TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Managed Preferences, Part 2

Volume Number: 24 (2008)
Issue Number: 02
Column Tag: Operating Systems

Managed Preferences, Part 2

New options in Workgroup Manager in Leopard

By Philip Rinehart, Yale University

Managed Preferences

A couple of months ago, I talked a little about all of the new command line options for troubleshooting Managed Preferences. In short, many new options are available for the system administrator. Well, even more love was given to the Preference Manifest Editor. New to Tiger, any preference could be managed in theory, as long as the manifest existed in the application. In Leopard, Apple engineers added some new abilities, many of which are quite powerful.

Getting started

To get started is pretty simple. It is explained in the Leopard server guide. However, I had to play with it a little bit to really understand it fully. Another useful tip, Leopard Server is not needed to play with the manifests. How, you ask? It is actually pretty easy. First, download a copy of the Leopard Server tools from the Apple download website. Install them, and launch Workgroup Manager. Now, instead of actually authenticating against a server, click Cancel. Next, click View Directories from the Server menu.


Figure 1

A window similar to Figure 1 should appear. Note that the Local Directory is being viewed, here not an Open Directory server. Click the Lock to authenticate, and enter an administrator account on the machine. For my testing, I created a testmcx user. This user will also appear in the System Preferences Accounts panel; the account appears as a managed account. So far, not so different from Tiger, right? Select a user, and click on Preferences. Nothing is managed initially, as expected. Click on the Details button. Nothing appears in the window. Now, here's where it begins to get interesting. Click the Plus button. The dialog box asks for a location. Use the Command-G option to navigate to the /System/Library/CoreServices directory. Next choose the ManagedClient application. Whoah, look at all of the applications that can now be managed! Your WGM screen should be similar to Figure 2:


Figure 2

Pretty interesting, eh? Many of these preferences cannot be managed via the standard Preferences interface. The next question is how do you actually manage these preferences? Let's look at two of them.

Folder Redirection

As noted on AFP548.com, a very interesting option is the use of Folder Redirection. Let's get started. First select the Folder Redirection option, and click the Edit icon. At first the Dictionary will appear to be empty. There's a bit of a trick to actually get it to work. Choose Always, and click the disclosure triangle so that it points downward. Next, click New Key. Still doesn't look very interesting does it? How do you pick the right key? Here's where the magic is, click on the new item.


Figure 3

Voila! There are now multiple ways to redirect, login, logout as shown in Figure 3. Select any one of them, and it will create an array of keys that are pre-populated. Keep clicking New Key if the key is not a string, but instead an array or dictionary. Try it out; it's pretty self-explanatory once you understand the little trick to get it working. Another tip, in the window at the bottom of the Workgroup Manager screen, a full explanation of how the key is used is given. Pay attention to it, as it is written fairly clearly.


Figure 4

Figure 4 shows how a fully populated Redirection key will look. The default option is to delete the folder in the local home directory and put in a symbolic link to the redirected folder. One other note, how does the redirector know the user? For all of these managed preferences, the %@ is used as a replacement for the currently logging in user. From a scriptwriter's perspective, this substitution is slightly different as script writers have gotten used to using the $1 substitution. One other note: this key can be managed as Once, Often or Always. Not all keys can be managed this way. Let's look at one that can only be managed as Always.

Bluetooth

Bluetooth commonly needs to managed in more secure environments. In particular, the ability to even turn on Bluetooth may need to be disallowed. In this case, try adding the key as Often or Once. Note that there are no options available. The Bluetooth managed preference key can only be managed Always. It makes sense if you think about it, as from a security standpoint a system administrator would always want it be off. If you use the Always key, an option to Disable Bluetooth appears. In my book, this ability is long overdue!

Other keys can be managed, including iWork and QuickTime registrations, as well as a more extensive number of keys for mobile computing. A couple of keys have solved nagging problems right away in my work, including the ability to control the Safari downloads location, turning off Autofill for Safari, and Open Safe Downloads, all things that can make more sense to manage from a server.

One last thing, since this article talks about how to use the local directory for management, these modifications could be used as part of an image distribution mechanism, and not require Leopard Server. However, management in this way really isn't scalable, but might work for a test deployment to explore the new options available for system administration.

Well, that's about it for this month. I encourage you to explore the new options available, and if options are missing that you would like to manage, make sure to submit a Feature Request. Only through feature request submissions will more options be added! Until next month, I'll 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

pwSafe 4.1 - Secure password management...
pwSafe provides simple and secure password management across devices and computers. pwSafe uses iCloud to keep your password databases backed-up and synced between Macs and iOS devices. It is... Read more
Kodi 15.0.rc1 - Powerful media center to...
Kodi (was XBMC) is an award-winning free and open-source (GPL) software media player and entertainment hub that can be installed on Linux, OS X, Windows, iOS, and Android, featuring a 10-foot user... Read more
Coda 2.5.11 - One-window Web development...
Coda is a powerful Web editor that puts everything in one place. An editor. Terminal. CSS. Files. With Coda 2, we went beyond expectations. With loads of new, much-requested features, a few surprises... Read more
Bookends 12.5.7 - Reference management a...
Bookends is a full-featured bibliography/reference and information-management system for students and professionals. Access the power of Bookends directly from Mellel, Nisus Writer Pro, or MS Word (... Read more
Maya 2016 - Professional 3D modeling and...
Maya is an award-winning software and powerful, integrated 3D modeling, animation, visual effects, and rendering solution. Because Maya is based on an open architecture, all your work can be scripted... Read more
RapidWeaver 6.2.3 - Create template-base...
RapidWeaver is a next-generation Web design application to help you easily create professional-looking Web sites in minutes. No knowledge of complex code is required, RapidWeaver will take care of... Read more
MacFamilyTree 7.5.2 - Create and explore...
MacFamilyTree gives genealogy a facelift: it's modern, interactive, incredibly fast, and easy to use. We're convinced that generations of chroniclers would have loved to trade in their genealogy... Read more
Paragraphs 1.0.1 - Writing tool just for...
Paragraphs is an app just for writers. It was built for one thing and one thing only: writing. It gives you everything you need to create brilliant prose and does away with the rest. Everything in... Read more
BlueStacks App Player 0.9.21 - Run Andro...
BlueStacks App Player lets you run your Android apps fast and fullscreen on your Mac. Version 0.9.21: Note: Now requires OS X 10.8 or later running on a 64-bit Intel processor. Initial stable... Read more
Tweetbot 2.0.2 - Popular Twitter client....
Tweetbot is a full-featured OS X Twitter client with a lot of personality. Whether it's the meticulously-crafted interface, sounds and animation, or features like multiple timelines and column views... Read more

Rage of Bahamut is Giving Almost All of...
The App Store isn't what it used to be back in 2012, so it's not unexpected to see some games changing their structures with the times. Now we can add Rage of Bahamut to that list with the recent announcement that the game is severely cutting back... | Read more »
Adventures of Pip (Games)
Adventures of Pip 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: ** ONE WEEK ONLY — 66% OFF! *** “Adventures of Pip is a delightful little platformer full of charm, challenge and impeccable... | Read more »
Divide By Sheep - Tips, Tricks, and Stre...
Who would have thought splitting up sheep could be so involved? Anyone who’s played Divide by Sheep, that’s who! While we’re not about to give you complete solutions to everything (because that’s just cheating), we will happily give you some... | Read more »
NaturalMotion and Zynga Have Started Tea...
An official sequel to 2012's CSR Racing is officially on the way, with Zynga and NaturalMotion releasing a short teaser trailer to get everyone excited. Well, as excited as one can get from a trailer with no gameplay footage, anyway. [Read more] | Read more »
Grab a Friend and Pick up Overkill 3, Be...
Overkill 3 is a pretty enjoyable third-person shooter that was sort of begging for some online multiplayer. Fortunately the begging can stop, because its newest update has added an online co-op mode. [Read more] | Read more »
Scanner Pro's Newest Update Adds Au...
Scanner Pro is one of the most popular document scanning apps on iOS, thanks in no small part to its near-constant updates, I'm sure. Now we're up to update number six, and it adds some pretty handy new features. [Read more] | Read more »
Heroki (Games)
Heroki 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $7.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: CLEAR THE SKIES FOR A NEW HERO!The peaceful sky village of Levantia is in danger! The dastardly Dr. N. Forchin and his accomplice,... | Read more »
Wars of the Roses (Games)
Wars of the Roses 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
TapMon Battle (Games)
TapMon Battle 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: It's time to battle!Tap! Tap! Tap! Try tap a egg to hatch a Tapmon!Do a battle with another tapmons using your hatched tapmons! *... | Read more »
Alchemic Dungeons (Games)
Alchemic Dungeons 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: ### Release Event! ### 2.99$->0.99$ for limited time! ### Roguelike Role Playing Game! ### Alchemic Dungeons is roguelike... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Seagate Backup Plus Drives Feature 200GB of C...
Seagate Technology plc has announced that its Backup Plus family of external storage offerings will now include 200GB of OneDrive cloud storage, a major added value, and the addition of Lyve’s photo... Read more
Canon PIXMA MG3620 Wireless Inkjet All-in-One...
Canon U.S.A., Inc. has announced the PIXMA MG3620 Wireless (1) Inkjet All-in-One (AIO) printer for high-quality photo and document printing. Built with convenience in mind for the everyday home user... Read more
July 4th Holiday Weekend 13-inch MacBook Pro...
Save up to $150 on the purchase of a new 2015 13″ Retina MacBook Pro at the following resellers this weekend. Shipping is free with each model: 2.7GHz/128GB MSRP $1299 2.7GHz/... Read more
27-inch 3.5GHz 5K iMac on sale for $2149, sav...
Best Buy has the 27″ 3.5GHz 5K iMac on sale for $2149.99. Choose free shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Sale price for online orders only, in-store prices may vary. Their price is $... Read more
Apple now offering refurbished 2015 11-inch...
The Apple Store is now offering Apple Certified Refurbished 2015 11″ MacBook Airs as well as 13″ MacBook Airs (the latest models), available for up to $180 off the cost of new models. An Apple one-... Read more
15-inch 2.5GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for...
Amazon.com has the 15″ 2.5GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $2274 including free shipping. Their price is $225 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model. Read more
Finally Safe To Upgrade To Yosemite’?
The reason I’ve held back from upgrading my MacBook Air from OS X 10.9 Mavericks to 10.10 Yosemite for nearly a year isn’t just procrastination. Among other bugs reported, there have been persistent... Read more
Logo Pop Free Vector Logo Design App For OS X...
128bit Technologies has released of Logo Pop Free 1.2 for Mac OS X, a vector based, full-fledged, logo design app available exclusively on the Mac App Store for the agreeable price of absolutely free... Read more
21-inch 1.4GHz iMac on sale for $999, save $1...
B&H Photo has new 21″ 1.4GHz iMac on sale for $999 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Best Buy has the 21″ 1.4GHz iMac on sale for $999.99 on their... Read more
16GB iPad mini 3 on sale for $339, save $60
B&H Photo has the 16GB iPad mini 3 WiFi on sale for $339 including free shipping plus NY tax only. Their price is $60 off MSRP. Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail Sales...
**Job Summary** As an Apple Solutions Consultant (ASC) you are the link between our customers and our products. Your role is to drive the Apple business in a retail Read more
Program Manger, WW *Apple* Direct Fulfillme...
**Job Summary** We are seeking a business analyst to work within our Worldwide Apple Direct Fulfillment Operations team. This role will work closely with related program Read more
Project Manager, *Apple* Retail New Store O...
**Job Summary** An Apple Retail New Store Openings & Remodels Project Manager is responsible for successfully managing the openings, remodels, and small works of Read more
Technical Project Manager - *Apple* Pay - A...
**Job Summary** Apple Pay is seeking an experienced technical PM to…manage the on boarding of new merchants for the Apple Pay platform in the US Within this role you Read more
*Apple* Pay- Automation Test Engineer - Appl...
**Job Summary** At Apple , great ideas have a way of becoming great products, services, and customer experiences very quickly. Bring passion and dedication to your job Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.