A tool for dynamically using installapplication
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InstallApplications icon

InstallApplications is an alternative to tools like PlanB where you can dynamically download packages for use with InstallApplication. This is useful for DEP bootstraps, allowing you to have a significantly reduced initial package that can easily be updated without repackaging your initial package.

MDMs that support Custom DEP

  • AirWatch
  • FileWave (please contact them for instructions)
  • MicroMDM
  • SimpleMDM

A note about other MDMs

While other MDMs could technically install this tool, the mechanism greatly differs. Other MDMs currently use InstallApplication API to install their binary. From here, you could then install this tool.

Unfortunately, by doing this, you lose many of the features of InstallApplications, the primary one being speed.

Example: Jamf Pro

Jamf Pro would install the jamf binary first, rather than InstallApplications. An admin would need to scope a policy through the console in order to install this tool and it cannot be 100% validated that InstallApplications will be installed during the SetupAssistant process.

How this process works:

During a DEP SetupAssistant workflow (with a supported MDM), the following will happen:

  1. MDM will send a push request utilizing InstallApplication to inform the device of a package installation.
  2. InstallApplications (this tool) will install and load its LaunchDaemon.
  3. InstallApplications (this tool) will install and load its LaunchAgent if in the proper context (installed outside of SetupAssistant).
  4. InstallApplications will begin to install your setupassistant packages (if configured) during the SetupAssistant.
  5. If userland packages are configured, InstallApplications will wait until the user is in their active session before installing.
  6. InstallApplications will gracefully exit and kill its process.


There are currently three stages:


This stage is designed to only work with a single rootscript. This stage is useful for running InstallApplications on previously deployed machines or if you simply want to re-run it.

If the preflight script exits 0, InstallApplications will cleanup/remove itself, bypassing the setupassistant and userland stages.

If the preflight script exits 1 or higher, InstallApplications will continue with the bootstrap process.


  • Packages/rootscripts that should be prioritized for download/installation and can be installed during SetupAssistant, where no user session is present.


  • Packages/rootscripts/userscripts that should be prioritized for download/installation but may need to be installed in the user's context. This could be your UI tooling that informs the user that a DEP workflow is being used. This stage will wait for a user session before installing.

By utilizing setupassistant/userland, you can have almost instant UI notifications for your users.


  • InstallApplications will only begin installing userland when a user session has been started. This is to reduce the likelihood of your packages attempting to start UI elements during SetupAssistant.


You will NEED to sign this package for use with DEP/MDM. To acquire a signing certificate, join the Apple Developers Program.

Open the build-info.json file and specify your signing certificate.

"signing_info": {
    "identity": "Mac Installer: Erik Gomez (XXXXXXXXXXX)",
    "timestamp": true

Note that you cannot use a Mac Developer: signing identity as that is used for application signing and not package signing. Attempting to use this will result in the following error:

An installer signing identity (not an application signing identity) is required for signing flat-style products.)

Downloading and running scripts

InstallApplications can now handle downloading and running scripts. Please see below for how to specify the json structure.

For user scripts, you must set the folder path to the userscripts sub folder. This is due to the folder having world-wide permissions, allowing the LaunchAgent/User to delete the scripts when finished.

"file": "/Library/Application Support/installapplications/userscripts/userland_exampleuserscript.py",

Installing InstallApplications to another folder.

If you need to install IAs to another folder, you can modify the munki-pkg payload, but you will also need to modify the launchdaemon plist's iapath argument.

<string>/Library/Application Support/installapplications</string>

Configuring LaunchAgent/LaunchDaemon for your json

Simply specify a url to your json file in the LaunchDaemon plist, located in the payload/Library/LaunchDaemons folder in the root of the project.


NOTE: If you alter the name of the LaunchAgent/LaunchDaemon or the Label, you will also need enable the arguments laidentifier and ldidentifier in the launchdaemon plist, and the lapath and ldpath varibles in the postinstall script.


Optional Reboot

If after installing all of your packages, you want to force a reboot, simply uncomment the flag in the launchdaemon plist.


Optional Skip Bootstrap.json validation

If you would like to pre-package your bootstrap.json file into your package and not download it, simply uncomment the flag in the launchdaemon plist.


Basic Auth

Currently, Basic Authentication is only supported by using --headers flag.

The authentication should be passed as a base64 encoded username:password, including the Basic string.


import base64


up = base64.b64encode('test:test')

print 'Basic ' + up
Basic dGVzdDp0ZXN0

In the LaunchDaemon add the following:

<string>Basic dGVzdDp0ZXN0</string>


InstallApplications can work in conjunction with DEPNotify to automatically create and manipulate the progress bar.

InstallApplications will do the following automatically:

  • Determine the progress bar based on the amount of packages in the json (excluding setupassistant)

Notes about argument behavior

If you would like to pass more options to DEPNotify, simply pass string arguments exactly as they would be passed to DEPNotify. The --depnotify option can be passed an unlimited amount of arguments.

installapplications.py --depnotify "Command: WindowTitle: InstallApplications is Awesome!" "Command: Quit: Thanks for using InstallApplications and DEPNotify!"

If you pass arguments for Quit or Restart, InstallApplications will ignore these commands until the end of the run.

Opening DEPNotify with InstallApplications

If you would like to open DEPNotify, simply pass the DEPNotifyPath: argument to the --depnotify option.

installapplications.py --depnotify "DEPNotifyPath: /path/to/DEPNotify.app"

If you need additional arguments to pass to DEPNotify, add DEPNotifyArguments: to the --depnotify option.

installapplications.py --depnotify "DEPNotifyPath: /path/to/DEPNotify.app" "DEPNotifyArguments: -munki"

InstallApplications will wait until userland to open DEPNotify as the setupassistant is used for SetupAssistant.

You can also pass unlimited arguments to DEPNotify.

installapplications.py --depnotify "DEPNotifyPath: /path/to/DEPNotify.app" "DEPNotifyArguments: -munki -fullScreen"

By default InstallApplications will create a determinate and show a status for each item in your stages. If you would like to skip this behavior, pass DEPNotifySkipStatus to the --depnotify options

installapplications.py --depnotify "DEPNotifySkipStatus"`

DEPNotify LaunchDaemon

You can pass unlimited options to DEPNotify that will allow you to set it's various options.

<string>Command: WindowTitle: InstallApplications is Awesome!</string>
<string>Command: NotificationOn:</string>
<string>Command: Quit: Thanks for using InstallApplications and DEPNotify!</string>
<string>Command: WindowStyle: ActivateOnStep</string>
<string>DEPNotifyPath: /Applications/Utilities/DEPNotify.app</string>
<string>DEPNotifyArguments: -munki</string>

For a list of all DEPNotify options, please go here.

Please note that DEPNotifyPath and DEPNotifyArguments are custom options for this tool only and are not available in DEPNotify.


All root actions are logged at /private/var/log/installapplications.log as well as through NSLog. You can open up Console.app and search for InstallApplications to bring up all of the events.

All user actions are logged at /var/tmp/installapplications/installapplications.user.log as well as through NSLog. You can open up Console.app and search for InstallApplications to bring up all of the events.

Building a package

This repository has been setup for use with munkipkg. Use munkipkg to build your signed installer with the following command:

./munkipkg /path/to/repository

SHA256 hashes

Each package must have a SHA256 hash stored in the JSON. You can easily create hashes with the following command:

/usr/bin/shasum -a 256 /path/to/pkg

This guarantees that the package you place on the web for download is the package that gets installed by InstallApplication. If the hash does not match, InstallApplication will attempt to re-download and re-check.

JSON Structure

The JSON structure is quite simple. You supply the following:

  • filepath (currently hardcoded to /Library/Application Support/installapplications)
  • url (any domain, but it should ideally be https://)
  • hash (SHA256)
  • name (define a name for the package, for debug logging and DEPNotify)
  • version of package (to check package receipts)
  • package id (to check for package receipts)
  • type of item (currently rootscript, package or userscript)

The following is an example JSON:

  "preflight": [
      "donotwait": false,
      "file": "/Library/Application Support/installapplications/preflight_script.py",
      "hash": "sha256 hash",
      "name": "Example Preflight Script",
      "type": "rootscript",
      "url": "https://domain.tld/preflight_script.py"
  "setupassistant": [
      "file": "/Library/Application Support/installapplications/setupassistant.pkg",
      "url": "https://domain.tld/setupassistant.pkg",
      "packageid": "com.package.setupassistant",
      "version": "1.0",
      "hash": "sha256 hash",
      "name": "setupassistant Package Name",
      "type": "package"
  "userland": [
      "file": "/Library/Application Support/installapplications/userland.pkg",
      "url": "https://domain.tld/userland.pkg",
      "packageid": "com.package.userland",
      "version": "1.0",
      "hash": "sha256 hash",
      "name": "Stage 1 Package Name",
      "type": "package"
      "file": "/Library/Application Support/installapplications/userland_examplerootscript.py",
      "hash": "sha256 hash",
      "name": "Example Script",
      "type": "rootscript",
      "url": "https://domain.tld/userland_examplerootscript.py"
      "file": "/Library/Application Support/installapplications/userscripts/userland_exampleuserscript.py",
      "hash": "sha256 hash",
      "name": "Example Script",
      "type": "userscript",
      "url": "https://domain.tld/userland_exampleuserscript.py"

URLs should not be subject to redirection, or there may be unintended behavior. Please link directly to the URI of the package.

You may have more than one package in each stage. Packages will be deployed in alphabetical order, not listed order, so if you want packages installed in a certain order, begin their file names with 1-, 2-, 3- as the case may be.

Creating your JSON

Using generatejson.py you can automatically generate the json with the file, hash, and name keys populated (you'll need to upload the packages to a server and update the url keys).

You can pass an unlimited amount of --item arguments, but each one must have all six meta-variables. If you do not want to enter one of the meta-variables, simple pass a blank string ''.

Run the tool:

python generatejson.py --base-url https://github.com --output ~/Desktop \
--item \
item-name='preflight' \
item-path='/localpath/preflight.py' \
item-stage='preflight' \
item-type='rootscript' \
item-url='https://github.com/preflight/preflight.py' \
script-do-not-wait=False \
--item \
item-name='setupassistant package' \
item-path='/localpath/package.pkg' \
item-stage='setupassistant' \
item-type='package' \
item-url='https://github.com/setupassistant/package.pkg' \
script-do-not-wait=False \
--item \
item-name='userland user script' \
item-path='/localpath/userscript.py' \
item-stage='userland' \
item-type='userscript' \
item-url='https://github.com/userland/userscript.py' \
script-do-not-wait=True \

The bootstrap.json will be saved in the directory specified with --output.