Macs in Informatics

If you use a Mac, this post is for you. I’m asking for the opinions of Mac users.

There seem to be a lot of Macs in Informatics.
Macs can be configured to access DICE services – for example AFS, printing, backups – but sometimes this can be excessively fiddly or difficult.
I’m looking into the possibility of providing some kind of automated help – something that would configure local services on Macs more easily.

But what’s needed? I need your input.
Could you answer three quick questions please, or just tell me what you need?

First question:
Assuming that we provided something which automatically configured things such as AFS or printing on your Mac:
– Would you like the configuration process to be manually triggered by you, so that you could do it when you liked? For example, an installer which you would run?
– Or would you like it to happen automatically, regularly and silently (as with DICE Linux)?

Second question:
What could most usefully be configured for you on your Mac? For instance:

  • printing to Informatics printers
  • Kerberos and AFS (your network filespace)
  • TiBS (networked backup of your files)
  • Configure Apple Mail to use Staffmail or SMS
  • The School’s VPN (allows you to print from wi-fi)
  • The University’s VPN
  • Install the University’s Root Certificate on web browsers
  • Local LDAP lookups for Mail, Address Book and so on
  • Local LaTeX files
  • What else?

Third question:
Would it also be useful to have extra software that you needed installed automatically on the Mac?

I’d be happy to have your answers to any or all of these questions, or even to other questions if you think they’re better than mine. Mail me or comment below. Thanks.

About Chris Cooke

Chris Cooke is a Computing Officer in the School of Informatics at the University of Edinburgh. He works in the Managed Platforms Unit and rides a very large bicycle.
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5 Responses to Macs in Informatics

  1. Maria Wolters says:

    Question 1: Automatically.

    Questions 2 and 3: Yes to all of them – sounds like heaven!

  2. AndrĂ¡s Salamon says:

    Many Mac users seem content to opt out of Kerberos and AFS, but printing is the first thing people ask about.

    The printing setup document is clear enough, but it would be useful to highlight one recommended solution, instead of just listing all the options. The printer driver provided for the various Canon MFP devices is generic and does not support all the features available; I suggest updating this section.

  3. Angus says:

    Question 1: Either method would be fine

    Question 2 + 3: Sounds fantastic and would be very useful.

  4. Atanas Bozhkov says:

    Well, I would love it if you can get automatic setup of printing, AFS and backup, that’s what i really need on my mac. The rest of the things are also good, but I think they’re optional.
    In any case any of those would be greatly appreciated!

  5. Simon King says:

    1. either is fine
    2. all of them please
    3. not sure – some of this is paid-for (e.g., TextMate) so not sure that could be automated

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