MCX, Managed Client, Cache redirection, disabling iTunes sharing, radio streams, standardising the desktop picture

22 Jan 2011 by Lisa, No Comments »

I really like MCX aka managed preferences, there are settings in the environment that need to be standardised for all users, and MCX allows me to make those settings centrally at a computer wide level.

Using WorkGroup Manager I ususally apply MCX to computer groups, looking at the GUI the options available are useful, but would appear limited, there are extra options that would be nice. By clicking the details tab, and choosing + you can pick additional preferences to manage. One of my favourites is ManagedClient, by choosing to import /System/Library/CoreServices/ManagedClient a number of additional preference options will appear. The options available in ManagedClient are so useful I am surprised more of these are not available in the GUI.

By clicking edit, you will then have the opportunity to select whether to Always, Often, or Once have the setting applied, usually I go with Always. Here are some of my favourites:

Cache Redirection: We have a number of shared computers that could be used by any number of users, it doesn’t make sense to use local accounts, or even mobile accounts, so we use network home directories on these computers. By default everything is written back to the network home including cache, which means a whole lot of extra traffic is going across the network, and a whole lot of extra read/writes to the network storage. Using MCX we can redirect cache to a folder on the local disk, preventing all the extra traffic and read/write requests. The options you want are in com.apple.MCXRedirector.

You will create a Login Redirection, and a Logout Redirection, which each have a Redirect Action comprising the action, destination folder path, and folder path.

To redirect ~/Library/Caches for all users you would choose options as illustrated in the screen shot below. Please note the screenshot also lists an additional redirect for Adobe that helped the application work better in our environment.

Top Menu Icons: I like to customise the icons in the top menu bar, for example I don’t want users having a Time Machine icon when as a standard user on a shared lab computer they can’t use time machine anyway. com.apple.mcxMenuExtras allows me to choose which items are displayed in that part of the screen real estate.

iTunes: Music sharing and radio streaming is great at home, I’m not overly thrilled about all that extra traffic, and shared music libraries across the network. The options available in com.apple.iTunes allow both of these to be disabled, along with options to restrict store content intented for mature audiences.

Desktop pictures: Some users just have a knack for picking inapropriate desktop pictures, on your home computer fine… On a shared lab computer, no thank you. By using com.apple.desktop you can preselect a nice tasteful desktop picture for your users. I typically do this for all shared computers that are in public spaces on campus. By default the options would only allow me to choose Once or Often, I manually copied the items to Always, ignored the orange alert about the manifests, and watched the standard picture appear (and stay). With the Once or Often options, the picture will appear, however can be changed – these options are useful to set an initial picture.

That’s all for today, please share any of your favourite MCX options.

Leave a Reply