March 28, 2008
Installing IPP Printers from the Command Line in Mac OS X
We've rolled out some scripts for departments using our IPP printers that install these printers via the command line. I thought I'd share the syntax in case anyone else needs to do this. First, you need to install the driver (obviously) and get the .PPD for the printer. Then, use the
lpadmin -p "Printer_Name" -v "ipp://some.print.server.here:port/path/to/printer" -D "Printer Name" -E -P "/path/to/ppd"
That will install the printer as an IPP printer using the specified PPD.
March 25, 2008
We've prepared Office 2008 transcripts for testing. We still need to make default user profiles and re-do applications that hook in to Office (Adobe Acrobat, EndNote, etc.) to work with the new version, but we should have a finished version for Spring semester.
Fragmentation Bug in Disk Utility and Boot Camp Assistant
We've noticed a bug in Disk Utility and Boot Camp Assistant in 10.5.2. When trying to shrink a volume without reformatting it, if there are file fragments at the end of the volume, Disk Utility will fail, with an error message reporting "not enough free space." Using Boot Camp Assistant to shrink the volume will result in a kernel panic as the underlying shrinking process fails.
The workaround for this issue is as follows: boot the Mac into target disk mode, connect it to another Leopard-based Mac, and make a backup image from the drive. Erase the drive and apply the newly created backup image to it, effectively defragmenting it, and you will be able to shrink the partition without error.
March 05, 2008
Leveraging NetBoot for Mac OS Kernel Updates
One of the things that have troubled us in the past has been using Radmind for major OS updates. If the kernel is updated, or if
/System/Library/CoreServices/BootX is touched, Radmind can fail to update the loadset and in some cases our scripts won't reboot the station. In our transition from 10.3 to 10.4, we had student employees rebooting stations across campus after their Radmind session finished. Looking forward to the 10.4 to 10.5 transition, I think I'm going to develop a set of scripts to get around this issue. Here's how it'll work:
fsdiffruns, a pre-apply script checks the difference transcript against a list of items that may break the update (e.g.
- If one of those items is present, it touches a file that acts as a flag (maybe
/var/radmind/client/.UpdateSystemFiles). Then it sets the default boot behavior to our NetBoot image.
- The NetBoot image, upon detecting the file on the hard drive, runs
ktcheckto get the proper command file for the hostname. It checks the version of the OS contained in the command file (using the transcripts' names) against the version of the OS currently on the hard drive. If there's a major discrepancy, such as 10.4 to 10.5 (really, anything that would use a different negative), it will apply an ASR image to the hard drive.
- The NetBoot image runs a Radmind session (thanks to relative paths) on the hard drive, updating the kernel and other sensitive files as necessary.
- The computer reboots, and has been updated without any user interaction.
This method will allow us not only to deploy 10.5 to stations running 10.4, but also to deploy future system updates. Say 10.5.3 updates the kernel, for instance. It'll probably take a while for this to all come into place, but it will set the groundwork for making our lives a lot easier.
March 04, 2008
Mac Kernel Panics
Recently we've been having strange problems where some of our Macs, after having an ASR image applied to them, show a kernel panic and complain that they can't find drivers for their hardware types. We've noticed this on PowerMac G5s and iMac G5s. Though we're not sure why these errors are suddenly occurring, we're working to identify and resolve the issue.
Update: We discovered that the reason these Macs were having a kernel panic had to do with the ASR image. When I updated the NetBoot server to accommodate the pains of the aluminum iMacs, I noticed that the NetBoot image was pointing to an older ASR image. I changed it to the new one and we never noticed a problem until this week when certain PowerPC-based Macs started panicking on boot. I changed the old NetBoot image back to pointing to the old ASR image, and now everything is happy again.