TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Mac in the Shell: Packaging and Installing

Volume Number: 24 (2008)
Issue Number: 06
Column Tag: Mac in the Shell

Mac in the Shell: Packaging and Installing

Simplify and scale your install methodology

by Edward Marczak

Introduction

While many systems contain a package manager, OS X's is unique, for better or worse. More and more people are now getting familiar with the graphical PackageMaker.app (and if you're not, see Jose Cruz's article in this issue). However, the GUI utility is only half the issue. Once an application is packaged, it needs to be deployed, sometimes at grand scale. Also, it's important to be able to automate updates to a package over time so new installs user the newer versions. This article talks about the command-line version of PackageMaker.app, packagemaker, and command-line installer – two tools to help get software to the masses easily and automatically.

Earth

Packaging refers to placing files into a package format (which acts like a single file) that is used to install said files (the payload) on a target system. The graphical Packager Maker.app that ships with 10.5 developer tools is vastly improved over earlier versions. All of those improvements are brought to the command line build version. This includes the wonderful snapshot package, too.

For the sake of simplicity, let's imagine that the payload that you wish to install is contained entirely in a single directory. This can be a directory full of files, or a single application (which is, in reality, a folder full of files). We'll use the former in this example: a single directory containing some utility programs for our command line pleasure. This will need to be installed on all systems in our organization. packagemaker makes this a snap to package up. The simplest way to package this directory is to do the following:

Create an empty directory for general use in which to create packages.

Create another directory for the specific package to bundle up.

Place all directories and files with the correct hierarchy, permissions and owner inside of the specific directory to be packaged.

Run packagemaker:

/Developer/usr/bin/packagemaker \
-r /Users/germ/pkgbuilds/binutils/ \
-v -i com.radiotope.binutils \
-o ./binutils.pkg

The switches used in the example direct packagemaker in the following manner:

-r The build root, or, the directory of files to be packaged.

-v be verbose about it.

-i specify the package ID

-o Output file.

Technically, to make command this even shorter, the -v and -o switches could be omitted. Output, by default, will be dropped in the current directory, and be named based on the root.

To watch the file system for changes, and create a package based on those changes, use the —watch flag. Start packagemaker with the —watch, -o and -i flags, at minimum:

$ /Developer/usr/bin/packagemaker —watch -v -i com.radiotope.binutils -o binutils.pkg
Watching filesystem as pid: 53917. Send SIGUSR1 to stop: kill -SIGUSR1 53917

Note that you're provided the kill command that will properly stop packagemaker, and allow it perform the actual packaging. Once packagemaker is watching, perform the install that you'd like to package, and then send the signal using kill. packagemaker will carry on and create a package based on any files that have changed on the filesystem between the time it was started, and the time that it received the SIGUSR1 signal. Unlike it's GUI brethren, command line packagemaker does not allow an opportunity to edit the list of files that it has noted as changed. If you choose to use the —watch flag, ensure that you're running it at a time when the filesystem is least active.

Fire

While packagemaker is effective at automating package builds, sometimes it's just plain easier to use the GUI-based PackageMaker.app to create the first revision. Package Maker.app grants greater flexibility in many cases. Gratefully, the two utilities can be combined: use PackageMaker.app to initially create a package, with the precise options necessary. This configuration can be saved as a .pmdoc file. The command line packagemaker can take a .pmdoc file and build a package based on the configuration options specified within. This can then be used as upgrades to the original package take place.

To allow packagemaker to take direction from a .pmdoc file, use the -d, or —doc switch to specify the .pmdoc file:

/Developer/usr/bin/packagemaker \
-d /Users/germ/pmdoc/Bin_Utils.pmdoc \
-v -i com.radiotope.binutils \
-o ./binutils.pkg

Any options specified on the command line override the equivalent option from the .pmdoc file.

Water

Once packages are created, the goal is to install them on target systems. They can be brought over to a target system in many ways, but once there, they will be installed using Apple's installer. Like PackageMaker, installer comes in both a GUI and command-line version. The command-line version is the gateway to automating installs.

The basic syntax is short and sweet:

installer -pkg [path to package] -target [path to destination volume/device]

To install the example binutils.pkg on the current system volume, the command would look like this:

installer -pkg /packages/binutils.pkg -target /

Before installing, installer can determine which targets on the current system are valid. The -volinfo switch lists all valid volumes for a given package. Some packages have constraints on installation targets, such as "home" or "root volume only." To obtain a list of currently mounted volumes that are appropriate destinations, supply the package and volinfo switches:

installer -pkg /packages/binutils.pkg -volinfo 

This output can be parsed for a valid destination.

Finally, note that the -target switch can also accept other forms of listing the destination. Also acceptable are device node entries (/dev/disk3), a disk identifier (/dev/disk1s6) or a volume's UUID. It will also accept a domain as listed in the -dominfo switch, however, since very few packages contain domain information, this method has lesser value than methods shown earlier.

Air

The importance of the command line versions of these utilities lies in automation.

MacTech has run several articles that talk about AFP548's InstaDMG, a build tool to create a system image. The command line installer is at the heart of this program. An excerpt from the main script shows installer in action:

/bin/ls -A1 $UPDATE_FOLDER | /usr/bin/sed '/.DS_Store/d' | while read UPDATE_PKG
   do
      /usr/sbin/installer -verbose \
    -pkg "${UPDATE_FOLDER}/${UPDATE_PKG}/`/bin/ls ${UPDATE_FOLDER}/${UPDATE_PKG} | \
    /usr/bin/sed '/.DS_Store/d'`" \
    -target $CURRENT_IMAGE_MOUNT >> $LOG_FILE
      /bin/echo "Installed ${UPDATE_FOLDER}/${UPDATE_PKG}/`/bin/ls ${UPDATE_FOLDER}/${UPDATE_PKG} | \
    /usr/bin/sed '/.DS_Store/d'`" >> $PKG_LOG
   done

The idea behind this except is to list all packages in a hierarchy of folders and send that list in order to installer, which installs each package in turn.

Another approach to automating this type of install would be using the find command:

find ${UPDATE_FOLDER} -iname "*pkg" -type d -exec installer -pkg {} -target / \;

This command could also be redirected to a file (remember to specify -verbose in the installer command!) for logging purposes.

The installer command can also be individually distributed to OS X systems using dshell (see the January 2008 issue of MacTech), or via Apple Remote Desktop's "Send Unix" command. While ARD does have a method to directly install packages, it proves unreliable in many instances, including sending packages to machines over a WAN, and sending packages to too many machines. The number that consists of "too many" is inconsistent from run to run and environment to environment.

Rather than send one-liners, a larger, structured script can direct a machine to mount a remote disk image (using hdiutil), install a package on that volume, dismount the volume and reboot the remote machine if necessary and appropriate. It can do all of this while checking for errors and reporting on progress, too.

Conclusion

As OS X systems become more prevalent, better methods of configuration and installation need to appear in order to allow administrators the ability to serve users in a timely manner. The methods in this article can be used with or without a complete OS X infrastructure (e.g. Without OS X Server supporting directory services or more of the back-end). Automation means consistency. Possibly more important, though, is that it means timeliness and less work for administrators once set up.

Also, packaging allows an administrator to pretty much do anything to a target system. Since preferences and user accounts are stored as files, installer can overwrite them. Also, since packages can runs scripts, they can perform even more sophisticated functions. Your imagination is the only limit.

Media of the month: "The Design and Implementation of the FreeBSD Operating System" by Marshall Kirk McKusick and George V. Neville-Neil. While not a perfect fit, this may be the closest thing we have to an OS X internals book. The BSD file structures all match up, along with what happens at the Unix layer. Combine this with the Mac specific (but sadly dated) Mac OS X Internals by Amit Singh, and you have some incredibly deep knowledge of lower level structures and system activity.

Hopefully you're reading this while attending WWDC (yes, it's that time of the year again). Or, this is providing some travel reading for you. In any case, MacTech will be present, so feel free to find us and say hello!

Until next month, enjoy WWDC and all that encompasses it, and keep scripting.

References

PackageMaker Users Guide, Apple Computer. http://developer.apple.com/documentation/DeveloperTools/Conceptual/PackageMakerUserGuide/PackageMaker_UserGuide.pdf

packagemaker man page

installer man page


Ed Marczak is the Executive Editor for MacTech Magazine, and has been lucky enough to have ridden the computing and technology wave from early on. From teletype computing to MVS to Netware to modern OS X, his interest was piqued. He has also been fortunate enough to come into contact with some of the best minds in the business. Ed spends his non-compute time with his wife and two daughters.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Dash 4.0.1 - Instant search and offline...
Dash is an API documentation browser and code snippet manager. Dash helps you store snippets of code, as well as instantly search and browse documentation for almost any API you might use (for a full... Read more
Tinderbox 7.0.0 - Store and organize you...
Tinderbox is a personal content management assistant. It stores your notes, ideas, and plans. It can help you organize and understand them. And Tinderbox helps you share ideas through Web journals... Read more
Apple Remote Desktop Client 3.9 - Client...
Apple Remote Desktop Client is the best way to manage the Mac computers on your network. Distribute software, provide real-time online help to end users, create detailed software and hardware reports... Read more
Sparkle 2.1.1 - $79.99
Sparkle will change your mind if you thought building websites wasn't for you. Sparkle is the intuitive site builder that lets you create sites for your online portfolio, team or band pages, or... Read more
1Password 6.5.5 - 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
WhatRoute 2.0.15 - Geographically trace...
WhatRoute is designed to find the names of all the routers an IP packet passes through on its way from your Mac to a destination host. It also measures the round-trip time from your Mac to the router... Read more
Art Text 3.2.2 - $49.99
Art Text is graphic design software specifically tuned for lettering, typography, text mockups and various artistic text effects. Supplied with a great variety of ready to use styles and materials,... Read more
Tinderbox 7.0.0 - Store and organize you...
Tinderbox is a personal content management assistant. It stores your notes, ideas, and plans. It can help you organize and understand them. And Tinderbox helps you share ideas through Web journals... Read more
1Password 6.5.5 - 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
Apple Remote Desktop Client 3.9 - Client...
Apple Remote Desktop Client is the best way to manage the Mac computers on your network. Distribute software, provide real-time online help to end users, create detailed software and hardware reports... Read more

Tiny Striker: World Football Guide - How...
| Read more »
Good news everyone! Futurama: Worlds of...
Futurama is finding a new home on mobile in TinyCo and Fox Interactive's new game, Futurama: Worlds of Tomorrow. They're really doing it up, bringing on board Futurama creator Matt Groening along with the original cast and writers. TinyCo wants... | Read more »
MUL.MASH.TAB.BA.GAL.GAL (Games)
MUL.MASH.TAB.BA.GAL.GAL 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: ENDLESS UPGRADES. CONSTANT DANGER. ANCIENT WISDOM. BOUNCY BALLS. Launch Sale, 40% OFF for a very limited time!!! MUL.... | Read more »
Dungeon Rushers (Games)
Dungeon Rushers 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Dungeon Rushers is a 2D tactical RPG combining dungeon crawler’s gameplay and turn based fights. Manage your team, loot dusty... | Read more »
Blasty Bubs is a colorful Pinball and Br...
QuickByte Games has another arcade treat in the works -- this time it's a mishmash of brick breaking and Pinball mechanics. It's called Blasty Bubs, and it's a top down brickbreaker that has you slinging balls around a board. [Read more] | Read more »
Corsola and Heracross are the new region...
Generation 2 finally launched in Pokémon GO, unleashing a brand new batch of Pokémon into the wild. Even before the update went live people were speculating on how to catch elusive Pokémon like the legendary "dogs", Unknown, and whether or not... | Read more »
The Warlock of Firetop Mountain (Games)
The Warlock of Firetop Mountain 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: An epic adventure through a mysterious mountain filled with monsters, magic and mayhem! “...it looks downright... | Read more »
Fantasy MMORPG MU Origin’s receives a hu...
Developer Webzen are looking to take their highly popular fantasy battler MU Origin to the next level this month, with its most ambitious overhaul yet. The latest update introduces the long sought after Server Arena, new treasure dungeons, and much... | Read more »
RPG Djinn Caster (Games)
RPG Djinn Caster 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: SPECIAL PRICE 38% OFF(USD 7.99 -> USD 4.99)!!!A Fantasy Action RPG of far foreign lands! Summon the Djinns and rise to... | Read more »
Alto's Odyssey gets its first trail...
There's finally video evidence of Alto's Odyssey, the follow up to the 2015 App Store hit, Alto's Adventure. It looks just as soothing and atmospheric as Alto's last outing, but this time players will be journeying to the desert. Whereas Alto's... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Apple’s New iPad Ads Don’t Address Pro Users’...
Apple launched a new tranche of iPad Pro TV ads last week addressing actual queries and challenges from the Twitterverse, albeit using actors for the visuals. That’s great. As an iPad fan and heavy... Read more
Free Verbum Catholic Bible Study App For iOS
The Verbum mobile app runs on Logos’ powerful Bible software and is an advanced resource for mobile Catholic study. The Verbum app surrounds the Bible with the Tradition. Verbum comes with 15 free... Read more
27-inch Apple iMacs on sale for up to $200 of...
B&H Photo has 27″ Apple iMacs on sale for up to $200 off MSRP, each including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - 27″ 3.3GHz iMac 5K: $2099.99 $200 off MSRP - 27″ 3.2GHz/1TB Fusion iMac 5K: $... Read more
15-inch 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for...
Amazon has 2015 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pros (MJLQ2LL/A) available for $1849.99 including free shipping. Apple charges $1999 for this model, so Amazon’s price is represents a $150 savings. Read more
Apple refurbished iPad Air 2s available start...
Apple has Certified Refurbished iPad Air 2 WiFis available for starting at $319 including free shipping. A standard Apple one-year warranty is included: - 16GB iPad Air 2 WiFi: $319 $60 off original... Read more
Apple refurbished iPad Pros available for up...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 9″ and 12″ Apple iPad Pros available for up to $160 off the cost of new iPads. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free: - 32GB 9″... Read more
Apple restocks refurbished 2015 and 2016 13-i...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2015 and 2016 13″ MacBook Airs available starting at $759. An Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free: - 2016 13″ 1.6GHz/8GB/128GB... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro (Apple refurbished...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pros (MD101LL/A) available for $829, or $270 off original MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free: - 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook... Read more
QuickerTek Announces 5TB Apple AC AirPort Tim...
QuickerTek Inc. has announced their new 5TB hard drive upgrade for Apple’s AC AirPort Time Capsule. By customer request, this upgrade also features six external antennas and offers the highest... Read more
Apple Certified Refurbished iMacs available f...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2015 21″ & 27″ iMacs available for up to $350 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free. The following models are available: - 21″ 3.... 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
Manager *Apple* Systems Administration - Pu...
Req ID 3315BR Position Title Manager, Apple Systems Administration Job Description The Manager of Apple Systems Administration oversees the administration and Read more
*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
Manager *Apple* Systems Administration - Pu...
Req ID 3315BR Position Title Manager, Apple Systems Administration Job Description The Manager of Apple Systems Administration oversees the administration and Read more
*Apple* Technician - nfrastructure (United S...
Let’s Work Together Apple Technician This position is based in Portland, ME Life at nfrastructure At nfrastructure, we understand that our success results from our Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.