First day back…

I went back to school today to try and get ready for the beginning of term.  As always, there’s lots of jobs that come up along the way, but here are a few things I managed to accomplish today:

  • Apply for some ‘up-to-date’ Mountain Lion licences for some Mac Minis that we bought after Mountain Lion was finally announced.  I had to go into school to get some serial numbers and to get invoices from our reseller, but it was pretty straightforward. Today’s the last day that you can apply so I was cutting it a bit fine.
  • Set up a repository for Munki on our Mac Mini server.  We’ve been using Munki with much success just as a way to automatically install Apple’s software updates when the computer is logged out. It’s pretty handy!  However, I’ve been wanting to use it update other software (such as Microsoft Office and Adobe Flash Player), rather than having to push out packages using Apple Remote Desktop.  I followed a really clear guide on the Munki website, which took a bit of time to get my head around but seems to have worked fine.
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Deploy Studio and Gigabit Switches

Deploy Studio is a wonderful piece of software that lets you make a system image from a Mac and then deploy it to loads of other Macs from your Mac server.  I’ve just upgraded 16 iMacs to Lion like this, taking only about 10 minutes per machine (perhaps 20 minutes per machine if you’re doing 5 at the same time).  All you have to do is netboot (hold down ‘N’ when you turn on the Mac), which makes the computer boot up from Deploy Studio on the server.  Then you choose the image you want to deploy, and then it does it all for you.  Marvellous.  It even automatically binds it to the relevant directories as well.

And with gigabit ethernet, this process really is much faster that it used to (possibly even 10x!).

Toucan set this up for us, of which I am very appreciative. 

Giving up on Profile Manager

The promise of Lion’s Profile Manager seemed good: a nearly free way of managing all the macs and iPads on your network, pushing setting etc over air using Apple’s Push Notifications.

Except I can’t get it to work. The issue is that when you try and enrol an iOS device, it complains that the certificate is invalid. I’ve searched hi and low on the Interweb for solutions, and even tried out a few. However, the result has been even more of a mess, as far as I can tell!

45 iPads arrived at school today, just waiting for me to set them up ready for September. I was hoping to use Profile Manager as part of the setup process, but I think now I’ll just have to make do with Apple Configurator and iTunes. Hey ho.

Maybe more joy will be to had with Mountain Lion Server?

These guys at Amsys seem to have gotten it going, if anyone’s interested.

Ricoh Printer Driver Fix pt.II, Or How It Might Not Have Been Such A Great Idea To Upgrade The Server When Teachers Are Writing And Printing Reports

One of the wonderful technicians from Toucan came and upgraded our Mac Mini server to OSX 10.7 Lion on Monday. It went pretty well, with only a bit of a glitch with the Snow Leopard machines needing to be rebound.  We tried setting up a script to this automatically, but this only worked on about half the machines so I still had to go around and make sure people could log on properly.

However, I also discovered that this had pretty much broken the previous fix for the Ricoh printer/copier, resulting in the copier spewing out reams and reams of gibberish.  This was compounded by the fact that it is report-writing season, which requires much printing at the best of times. Not good.

The problem boiled down to printer driver issues, more specifically that not all the Macs had the same Gutenprint drivers installed and so defaulted to the generic driver instead of the correct one.  Fun.

The solution was as follows:

  • Make sure all the macs had the latest Gutenprint installed, as this is the driver Workgroup Manager was instructing Macs to use.  Apple Remote Desktop made this easy.
  • Log onto each Mac remotely and do a test print, checking if the correct driver was being used.
  • If the wrong driver was being used, I then had to log in as an administrator and reset the print system, forcing the Mac to use the driver instructed by MCX.  To do this, you open ‘Print & Scan’ in System Preferences, right click on the list of printers and then select ‘Reset printing system…’.
  • Log in again as a managed network account and check it works.

I’m sure if I was a scripting kinda guy, there could be an easier way to do this.  But it did work, albeit rather long-windedly.

The moral of the story?  Make sure your Ricoh printer come with a Postscript driver card installed!

10.7.4 URL Spring Fix

Annoyed about the spring loose in 10.7.4?  Want to see that lovely spring icon in your dock when you drag a URL there?  Here’s how to copy to all your machines using Apple Remote Desktop:

1. On a Mac not running 10.7.4, the missing icon lives in /System/Library/CoreServices/Dock.app/Contents/url.png. Use Finder to navigate to it (se Go > Go to Folder…).

2. On Apple Remote Desktop, select the Macs you want to fix the problem on, click the ‘Copy’ icon and then drag that file into the ‘Items to Copy’ box.

3. Choose ‘Same relative location’ in the ‘Place items in:’ box.

4. Set ownership to ‘Inherit from destination folder’.

5. Copy!

Marvellous.

10.7.4 has a spring loose

Whilst imaging the Mac minis, I’ve discovered a rather annoying bug in Lion’s 10.7.4 update that makes the URL icons in the dock disappear.  Instead of being a natty ‘@’ spring, they now just appear as a blank space.  We make use of the fact you can put URLs into the dock via Workgroup Manager to allow children to automatically log into Purple Mash, and so this is rather annoying.  It’s also annoying because I’ve imaged several Macs already and don’t want to have to go and fix them.  Some people have suggested a fix for the problem, but I’ll probably just wait until an official fix comes through Software Update.

Fresh Install

The other week it was suggested to me that if/when we upgrade our Macs at school to Lion, building a fresh system image and then rolling that out is a good idea as it ensures computers are as stable as possible. It sounds like a bit of a job, and definitely a Summer Holiday job, but it does make sense as all manner of cruft can collect on a system image when it gets upgraded and then copied from one computer to another.

In anticipation of this, I decided to completely reinstall my new personal MacBook Air. I had been copying my accounts between machines since a 2004 12″ PowerBook (via a Black and then Aluminium MacBooks), and doing in-place upgrades from 10.3 to 10.7 (Panther, Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard, Lion!) so there undoubtedly was a lot of cruft!

Once I’d figured out how, doing a fresh install with Lion wasn’t too hard. Simply hold command+R when booting up to access the recovery partition, use Disk Utility to wipe the hard drive and then click the download and reinstall Lion button. Simples!

The Mac App Store then provided me with most of my software and all the iLife 11 titles and my Time Machine backup gave me back all my files. This second part wasn’t quite as easy as expected as restoring documents kept resulting in permissions errors. The solution to this was to use Migration Assistant to copy my old account onto the Mac under a new temporary name, log onto it and then move all the required files onto /Users/Shared. I could then log in onto my new account, copy the files across from shared and then delete the temporary account.

The upshot of all this is that I have regained an extra 30GB of space on my hard drive! Not bad… It also answers my question of where iLife apps that have been downloaded from the App Store keep their loops/audio samples. It seems that iPhoto and iMovie now keep everything within the application bundle, whereas GarageBand downloads 1GB of loops into /Library when you first open it if they’re not already there.

So hopefully all this will come in handy when creating a master image at school!

SMART Notebook 11

Whilst I am not the greatest fan of Smartboards, they certainly do have good customer service! After sending an email to them in Canada, asking of OSX 10.7 Lion would ever really be supported, they emailed me back to inform me of a soon-to-arrive Notebook 11 software. Amongst its other features, it has full Lion support (yay!). Hopefully they will still support 500 series Smartboards too, but that may just be wishful thinking on my part.

Sarbanes–Oxley Act and Lion

Ok, take that back.

Apple probably do have to charge for Mountain Lion because of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which basically means you can’t add additional functionality to something you’ve already sold.  They get around this with iOS devices because Apple account for them over 2 years in a subscription model – you get free updates because Apple treat it as if you’re still paying for it!  The Mac isn’t accounted for like this so thus they can’t do free updates.

Rats. Maybe it’ll just be a token cost?