Posts Tagged ‘Mac Package Management’

MacPorts new-ish tricks, and a new-ish trickster, Rudix

Monday, May 14th, 2012

As the bucket-loads of package providers in Puppet┬ámay lead you to believe, if we do not study history we are doomed to repeat it. Or more to the point, there is no shortage of projects focused on solving the same ‘how do I get the bits of code I want to execute on a machine installed’ issue. Mac Sysadmins have used Fink and (originally named DarwinPorts) MacPorts to acquire various open source software and unix tools not bundled with the operating system. A disadvantage many people found in those projects was the reliance on developer tools and compile time to actually go through the build-from-source process, which brings us to the news that was brought to our attention this weekend, via the Twitter: MacPorts now hosts pre-built archives for Lion, which are used automatically when available. There are a few caveats (e.g. it would only be available to the projects with compatible licensing), but this functionality was added for Snow Leopard mid-last year, along with another interesting development: you can host your own custom pre-built archives on a local network as described here.

All of this is to say that if you thought the game was over and competing projects like Homebrew had won… then you haven’t been paying attention to all those innovators, putting more tools in our belts.

Speaking of optimizations in package management, while MacPorts can generate packages once you’ve acquired the source or binary archive, another project called Rudix goes one step further and hosts packages of the software it offers on googlecode. It specifically won’t build from source, but its packages are meant to include all the necessary dependencies, and like other managers it can be driven from the command line, and uninstall as necessary. No more excuses not to have iperf or mtr when you need it, and if you’d rather have a little more control over the version of ssh-copy-id than what Homebrew provides, you can use a project like the Luggage.

Patch Management (and More) for Macs with Managed Software Update

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

When compared to Linux distributions, Mac OS X has lacked a standard, built-in package management system. Although network based software is still a possibility with OS X’s Unix foundation, in practice it is used in very few environments. The fact that developer tools are not included by default raises the barrier to entry for all systems that purport to allow simplified installation of software, and much has been made of the Mac App Store filling the void for mere mortals.

Businesses, however, have engaged software companies to acquire volume licenses, which simplify asset tracking and deployment concerns. Employees expect certain tools to be available to them, and support personnel carefully monitor the workstations under their purview to proactively address security concerns and stability issues. The Mac App Store was not designed with these concerns in mind, and even projects like MacPorts and Homebrew lack the centralization that configuration and patch management systems provide.

Managed Software Update (MSU for short) is an application developed by Greg Neagle of Walt Disney Animation Studios to provide and end-user interface to a businesses centrally managed software repository. It relies upon a larger project called Munki (calling to mind helper monkeys) that requires little infrastructure to implement. Workstations can be managed at a company-wide, department, and individual level, with as much overlap as makes sense. And just as the thin or modular imaging methods utilize packages as their building blocks to modify an images configuration, MSU can enforce settings just as well as it can insure security patches are installed in a timely fashion.

Among other benefits, MSU gives IT the power to uninstall software when it would be better provisioned elsewhere, provide a self-service interface to approved software, and takes away the number one source of friction for employees: “Why can’t I be an administrator so I can install my own software and updates, like I can at home?”

With Managed Software Update, businesses can now safely and efficiently address this concern.