Fix the macOS High Sierra Root Issue with JAMF Pro

Fix the macOS High Sierra Root Issue with JAMF Pro

Update: Apple fixed the issue.

A critical flaw has been discovered in macOS High Sierra that lets anyone log in as ‘root’ with an empty password. It’s fixable via this Apple guide.

But, as a System Administrator for hunderds of Macs, doing it automatically is better. So: a quick guide for JAMF Pro.

Could be useful for others:

Find Empty Root

Create an extension attribute that looks for users with empty root passwords. (Source)

#!/bin/bash

RESULT=$(sudo dscl . -read /Users/root Password)

if [[ $RESULT == “Password: ********” ]]; then

  echo “<result>haspassword</result>”

elif [[ $RESULT == “Password: *” ]]; then

  echo “<result>nopassword set</result>”

else

  echo “<result>unknown</result>”

fi

Scope all vulnerable devices

Create a Smart group that targets devices with nopassword or Unknown + High Sierra

Setting a password for root

Upload this package from Der Flounder

This package runs a script that sets a random password to the root user + sets its environment to /usr/bin/false

Fix it

Create a policy that runs the package + does an inventory update for all devices within the smart group.

The result:

Black Friday for SysAdmins

Black Friday for SysAdmins

Black Friday. A crazy American holiday-day-after with bargain prices on old and newer stuff. People crashing mall doors, fighting over TVs and dolls.

But also: good deals on iOS and macOS apps.

Which makes it, combined with Cyber Monday, a pretty good moment to stock up on VPP purchases for your MDM server.

Ever needed a dozen Pixelmator licenses for the Marketing team? They’ve got a 50% discount today.

Or twenty PDF Expert licenses for Finance and Sales? There’s a great Readdle promo going on!

I’ve got a wishlist of apps that I want for the office but don’t immediately need. Each year when these kind of sales occur, I can often scratch a few from the list. Or expand the licenses of a few apps that are always shy of having more users than available slots.

Black Friday. Great for System Admins.

Play Apple Podcasts on Sonos

Play Apple Podcasts on Sonos

We use Sonos at home to stream radio and music across our apartment. It’s a great system with a pretty decent app, but sadly it lacks AirPlay support to easily get media that’s played on an iPhone or iPad to the speakers.

I’m also an avid Podcast listener. I used to use Overcast, briefly switched to PocketCasts for its new Sonos integration, but I’ve currently moved back to Apple’s native Podcast app due to its new design, Siri integration and since I’m kinda hoping it’ll get support for the Watch someday.

Since I use the regular Podcast app, there wasn’t any clear way to AirPlay, sync or access those episodes on Sonos.

At least, not that I knew off.

But, while getting lost in Sonos’ new interface this morning, I discovered something: if you go to the Sonos app > Browse > On my iPhone, it now shows a Podcasts section at the bottom, and you can pick any downloaded episode on your device to play.

Sadly, it doesn’t sync playback status or time stamps (yet). And I have no idea happened to the album art. But I suspect they take it from the same source as Tesla does.

Here’s hoping AirPlay 2 will bring some better way of streaming media to Sonos.

Fixing the iPhone X Control Center

Fixing the iPhone X Control Center

I love my iPhone X. But if I got to change one thing, I’d change the way it gives you access to Control Center.

That upper right corner swipe is quite difficult to do one handed, and completely impossible when you’re a leftie.

I’d love to 3D Touch the home indicator to go to Control Center. Or have it available via multitasking. Or as a view on the right of the home screen similar to notifications on the left.

But for now, I’ve used Accessibility >> AssistiveTouch to embed a Control Center button on the bottom right of the Home Screen. It’s not pretty. But it works.

Demo

iPhone X Claim Chowder

iPhone X Claim Chowder

The iPhone X drastically alters the way we interact with iOS and our phones. No more home button, more interactions that rely on gestures and a device state that, similar to the Watch, changes depending on what the user is doing. 

After using the iPhone X for only a day I’m feeling some of those new UI and UX decisions are temporary and will change with a future iOS versions once we get used to this new home button-less world. 

So, some Claim Chowder

  • The home indicator will become optional or disappear like scrollbars in a future version of iOS. For now it has to be visible so users don’t get lost while we migrate away from the home button. 
  • Similar, I think the Face ID animation is going to become faster and less visible once people get used to it. Currently it has to be very visible because we aren’t used to invisible security yet.
  • More apps will start using the password autofill because logging into an app with manually password entry feels ancient now. 
  • AirPower will be to battery life what Face ID is for security. It’ll quickly make battery anxiety going away once more surfaces will become charging surfaces. I can see it quickly become part of desks, arm rests, night stands. 
  • Since Apple now knows when we’re actually looking at the device, they should link background fetching to attention. Is the iPhone on a table and is the owner glancing at it? Do a background fetch of email, Tweetbot, News,… in the background and notify them if something new is available. 

iPhone X feels like a reset, similar to how iOS 11 did a reset of the iPad. Can’t wait to see where they go next. 

5 minutes with the iPhone X

5 minutes with the iPhone X

I had the chance to briefly play around with an iPhone X today. 

Some quick thoughts:

  • It’s grippy. The glass and steel combination makes it very solid to handle. Not slippery at all.
  • It feels thicker than I expected and it’s not really a one-handed device like the iPhone 8 is. I couldn’t open Control Center with one hand. 
  • Silver is pretty and the glossy border is reminiscent of the original iPhone and iPhone 3GS. The space gray version is weird. Three different tints of grey that don’t really blend together. I like the Jet Black 7 more. 
  • Gestures feel natural and unlocking not only feels quicker than using Touch ID, it feels just as easy and smooth as the original slide to unlock without pincode. 
  • That screen. Gorgeous. A bit of blue and yellow color distorting in extreme angels but straight on, it’s just perfect.
  • I didn’t really notice the notch at all. It feels like part of the design and not like something that bothers me. And it helps with holding the device right side up (hello Apple TV remote)

Mine is arriving tomorrow. I picked a 256GB in silver. 

Backup

Backup

A recent YouTube video by Peter McKinnon triggered one of my nerves.

In the clip he describes a cool product that allows you to offload camera footage to a portable waterproof hard drive while shooting on the road.
He then continues his review of the product by saying: “If your cards are full and you’re on a glacier you can backup your photos on the device, wipe your cards and continue taking photos.”

The product itself is actually pretty cool. But his usecase is so, sooo wrong.

Why?

Backup: making a copy of a file on another medium so that if one of them breaks or gets lost, you still have access to your data.

Archiving: moving your files to another medium so that you have more storage free on the original drive.

His workflow is the latter. He moves data from one medium to another and wipes the original. He ends up with one copy.

Imagine being on that glacier. You migrate your photos, empty the card, take new photos and when you arrive at your home, that cool little reader is apparently broken… luckily you still have your memories, because those photos? All gone.

Better: Use that cool device, store it in a different backpack than your cards and keep your original photos on your cards too. At least until you get Wi-Fi access and can make another copy of those photos to whichever cloud you prefer.

Archiving is not the same as making a backup.

(Find and replace photos and glacier with presentation and airplane, school project and library, or whatever use case suites your need).

iMessage in the Cloud

iMessage in the Cloud

iOS 11 will allow users to store iMessage messages in iCloud. It finally makes it possible to start an iPhone or iPad fresh, don’t restore a backup, and still have access to your chat history. It even syncs deletions and read status (?) and is completely secure and respects your privacy. Pretty nifty.

One caveat though: iMessage cloud syncing uses your iCloud Storage. Since Apple only gives users 5GB, and iMessage is the one thing that fills iPhones up faster than photos, I wonder how many regular users are really going to be able enjoy this new feature to its fullest potential.

Imagine a user upgrading to iOS 11. If they have 5GB of default iCloud Storage it’s probably already used up by their iCloud backup (that includes photos and messages). So no room available to start syncing.

Even worse, if they start with a new blank iPhone, their 5GB basically gives them a choice: use iCloud Photo Library, iMessage sync or backup your device. And opposite to the you can have it fast, cheap or good mantra, even only picking two of these options isn’t really an option. So most users don’t get to enjoy the full feature set of iCloud.

Apple offers an easy solution: pay 99ct a month, get 50GB of storage and enjoy iCloud (and arguably iOS) at its fullest. It gives you a good backup strategy, easy syncing of your photos, solves the limited storage problem of your iPhone with Optimisation, and will soon include iMessage, Health,… and be easily shareable across Family members.

But most people I know don’t or won’t pay. Those nagging limited storage-popups and red notification dots that Apple shows in Settings.app – reminding them their backup hasn’t run – are often not convincing them to update. Often it does the opposite: they are frustrated their already expensive device is asking them to pay even more.

The only scenario I’ve seen people pay are similar to this one: they want an easy way to sync their photos. I show them my own iPhone and iPad syncing 50000+ photos easily. And they warily go for the 99ct plan. 

If Apple really wants to get people to use iCloud, they should replace the 5GB for free plan with a 3 month trial of the 50GB plan. It gives people all the features of iCloud right out of the box with realistic limits. If they like it, they’ll pay. If they don’t, they won’t. And if they don’t, the difference between 5GB and no storage is negligible.

But I’d bet most people will happily pay a buck a month for what iCloud offers them. They just need the get the chance to try it out first.

But I digress: iMessage cloud syncing is a great feature I’m looking forward to!

Fallen

Fallen

A friend messaged me yesterday: do you know an app that can log ‘times fallen’ in Health? His lovely girlfriend needs a wheelshare to get around, and has to log these kind of medical events. 

I didn’t find one with a search in the App Store (then again, no surprise there), I didn’t want to tell him she can just log it manually in Health and being lazy as I am, writing one myself wasn’t really an option. 

Or could I? Thanks to Workflow’s Health integration, writing an app that logs a fall with a touch of a button is easy. 

Five minutes later his girlfriend now has a Workflow complication on her Apple Watch. Pressing it runs the ‘Fallen’ workflow and logs a fall with the time and date in Health. You can find the workflow here

If you wonder why Apple bought Workflow? In the words of Gusteau:

Anyone can code.