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The quickstart page is intended to provide a quick guide for setting up a running MicroMDM service. It does not cover all the possible deployment environments. More complex configuration details will be covered in their own sections.

Before proceeding, make sure to read the Introduction page, which describes requirements you might need before using MicroMDM.

Up and Running with MicroMDM

First, download the latest release of MicroMDM. Copy the micromdm binary somewhere in your $PATH.

Next, run the server binary.

sudo micromdm serve \
  -server-url=https://my-server-url \
  -api-key MySecretAPIKey \
  -filerepo /path/to/pkg/folder \
  -tls-cert /path/to/tls.crt \
  -tls-key  /path/to/tls.key
  • server-url MUST be the https:// URL you(and your devices) will use to connect to MicroMDM.
  • api-key is a secret you MUST create to protect the API. It will be used to authenticate API requests both from your own integrations, as well as mdmdctl.
  • filerepo is an optional key which needs to point to a directory micromdm can read and write to. It is used for packages uploaded by mdmctl apply app. It is not necessary if you do not intend to push custom packages via InstallApplication commands.
  • tls-* flags are used to specify the path to your TLS certificate and key. You MUST configure them if micromdm will terminate connections to a device.
    If you prefer to terminate TLS with a loadbalancer, you can set -tls=false. NOTE: You must use the -flag=false form to turn off a boolean flag.

Command line flags are used for configuration, because they are easy to discover and document.
For a full list of available configurations and their usage, run micromdm -help.
In some cases you can choose to use environment variables to provide the same configuration to micromdm. Each flag has a corresponding MICROMDM_CONFIG_FLAG environment variable option. For example, -api-key becomes MICROMDM_API_KEY.

NOTE: In a production environment, secrets should always be set via environment variables and not CLI flags, so they don't remain in your shell history or server monitoring logs.

This section described how to start the micromdm process interactively in a shell, but that won't persist a server restart or exiting your current session. Having the process remain persistent depends on your environment. Since systemd is a common choice, there are notes from users on the wiki.

Configure mdmctl

At this point, you should have a running server process, but you do not yet have a working MDM service. Some important configuration is still required. MicroMDM does not come with a built in web interface for administrators. Instead, it comes with a CLI utility called mdmctl which uses the API to provide helpful commands for the MDM administrator.
The mdmctl binary does not need to run on the same computer as micromdm. It is usually convenient to run it on your laptop, but you can of course run it anywhere you want, as long as it can reach the server URL.

To use mdmctl, we will first have to configure it.

mdmctl config set \
  -name production \
  -api-token MySecretAPIKey \
  -server-url https://my-server-url

The value for -api-key you set on the server is the -api-token value you're setting for mdmctl.

And immediately after, run:

mdmctl config switch -name production

The configuration mdmctl uses lives in the ~/.micromdm/servers.json file and you can view it in a text editor, or with the mdmctl config print command.

You're likely to run more than one instance of micromdm(ex: production and staging). You can store several configurations with the -name flag, and then switch between them with mdmctl config switch command.

mdmctl has many helpul commands. You can discover them with the -help flag. Many actions are grouped by subcommands like get, apply, remove. For example, mdmctl get devices will list devices enrolled in the MDM.

Configure an APNS certificate

WARNING: If you are renewing an APNS certificate and not generating it for the first time, read Renewing Certificates before proceeding.

To communicate with your device fleet, MDM needs an APNS certificate issued by Apple. As noted in the introduction, this process requires that you have an Enterprise Developer Account, and the MDM CSR option enabled under the Certificates, IDs & Profiles tab for iOS.

Apple has a separate flow for the MDM vendor than the one for customers. For an in-house deployment without third parties, you must complete both the vendor and the customer process yourself. The mdmctl mdmcert command will help you with your APNS certificate needs.

Create a request for the MDM CSR, with a password used to encrypt the private key. After this step you will have a new mdm-certificates directory, with the necessary files.

mdmctl mdmcert vendor -password=secret -country=US -email=admin@acme.co

Generate MDM CSR

Log in to the Apple Developer Portal (https://developer.apple.com/account), and navigate to the Certificates, IDs & Profiles section (https://developer.apple.com/account/resources/certificates/list).

  1. Click the plus symbol (+) next to Certificates
  2. Select MDM CSR under the Services section, click Continue
  3. Upload the VendorCertificateRequest.csr file, click Continue
  4. Click Download to download the certificate.
  5. Move the downloaded certificate file (likely called mdm.cer) to the mdm-certificates folder.

You now have the vendor side of the certificate flow complete, and you need to complete the customer side of this flow, with the help of the vendor cert.

Sign a push certificate request with the vendor certificate. This step uses the private key you created above, so specify the same password to be able to decrypt it.

mdmctl mdmcert vendor -sign -cert=./mdm-certificates/mdm.cer -password=secret

You should now have a mdm-certificates/PushCertificateRequest.plist file.

Sign in to identity.apple.com and upload the PushCertificateRequest.plist file to get the APNS certificate. The site offers a notes field, it's a good idea to use it to mark which server you're obtaining a certificate for, as you will come back for renewals.

If you're getting certificates for multiple environments (staging, production) or running multiple in house MDM instances, you MUST sign a separate push request for each one. Using the same vendor certificate is okay, but using the same push certificate is not.

If you've uploaded the plist, you will be offered a certificate, which is signed for the mdm-certificates/PushCertificatePrivateKey.key key. Copy the certificate to the same directory.

Finally, upload the certificate to MicroMDM.

mdmctl mdmcert upload \
    -cert mdm-certificates/MDM_\ Acme\,\ Inc._Certificate.pem \
    -private-key mdm-certificates/PushCertificatePrivateKey.key \
    -password=secret

Keep a backup of the mdm-certificates directory somewhere safe(like a 1Password vault) in case you need to use the vendor certificate again. But once the upload has completed, you don't need the local copy around on your computer, since MicroMDM stores the APNS key.

See the renewals sections at the end of this document for renewals steps.

Configure Apple Business Manager (DEP)

Using DEP is not required for MicroMDM, but is supported. If you do not need it, skip this section.

In this section you will use mdmctl to create a public key, upload it to the DEP portal and then upload the DEP token to MicroMDM. This exchange will link your MDM server with DEP, and allow you to sync devices and associate them with MDM.

First, run:

mdmctl get dep-tokens -export-public-key /tmp/DEPPublicKey.pem

Next, log in to your deployment program website, and follow the instructions for adding an MDM server. Once you get to the step to upload the public key certificate, use the file from the previous step.
You'll be asked to save a file containing the server token.

Upload the token file to the server:

mdmctl apply dep-tokens \
    -import /path/to/Some_Server_Token_smime.p7

Now, your server should be capable of syncing devices. To verify, you can run

mdmctl get dep-account

Which will return the information about your account.

Renewing certificates

At least once a year you will have to renew your DEP and MDM certificate connections with Apple. It's a good idea not to wait until expiration, but to set a calendar reminder somewhere 9-10 months from the day you configured your services.

To renew the MDM certificate you will re-do the entire process as described in the APNS section. The vendor cert needs to be re-created as well. When you get to the step of requesting a push certificate from identity.apple.com, make sure you are using the Renew button in the portal. Doing so ensures you maintain the same APNS topic year to year, which is necessary to avoid re-enrollment.

To renew your DEP tokens, follow the same instructions as setting up for the first time.

Restart the server

Once you configured DEP and the MDM certificates you should be good to begin enrolling devices. To avoid any issues, restart the micromdm process once you configured everything.