Tag Archives: app

Mac Security

Need A Password? There’s An App For That!

Remember this comic:

Regrettably, password policies don’t allow for a few random words at most organization, so a special character, a capital letter and a number are basically required in most passwords these days. However, if you need a quick and dirty generator that includes a phrase and those additional characters, consider MyPhrase from Björn Albers. It’s simple to use, fast and easy. Good luck out there!

iPhone_6_Vert_SpaceGray_sRGB_0914

Mac OS X Server

Configuring Alerts in Mavericks Server

Mavericks Server comes with a few new alerting options previously unavailable in versions of OS X. The alerts are sent to administrators via servermgrd and configured in the Server app (Server 3). To configure alerts in Mavericks Server, open the Server app and then click on Alerts in the Server app sidebar. Next, click on the Delivery tab.

Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 8.30.47 PM

At the Delivery screen, click on the Edit button for Email Addresses and enter every email address that should receive alerts sent from the server. Then click on the Edit button for Push Notifications. Here, check the box for each administrator of the server. The email address on file for the user then receives push notifications of events from the server.

Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 8.29.40 PM

Click on OK when you’ve configured all of the appropriate administrators for alerting. Click on the Edit… button for Push and if Push notifications are not already enabled you will run through the Push Notification configuration wizard.

Screen Shot 2013-10-04 at 8.40.33 PM

Then, check the boxes for Email and Push for each of the alerts you want to receive (you don’t have to check both for each entry). Alerts have changed in OS X Server, they are no longer based on the SMART status of drives or capacity; instead Delivery is now based on service settings.

Finally, as with previous versions of OS X Server, Mavericks Server has snmp built in. The configuration file for which is located in the /private/etc/snmp/snmpd.conf and the built-in LaunchDaemon is org.net-snmp.snmpd, where the actual binary being called is /usr/sbin/snmpd (and by default it’s called with a -f option). Once started, the default community name should be COMMUNITY (easily changed in the conf file) and to test, use the following command from a client (the client is 192.168.210.99 in the following example):

snmpwalk -On -v 1 -c COMMUNITY 192.168.210.99

Mac OS X Mac OS X Server Mac Security Mass Deployment

Programmatically Disable Notification Center in Mountain Lion (aka My Battery Life Sucks)

There are a few ways I like to extend my battery life on my MacBook Air. These days, it’s increasingly important to conserve battery life as the transition to Mountain Lion (Mac OS X 10.8) has caused my battery life to spiral into so much of a vortex that I am concerned that my laptop must be shooting raw electricity out of the bottom (which would certainly explain why my hair has a tendency to be perpendicular with the ground when I exit a plane). Ever since moving to Mountain Lion (yes, this includes 10.8.2), I’m lucky to get 3 hours of battery life out of the Mac that used to give me at least 5 hours…

There are a number of tricks that I use to extend battery life. Some are obvious, such as dimming the screen, only using an app at a time, killing off menu items, temporarily stop Spotlight Indexing and killing off LaunchDaemons and LaunchAgents that I’m not using. I even used to used an app called CoolBookController to throttle my processor speeds while flying. But that doesn’t work as of Lion (certainly not in Mountain Lion).

One thing that I’ve been able to do that extends my battery life a little more (maybe an extra half hour) is to kill off Notification Center (I wrote about customizing Notification Center earlier here). I know, I know, it shouldn’t matter… But recently, a customer asked me to script disabling Notification Center. Since I’ve been killing it off with a script, this was a pretty straight forward task. It’s easy to disable Notification Center temporarily using the GUI. Simply click on the Notification Center icon in the menu bar and then scroll up to see the “Show Alerts and Banners” button. Click OFF or ON to toggle it off and on. As you can see, Notification Center then starts back up the next day.

To disable Notification Center from the command line, write a KeepAlive key that is false into the /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.notificationcenterui.plist like so:

sudo defaults write /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.notificationcenterui KeepAlive -bool false

Then, if you kill NotificationCenter off, it’ll stay off:

killall NotificationCenter

If you want to re-enable Notification Center, you’d just run the same with a true:

sudo defaults write /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.notificationcenterui KeepAlive -bool true

The easy way to then get it back is to reboot. Now, just for giggles, Notification Center is actually the /System/Library/CoreServices/NotificationCenter.app and in there lies the /System/Library/CoreServices/NotificationCenter.app/Contents/MacOS/NotificationCenter binary. If you open it, you’ll get multiple Notification Center icons in the menu bar. I’m not sure why I decided to try that at some point. But it’s kinda’ fun…

Ultimately, I travel with multiple MacBooks, so rather than toss one of them in a checked bag, or one destined for the overhead, I am temporarily just keeping a second 11 in the bag I keep under the seat in front of me for now…

Mac OS X

Determining .app Executables From a Script

I’ve mentioned the codesign tool in previous articles, but today let’s look at a specific use. I recently needed to generate a report of the executable for around 2000 app bundles. Luckily, codesign displays the executable for an app when run with the –display option:

codesign --display /Applications/Utilities/Terminal.app

The output looks as follows:

Executable=/Applications/Utilities/Terminal.app/Contents/MacOS/Terminal

Another tool that I haven’t written much about is productsign (also in /usr/sbin of Mac OS X 10.8). I’ll look at that one next, as a means of signing packages.

Mac Security

Cryptix: Encryption Made Easy

Cryptix is a nice little app available on the App Store that allows you to encrypt and decrypt files using a variety of algorithms. However, while an easy to use encryption tool, it’s actually an even better learning tool for figuring out how various types of encryption techniques actually work.

When you first open Cryptix, you’ll see a list of supported algorithms for encrypting files and passphrases. That part is simple enough, but click on the Tools icon in the toolbar.

Here, you’ll see a number of features along the sidebar, including Checksum, which performs a quick checksum of files dragged on top of the green arrow and tracks hashes, based on the algorithm you choose. Below that can be found more detailed information about interfaces, man page access and a few other things that show the developer was learning how to do a few neat things while writing the tool (such as using DNS from the tool).

Overall, the encryption and decryption aspects of this tool alone are worth the price on the App Store. The checksums are super fast. The other features are interesting as well. I don’t do a lot of app reviews, but this one unexpectedly caught me off guard as something I’d recommend.

public speaking

MacTech InDepth In New York

I have been added as a speaker at MacTech InDepth in New York. If you haven’t signed up yet, and you work with Mac OS X Server then you should really check out the sessions that have been planned:

  • The Elephant in the Room: The New Lion OS X is out, now what? There are a lot of differences to contend with between Lion and Snow Leopard. Now with the new Mountain Lion update, what changes can we expect to see? We discuss the differences in advanced services, GUI simplicity, and Apache management GUI’s. We help you understand the updates in the new OS and make the transition easier. We go over the new updates of Lion over the Snow Leopard server.
  • Setting solid foundations: To truly grasp the power of Lion, you need to set up solid foundations. We go over minimum requirements for internet DNS, and tackle router tricks. We discuss open directory and what it was used for.
  • Mobile Device Management 101: Apple’s IPCU/Apple Configurator: Mobile Device Management is vital to businesses, large or small. We have an extensive overview of profile manager and how you can use mobile device management on OS X. For those still using Snow Leopard, we go over your options and discuss the possibility of using third parties as a solution.
  • DNS, Ahh, run away, run away: In this session, we tackle DNS and break it down and show how simple it is to work with. We go over how DNS works and cover different components such as internet DNS and internal DNS.
  • Administering a Server with just Server.app: We show you how to use server.app and control administrative programs. For the services, we go over Address Book, iCal, iChat, and Mail.
  • Web Administration of OS X Server : Web Admin on Lion Server versus Snow Leopard is covered, dealing with the differences and how to use each system effectively. On Lion server, we cover using FTP without a GUI.
  • Going old school, using the old tools: After getting used to Snow Leopard we go over the major differences between Snow and Lion and how you can handle the transition. We go over server admin and what is still left in the program and why it has been left.
  • Deployment Part I: Tools & Concepts: In tools and concepts we learn that there aren’t stark differences between Lion server and Snow Leopard. NetBoot, NetRestore and third party tools are covered; we talk about how NetBoot works and what the differences between NetBoot and NetRestore are. Along with this we cover Network configuration requirements and using software update server.
  • Deployment Part II: DeployStudio: DeployStudio is covered in-depth; we cover creation techniques and management techniques.

Overall, this represents a nice, fast way to update your skills to allow for managing Lion Server and to get up to speed with those new to the platform. One thing I like about the session list is that it goes beyond the stock server implementation and looks at DeployStudio, MDM and other important topics not purely server oriented. I hope to see you all there!

These vagabond shoes, are longing to stray
Right through the very heart of it – New York, New York

Mac OS X Mac OS X Server Mac Security

Man Pages Made Easy

Ever since upgrading to Lion I’ve been making a few slight changes in workflow. One such change, which I’m still on the fence about, is to switch from reading man pages in a tiled Terminal screen, to reading them in a browser window.

It seems like a small thing, but I spend a lot of time switching between terminal screens or using screen to switch between sessions. Bwana allows you to read a man page from within a browser.

Simply load download the Bwana app into your /Applications directory and wait a few seconds. Then open a browser window and look for a man page. For example:

man:dsconfigad

Now, you may notice that you can’t actually click on the link above and have the link open as it would if you typed the information into the browser manually. You could also use man://dsconfigad to access a man page, but you still cannot refer to those from other sites. You can open those urls using terminal:

open man://dsconfigad

To see an index of all pages, enter the following in Safari:

man:index

To reindex:

man:index_refresh