Tiny Deathstars of Foulness

Export macOS Server Data
We’re not going to import this, as it only takes a few seconds to configure new settings. Additionally, if you have outstanding services built on macOS Server, you might be able to pull this off without touching client systems. First, let’s grab  which protocols are enabled, running the following from Terminal:

sudo serveradmin settings

sudo serveradmin settings

Next, we’ll get the the IP ranges used so we can mimic those (or change them) in the new service:

sudo serveradmin settings

Now let’s grab the DNS servers handed out so those can be recreated:

sudo serveradmin settings
sudo serveradmin settings

Finally, if you’re using L2TP, let’s grab the shared secret:

sudo serveradmin settings

Once we have all of this information, we can configure the new server using the same settings. At this point, you can decide whether you want to dismantle the old server and setup a new one on the same IP address, or whether you’d rather just change your port forwards on your router/firewall.


Before we configure any VPN services, let’s talk about ports. The following ports need to be opened per The Official iVPN Help Docs (these are likely already open if you’re using a macOS Server to provide VPN services):
  • PPTP: TCP port 1723
  • L2TP: UDP ports 1701, 4500 and 500
  • Enable VPN pass-through on the firewall of the server and client if needed

There are a number of ways to get a VPN Server installed on macOS. One would be to install openvpn:

sudo port -v install openvpn2

OpenVPN has a lot of sweet options, which you can read about at

One of the other tools Apple mentioned is SoftEther. I decided not to cover it here because it uses Wine. And I’m not a fan of Wine. 

Or Use iVPN

That will require some work to get dependencies and some working with files and network settings. Another option would be to install iVPN from here, on the Mac App Store. You can install it manually as well, and if you do, you’ll need to pay separately through PayPal, which is what we’ll cover here.

Once installed, if you purchased the license separately, use the Enter Manually button to provide it.

At the Registration screen, make sure the name, email, and serial are entered exactly as you see them in the email you received.

At the Thank You screen, click OK.

At the EULA screen, click Accept assuming you accept the license agreement.

Configure iVPN
At the main screen, you’ll have a few options, which we’ll unpack here:
  • Use Directory Server: Allows you to use an LDAP or Active Directory connection to provide username and passwords to the service.
  • Use custom accounts: Allows you to manually enter accounts to provide username and passwords for clients to connect to the 
  • Shared Secret: The secret, or a second factor used with L2TP connection.
  • Allow 40-bit encryption keys: Allows clients to use lower levels of encryption. Let’s not do this.
  • IP Address Range: The beginning and ending IP that will be manually handed out to client computers. When configuring the range, take care not to enter a range of addresses in use by any other DHCP services on your network or you will end up with conflicts.
  • Basic DNS: Allows you to configure a primary and second DNS server to send to clients via DHCP when they connect to the VPN interface.
  • Advanced DNS: Allows you to configure DNS servers as well as Search Domains.
  • Configure Static Routes: Allows you to specify the interface and netmask used to access a given IP.
  • Export Configuration Profile: Exports a configuration profile. When imported into a Mac or iOS device, that profile automatically configures the connection to the PPTP or L2TP service you’ve setup.
  • VPN Host Name: Used for the configuration profile so a client system can easily find the server w

If you configure Directory Authentication, you’ll get prompted that it might be buggy. Click OK here.

The Directory Authentication screen allows you to choose which directory services to make available to PPTP or L2TP. If the system hasn’t been authenticated to a directory server, do so using the Users & Groups” System Preference pane.

Once you’ve chosen your directory service configuration, if you require a third DNS server, click on Advanced DNS and then enter it, or any necessary search-domains. Click Done when you’re finished.

Click the log button in the upper left-hand side to see the logs for the service. This is super-helpful when you start troubleshooting client connections or if the daemon stops for no good reason (other than the fact that you’re still running a VPN service on macOS Server and so the socket can’t bind to the appropriate network port).

Finally, you can also create a static route. Static routing provides a manually-configured routing entry, rather than information from a dynamic routing traffic, which means you can fix issues where a client can’t access a given IP because it’s using an incorrect network interface to access an IP.

Once everything is configure, let’s enter the publicly accessible IP address or DNS name of the server. Client computers that install the profile will then have their connection to the server automatically configured and will be able to test the connection.

Configure Clients
If you configured the new server exactly as the old one and just forwarded ports to the new host, you might not have to do anything, assuming you’re using the same username and password store (like a directory service) on the back-end. If you didn’t, you can setup new interfaces with a profile. If you pushed out an old profile to configure those, I’d recommend removing it first if any settings need to change. To configure clients, we’ll install the new profile. When you open the profile on a client system (just double-click it to open it), you’ll see the Install dialog box. Here, click on Continue. 

Because the profile isn’t signed, you’ll then get prompted again (note: you can sign the profile using another tool, like an MDM or Apple Configurator). Click Continue.

Then enter the username that will be used to connect to the VPN and click the Install button.

The Profile can then be viewed and manually removed if needed. 

Click on the new iVPN entry in the Network System Preference pane. Here, you can enable 

Now that it’s easy, let’s click the VPN icon in the menu bar and then click on Connect iVPN to test the connection.

Once clients can connect, you can use the iVPN icon in the menu bar to monitor the status of clients.

March 14th, 2018

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

Tags: , , , , , , ,


DNS is DNS. And named is named. Except in macOS Server. Sometimes. The configuration files for the DNS services in macOS Server are stored in /Library/Server/named. This represents a faux root of named configuration data, similar to how that configuration data is stored in /var/named on most other platforms. Having the data in /Library/Server/ makes it more portable across systems.

The current version of BIND is BIND 9.9.7-P3 (Extended Support Version). This has been the case for a number of macOS Server versions, and can easily be located by doing a cat of the /Library/Server/named/.version file. 

Traditionally, you would edit this configuration data by simply editing the configuration files, and that’s absolutely still an option. In macOS Server 5.2 (for Sierra), a new command is available at /Applications/ called dnsconfig. The dnsconfig command appears simple at first. However, the options available are actually far more complicated than they initially appear.

The verbs available include:
  • help: show help information
  • list: show the contents of configurations and zone files
  • add: create records and zones
  • delete: remove records and zones
To view data available in the service, use the list verb. Options available when using the list verb include:
  • –acl: show ACLs
  • –view: show BIND view data
  • –zone: show domains configured in the service
  • –rr: show resource records
  • –rrtype: show types of resource records
For example, let’s say you have a domain called pretendco.lan and you would like to view information about that zone. You could use the dnsconfig command along with the list verb and then the –zone option and the domain name:

/Applications/ list --zone=pretendco.lan

The output would show you information about the listed zone, usually including View data:

Views: Zones: pretendco.lan Options: allow-transfer: none allow-update: none

To see a specific record, use the –rr option, followed by = and then the fqdn, so to see ecserver.pretendco.lan:

/Applications/ list --rr=ecserver.pretendco.lan

By default views are enabled and a view called is created when the DNS server first starts up. You can create other views to control what different requests from different subnets see; however, even if you don’t create any views, you’ll need to add the –view option followed by the name of the view (– to any records that you want to create. To create a record, use the add verb. You can add a view (–view), a zone (–zone) or a record (–rr). Let’s start by adding a record to the pretendco.lan from our previous example. In this case we’ll add an A record called www that points to the IP address of

/Applications/ add --zone=pretendco.lan --rr=www A

You can add a zone, by providing the –view to add the zone to and not providing a –rr option. Let’s add krypted.lan:

/Applications/ add --zone=krypted.lan

Use the delete verb to remove the data just created:

/Applications/ delete --zone=krypted.lan

Or to delete that one www record earlier, just swap the add with a delete:

/Applications/ delete --zone=pretendco.lan --rr=www A

Exit codes would be “Zone krypted.lan removed.” and “Removed 1 resource record.” respectively for the two commands. You can also use the –option option when creating objects, along with the following options (each taken as a value followed by an =, with this information taken by the help page):
  • allow-transfer Takes one or more address match list entry. Address match list entries consist of any of these forms: IP addresses, Subnets or Keywords.
  • allow-recursion Takes one or more address match list entry.
  • allow-update Takes one or more address match list entry.
  • allow-query Takes one or more address match list entry.
  • allow-query-cache Takes one or more address match list entry.
  • forwarders Takes one or more IP addresses, e.g.
  • directory Takes a directory path
  • tkey-gssapi-credential Takes a kerberos service principal
  • tkey-domain Takes a kerberos realm
  • update-policy Takes one complete update-policy entry where you can grant or deny various matched objects and specify the dentity of the user/machine that is allowed/disallowed to update.. You can also identify match-type (Type of match to be used in evaulating the entry) and match-name (Name used to match) as well as rr-types (Resource record types that can be updated)
Overall, this command is one of the best I’ve seen for managing DNS in a long time. It shows a commitment to continuing to make the service better, when you add records or remove them you can instantly refresh the Server app and see the updates. It’s clear a lot of work went into this and it’s a great tool for when you’re imaging systems and want to create records back on a server or when you’re trying to script the creation of a bulk list of records (e.g. from a cached file from a downed host). It also makes working with Views as easy as I’ve seen it in most platforms and is overall a breeze to work with as compared to using the serveradmin command to populate objects so the GUI doesn’t break when you update records by hitting files directly.

Additionally, you can manage bind in a variety of other ways. There are global settings exposed with the bind -v command:

bind -v

Which returns something similar to the following:

set bind-tty-special-chars on
set blink-matching-paren on
set byte-oriented off
set completion-ignore-case off
set convert-meta off
set disable-completion off
set enable-keypad off
set expand-tilde off
set history-preserve-point off
set horizontal-scroll-mode off
set input-meta on
set mark-directories on
set mark-modified-lines off
set mark-symlinked-directories off
set match-hidden-files on
set meta-flag on
set output-meta on
set page-completions on
set prefer-visible-bell on
set print-completions-horizontally off
set show-all-if-ambiguous off
set show-all-if-unmodified off
set visible-stats off
set bell-style audible
set comment-begin #
set completion-query-items 100
set editing-mode emacs
set keymap emacs

September 10th, 2017

Posted In: Mac OS X Server

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,