Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Verify Wi-Fi network via command line

It is sometimes useful to get information about the AirPort interface of a computer when connected via the command line. Follow these steps:
  • Open Terminal, enter in the command: cd /System/Library/PrivateFrameworks/Apple80211.framework/Versions/Current/Resources/
    • ./airport -I - this command lists the current Wi-Fi network the device is connected to
    • ./airport -? - lists all the available options for this specific command line utility
Additionally, the command networksetup -listnetworkserviceorder lists the service order on the computer. This is helpful if you believe wireless connections are causing issues taking precedence over the more reliable ethernet connection. For example, our organization has numerous outside free wireless SSID's being broadcast that only support web traffic over port 80. If wireless is higher in the service order, you could run into a scenario where a Mac hops onto wireless and disconnects you from resources on a local ethernet network.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Local administrator credentials not holding outside Active Directory network

Our organization uses an Active Directory user group to grant local administrator access to a computer for specific AD users. We recently noticed that this setting wasn't "sticking" on computers running OS X 10.8.3 when they left our local network either at home or when hopping onto an outside connection without access to our Active Directory infrastructure. The user can still login but cannot install software or perform any other tasks that require local administrative access.

From the administrator account, you must type the following into the Terminal:

sudo dscl . -append /Groups/admin GroupMembership USERNAME - where USERNAME is the particular Active Directory username you would like to grant local administrator access.

Note: This tip assumes the "Create mobile account at login" option is selected in Directory Utility and it has not been tested when mobile accounts are not being used.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Retrieve Mac serial number from command line

Oftentimes it is convenient to retrieve system information via the command line tool system_profiler. This is specifically useful in an organization where you have SSH access to a machine but don't have a complete inventory solution in place.

To retrieve the serial number of a Macintosh computer, either SSH to the computer or from the Terminal enter in system_profiler |grep "r (system) and the computer serial number is displayed.

We will delve into system_profiler more in future posts!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Run Software Update via command line

Apple allows Software Update to be called via the command line program softwareupdate. In many cases, this method of running the program is preferred as you can call it via SSH sessions on remote computers. You can also use it locally if you are in a Terminal window already (or you just find it odd to fire up the App Store to update your system software in OS X 10.8).

Here is the rundown for running softwareupdate via an SSH session on a remote computer:
  1. Via Terminal or SSH session, invoke the Software Update program via the command sudo softwareupdate -i -a -v
    1. Per Apple, the command requires sudo in the beginning.
    2. Basically, the -i flag tells the program to install updates, the -a flag tells the program to install all updates, and the -v provides verbose output with a little more information output to the Terminal
    3. To learn more about the different options, you can run sudo man softwareupdate
  2. That should be it - if any of the updates need a reboot the user will be prompted to Save documents and reboot at the earliest possible time. Type exit once the updates run to end the SSH connection.
Note: This only installs the Software Updates provided by Apple and not Flash, Java 7 from Oracle, or any software not installed via the App Store.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Enable local CUPS web interface for problematic printers

We had a networked HP LaserJet 2420 in our office that had initial setup connectivity issues. The printer firmware was up-to-date and the Macintosh had all software updates installed (including the HP Printer Drivers for OS X: The printer would not connect via the "normal" GUI configuration method via System Preferences...Print & Scan.

Since our environment uses CUPS print queues hosted on Linux servers, we were able to workaround this issue with the following steps in OS X 10.8 (these should work in 10.6/10.7 as well):

  1. Turn on the local Mac OS X CUPS web interface by going into Terminal. Enter in the command cupsctl WebInterface=yes. If this doesn't work, use command sudo cupsctl WebInterface=yes.
  2. Open up Safari and enter in http://localhost:631
  3. Click on Adding Printers and Classes link in the middle column
  4. Click the Add Printer button in the upper left
  5. On the Add Printer screen, scroll down to the Other Network Printers section, and select Internet Printing Protocol (ipp) or whatever protocol your queues use. Select Continue.
  6. In the connection text box, enter in the URL for the print queue.
  7. On the next screen, name the printer accordingly and click Continue.
  8. On the next screen, select the Make and Model of the printer. There seems to be a larger list of printers versus the Print & Scan GUI in System Preferences. When done selecting the model click Add Printer.
  9. Go to System Preferences...Print & Scan... and verify the new printer you created now shows up.
  10. Click Open Print Queue... and when the queue opens, go to the Printer menu and select Print Test page.
  11. If all looks good, you can turn off the local CUPS web interface via the Terminal command cupsctl WebInterface=no

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Analysis ToolPak - Microsoft Excel 2011 for Mac

Microsoft has removed the Analysis ToolPak in Excel 2011 for the Mac. For further details please see: 

Fortunately much of the Analysis ToolPak functionality can be had via the third-party application named AnalystSoft StatPlus:mac LE. The software can be downloaded from the AnalystSoft site:

Some people have complained about reduced or differing functionality of this application when compared to the original Analysis ToolPak but this is the free, Microsoft-sanctioned replacement for the Macintosh platform.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Enable Retina display support in Novell Groupwise 8

Novell Groupwise for the Mac is a Java-based program that needs a little "hand holding" to take advantage of the full resolution of Retina display equipped laptops. This hint is based on the tip described here ( but modified for clarity and additional steps provided in the comments.
  1. Close out of if you have the application open.
  2. In Terminal, enter sudo nano -w /Applications/
  3. Scroll to the bottom of the text file using the arrow keys. Right above the very last instance of </dict>, enter in the following two lines:
  4. Type CTRL-X to exit and say yes to saving the file.
  5. Finally in Terminal enter sudo touch /Applications/