From Mac SysAmateur to Mac SysAdmin in 4 days: PSU Mac Admins Conference, July 2014

MacAdmins Conference LogoFive years ago I started work at a University where each Department hired their own IT staff. The Department IT had been run by an academic, who left the academics to themselves, just gave them an IP address, and had a small number of tools for office staff and student computers: Apple Remote Desktop for some light remote admin/troubleshooting, Retrospect for backups, MacAdministrator for authentication and software deployment, and CCC for cloning new Macs. An ageing Xserve had an open repository for users to download their own software and drivers.

Since then, Mac usage has increased greatly across campus. IT Services, for better or worse, has become a centralised division. Rules have become stricter. Time has become more precious.

After the demise of MacAdministrator, I tried imaging using Radmind to help with imaging – that didn’t work – unreliable; under-documented; poorly supported. DeployStudio really helped, but I wasn’t using its potential. SCCM 2012 was being talked about, but I had my doubts…

It was time the University become professional in its approach to Mac support. I needed help. Thanks to a well known search engine, I found out about the PSU Mac Admins Conference, which had the session list already posted:

  • Sessions on DeployStudio, Casper, Munki – tools I knew about but had never had time with which to get to grips
  • Other tools I’d never heard of such as AutoDMG, Autopkg, The Luggage, Docker… all of which seemed like they boxes for what I was trying to achieve.
  • A bunch of people who had been doing this stuff professionally for years.

I figured this could open the door to a wealth of knowledge about how to approach supporting Macs.

Thankfully, my bosses agreed.

And it was everything I expected and more.

Over the next few blog posts, I’ll document what I learned and what I’ve been testing, and what’s getting put into place.  Here’s the teaser:

You should go check all these things out now if you haven’t heard of them. Here’s a link to the PSU Mac Admins conference sessions, to get you started:



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