The Adventures of Systems Boy!

Confessions of a Mac SysAdmin...

The Death of NetInfo

Not sure how I missed this, but NetInfo is dead as of Leopard. And I don't just mean the NetInfo Manager application. I mean NetInfo technology. It's gone. Completely replaced by a generic set of plist files in plain ol', flat XML. The GUI functionality is found mostly where you'd expect it. Gone, too, are the command-line tools for modifying the NetInfo database. These have been replaced dscl and friends. To quote AFP548:
Since dscl can't do everything there are some new, and greatly enhanced tools to help you:
  • dsenableroot - just like it sounds. This has been on OS X for a while now, but it may be more useful now that NetInfo Manager is gone.
  • dseditgroup - also present in 10.4, but will get more usage now. Good for manipulating group memberships.
  • dscacheutil - brand new in Leopard. This tools allows you to peek into the Directory Service cache and flush it if necessary. Semi-analogous to lookupd -d.
  • dserr - a curious tool. Lives only to lookup DS error codes for you and return the text equivalent of the error. I half expected to find a quick shell script here just grepping the man page for DirectoryService.
  • dsmemberutil - now this is a command you can sink your teeth into! Allows you to check group membership and do some debugging on what groups the system thinks a user is in.

That's about as good a description as I've seen on the topic in a nutshell. Suffice to say, this is a day we've all been waiting for, or at least expecting. That it's come with such little fanfare is probably, in retrospect, not all that surprising. It just took me off guard a little.

In the end I think this will basically be a good thing. So far, things once done with NetInfo look at least a bit easier to do with the dscl and GUI equivalents. So, cool. NetInfo has finally been replaced. Of course it's been replaced with something else proprietary and weird, but it looks like it's at least a bit easier to manage. But, whatever.

So long NetInfo, we hardly knew ye!
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7:38 PM

I blogged about the same stuff this morning. Small world.

Ya, NetInfo is dead. I'd heard rumors, whispers and all sorts of comments on the osx-server list over the last 6 months and even a few mentions at the last MacWorld MacIT conf. But it's still hard to believe.

The interaction between Mac OS X 10.5 (Leopard) Server and Client is just amazing. Directory Services is nw FREAKING AWESOME.    

1:37 PM

We're going to have a follow up soon on afp548 about this where I'm going to show how to use common scripting languages to manipulate the DSLocal store.

Here's a quick tidbit on how easy it is to make a user an admin from single user mode...

defaults write /var/db/dslocal/nodes/Default/groups/admin users -array-add foobar

would make foobar an admin.    

9:24 AM

Hey, yeah, I've been keeping my eye on AFP548 for reports. Funny how manipulating user and group info is now just a defaults write command. Nice. I think. Still feel a little like I'm suddenly flying without a net. But it'll pass.

Anyway, looking forward to the article.


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