Mavericks Update:
Setting A Default Paper Size

Mavericks PrinterThe Mac Admin reader David noted that the preference file and key referenced in Setting A Default Paper Size no longer manages the default paper size setting in OS X v10.9 Mavericks.

The new file is
~/Library/Preferences/org.cups.PrintingPrefs.plist

This makes the new preference domain: org.cups.PrintingPrefs

The Key that governs the preference remains the same: DefaultPaperID

The values remain the same, repeated below for your convenience.

Paper SizeString
US Legalna-legal
US Letterna-letter
A4iso-a4
A5iso-a5
JIS B5jis-b5
B5iso-b5
Envelope #10na-number-10-envelope
Envelope DLiso-designated-long-envelope
Tabloidtabloid
A3iso-a3
Tabloid Oversizearch-b
ROC 16Kroc16k
Envelope Choukei 3cho-3-envelope
Super B/A3arch-b-extra

Everpix Closes Its Doors

Everpix closedThe promising photo management service, Everpix announced today that they will be shutting down the service. As of November 5th, 2013, existing accounts are read-only and no new accounts are being created.  Existing customers may browse and download their existing collections until until December 15th, 2013.

See the Everpix Shutdown FAQ for full details.

I’m sad to see the service go. It was one of the better ones out there. If you have a suggestion for an alternative service, please let us know in the comments.

FAA Rules Electronics OK

Personal Electronic Devices OK

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta today announced that the FAA has determined that airlines can safely expand passenger use of Portable Electronic Devices (PEDs) during all phases of flight, and is immediately providing the airlines with implementation guidance.

This is a cross-post from my travel blog at http://roaddoggin.com

The FAA has lifted it’s requirement that airlines ban personal electronic use in certain phases of flight (full press release). Both Delta and JetBlue have committed to implementing a change in policy as soon as possible. This is great news for the traveling public. Until policy changes are implemented and communicated throughout each airline’s inflight workforce, please be kind and obedient to your inflight crews over the next several days or weeks. It is an FAA requirement that passengers comply with all crew instructions.  Note that cellular phones and any device with communication capabilities must still be put into flight/airplane mode for the duration of the flight.

In an official statement, the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority notes that “CASA currently has no specific regulations governing the use of electronic devices in aircraft.” and “Currently in Australia all airlines restrict the use of electronic devices during critical phases of flight – such as take-off and landing”. CASA does acknowledge that they are “examining the US Federal Aviation Administration’s announcement on the use of electronic devices on aircraft.”

At the time of this writing (2:30 a.m. GMT) the UK Civil Aviation Authority had not responded to a request for a statement. This article will be updated when a response is received.

Creating OS X Mavericks Install Media

OS X MavericksIT staff, and even consumers often want to have a physical bootable install disk for OS X.  In OS X Mavericks, Apple have provided a relatively simple command line tool for creating bootable install media.

To create the install media, mount a volume that you would like to use as an install disk.  This volume needs to be able to hold at least 5.36 GB of data to house the install media. Note that this volume will be erased and reconfigured as an OS X installer. With the desired volume mounted, open the Terminal application and execute the following command:

sudo /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Mavericks.app/Contents/Resources/createinstallmedia --volume /Volumes/TargetVolumeName --applicationpath /Applications/Install\ OS\ X\ Mavericks.app --nointeraction

Replace “TargetVolumeName” with the name of the volume you want to turn into a bootable OS X Mavericks installation disk.

See the screenshot below for the Terminal output from the command above.

Mavericks Installer Creation

Mavericks Installer Creation

The Right OS For The Right Mac

OS_X-LogoA perennial topic of discussion amongst Mac system administrators is which operating system should be deployed to which Mac.  There is a mountain of misinformation floating around the community and the Internet on this topic. Here, I hope to set a few things straight.

On any particular Mac, the earliest version of OS X supported by Apple is the version that shipped with the Mac in question. Installing an earlier version of OS X will either fail to install, fail to boot after installation, or cause unexpected issues after boot. Regardless of how well the install goes or whether or not the computer boots, Apple will not support this configuration. Answers to support requests will generally amount to “install the correct operating system”. See the link below for Apple’s notes on this topic and a list of which OS X versions shipped with each Mac computer (note, as of this writing, the chart has not been updated to include 2013 iMac models).
http://support.apple.com/kb/HT1159

An Open Secret

It is widely held in the Mac sysadmin community that once Apple releases a new version of OS X, this new version includes the software components necessary to support the new OS X version on earlier hardware.

There are two situations in which this generally applies.

  1. An OS X installation that has had an update applied bearing the suffix “(Combo)”, as in “OS X Mountain Lion Update v10.8.5 (Combo)”, will usually support all hardware released prior to the update that meets the system requirements for the major OS X release, OS X Mountain Lion v10.8 in this example.
  2. The apps “Install Mac OS X Lion.app”, “Install OS X Mountain Lion.app” and soon, “Install OS X Mavericks.app”, from the Mac App Store will install OS X on any Mac computer released prior the latest update to the OS X installer app used.

I call this an “open secret” because you will find nothing in Apple’s documentation to support this claim, however it is generally correct.  I say “generally correct”, because occasionally it isn’t, particularly when hardware and OS X releases come close together.

The only 100% certain way to ensure an OS X installation is appropriate for and supported on a Mac computer is to use the OS X installer supplied by Apple for the computer in question, which includes a factory-installed Recovery System (Recovery HD) and OS X Internet Recovery.  See the link below for Apple’s explanation of OS X Recovery:
http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4718

OS X Hacking

There are those in the community who, for various reasons, hack new releases of OS X, and insert components from the new release into a previous release in an effort to run an earlier operating system than Apple intended or supports on a particular Mac.  The people doing this are clever and deserving of “geek cred”, but I would never recommend using such a hacked distribution in a production environment.

Running a “hacked operating system” may run afoul of the organization’s operating rules either self-imposed or legally required.  Even in the absence of such restrictions, my recommendation stands.  Vendor support is a key component in service level agreements.  If you choose to deploy an OS with unsupported modifications, you are ultimately personally responsible for every system failure.  This is not a position I want to be in or that I recommend you place yourself in.

Understanding New Software With Old Batteries

jonata_batteriesI’ve come across lots of tweets, blog posts, and in-person comments regarding battery life on older devices after having upgraded to iOS 7.  While I know many people simply enjoy complaining, perhaps a dose of knowledge will help ease misguided anger.

There are two primary factors in the degradation of lithium-ion batteries.  The first is charge cycles. Apple rates iPhone batteries at 400 charge cycles.1 An iPhone battery that has been recharged more than 400 times will experience decreased performance. Second, these batteries have an expiration date. The useful life of a lithium-ion battery is two to three years, even if it goes through zero charge cycles.2 The battery in an iPhone 4s purchased at launch in October 2011 has likely reached the end of its usable life.

iOS 7 was launched alongside new iPhone models with improved batteries. New, more power-intensive features were likely developed with the new battery technology in mind. Older devices not only have previous generation battery technology, but those batteries are approaching, if not already past, their usable life cycle.

If you’re not ready to upgrade your device, but your battery has exceeded its usable life in charge cycles, age, or both, You can purchase a new battery at an Apple Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider.

1: http://www.apple.com/batteries/iphone.html
2: http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/everyday-tech/lithium-ion-battery2.htm

Resetting AirPlay

AirPlay IconI have been having occasions lately where I’ll lose audio whilst using AirPlay mirroring from my Mac running OS X version 10.8.4 to my Apple TV running the latest Apple TV Software, version 5.3.  When this issue occurs, audio from iTunes, Hulu, Netflix, etc. on the Apple TV plays audio normally, as does AirPlay content from an iOS device.  It seems to be only OS X devices that are affected.  Searches of Apple support forums and other places Mac nerds share information showed that this is not an issue peculiar to my equipment.

I have reported the issue to Apple, as I’m sure others have, and will continue to investigate on my own to see if I can uncover a specific cause and more finely tuned fix.  In the meantime, forcing Core Audio on the Mac to restart seems to solve the problem, at least temporarily.  Use the following command to stop Core Audio, which will then automatically restart.

sudo killall coreaudiod

 

I’ve also bundled this into an Automator application, if that makes things a bit easier for some.  It will prompt for administrative credentials when launched.

Download Restart coreaudiod

Note: Restart coreaudiod is provided “as is” without warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied, including, but not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability, or fitness for a particular purpose.

 

Deploying OS X Configuration Profiles Without MDM

osxConfigProfileIconI was recently in a conversation with someone who needed to deploy configuration profiles to OS X clients, but they did not have the ability or authority within their organization to open the network ports required to implement a Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution.  This post describes how to install configuration profiles with an installer package.

The first step is to create and export your configuration profile as a .mobileconfig file.  These files can be created on a computer running OS X Server, using Profile Manager.  For more details on creating and downloading configuration profiles, see Apple’s Profile Manager Help documentation.

Once you have the .mobileconfig file, you’ll want to create a package that will deploy this file to a known location on your client systems.  I recommend a folder in the root Library named for your organization (see screenshot below).  For instructions on creating packages, refer to the documentation for your favorite package building tool.  My favorite is Composer.

Configuration Profile Location

Configuration Profile Location

Simply deploying the .mobileconfig file to this location won’t install it.  Apple provides a command line tool called profiles.  The profiles command can be used as part of a postinstall script included in the package that deploys the .mobileconfig file.  Below, find the two lines to include in this script…

#!/bin/bash
/usr/bin/profiles -I -F "/Library/MyOrganization/Company Wi-Fi.mobileconfig"

 

If the .mobileconfig profile should be deleted once installed, the following command can be added to a third line in the script…

rm "/Library/MyOrganization/Company Wi-Fi.mobileconfig"

 

Of course, “/Library/MyOrganization/Company Wi-Fi.mobileconfig”  should be replaced in each command with the quoted path to the .mobileconfig file deployed by the package.

I hope this is helpful.

Email to SMS Gateways

System administrators may find themselves wanting to send SMS messages to mobile devices for a variety of reasons, such as sending over the air enrollment invitations to devices to be enrolled with the Casper Suite. Many carriers, though certainly not all, employ an SMS gateway that allows email messages to be received by the carrier’s gateway and in turn transmitted to devices as SMS messages. In some cases, MMS messages are supported as well.

Addressing a mobile phone number through one of these gateways is accomplished by sending an email to <phone number>@<carrier’s gateway domain name>. For example, a Verizon Wireless phone with the number 212-555-1212 can receive SMS messages at the email address 2125551212@vtext.com.

Below, find listed the SMS gateway domains I have been able to find for official iPhone carriers. Where I’ve been able to find the pertinent information, I have noted carriers with special considerations, such as an activation process. The note “difficulties reported” indicates domains that are frequently referenced as not working. If your carrier isn’t listed below, I recommend contacting their customer service line to find out if they offer an SMS gateway. if they do, ask for the domain name and whether activation is required. If you discover any domains not listed below, I’d appreciate a comment on this article so I can update it for future reference.

CarrierDomainCountry
AT&T (SMS)txt.att.netUnited States
AT&T (MMS)mms.att.netUnited States
Boost Mobilemyboostmobile.comUnited States
C Spirecspire1.comUnited States
Cricketsms.mycricket.comUnited States
MetroPCSmymetropcs.comUnited States
Sprintmessaging.sprintpcs.comUnited States
T-Mobiletmomail.netUnited States
U.S. Cellularemail.uscc.netUnited States
Verizon Wireless (SMS)vtext.comUnited States
Verizon Wireless (MMS)vzwpix.comUnited States
Virgin Mobilevmobl.comUnited States
Telstraonlinesms.telstra.com
• Note the absence of .au
Australia
Optusoptusmobile.com.auAustralia
VodafoneService not offeredAustralia
Belltxt.bell.caCanada
Fidofido.caCanada
Koodoomsg.koodomobile.comCanada
MTStext.mtsmobility.comCanada
Rogerspcs.rogers.comCanada
Sasktelsms.sasktel.comCanada
Telusmsg.telus.comCanada
Virgin Mobilevmobile.caCanada
3three.co.ukUnited Kingdom
EEmms.ee.co.uk
• Difficulties reported
United Kingdom
O2mmail.co.uk
• Include +44
• Must activate by texting "EMAIL" to 2020
United Kingdom
Orangeomail.net
orange.net
• Difficulties reported
United Kingdom
T-Mobilet-mobile.uk.net
• Include leading "0" in number
• Must be activated via customer service line or account web portal
• May not be functioning since joining EE alliance
• Unverified
United Kingdom
Vodafonevodafone.netUnited Kingdom
O2o2online.de
• Use leading 0
Germany
Telekom (T-Mobile)t-d1-sms.de
• Use 12 digit number, leading 0
t-mobile-sms.de
• Use 11 digit number
Germany
Vodafonevodafone-sms.de
• Use leading 0
Germany
Orangesearch ongoingFrance
SFRsfr.frFrance
Bouygues Telecommms.bouyguestelecom.fr
• Difficulties reported
France
Virgin Mobilesearch ongoingFrance
Freesearch ongoingFrance
1010csl1010.comHong Kong
Threesms.three.com.hkHong Kong
Broadwaysearch ongoingHong Kong
Fortresssearch ongoingHong Kong
one2freesearch ongoingHong Kong
SmarTonesearch ongoingHong Kong
Wilson Communicationssearch ongoingHong Kong
Softbankusername@softbank.ne.jp
• Note username is used, not phone number
Japan
MobilyGateway not offeredSaudi Arabia
STCSupport did not respondSaudi Arabia