Manage Laptops Remotely with the Command Line

Written by Zach DeMeyer on December 14, 2020

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IT administrators’ needs in 2019 looked very different compared to their requirements in 2020 and into 2021. For example, in 2019, device management was generally predicated upon the fact that an IT department could quickly get physical access to most of the devices under their control. In the realm of troubleshooting techniques, a fully remote help desk environment wasn’t necessary for most organizations. 

As we look ahead to IT trends for 2021 and beyond, a lot of the plans we once had have changed for the foreseeable future. Even after the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us, many organizations will still remain fully remote or, at minimum, encourage remote work, and thus require different types of tools for IT to achieve their department’s goals.

Remotely Managing Laptops

When employees are not on a trusted corporate network, friction and security vulnerabilities are more likely to occur, so planning for a remote workforce is now mandatory. It’s important to consider implementing the right tools for remote work while realizing that traditional system administration tools might not be meeting your future needs.

Remote Patch Management

One of the critical aspects of remote device administration is managing patches and software updates. The days of holding your organization on a specific release of the software are long past as security concerns on older software releases have taken precedence over using software that has been tightly controlled for compatibility. 

An old school, tried and true method for accomplishing patch management in the past was through a system’s command line interface (CLI). Each operating system would have a native software update manager and IT admins could remotely kick off those systems via a command (assuming they had remote access to the machine) to check for updates, download any required, and then update those files.

Over time, these remote commands turned into beautiful GUI driven workflow systems. But for many IT admins, the power and control via the CLI was too good to pass up, especially the ability to build scalable pipelines of work through scripts.

Remote Software Management

Patch management isn’t just about managing a computer’s operating system. While it’s powerful to use a CLI-based system for macOS patching, Linux patching, and Windows patching, it’s equally as important to keep an organization’s application library up to date as well. 

There are many ways to keep Macs, PCs, and Linux-based devices up to date with the latest versions of applications. Using a cloud directory platform like JumpCloud for remote laptop management, admins can integrate solutions like AutoPKG and Chocolatey and manage the update process through scripts and commands leveraging JumpCloud’s remote execution capabilities.


AutoPKG allows IT departments to automate packaging and software distribution on macOS. You can then use specific recipes from public repositories to download applications to your systems. For example, you can enter a single command into the CLI to install Chrome and then rerun it in the future to apply the latest version.


Chocolatey enables software management automation for PCs that wraps installers, executables, zips, and scripts into compiled packages that can easily be deployed from a CLI command. 

Instead of hoping that the apps on your devices are up to date with the latest security updates, a CLI-based system gives an organization the peace of mind to know that regardless of where their fleet of machines are being used, they are up to date.

Adopt a Directory Platform: The Remote CLI Solution

A cloud-first approach to system management is necessary as IT departments move from on-premises support to remote support. By combining your CLI-based patch management system with a cloud-based identity and access management (IAM) solution, an IT department will gain efficiencies through using a single platform for essential people and system administration tasks.

Organizations can use a directory platform to remotely manage and secure devices from the cloud, including through command line deployments. Using remote CLI deployments through a directory platform like JumpCloud, IT administrators can fine-tune their management of remote laptops regardless of location or operating system. 

Using JumpCloud for Remote Device Management

JumpCloud® is the first directory platform that provides IT organizations with near-full control over identities, access, and devices — all from a single web console. JumpCloud supports Windows, Linux, and Mac devices, including macOS Big Sur and later versions, with remote CLI management capabilities baked in. 

Through the remote command line and pre-configured device policies, JumpCloud makes managing devices in bulk no longer a challenge, even in a remote work environment. Through integrations with AutoPkg and Chocolatey, admins can remotely control software on Mac and Windows through the CLI. From JumpCloud’s UI, admins can leverage our AutoPKG importer tool as well as application-specific commands for Chocolatey, which are available via our GitHub repository and Chocolatey’s open repository.

Try JumpCloud Free

Are you ready to start remotely managing your laptop fleet through commands?

Get started with JumpCloud today with our no-credit-card-required, no-time-limit test drive that’s free for up to 10 users and devices. Otherwise, check out this on-demand webinar to see the power of JumpCloud Commands in action.

Zach DeMeyer

Zach is a Product Marketing Specialist at JumpCloud with a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. He loves being on the cutting edge of new technology, and when he's not working, he enjoys all things outdoors, music, and soccer.

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