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

Bookends 12.8 - Reference management and...
Bookends is a full-featured bibliography/reference and information-management system for students and professionals. Bookends uses the cloud to sync reference libraries on all the Macs you use.... Read more
Apple iTunes 12.6 - Play Apple Music and...
Apple iTunes lets you organize and stream Apple Music, download and watch video and listen to Podcasts. It can automatically download new music, app, and book purchases across all your devices and... Read more
Default Folder X 5.1.4 - Enhances Open a...
Default Folder X attaches a toolbar to the right side of the Open and Save dialogs in any OS X-native application. The toolbar gives you fast access to various folders and commands. You just click on... Read more
Amazon Chime 4.1.5587 - Amazon-based com...
Amazon Chime is a communications service that transforms online meetings with a secure, easy-to-use application that you can trust. Amazon Chime works seamlessly across your devices so that you can... Read more
CrossOver 16.2 - Run Windows apps on you...
CrossOver can get your Windows productivity applications and PC games up and running on your Mac quickly and easily. CrossOver runs the Windows software that you need on Mac at home, in the office,... Read more
Adobe Creative Cloud 4.0.0.185 - Access...
Adobe Creative Cloud costs $19.99/month for a single app, or $49.99/month for the entire suite. Introducing Adobe Creative Cloud desktop applications, including Adobe Photoshop CC and Illustrator CC... Read more
MegaSeg 6.0.2 - Professional DJ and radi...
MegaSeg is a complete solution for pro audio/video DJ mixing, radio automation, and music scheduling with rock-solid performance and an easy-to-use design. Mix with visual waveforms and Magic... Read more
Bookends 12.8 - Reference management and...
Bookends is a full-featured bibliography/reference and information-management system for students and professionals. Bookends uses the cloud to sync reference libraries on all the Macs you use.... Read more
Adobe Creative Cloud 4.0.0.185 - Access...
Adobe Creative Cloud costs $19.99/month for a single app, or $49.99/month for the entire suite. Introducing Adobe Creative Cloud desktop applications, including Adobe Photoshop CC and Illustrator CC... Read more
Default Folder X 5.1.4 - Enhances Open a...
Default Folder X attaches a toolbar to the right side of the Open and Save dialogs in any OS X-native application. The toolbar gives you fast access to various folders and commands. You just click on... Read more

The best deals on the App Store this wee...
Deals, deals, deals. We're all about a good bargain here on 148Apps, and luckily this was another fine week in App Store discounts. There's a big board game sale happening right now, and a few fine indies are still discounted through the weekend.... | Read more »
The best new games we played this week
It's been quite the week, but now that all of that business is out of the way, it's time to hunker down with some of the excellent games that were released over the past few days. There's a fair few to help you relax in your down time or if you're... | Read more »
Orphan Black: The Game (Games)
Orphan Black: The Game 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Dive into a dark and twisted puzzle-adventure that retells the pivotal events of Orphan Black. | Read more »
The Elder Scrolls: Legends is now availa...
| Read more »
Ticket to Earth beginner's guide: H...
Robot Circus launched Ticket to Earth as part of the App Store's indie games event last week. If you're not quite digging the space operatics Mass Effect: Andromeda is serving up, you'll be pleased to know that there's a surprising alternative on... | Read more »
Leap to victory in Nexx Studios new plat...
You’re always a hop, skip, and a jump away from a fiery death in Temple Jump, a new platformer-cum-endless runner from Nexx Studio. It’s out now on both iOS and Android if you’re an adventurer seeking treasure in a crumbling, pixel-laden temple. | Read more »
Failbetter Games details changes coming...
Sunless Sea, Failbetter Games' dark and gloomy sea explorer, sets sail for the iPad tomorrow. Ahead of the game's launch, Failbetter took to Twitter to discuss what will be different in the mobile version of the game. Many of the changes make... | Read more »
Splish, splash! The Pokémon GO Water Fes...
Niantic is back with a new festival for dedicated Pokémon GO collectors. The Water Festival officially kicks off today at 1 P.M. PDT and runs through March 29. Magikarp, Squirtle, Totodile, and their assorted evolved forms will be appearing at... | Read more »
Death Road to Canada (Games)
Death Road to Canada 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $7.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Get it now at the low launch price! Price will go up a dollar every major update. Update news at the bottom of this... | Read more »
Bean's Quest Beginner's Guide:...
Bean's Quest is a new take on both the classic platformer and the endless runner, and it's free on the App Store for the time being. Instead of running constantly, you can't stop jumping. That adds a surprising new level of challenge to the game... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

2.6GHz Mac mini on sale for $559, $140 off MS...
Guitar Center has the 2.6GHz Mac mini (MGEN2LL/A) on sale for $559 including free shipping. Their price is $140 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model. Read more
SSD Speeder RAM Disk SSD Life Extender App Fo...
Fehraltorf, Switzerland based B-Eng has announced they are making their SSD Speeder app for macOS publicly available for purchase on their website. SSD Speeder is a RAM disk utility that prevents... Read more
iPhone Scores Highest Overall in Smartphone D...
Customer satisfaction is much higher among smartphone owners who use their device to operate other connected home services such as smart thermostats and smart appliances, according to the J.D. Power... Read more
Swipe CRM Free Photo-Centric CRM Sales DEal C...
Swipe CRM LLC has introduced Swipe CRM: Visual Sales 1.0 for iPad, an app for creating, managing, and sharing visually stunning sales deals. Swipe CRM is targeted to small-and-medium creative... Read more
13-inch 2.0GHz Apple MacBook Pros on sale for...
B&H has the non-Touch Bar 13″ 2.0GHz MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 13″ 2.0GHz MacBook Pro Space Gray (... Read more
15-inch Touch Bar MacBook Pros on sale for up...
B&H Photo has the new 2016 15″ Apple Touch Bar MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for up to $150 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.7GHz Touch Bar... Read more
Apple’s iPhone 6s Tops Best-Selling Smartphon...
In terms of shipments, the iPhone 6s from Apple bested all competitors for sales in 2016, according to new analysis from IHS Markit, a world leader in critical information, analytics and solutions.... Read more
Logitech Rugged Combo Protective iPad Case an...
Logitech has announced its Logitech Rugged Combo, Logitech Rugged Case, and Logitech Add-on Keyboard for Rugged Case for Apple’s new, more affordable $329 9.7-inch iPad, a complete solution designed... Read more
T-Mobile To Offer iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus...
T-Mobile has announced it will offer iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus (PRODUCT)RED Special Edition in a vibrant red aluminum finish. The introduction of this special edition iPhone celebrates Apple’s 10... Read more
9-inch 128GB iPad Pros on sale for $50-$70 of...
B&H Photo has 9.7″ 128GB Apple WiFi iPad Pros on sale for up to $70 off MSRP, each including free shipping. B&H charges sales tax in NY only: - 9″ Space Gray 128GB WiFi iPad Pro: $649 $50... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions - Apple,...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
Fulltime aan de slag als shopmanager in een h...
Ben jij helemaal gek van Apple -producten en vind je het helemaal super om fulltime shopmanager te zijn in een jonge en hippe elektronicazaak? Wil jij werken in Read more
Starte Dein Karriere-Abenteuer in den Hauptst...
…mehrsprachigen Teams betreust Du Kunden von bekannten globale Marken wie Apple , Mercedes, Facebook, Expedia, und vielen anderen! Funktion Du wolltest schon Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions- Chicago...
SalesSpecialist - Retail Customer Service and SalesTransform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
Fulltime aan de slag als shopmanager in een h...
Ben jij helemaal gek van Apple -producten en vind je het helemaal super om fulltime shopmanager te zijn in een jonge en hippe elektronicazaak? Wil jij werken in Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.