Tiny Deathstars of Foulness

There’s a macOS tool called AssetCacheLocatorUtil located at /usr/bin/AssetCacheLocatorUtil. The output is in… stderr. Because stderr is so fun to work with (note that sed -i only works with stdin). So, to update the caching server(s) you are using and only print the IP address of those, you’d do the following:

/usr/bin/AssetCacheLocatorUtil 2>&1 | grep guid | awk '{print$4}' | sed 's/^\(.*\):.*$/\1/' | uniq

If you use Jamf Pro and would like to use this as an extension attribute, that’s posted here: I didn’t do any of the if/then there, as I’d usually just do that on the JSS.

April 17th, 2017

Posted In: Mac OS X, Mac Security, Mass Deployment, Network Infrastructure, precache

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There are two useful commands when scripting operations that involve filenames and paths. The first of these is dirname: dirname can be used to return the directory portion of a path. The second is basename: basename can be used to output the file name portion of a path.

For our first example, let’s say that we have an output of /users/krypted, which we know to be the original short name of my user. To just see just that username, we could use basename to call it:

basename /users/charlesedge

Basename can also be used to trim output. For example, let’s say there was a document called myresume.pdf in my home folder and we wanted to grab that without the file extension. We could run basename using the -s option, followed by the string at the end that we do not want to see to output of (the file extension:

basename -s .pdf /users/charlesedge/myresume.pdf

The dirname command is even more basic. It outputs the directory portion of the file’s path. For example, based on the same string, the following would tell you what directory the user is in:

dirname /users/charlesedge

A great example of when this gets more useful is keying off of currently active data. For example, if we’re scripting a make operation, we can use the which command to get an output that just contains the path to the make binary:

which make

We can then wrap that for expansion and grab just the place that the active make binary is stored:

dirname `which make`

This allows us to key other operations off the path of an object. A couple of notable example of this is home or homeDirectory paths and then breaking up data coming into a script via a positional parameter (e.g. $1).

You can also use variables as well. Let’s say that

homedir=/users/krypted ; dirname $homedir

Finally, keep in mind that dirname is relative, so if you’re calling it for ~/ then you’ll see the output at that relative path.

April 5th, 2017

Posted In: Mac OS X, Mac OS X Server, Mac Security, Mass Deployment

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The xxd is a bash command in Linux and macOS that is used to take a hexdump (convert a string to hex), or convert hex back to a string. To use xxd, just call it with a couple of options. Below, we’ll use the -p option to export into plain hexdump, and we’ll quote it and the <<< is to take input rather than a file name to convert (the default behavior), as follows:

xxd -p <<< "hey it's a string"

The output would be a hex string, as follows:


Then use the -r option to revert your hex back to text. Since xxd doesn’t allow for a positional parameter to revert, we’ll simply echo the hex string and pipe it back into xxd, as follows:

echo 6865792069742773206120737472696e670a | xxd -r -p

And the output would be (is):

hey it's a string

Other useful options:

  • -b: Perform a binary dump instead of a hex dump
  • -e: what it looks like when a little endian takes a hex dump
  • -h: get help with the command
  • -len: stop after the defined number of characters
  • -u: use uppercase in the hex, instead of the default lower-case (doesn’t seem to actually work on macOS)
  • -v: grab the version of xxd

April 2nd, 2017

Posted In: Mac OS X, Mac OS X Server, Mac Security, Ubuntu, Unix

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The videos from the MacADUK sessions are now available on the Internets! Including such great sessions as “What’s New With Managing macOS and iOS” from Marko Jung, “Something something commercial, something something open source” from Graham Gilbert, “Desired State Management Through Automation with Jamf Pro” from John Kitzmiller, “Advanced Mac Software Deployment and Configuration – Just Make it Work” from Tim Sutton, “Securing the Managed Environment – you, me, and everybody” from Pepijn Bruienne, “Munki and Patch. A Comparison” from Ben Toms & James Ridsdale, “Locking down macOS without Locking Up Users (The Sequel)” from Samuel Keeley. Totes fun!

Watch them at

March 28th, 2017

Posted In: Mac OS X, Mac OS X Server, Mac Security

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March 8th, 2017

Posted In: Mac OS X Server, Mac Security, MacAdmins Podcast

One of my favorite things about grabbing things with scripts is just how many ways (and sometimes how needfully or needlessly convoluted you can make them) to grab the same pieces of information. For example, something as simple as what hosts you use to resolve names on a Mac. There are a number of ways to grab what DNS server a device is using in macOS. So when you’re running a script you might choose to grab DNS information one way or another, according to what you’re after. Some of this might seem more complicated than it should be. And that’s correct…


The /etc/resolv.conf file is updated automatically to look at what servers are used to resolve names used for DNS. The easiest way to see theses to simply cat it and grep for nameserver:

cat /etc/resolv.conf | grep nameserver


The next way we’ll grab DNS information is using scutil. Here, we use the –dns option, which outputs a lot of DNS stuffs, including all the built-in resolvers:

scutil --dns

To just grab the name servers:

scutil --dns | grep nameserver

We can also simplify the output to just the servers with awk:

scutil --dns | grep nameserver | awk '{print$3}'


The second way is using networksetup. This command has an option to get a DNS server in (shocker) -getdnsservers. However, you have to list the interface for each. So below we’ll dump all interfaces into an array using -listallhardwareports and then read them in using a for loop and querying the name servers.

interfaces=( "$(networksetup -listallhardwareports | grep Hardware | cut -c 16-900)" )
for i in "${interfaces[@]}"
networksetup -getdnsservers $i

The one tricky thing in this one is I initially forgot to quote the interfaces as they went into the array, which meant each word of the interface was an item in the array and therefore the -getdnsservers option failed. Once I quoted, it was all happy. The other thing I can point out is I used cut instead of sed because it was easier to quote; however, it seems unlikely the name can be more than 890 characters, so I think it’s fine…


You can also use dig. Here, you’ll query for a name without using an @ option, but omit everything but the line with the server that responded:

dig | grep SERVER:

The output is kinda’ fug:


For simpler output, we’ll use sed to constrain the output to just what’s between the parenthesis:

dig | grep SERVER: | sed 's/^.*(//;s/)$//'


nslookup is a tool similar to dig, used for querying names. We’ll basically do the same thing as above, just using awk as it’s just a standard position in a line:

nslookup | grep Server: | awk '{print$2}'


Then there’s system_profiler, the command line interface for System Profiler. Here, we can query the SPNetworkDataType. This is going to produce a lot of output, so we can limit it to just the DNS servers using grep to constrain to just the lines we want and awk for just the columns in those lines, as follows:

system_profiler SPNetworkDataType | grep "Domain Name Servers:" | awk '{print$4}'


@knapjack added to use hosts. I had to use verbose mode to pull the local name server as follows:

host -v -t ns | grep Received | awk '{print $5}'


Thanks to the lovely Allister (@sacrilicious), we also have ipconfig to add to the list:

/usr/sbin/ipconfig getpacket en0 2> /dev/null | grep name_ | cut -d' ' -f3-

There are tons of ways to find things in macOS. Do you have a way to find a DNS server that I didn’t think of here?

March 6th, 2017

Posted In: bash, Mac OS X, Mac OS X Server, Mac Security, Ubuntu

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According to @johnkitzmiller, you can’t spell function without fun. So let’s have some fun! What’s a function? Think of it as a script inside a script. Define functions at the beginning of the script instead of making repeated calls to the same task within a script. The other nice thing about functions is that the act of compartmentalization makes them simple to insert into a number of different scripts. For example, if you do a lot of curl commands to pull down something in a lot of different scripts, having the grabbing of the data as a function, then the parsing of it into an array as a function and ultimately the writing of it or dealing with an stderr as another might make it simpler to then port it into the next script and the next.

Functions are simple to define. Just use (yes, you guessed it) the function command. So let’s look at the most basic function. Here, we’ll wrap a simple echo line inside curly brackets. So the syntax is function followed by the name of the function, followed by a curly bracket to introduce it. Then, I like to put a curly bracket on a line at the end of the function. Then I have a line where I just call the function. Note, there’s no special indicator, like a $ in front of the name of it or anything like that (unless you maybe variabalized it):

function hellokitzy {
echo "Hello Kitzy"

OK, so when you call it, it says hellokitzy. Obviously it could have nested if/thens, whiles, cases, etc. Now, let’s have two functions. In this example, we’ll basically just split the single echo statement into two; then call them in separate lines:

function hello {
echo "Hello"
function kitzy {
echo "Kitzy"

As with shell scripts, you can also push a positional parameter into the function. Here, we pass a positional parameter into the script and it echos a hello to that parameter. You know, making our scripts a bit more personal and all… Then we call the function twice. In the first instance, we just pass the same parameter, but in the second, we actually replace it. We do this to show that the function overwrites the $1 inside that function, but if we did another call to the function we’d just get the original $1 as it doesn’t persist outside of the function:

function term {
function hello {
echo "Hello" $1
hello $1
hello all
echo "bye"

When run with a parameter of Kitzy, the above would simply output:

Hello Kitzy
Hello all

That’s just for positional parameters that you’re feeding into a script though. If you have a variable (let’s call it a) and you update it in a function, then it will be the updated variable after the function. So in the following example, a echos out as two in the end:

function quit {
echo $a

Overall, functions are easy to use and make your code more modular. The only things that get a little complicated is that unless you know functions, you aren’t sure what’s going on in the beginning and when you are editing variables throughout the script you wanna’ make sure you know what changed things and when.

OK, now you – have fun with functions, and feel free to use the comments to post some you wrote!

February 28th, 2017

Posted In: Mac OS X, Mac OS X Server, Mac Security, Unix

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To tell curl that you can read and write cookies, first we’ll start the engine using an empty cookie jar, using the -b option, which always reads cookies into memory:

curl -b newcookiejar

If your site can set cookies you can then read them with the -L option

curl -L -b newcookiejar

The response should be similar to the following:

Reading cookies from file

Curl also supports reading cookies in from the Netscape cookie format, used by defining a cookies.txt file instead:

curl -L -b cookies.txt

If the server updates the cookies in a response, curl would update that cookie in memory but unless you write something that looks for a new cookie, the next use will read the original cookie again.

To create that file, use the -c option (short for –cookie-jar) as follows:

curl -c cookie-jar.txt

This will save save all types of cookies (including session cookies). To differentiate, curl supports junk, or session cookies using the –junk-session-cookies options, or -j for short. The following can read these expiring cookies:

curl -j -b cookie-jar.txt

Use that to start a session and then that same -c to call them on your next use. This could be as simple as the following:

$CURL -j -b $COOKIEJAR $site

You can also add a username and password to the initial request and then store the cookie. This type of authentication and session management is used frequently, for example in the Munkireport API, as you can see here:

For converting, the -b detects if a file is a Netscape formatted cookie file, parses, then rewrites using the -c option at the end of a line:

curl -b cookie.txt -c cookie-jar.txt

February 20th, 2017

Posted In: Mac OS X, Mac Security

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You can quickly and easily back up your Filewave databases using the fwcontrol command to stop a Filewave server (thus preserving the integrity of the data you are backing up) and then backing up the database using the /fwxserver directory.

To get started, we’ll first down the server. This is done using the fwcontrol command along with the server option and the stop verb, as follows:

sudo fwcontrol server stop

Now that there won’t be data trying to commit into the database, let’s make a backup of the database directory using the cp command:

cp -rp /fwxserver/DB ~/Desktop/Databasebak

To start the database, use the decontrol command with the server option and the start verb, as follows:

fwcontrol server start

Note, if you will be moving to a new Filewave server, you would want to lock clients during this transition, so before restarting your server, use the sqlite3 command to set the status to 1 in the user table:

sqlite3 /fwxserver/DB/server.sqlite 'update user set status = 1;'

February 15th, 2017

Posted In: Mac OS X, Mac OS X Server, Mac Security, Network Infrastructure

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As promised, here’s the slide deck from my talk at MacAD.UK in London. Enjoy!


February 7th, 2017

Posted In: Mac OS X, Mac OS X Server, Mac Security, Mass Deployment

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