Repair Permissions From The Command Line

I’ve long been a supporter of building tools in self service portals such as those provided by JAMF and Munki to provide users who don’t have administrative permissions to perform tasks that wouldn’t typically otherwise be destructive. One such example is a simple repair permissions. An administrator can simply open Disk Utility, select their disk and then click Repair Disk Permissions

Screen Shot 2013-10-24 at 7.11.31 PMBut if you want to do this as a user who doesn’t have administrative privileges you would need to elevate your privileges before doing so. In a larger environment this would be incredibly annoying for dozens, hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of users to bring their computer to an administrator just to type in a password. But, if you have a patch management solution that has some kind of a self service portal, users could do this themselves. Typically, you would create a very small payload free package. This package might just contain a single script that might even be as short as a one-liner. For example, the following command would actually run a repairPermissions.

diskutil repairPermissions /

You could also send some environmental variables from your patch management tool for the boot volume, but in this simple instance we’re just going to run it, with the following type of output:

Started verify/repair permissions on disk0s2 Macintosh HD
Permissions differ on "Library/Application Support"; should be drwxr-xr-x ; they are drwxrwxr-x
Repaired "Library/Application Support"
Group differs on "Library/Printers/InstalledPrinters.plist"; should be 80; group is 0
Permissions differ on "Library/Printers/InstalledPrinters.plist"; should be -rw-rw-rw- ; they are -rw-r--r--
Repaired "Library/Printers/InstalledPrinters.plist"
[ \ 0%..10%..20%..30%..40%..50%..60%..70%................ ] 74% 0:00:34
Finished verify/repair permissions on disk0s2 Macintosh HD

You could get much more complicated, writing the output to syslog or even a syslog server. You can also have metapackages that just do a bunch of tasks and call them things like “Try to fix my computer.” Provided you have a patch management tool, you could also just scope some devices and push some of these things out en masse; however, for the most part, I’m a fan of self service, so that’s the example I’m using this for.

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