Installing Enterprise Apps (PKG files) to macOS devices

Deploying, Installing and updating enterprise applications is an important management activity for IT Teams across organisations. For macOS devices IT Admins have the choice of remotely deploying applications available in Apple store using Apple VPP, but there might be a need to distribute an Enterprise (in-house) app or Enterprise installer of a third-party app like Zoom or Firefox.

Scalefusion facilitates the distribution of Enterprise Apps via its Enterprise Store functionality and allows for distribution of Signed PKG files.

PKG files are compressed installer files generated & signed by the app developers using productbuild command or a third-party packaging tool. These are the standard formats for Enterprise installation and Apple MDM protocol provides inherent support for these formats, making them a preferred choice of distribution for Scalefusion as well.

This document helps you to understand the steps involved in distributing PKG files. If you are looking to deploy Apple VPP apps then please refer this guide, and if you are trying to repackage a DMG then please refer to this guide.

Prerequisites

  1. Scalefusion managed macOS device
  2. A master/additional macOS device to extract App Info (One time step)
  3. Suitable Scalefusion Plan that supports Enterprise Store
  4. Signed PKG File

NOTE:
1. Unsigned PKG files cannot be distributed via Scalefusion. Please refer to our guide on
Signing PKG files to sign the pkg file.
2. The PKG file should contain a DistributionInfo file and PackageInfo file for it to be parsed and distributed via Scalefusion Dashboard.

Step 1: Obtaining Application Information

Not all macOS applications or package archives are built alike and this causes some issues while distributing them via an MDM provider such as Scalefusion. Apart from the requirement to have a signed package file, Scalefusion also needs the application information like Bundle Id and Version to be able to report the installation status properly. Scalefusion parses the PKG file to extract this information, but due to the way they are packaged, sometimes the information is absent or at times it does not match the actual information when the app is installed.

If you are the developer of the app or the app was developed in-house then you can contact the developer for this information, but if you are trying to upload a third-party enterprise installer like Zoom or Firefox then this information may not be handy and hence we suggest the following steps before you actually upload and deploy the app. Follow the steps below to get the required information,

  1. Install the PKG file that you want to deploy/distribute on a master/additional Mac device. In this example we will use Zoom which has been downloaded and installed.
  2. Once installed navigate to Applications folder to get the name of the application. In this case the name is zoom.us
  3. Now open a Terminal window and extract the following information,
    1. Bundle Id: Type in the following command to get the Bundle Id, replacing zoom.us with your App Name.
       mdls -name kMDItemCFBundleIdentifier /Applications/zoom.us.app
      This would print out the following output, Copy the highlighted part (without the quotes) which will be used in Step 2
    2. Version Info: Type in the following command to get the Bundle Id, replacing zoom.us with your App Name.
       mdls -name kMDItemVersion /Applications/zoom.us.app
      This would print out the following output, Copy the highlighted part (without the quotes), which will be used in Step 2

Step 2: Uploading an Enterprise Application

Once you have the app information the next steps are very easy and if you are familiar with Scalefusion Enterprise store for other platforms then they are pretty much same. Follow the steps below,

  1. Sign In to Scalefusion Dashboard and navigate to Enterprise > My Apps > Enterprise Store. Click on Upload New App > Upload macOS App
  2. In the Upload wizard, you can upload a local file from your computer or provide a link to external downloadable PKG file hosted in Amazon S3 or some other cloud storage. Click Next once done, which would upload and parse the file for its validity.
  3. If the PKG file being uploaded is signed then you would see the following screen, asking you to confirm the App Details. You can change or provide the app details that we obtained in Step 1 and click SAVE.
1. Make sure to update the App Name, Bundle ID and App Version, if they are not correct then the Installation would succeed but the installed status would not be updated on Scalefusion Dashboard.
2. Logo is an optional item and for your reference on Dashboard only. It has NO IMPACT on installation.

Step 3: Publishing the App & Viewing Status

  1. Once the app is uploaded, it would appear in the list of applications and clicking on it would allow you to Publish or Uninstall the app.
  2. Click on PUBLISH to select the target Device Profiles and click PUBLISH again.
  3. Once the application has been published, you can click on View Status on the information panel to get the status of app installations. Note that this would not give you an accurate account if the App Bundle Id and Version information was not updated.

Uninstalling a macOS Application

macOS MDM protocol does not support remote uninstallation of applications, hence Scalefusion offers the capability to Unpublish which would make sure that the app is no longer associated with the Device Profiles and will not be made available to new devices.

To Unpublish an application, click UNPUBLISH on the information panel, select the target device profiles from where you want this app to be uninstalled and click UNPUBLISH.

NOTE: macOS does not support for remote uninstallation of applications. We offer a mechanism to dis-associate the application from target profiles.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: We see that the application is installed on the devices, but on Dashboard it does not get reported as installed?

Answer: To track installation status properly Scalefusion would need the exact Bundle ID and Version information while the application is being uploaded. We would recommend you to extract the relevant information using the steps in Step 1 before uploading the app and then editing/adding the App information post uploading the PKG file.

Question: We get an error that Please make sure that the PKG file is signed, but we don't have a signed version of PKG file?

Answer: If you are the developer of the application or you have an Apple developer account then you can follow the steps here to sign the application.


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