch iMacs on sale for up to $120 off MSRP
B&H Photo has 21″ iMacs on sale for up to $120 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 21″ 3.1GHz iMac 4K: $1379 $120 off MSRP - 21″ 2.8GHz iMac: $1199.99 $100 off MSRP - 21″ 1... Read more
13-inch 2.7GHz/256GB Retina MacBook Pro on sa...
Amazon.com has the 13″ 2.7GHz/256GB Retina Apple MacBook Pro on sale for $151 off MSRP including free shipping: - 13″ 2.7GHz/256GB Retina MacBook Pro (sku MF840LL/A): $1348 $151 off MSRP Read more
Apple TVs on sale for up to $50 off MSRP
Best Buy has 32GB and 64GB Apple TVs on sale for $40-$50 off MSRP on their online store. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale prices for online orders only, in-store... Read more
Apple refurbished 13-inch Retina MacBook Pros...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 13″ Retina MacBook Pros available for up to $270 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: - 13″ 2.7GHz... Read more

Jobs Board

Restaurant Manager (Neighborhood Captain) - A...
…in every aspect of daily operation. WHY YOU'LL LIKE IT: You'll be the Big Apple . You'll solve problems. You'll get to show your ability to handle the stress and Read more
Sr. *Apple* Mac Engineer - Net2Source Inc....
…staffing, training and technology. We have following position open with our client. Sr. Apple Mac Engineer6+ Months CTH Start date : 19th Sept Travelling Job If Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions-Norfolk,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
Restaurant Manager (Neighborhood Captain) - A...
…in every aspect of daily operation. WHY YOU'LL LIKE IT: You'll be the Big Apple . You'll solve problems. You'll get to show your ability to handle the stress and Read more
Lead *Apple* Solutions Consultant - Apple (...
# Lead Apple Solutions Consultant Job Number: 51829230 Detroit, Michigan, United States Posted: Sep. 19, 2016 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** The Lead ASC is an Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.