TweetFollow Us on Twitter

MacEnterprise: Managing Software Installs with Munki

Volume Number: 26
Issue Number: 10
Column Tag: MacEnterprise

MacEnterprise: Managing Software Installs with Munki

An introduction to software deployment with Munki

By Greg Neagle, MacEnterprise.org

Introduction

Managing Mac OS X machines has many facets. Common tasks include the initial building or imaging of machines, configuration of the OS and applications for use, managing user accounts, setting and enforcing organizational policies, and inventorying hardware and software. Remotely assisting users might also come under the category of Mac management.

Another very common task is installing, updating, and removing software on deployed machines. There are some organizations that build their machines with a "golden master" image, and then never touch them again until they are reimaged, but that's a rare arrangement. For most organizations, there is a continuing need to add, update, and remove software from machines that have been deployed.

There are several commercial tools available to assist you with this task. Among these are the Casper Suite, Absolute Manage (formerly LANrev), KBox, and FileWave. There are also some free tools. Radmind, developed at the University of Michigan, is a tool to manage the contents of a filesystem. Its design allowed it also be used as a software management system, and it has enjoyed some popularity among Mac OS X administrators. I, personally, have used it for the better part of a decade to manage hundreds of Mac OS X machines.

For various reasons, a couple of years ago, I began to look at alternatives to radmind. I needed a system that did not manage the entire filesystem and allowed greater flexibility for users to decide what was installed on their machines, and I wanted a system that removed much of the tedium of adding new software to the management system. The commercial solutions mentioned earlier probably would have met my needs, but timing and finances meant that I'd have to wait a year before we could consider purchasing one of these solutions. So with a year to wait before I could possibly buy a commercial solution, I decided to try writing my own software management utility. The result is munki.

Although munki is relatively new compared to radmind and many of the commercial solutions, it has been in use at my organization for over a year, and is in use by many other organizations world-wide.

What Munki Does

Munki consists of client-side tools written largely in Python, and is available as open-source under the Apache 2 license at http://code.google.com/p/munki. The client tools run on Leopard and Snow Leopard. They require Python 2.5, and so will not run on Tiger or earlier versions of Mac OS X.

On the server side, munki can use any web server. I run my munki repository on an Xserve running Snow Leopard Server, but you can use any available modern web server on any platform. (I say "modern" because some software packages can be over 2GB in size and older web servers have problems serving files of that size.) You do not need to install any munki-specific software on the web server, but you must be able to create directories and files on the web server.

Munki can install software delivered as standard Apple packages - the same kind of packages, that when double-clicked, open in Apple's Installer.app. Munki can also install software from disk images - for example, an application delivered on a disk image that is supposed to be dragged to the Applications folder. These "drag-n-drop disk images" are easily installed by munki. Munki also knows how to install many Adobe products - specifically, it can install the Adobe CS3, CS4, and CS5 products and their updates. In many cases, munki can also remove the software it has installed.

Munki also supports "Optional Software". These are items that are made available to the users of machines your manage, who can decide for themselves whether or not they'd like any of these items installed. If they choose to install an optional software item, they can also later remove it. This feature does not require admin rights for the user, and is similar in concept to "Self Service" installs offered by the Casper Suite from JAMF Software.

Additionally, munki can update software it did not install itself. You can specify that certain software should be updated only if some version is found already installed on a user's machine.

What Munki Doesn't Do

Earlier, we mentioned that managing Mac OS X machines has many facets. Many of the commercial solutions for software deployment also provide solutions for other facets of Mac management. Munki does not. Munki focuses only on software deployment. You'll need to turn to other tools for imaging, inventory, remote assistance, and preference management. At my organization, we're using DeployStudio for imaging and Apple's Screen Sharing for remote assistance. If you've been reading this column for very long, it shouldn't come as a surprise that we're using Local MCX for preference management.

Munki Pieces

Most of the data munki needs to function is stored on a web server. Munki uses three types of data:

Installer items: these are packages or disk images containing the software to be installed. In many cases, you can use a package or disk image provided by the software vendor without having to repackage or convert the installer package in any way. For example, munki can install Firefox from the disk image that you download from http://www.mozilla.com.

Catalogs: these are lists of available software, containing metadata about the installer items. You, as the munki administrator, build these catalogs using tools provided with munki.

Manifests: A manifest is essentially a list of what software should be installed on or removed from a given machine. You could have a different manifest for every machine, or one manifest for all of your machines. Manifests can include the contents of other manifests, allowing you to group software for easy addition to client manifests. For example, you could create a manifest listing all of the software every machine in your organization must have. The manifest for a client could then include the common-software manifest, and additionally have software unique to that client.

Manifests and catalogs are stored on the web server as standard Apple plist files in text format. If you've administered Mac OS X machines, you've almost certainly encountered plist files. They are a well-understood way to store structured data in a text format. Here's an example of a simple manifest:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>

<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple Computer//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
<plist version="1.0">
<dict>
   <key>catalogs</key>
   <array>
      <string>production</string>
   </array>
   <key>managed_installs</key>
   <array>
      <string>Firefox</string>
      <string>Thunderbird</string>
   </array>
</dict>
</plist>

This manifest simply tells munki to look for information about software to install in the "production" catalog, and to ensure Firefox and Thunderbird are installed. Munki then searches the production catalog for items named "Firefox" and "Thunderbird", and since we did not specify a version, it selects the items with the latest versions. Here's what it finds for Firefox:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
<plist version="1.0">
<dict>
   <key>autoremove</key>
   <false/>
   <key>catalogs</key>
   <array>
      <string>production</string>
   </array>
   <key>installer_item_hash</key>
   <string>10ede8228c869ba4b03611b6ec750acbccf879f20ce52cb86e1baf6972f60fb0</string>
   <key>installer_item_location</key>
   <string>Firefox 3.6.10.dmg</string>
   <key>installer_item_size</key>
   <integer>18996</integer>
   <key>installer_type</key>
   <string>copy_from_dmg</string>
   <key>installs</key>
   <array>
      <dict>
         <key>CFBundleIdentifier</key>
         <string>org.mozilla.firefox</string>
         <key>CFBundleName</key>
         <string>Firefox</string>
         <key>CFBundleShortVersionString</key>
         <string>3.6.10</string>
         <key>path</key>
         <string>/Applications/Firefox.app</string>
         <key>type</key>
         <string>application</string>
      </dict>
   </array>
   <key>items_to_copy</key>
   <array>
      <dict>
         <key>destination_path</key>
         <string>/Applications</string>
         <key>source_item</key>
         <string>Firefox.app</string>
      </dict>
   </array>
   <key>minimum_os_version</key>
   <string>10.4.0</string>
   <key>name</key>
   <string>Firefox</string>
   <key>uninstall_method</key>
   <string>remove_copied_items</string>
   <key>uninstallable</key>
   <true/>
   <key>version</key>
   <string>3.6.10.0.0</string>
</dict>
</plist>

At this point, you might be intimidated by the complexity of this information. But don't worry, it's very easy to generate this info with tools that are part of munki, and we'll cover that in the future. The information might look less intimidating if I were to remove the plist overhead and present a subset of the information as a simple table. Look at Table 1 for the result.


Table 1 - munki's information about an installer item

Let's look at parts of the information that munki found about Firefox.

The most important field is name. Here it is "Firefox", which matches the name in the managed_installs list in the manifest. When looking for information about a managed install, munki searches the catalogs for items matching the name given. If no version is given, it selects the item with the highest version it finds. Here the version is "3.6.10.0.0".

Once it has found information on the item to be installed, munki checks to see if the item has already been installed. Munki can do this one of two ways. If the item to be installed is installed via an Apple package, munki can check for the receipts left when a package is installed. But software that is not installed via an Apple package does not leave a receipt. And even for items that come in package format, it is possible for software to be removed (for example, by dragging an application to the trash) while leaving the receipt in place. So munki has a second method is can use to determine if an item has been installed, the installs list. For our Firefox example, here is that list:

   
  <key>installs</key>
   <array>
      <dict>
         <key>CFBundleIdentifier</key>
         <string>org.mozilla.firefox</string>
         <key>CFBundleName</key>
         <string>Firefox</string>
         <key>CFBundleShortVersionString</key>
         <string>3.6.10</string>
         <key>path</key>
         <string>/Applications/Firefox.app</string>
         <key>type</key>
         <string>application</string>
      </dict>
   </array>

A simplified version of the installs data is shown in Table 2: Installs data for Firefox 3.6.10

Installs:   
   Type:    application   
   Identifier:   org.mozilla.firefox   
   Name:    Firefox   
   Version:   3.6.10   
   Path:    /Applications/Firefox.app   

Table 2 - Installs data for Firefox 3.6.10

In this example, the installs list contains a single item. This item contains information about the Firefox application itself. Most importantly, it has the name, version and pathname for the application. Munki can then use this information to determine if Firefox is installed, and if so, compare the version of the installed application to the one defined in the catalog information about Firefox. (Munki can often find the application even if it has been moved from its normal location by using System Profiler data and the name and identifier.)

If Firefox isn't found, or the version of the installed Firefox is lower than the version described by the catalog information, munki decides that Firefox needs to be installed and downloads the disk image file containing Firefox, using information from the installer_item_location field. If we were using the sample manifest shown earlier, the check would be repeated for Thunderbird.

Let us assume that munki found that Firefox was out-of-date, but the current version of Thunderbird was installed. After downloading the disk image for Firefox 3.6.10, munki would alert the user of available updates using the Managed Software Update application, shown in Figure 1.


Figure 1 - Managed Software Update.app

As you can see, Managed Software Update.app is designed to closely resemble Apple's Software Update application so that users might quickly grasp its purpose and how to use it. Unlike Apple's Software Update application, users do not need administrative rights to install software using this application. If the user clicks Update now, munki will install Firefox 3.6.10 without an administrative prompt. The next time munki checks, it will find that Firefox is installed and not attempt to install it again.

The installs list also bestows munki with another feature: automatic repair. If a user (with administrative rights) were to remove Firefox (by accident or on purpose), munki will notice and reinstall the application. For more complex software installs, munki can check for the existence of multiple items - not only applications, but other filesystem items as well. If any of the items in the installs list are missing or out of date, a reinstall is triggered.

To remove a software item from a machine, you'd edit the manifest for the machine, moving the item from the managed_installs list to the managed_uninstalls list. If we wanted to remove Firefox, the edited manifest might look like this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple Computer//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "http://www.apple.com/DTDs/PropertyList-1.0.dtd">
<plist version="1.0">
<dict>
   <key>catalogs</key>
   <array>
      <string>testing</string>
   </array>
   <key>managed_installs</key>
   <array>
      <string>Thunderbird</string>
   </array>
   <key>managed_uninstalls</key>
   <array>
      <string>Firefox</string>
   </array>
</dict>
</plist>
This time we'll run munki from the command line:
>/usr/local/munki/managedsoftwareupdate
Managed Software Update Tool
Copyright 2010 The Munki Project
http://code.google.com/p/munki
The following items will be removed:
    - Firefox
Run managedsoftwareupdate —installonly to install the downloaded updates.

Munki sees Firefox in the list of managed_uninstalls, and uses the information in the installs array we discussed earlier to determine that Firefox is installed. Munki then schedules Firefox for removal. From the GUI, the scheduled task looks like Figure 2.


Figure 2 - Software removal

In the interface presented to the user, details about software removals are hidden by default (though the administrator can override this if he or she would like). This is to discourage users from deferring updates indefinitely because they don't want a certain application removed.

Munki Behaviors

This is a good time to discuss a major part of munki's design. Munki is designed to be polite. It never installs anything under a currently active user session without the user's approval. If no one is logged in, munki will by default install or remove software automatically, hiding the loginwindow and presenting a status window. If a user is logged in, munki notifies the user of updates and allows the user to either update right away or defer the update until later. Munki also handles multiple user logins (via Fast User Switching) gracefully and will not install items if more than one user is logged in (as doing so could cause switched-out users to lose work).

Administrators can customize these behaviors, configuring munki to never bother the user with available updates (therefore waiting to install all updates when no user is logged in), or the inverse - telling munki to never automatically install software when at the loginwindow, and instead always requiring user consent for all updates. Administrators cannot, however, easily configure munki to force an install or removal while users are logged in.

To Be Continued...

This month, we've presented a basic introduction to munki, an open-source utility for managing software installs, updates and removals on Mac OS X machines. Next time, we'll dive a little deeper and set up a proof-of-concept installation of munki on a standalone machine. This will include both the munki client tools and a working munki server. We'll then explore more of the munki toolset and look at creating munki catalogs - the listings of available software munki uses to determine if a piece of software needs to be installed or removed, and if so, how to complete the installation or removal.

In the meantime, if this month's column has piqued your interest, be sure to check out the resources available on the munki Google Code website at http://code.google.com/p/munki, and browse the archives of the munki-dev Google Group at http://groups.google.com/group/munki-dev. Until next month, have fun munki-ing around!


Greg Neagle is a member of the steering committee of the Mac OS X Enterprise Project (macenterprise.org) and is a senior systems engineer at a large animation studio. Greg has been working with the Mac since 1984, and with OS X since its release. He can be reached at gregneagle@mac.com.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

jAlbum 15.0 - Create custom photo galler...
With jAlbum, you can create gorgeous custom photo galleries for the Web without writing a line of code! Beginner-friendly, with pro results - Simply drag and drop photos into groups, choose a design... Read more
Duet 1.6.9.3 - Use your iPad as an exter...
Duet is the first app that allows you to use your iDevice as an extra display for your Mac using the Lightning or 30-pin cable. Note: This app requires a $14.99 iOS companion app. Version 1.6.9.3:... Read more
Duet 1.6.9.3 - Use your iPad as an exter...
Duet is the first app that allows you to use your iDevice as an extra display for your Mac using the Lightning or 30-pin cable. Note: This app requires a $14.99 iOS companion app. Version 1.6.9.3:... Read more
iExplorer 4.1.10 - View and transfer fil...
iExplorer is an iPhone browser for Mac lets you view the files on your iOS device. By using a drag and drop interface, you can quickly copy files and folders between your Mac and your iPhone or... Read more
iExplorer 4.1.10 - View and transfer fil...
iExplorer is an iPhone browser for Mac lets you view the files on your iOS device. By using a drag and drop interface, you can quickly copy files and folders between your Mac and your iPhone or... Read more
Adobe InCopy CC 2018 13.0.1.207 - Create...
InCopy CC 2018 is available as part of Adobe Creative Cloud for as little as $19.99/month (or $9.99/month if you're a previous InCopy customer). Adobe InCopy CC 2018, ideal for large team projects... Read more
Microsoft Office 2016 15.40 - Popular pr...
Microsoft Office 2016 - Unmistakably Office, designed for Mac. The new versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and OneNote provide the best of both worlds for Mac users - the familiar Office... Read more
Adobe InDesign CC 2018 13.0.1.207 - Prof...
InDesign CC 2018 is available as part of Adobe Creative Cloud for as little as $19.99/month (or $9.99/month if you're a previous InDesign customer). Adobe InDesign CC 2018 is part of Creative Cloud.... Read more
Apple iOS 11.1.2 - The latest version of...
iOS 11 sets a new standard for what is already the world’s most advanced mobile operating system. It makes iPhone better than before. It makes iPad more capable than ever. And now it opens up both to... Read more
Slack 2.9.0 - Collaborative communicatio...
Slack is a collaborative communication app that simplifies real-time messaging, archiving, and search for modern working teams. Version 2.9.0: Slack now officially, and fully, supports Japanese.... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Mighty Battles guide - how to build a so...
Mighty Battles, the latest title from Hothead Games, is set to take the App Store by storm. The game puts a welcome twist on lane battlers, adding FPS elements to spice things up a bit. You'll collect cards to put your own military unit to gether,... | Read more »
Rules of Survival guide - how to be the...
The PUBG craze makes its way to mobile, with more and more battle royale games debuting on iOS and Android. Rules of Survival joins the ranks of mobile PUBG-likes, offering a classic battle royale experiences that doesn't vary too much from its... | Read more »
The best new games we played this week -...
The weekend is upon us friends, and it's time to take a look back and reflect on all of the wonderful games we've played over the past few days. This week was jam packed with new releases. There were some big, long awaited launches, some fun... | Read more »
Lineage II: Revolution guide - tips and...
At long last, Lineage II: Revolution has now come to western shores, bring Netmarble's sweeping MMORPG to mobile devices. It's an addictive, epic experience, but some of the systems in the game can be a bit overwhelming. Here are a few tips to help... | Read more »
A Boy and His Blob (Games)
A Boy and His Blob 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Fight terrible monsters and collect epic...
Released on Western markets early last month, Dragon Project, created by Japanese developer COLOPL, brings epic monster hunting action to mobile for the very first time. Collect a huge array of weapons and armor, and join up with friends to fight... | Read more »
I Am The Hero (Games)
I Am The Hero 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: I Am The Hero is a pixel art, beat 'em up, fighting game that tells the story of a "Hero" with a glorious but mysterious past.... | Read more »
Kauldron (Music)
Kauldron 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Music Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Kauldron is our warmest sounding, punchiest synth yet! A completely new modeling technology, combined with carefully designed... | Read more »
Lineage II: Revolution is mobile’s bigge...
NCSoft’s hit fantasy MMORPG series has just made the leap to mobile with the help of Netmarble in Lineage II: Revolution. With over 1.5 million players having already pre-registered ahead of the game’s launch, Revolution hit the app stores... | Read more »
Swing skilfully in new physics-based pla...
Sometimes it’s the most difficult of obstacles that can be the most rewarding. One game hoping to prove this is OCMO, the new tough but fair platformer from developers Team Ocmo. Primed to set every speedrunner’s pulse racing, as an otherworldly... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Black Friday pricing on Macs and iPads now av...
B&H Photo has lowered prices on many Macs, iPads, and iPad Pros as part of their Black Friday week sale. Save up to $200 on MacBooks and iMacs and up to $150 on iPads. B&H charges sales tax... Read more
Best Apple iPad deals this weekend, up to $80...
Apple resellers are offering 9.7″ iPads and 10.5″ iPad Pros for up to $80 off MSRP this weekend as part of their early Holiday and Black Friday sales: Adorama is offering new 2017 9.7″ 32GB WiFi... Read more
Early Black Friday sale: Apple iMacs for up t...
B&H Photo has 27-inch iMacs in stock and on sale for up $130-$150 off MSRP including free shipping. B&H charges sales tax in NY & NJ only: – 27″ 3.8GHz iMac (MNED2LL/A): $2149 $150 off... Read more
Apple restocks refurbished Mac minis starting...
Apple has restocked Certified Refurbished Mac minis starting at $419. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each mini, and shipping is free: – 1.4GHz Mac mini: $419 $80 off MSRP – 2.6GHz Mac... Read more
Save on 12″ MacBooks, Apple refurbished model...
Apple has Certified Refurbished 2017 12″ Retina MacBooks available for $200-$240 off the cost of new models. Apple will include a standard one-year warranty with each MacBook, and shipping is free.... Read more
Early Holiday sale: 12″ iPad Pros for up to $...
B&H Photo has 12″ iPad Pros on sale today for up to $130 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H collects no sales tax outside NY & NJ: – 12″ 64GB WiFi iPad Pro: $749, save $50 – 12″ 256GB... Read more
Holiday sale prices on Apple 13″ MacBook Pros...
B&H Photo has 2017 13″ MacBook Pros in stock today and on sale for $100-$150 off MSRP, each including free shipping plus NY & NJ sales tax only: – 13-inch 2.3GHz/128GB Space Gray MacBook Pro... Read more
Sale: 13″ MacBook Airs starting at $899, $100...
B&H Photo has 2017 13″ MacBook Airs on sale today for $100 off MSRP including free shipping. B&H charges NY & NJ sales tax only: – 13″ 1.8GHz/128GB MacBook Air (MQD32LL/A): $899, $100 off... Read more
Week’s Best Deal on 13″ MacBook Pros: Apple r...
Apple has a full line of Apple Certified Refurbished 2017 13″ MacBook Pros available for $200-$300 off MSRP. A standard Apple one-year warranty is included with each MacBook, and shipping is free.... Read more
Deal: 15″ 2.6GHz MacBook Pro for $1799 w/free...
B&H Photo has clearance 2016 15″ 2.6GHz Touch Bar MacBook Pros in stock today and available for $600 off original MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY & NJ sales tax only: – 15″ 2.... Read more

Jobs Board

Product Manager - *Apple* Pay on the *Appl...
Job Summary Apple is looking for a talented product manager to drive the expansion of Apple Pay on the Apple Online Store. This position includes a unique Read more
*Apple* Pro/Consumer Apps Support Engineer -...
…exemplify AppleCare's expert technical support paired with exceptional customer service for Apple 's software apps. This person is a problem solver, who understands Read more
Partner Marketing Manager, *Apple* Pay - Ap...
Job Summary The Apple Pay partner marketing team is looking for a Marketing Manager to develop and drive US programs. The right candidate will be passionate about Read more
*Apple* Solution Consultant - Apple (United...
# Apple Solution Consultant - Rochester, MN Job Number: 113037950 Rochester, MN, Minnesota, United States Posted: 19-Sep-2017 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** Are Read more
Sr. Experience Producer, Today at *Apple* -...
# Sr. Experience Producer, Today at Apple Job Number: 56495251 Santa Clara Valley, California, United States Posted: 23-Jun-2017 Weekly Hours: 40.00 **Job Summary** Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.