Provide Remote Assistance to Your Off-Network OS X Users

It’s forecasted that 202 million laptops will be sold in 2016, compared to 127 million desktops.  As we all know, laptops are mobile and often off of the corporate network.  Not only does that mean the device should have proper encryption to protect the private data, it also means that standard administrative tasks such as patching a machine, distributing software and having access to the device to perform a remote control session can be much more problematic – or even down right impossible with the current management tools.

For LANDESK Management Suite customers, however, off-network access is completely feasible. An administrator can essentially follow the exact same workflow to patch, distribute software or perform a remote control session when properly configured with a LANDESK Cloud Service Appliance.  No VPN is necessary and no end-user interaction is required!

If you need to know how to install a Cloud Service Appliance in your environment, see Best Known Method for Configuring LANDESK Cloud Service Appliance (former Management Gateway) version 4.2 and newer

Better yet, in LANDESK Management Suite 2016, the certificate approval process has been significantly simplified by switching the certificate approval process to the core server. Essentially every agent install will create certificate for the Cloud Service Appliance and present itself to the LANDESK Core Server.  The administrator just needs to approve or block the per device certificate on the LANDESK core to grant or deny that device off-network access.  For more detail around this process, see this LANDESK Community article.

Once the certificate is approved on the core server for the device, an administrator can deploy patches and software distribution via a policy delivery method and perform an on-demand remote control session to the device off the network.  The client will also continue to send in it’s scheduled inventory and security scans assuming it has internet connectivity.

How to Perform a Remote Control Session to an Off-Network OS X Device

  1. Launch the LANDESK Management Suite Console
  2. Expand the Network View and find Devices > All Devices
  3. Find your desired machine from the list or use the search bar at top
  4. Right click on your OS X device and select ‘HTML remote control’ and the machine’s default browser should launch
    • If nothing happens and you don’t see a browser launch, it means the machine is not connected to the CSA and may either be powered off or without internet connectivity.
    • To verify, you can go to the remote control page on the CSA by using the URL: https://cloudserviceappliancename/rc. Not only this an alternative way to remote control a machine, but it will show you a list of all available clients that have an active internet connection.
  5. Enter your LANDESK username, password and the domain associated with the user that has access to perform a remote control session. If you’re using a local account, you can leave the domain blank.
  6. Note: Not only does the user need to be a remote control operator, but the machine must be enabled for remote control as well. Furthermore, the machine may be setup with user permissions that would require someone physically present on the device to grant access.

How to Deploy Software to an Off-network OS X Device

 When a LANDESK agent is deployed to a client device, is creates a scheduled task to call back into the core server to see what policies it has been targeted for.  For machines that are going to be off-network you may want to set policy check in to be every 2 hours. There is obviously a trade-off between over burdening the core server with requests and knowing a machine only checks in once a week, so find what the right balance is for your environment.

  1. Open the Distribution Packages tool within the LANDESK console
  2. Right click on the Mac software distribution package to deploy and select Create Scheduled Task
  3. Right click on the scheduled task that was generated and select properties
  4. Add your desired targets to the Targets menu
  5. Set the Task type under Task Settings as a policy
  6. If you’re targeting a group of machines that may have some of them on the network and some off, you may want to use a policy-supported push
  7. Set the radio button in the Portal Settings to either Recommended or Optional if you desire to put the package into Workspaces.  If you’d like to automatically deploy the app, select Run automatically
  8. Change the Reboot Settings or Distribution and Patch settings if desired
  9. Set the schedule task settings with the appropriate start time

How to Deploy Patches to an Off-network OS X Device

  1. Open the Patch and Compliance tool within the LANDESK console
  2. Ensure your desired content is in the Scan folder
  3. Right click on the definition and select Repair
  4. From the Add targets select on the Repair settings task panel, select Add all affected computers
  5. Set the Task type under Task Settings as a policy
  6. If you’re targeting a group of machines that may have some of them on the network and some off, you may want to use a policy-supported push
  7. Ensure the Display in portal option for the portal settings panel is set to Run automatically (unless you want your users to update their own apps, in which case you can select Recommended or Optional)
  8. Schedule the task to start when desired from the Schedule task panel
  9. Save the task

How to Distribute Mac App Store Apps with LANDESK Management Suite

Introduction

Installing an OS X application purchased with a VPP token can require a lot of man power. Due to digital rights management, Apple ID’s and user agreements, it’s not easy to just deploy an application as can be done for an application you have the installer for. This whitepaper will discuss how an application installer found in the Mac App Store (MAS) can be captured and used to deploy to your OS X devices.

Overview

The LANDESK Management Suite Mac agent is capable of supporting many different package types, such as dmg, pkg, mpkg, shell scripts, a simple .app, mobileconfig and even .workflow scripts built within Automator.  While this flexibility works in most scenarios, you’ll notice that it requires access to the install files.  If a developer only releases their application via the Mac App Store, such as the iWork suite developed by Apple.  However, with a little bit of work, you can capture the installers from the Mac App Store and subsequently push those applications out.

Pre-Requisites

The LANDESK administrator will need to have access to an OS X device that has purchased the application that is intended to be distributed, yet that does not have the application currently installed.  A VM set aside just for downloading Apps may be an efficient method for the ongoing software distribution.

Note: Ensure you have adequate license coverage via a VPP purchase prior to distributing your application.

Enable Debug Mode for the Mac App Store (MAS)

When an application is downloaded from the MAS, the installer file is downloaded, executed and then promptly removed.  By enabling debug mode for the MAS, we can create a link to the downloaded installer(s) allowing for future use on more than just the machine currently downloading the app.

  1. Quit the Mac App Store if currently opened
  2. Open Terminal and run the command ‘defaults write com.apple.appstore ShowDebugMenu -bool true’

EnableDebug.png

Note: To disable debug mode, use the following command: ‘defaults write com.apple.appstore ShowDebugMenu -bool false’

Download the Installer for the App to Patched

Once the debug mode is enabled, it will be possible to capture the download installer file for later use in patching.

  1. Launch the App Store App (notice you should now have a Debug menu item) and navigate to the Purchased tab.  Sign in if prompted.
  2. Select the app to be patched and click Install
  3. Once the install process shows visible progress in the download process, hit the pause button
  4. From the Debug menu, select the option Show Download Folder
  5. Finder will open and you’ll need to navigate inside the com.apple.appstore folder
  6. Locate the folder with a string of numbers, this should be your app, and navigate inside of it

RandomNameAppStoreApp.png

You now need to create a hard link between the randomly named download to a file name and path of where to store the installer.  You’ll do this by opening Terminal and use the ‘ln’ command followed by the path of the installer from the Mac App Store and then the path to where you want to save your copy of the installer that won’t be deleted as soon as . The easiest way to enter the path of the randomly named installer is to drag and drop it into terminal after typing ‘ln’

  1. Launch Terminal and type ln /path/to/macappstore.pkg /path/to/savedinstaller.pkgHardLink.png
  2. Return to the Mac App Store purchased tab and resume the download
  3. When the installation for your app finishes, you’ll have a signed installer from Apple to use to update your fleet of Mac devices

Automating for Multiple Concurrent Downloads

If the manual linking process described above seems a bit burdensome when in need of downloading many applications, Max Schlapfer has created a script to not only automate the creation of the hard links, but it also has the capability to download multiple files at once.  To download Max’s AppStoreExtract script, see https://github.com/maxschlapfer.  These next steps are not requisite, if you have all of the installers you desire, skip to the next section.

Note: You do not need the Debug mode enabled for the Mac App Store, as outlined above, for this script to work.

  1. Download Max’s script from Github and extract it to a folder location of choice
  2. Open terminal and execute the script by typing in ‘./path/to/script/AppStoreExtract.sh’ and hitting Return
    1. Note: Do not run this script as root.                                                                                                        AppStoreScriptWaiting.png
  3. Launch the App Store App and navigate to the Purchased tab.  Sign in if prompted.
  4. Click Install on all of the Apps you want to create installers for and wait for them to complete the install process
  5. When the installation process has finished, return to the Terminal window and hit any key to finish the script.  When asked to finalize the packages, type Y.TerminalAppStoreExtractProcess.png
  6. The script will name the output files according the product and version and then convert them to DMG files and store them in the /Users/Shared/AppStore_Packages folderOutputAppStoreExtract.png

Creating LANDESK Management Suite Mac Packages

Now that you have the installers downloaded from the Mac App Store, creating the LANDESK Mac package is the easy part.  You just need to copy all of the installers you’ve created to your package share.  If you have a .pkg file, make sure you zip it prior to copying into a Windows file share.  If you have dmg files, you can copy those directly to your package location.

  1. Open the LANDESK Console
  2. Navigate to the top menu bar, select Tools > Distribution > Distribution Packages.
  3. In the lower left menu tree, highlight My Packages or Public Packages from within the Distribution Packages window
  4. On the Distribution menu bar, press the New Package button and select New Macintosh Package.
  5. Give the package a name
  6. Provide a description as well as any metadata information desired                PackageProperties.png
  7. Set the primary file to the zip or dmg  file you previously transferred to your software distribution folder
  8. Fill out the Metadata details if desired, specifically supplying a logo so it shows up properly in the portal
  9. Save the package

Creating a Scheduled Mac Software Distribution Task

  1. Right click on the Mac software distribution package created and select Create Scheduled Task
  2. From the network view, select and drag the desired machine(s), user(s) or query(ies) and drop them onto the task
  3. Now, right click on the task and select properties
  4. Set the desired Task type under Task Settings as to whether you want a push, a policy or a hybrid of the two types in a policy-supported push
  5. Set the radio button in the Portal Settings to either Recommended or Optional if you desire to put the package into Workspaces.  If you’d like to automatically deploy the app, select Run automatically
  6. Change the Reboot Settings or Distribution and Patch settings if desired
  7. Set the schedule task settings with the appropriate start time