Install macOS Software with JumpCloud & AutoPkg

Written by Joe Workman on September 9, 2020

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Application deployment and patch management are crucial for security compliance and keeping system software up to date. Depending on the needs of a business, specific software versions or approved software titles may be required. Individual teams may also require different software tools, versions, and licensing. Understanding the different requirements and needs of individuals and teams, let’s explore how JumpCloud and AutoPkg gives IT administrators the tools to have flexibility and control, even in the most restrictive environments. 

Security, Software, & Solutions

Maintaining and updating software titles is a difficult task in and of itself. Some organizations take a hands-off approach and provide select employees with administrative rights to install applications on their systems. Others restrict users from installing software entirely. Established IT teams provide their employees with optionality: In some cases, employees are given access to an approved repository from which they can install software of their choosing. Depending on the approach, IT teams can be left with the task of installing and updating software.

Providing employees with administrative rights poses security concerns, namely the installation of unwanted or malicious software. Restricting employee’s system access may reduce unintended software installations at the cost of increased IT workload. IT and security teams must walk a fine line between locking down their systems and providing their employees with the software they need to work effectively. If a restrictive approach is taken the problem still remains — application management is an arduous task that even the best IT teams struggle to fully automate.

Years back, working at a university help desk position, I found that I was not alone in my endeavor to securely and effectively manage software across my systems. Through community Slack channels, I discovered that many admins used a tool called AutoPkg

What is AutoPkg?

AutoPkg is a packaging framework that automates several of the manual tasks an admin would otherwise complete before deploying software to systems. Since beginning to use AutoPkg, I saved countless hours testing and deploying software to my managed systems.

The task of maintaining a library of approved software titles is made easier with AutoPkg. Providing employees with the ability to install approved applications or remotely installing those packages, removes some of the burden from IT teams. 

Whether IT teams release software packages for employees to install at their leisure, install applications remotely or through manual intervention, IT teams should trust but verify their software sources. Automation does not come without risk, blindly trusting that “Download” button or recipe can be disastrous when automating actions across multiple systems. 

AutoPkg: Automation and Autonomy

AutoPkg integrates with a number of management tools like Munki — a popular open source software deployment application. Munki or similar applications provide a framework for admins to define software loadouts and provide employees a sanctioned way to install vetted software. AutoPkg presents admins a way to build and compile software .pkg installers. Munki then ingests those .pkg installers and deploys software to managed systems.

IT teams who automate a process for niche software deployment are not alone. Community-supported AutoPkg recipe repositories contain software sources and overrides to automate specific actions. These repositories provide custom overrides for importing AutoPkg recipes into management suites.

IT teams who have yet to define an application management process should investigate AutoPkg and the various tools in which AutoPkg integrates. Finding the best approach for software management may be challenging. Tools like AutoPkg can reduce some of the overhead required to deploy and update applications on managed systems.

Using JumpCloud and AutoPkg

Organizations need a platform their IT teams can use to manage, unify, and secure their environment. JumpCloud is a cloud directory platform that integrates with devices like macOS, Linux, and Windows, secures networks through RADIUS, provides LDAP services, as well as holistic event logging. Pairing JumpCloud with the power of AutoPkg, admins are able to secure their Mac devices, but also automate package and software management.

The JumpCloud AutoPkg Importer processes AutoPkg .pkg recipes, uploads those .pkgs to a distribution resource, and dynamically creates JumpCloud commands for scripted software deployments. The JumpCloud AutoPkg Importer is designed to help admins automate the tasks required to install .pkg files on JumpCloud-managed macOS systems.

Evaluate JumpCloud & our AutoPkg Importer

AutoPkg can be extended to JumpCloud with the JumpCloud AutoPkg Importer to help manage remote software and package installations and versioning. To learn more about the project, visit the JumpCloud AutoPkg Importer Wiki Page.

You can easily test this new feature by signing up for a free trial with JumpCloud.

Joe Workman

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