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As mentioned in the Managed Preferences section earlier in this chapter, managed preferences are applied via the preference pane of workgroup manager. Through this tool, Apple provides a nice, clean, and simple graphical interface for managing the most common applications. However, this is not a definitive list of what can and cannot be managed through MCX. After all, third party programs can be constructed in such a way to fully support MCX management. Apple s system provides support in two different ways. Preferably, Application will support management via Apple s Preference Manifest system. Preference manifests allow a third party application to provide an interface that can be
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CHAPTER 7: Client Management
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utilized by system administrators to apply management settings to the application. In Workgroup Manager, preference manifest support is accessed via the Details tab of the managed preference interface. In this interface, you can click the plus button and navigate to the application on the file system that you want to manage. Upon selecting the desired app, the interface presents the option to import current settings (see Figure 7-4).
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Figure 7-4. Preference manifest keys
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To determine if an application supports preference manifests, uncheck this option. If the application has no manifest, you will immediately be presented with an error stating this. Once a manifest has been added to Workgroup Manager, it will be presented permanently for that user. Each manifest is stored in the directory at ~/Library/ Preferences/com.apple.mcx.manifests and in the file ~/Library/Preferences/ com.apple.mcx.plist. If desired, you can clear them out by deleting these files. If the application does have preference manifest support, then upon importing the application into the system (without importing your personal settings), the details pane in Workgroup Manager will have an entry for the applications preference domain, such as com.myco.myapp. The new management functionality isn t apparent until you try to add a new key under the Once, Often, or Always sections in that domain. When you create a new key, you will be presented with a menu selection of supported attributes. Each
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CHAPTER 7: Client Management
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attribute will often have associated applicable values presented via a selection menu. However, often custom values can be entered in and properly utilized. It all depends upon the application. If an application does not support manifests, you re not completely out of luck. If this is the case, you must resort to the second method that Apple provides to manage an app: you can push out just about any defaults-based setting to an app. That is, any application that properly utilizes Apple s provided preference system and results in preferences being stored in a file found at ~/Library/Preferences/com.myco.myapp.plist. By selecting the option to import settings, regardless of manifest support, it will copy settings for the application in question from your current operating environment and apply them to the managed machines. Alternatively, in WGM you can add the preference file itself. Be careful when doing so as there is often junk that will be in the file. If you push out your starting window position, other users might not be too happy with your choice. NOTE: One big limitation to this method is that the %@ string substitution (discussed further in 8) used for preference manifests is not supported. This means that preferences with user-specific settings are not well suited to be deployed from an existing preference file. If you really must cross that road, some heavy scripting would be needed to parse the settings file and then deploy the customized MCXSettings attribute additions to each individual user object. As always, test thoroughly before unleashing on the masses. The most comprehensive preference manifests is provided by Apple in the ManagedClient MCX. To utilize this manifest, under the details tab of Workgroup Manager preference management add the ManagedClient.app application found on any OS X system at the path /System/Library/CoreServices/ManagedClient.app. The ManagedClient app contains a manifest which exposes a great deal of various settings for management. This includes the ability to manage Screen Saver preferences, Login Redirections, Menu Items, VPN Settings, and Finder Sidebar Items to name a few. It is definitely worth consulting this manifest if the management setting you wish to deploy cannot be found in the provided GUI.
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