Demonstration Setup

Greg Neagle edited this page Jun 18, 2018 · 38 revisions


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Setting up a demonstration Munki Repo and client


Since Munki can use virtually any web server as its server, and since macOS ships with Apache 2, it’s very easy to set up a demonstration Munki server on any available Mac. You can even set up a Munki server on a single machine that is also a Munki client, and that is what we'll do here. We will set up Munki on a machine running macOS without installed.

It is certainly possible to set up a Munki repo on a machine with installed. A Munki repo is simply a set of files on a web server. The exact configuration details vary from version to version of macOS Server, and are not documented here. See Apple documentation on how to configure the web service for your specific version of macOS Server.
Nick McSpadden has published some notes on setting up a Munki repo on Yosemite Server here:


Building a "server" repository

To set up our Munki "server" (in this case, a web server running on the same machine that is also our demonstration client), we’re going to create a directory structure in /Users/Shared, and then configure Apache2 to serve it via HTTP. You can do the next few steps via the Finder or via the Terminal, but it’s easier to write them out as Terminal commands:

cd /Users/Shared/
mkdir munki_repo
mkdir munki_repo/catalogs
mkdir munki_repo/icons
mkdir munki_repo/manifests
mkdir munki_repo/pkgs
mkdir munki_repo/pkgsinfo

You might be wondering what that last directory is. The pkgsinfo directory holds data that is not used directly by Munki clients, but is used by other Munki tools to create the catalogs. One more thing: let’s make sure the Apache 2 can read and traverse all of these directories:

chmod -R a+rX munki_repo

Next, we need to tell Apache2 to serve the munki_repo directory via HTTP. You could edit the /etc/apache2/http.conf file, or one of the other .conf files used by Apache2, but there’s a much easier method for this demonstration.

sudo ln -s /Users/Shared/munki_repo /Library/WebServer/Documents/

This creates a symlink inside /Library/WebServer/Documents/ that points to our new munki_repo directory. By default on Mac OS X, /Library/WebServer/Documents/ is Apache 2 ‘s DocumentRoot, so it will serve anything in that directory via HTTP. However, by default on MacOS Server the web server's DocumentRoot is located in /Library/Server/Web/Data/Sites/Default.

Activate Apache

If you are running Lion or earlier, turn on Web Sharing in the Sharing preferences pane.

If you are running Mountain Lion or later, you can turn on Apache 2 like so:

sudo apachectl start

This activates the Apache web server, and also activates the launchd job so that Apache will be active across restarts. To revert this change:

sudo apachectl stop

If you are using Mavericks or earlier for this demonstration setup, now that Apache is running, you can test your work so far. You can use your favorite web browser and navigate to http://localhost/munki_repo. If you’ve done things correctly to this point, you should see a directory listing, showing the catalogs, manifests, pkgsinfo, and pkgs directories. If you don't see a directory listing, and instead get a 403 error: "Forbidden You don't have permission to access /munki_repo/ on this server." see the following note.

NOTE: On OS X Mavericks and earlier, Apache 2 serves directory listings by default. This has the helpful effect of making it easier for us to see what is going on. (More commonly, and specifically in OS X Server and in 10.10+, Apache is configured to NOT list directory contents.) In production use, you will almost certainly want to disable directory listings, as they'd allow people to easily discover the contents of your pkgs directory and perhaps then "help themselves" to software they are not entitled to. Munki does not require directory listings to operate. If directory listings are not turned on for your configuration of Apache, you can safely ignore the 403 error and continue on.

Populating the repo

We now have a working Munki repo – but it’s completely empty and not useful at all. So let’s start to populate the repo.

We’re going to use some tools distributed with munki to import packages into our new Munki repo. Download the current munki installation package at

Install the Munki tools by double-clicking the Installer package and installing like any other package. A restart is required after installation.

The tools you’ll use as an administrator are available from the command-line, and are installed in /usr/local/munki.

The tool we will use to import packages into the munki repo is called munkiimport. We need to configure it before we can use it – telling it where to find our repo, among other things.

bash-3.2$ /usr/local/munki/munkiimport --configure
Repo URL (example: afp:// file:///Users/Shared/munki_repo
pkginfo extension (Example: .plist): <just hit return>
pkginfo editor (examples: /usr/bin/vi or <substitute your favorite text editor>
Default catalog to use (example: testing): testing
Repo access plugin (defaults to FileRepo): <just hit return>

We are first asked for the path to the Munki repo, and since we set one up at /Users/Shared/munki_repo, that’s what we enter with the file:// prefix. If you were hosting a repo remotely, this would typically be an afp:// or smb:// URL specifying the share.

We are then asked to specify an extension to append to the name of pkginfo files. Some admins prefer “.plist”, some prefer “.pkginfo”. Personally, I just leave it blank – Munki doesn’t care.

Next, you are asked for an editor to use for the pkginfo files. If you like command-line editors, you can specify /usr/bin/vi or /usr/bin/emacs for example. If you, like me, prefer GUI text editors, you can specify a GUI text editor application by name (but be sure to include the “.app” extension). I picked, but you could choose,, or even

Next, you are asked for the default catalog new packages/pkginfo should be added to. We'll use a "testing" catalog for this.

Finally, you'll be asked what Repo access plugin to use. Leave this blank, since we'll be using FileRepo.

Next, let’s get a package to import. Firefox is a good example package, and you can download it from As of this writing, the current version is 59.0, and when I download it using Safari, a disk image named “Firefox 59.0.dmg” is downloaded to my Downloads folder.

We’ll return to the command line to import the Firefox package.

Importing Firefox

bash-3.2$ /usr/local/munki/munkiimport ~/Downloads/Firefox\ 59.0.dmg 
           Item name: Firefox 
        Display name: Mozilla Firefox
         Description: Web browser from Mozilla
             Version: 59.0
            Category: Internet
           Developer: Mozilla
  Unattended install: False
Unattended uninstall: False
            Catalogs: testing    
Import this item? [y/n] y
Upload item to subdirectory path []: apps/mozilla
Path /Users/Shared/munki_repo/pkgs/apps/mozilla doesn't exist. Create it? [y/n] y
No existing product icon found.
Attempt to create a product icon? [y/n] y
Attempting to extract and upload icon...
Created icon: /Users/Shared/munki_repo/icons/Firefox.png
Copying Firefox 59.0.dmg to /Users/Shared/munki_repo/pkgs/apps/mozilla/Firefox 59.0.dmg...
Edit pkginfo before upload? [y/n]: y
Saving pkginfo to /Users/Shared/munki_repo/pkgsinfo/apps/mozilla/Firefox-59.0...

We run the munkiimport tool and provide it a path to our downloaded disk image.

munkiimport then asks us to confirm or override some basic information about the package. We accept the item name by simply hitting return, but provide a new “Display name” and “Description”. We accept the version and the catalogs, again, by simply hitting return. We entered a category and developer.

munkiimport then prints back our choices and asks if we want to import the item. (If we made any mistakes, this would be a good time to say “no”!) We agree, and munkiimport asks us if we’d like to upload the package to a subdirectory path. We could just skip this, and upload everything to the top level of the pkgs directory in the munki repo, but as our number of packages grows, that might get hard to navigate. So we’re going to upload this into a directory named “Mozilla” inside a directory named “apps”. As a sanity check, munkiimport warns us that the subdirectory path we’ve chosen doesn’t yet exist. Since this is a brand new repo, we knew in advance that the directory didn’t exist, so we want munkiimport to create it for us.

munkiimport looks for an existing uploaded icon for Firefox and doesn't find one, so it offers to create one for us. We agree.

Finally, munkiimport copies the Firefox package to /Users/Shared/munki_repo/pkgs/apps/mozilla/ and saves the pkginfo to /Users/Shared/munki_repo/pkgsinfo/apps/mozilla/Firefox-59.0.

Since I chose as my editor when I configured munkiimport earlier, munkiimport next gives the option to open the newly created pkginfo file in TextMate. No matter which editor you choose--if you choose to edit the pkginfo at this time--you'll see a standard Apple property list file (plist) describing the package you just imported.

This gives you another opportunity to edit the pkginfo using your favorite text editor. In this case, we don’t need to make any changes, though, so we can just close it. If we return our attention to the terminal window we used to run munkiimport, we’ll see it’s prompting us for one more bit of information:

Rebuild catalogs? [y/n] 

Remember that munki clients don’t use the individual pkginfo files; instead they download and consult munki catalogs to find available software. So to actually make use of the pkginfo we just generated, we need to build new versions of all the defined catalogs. Answering “y” to this prompt causes munkiimport to rebuild the munki catalogs.

Rebuild catalogs? [y/n] y
Adding apps/mozilla/Firefox-59.0 to testing...

Since we only have one package (and its corresponding pkginfo) in our munki repo, we see a single item has been added to the testing catalog. Again we can check our work so far. In your web browser, navigate tohttp://localhost/munki_repo/catalogs/testing. You should see a property list which contains the pkginfo for Firefox.

Creating a client manifest

We now have one package in our Munki repo. Our next step is to create a client manifest so that Munki knows what to install on a given machine.

We'll use the manifestutil tool to create our manifest.

% /usr/local/munki/manifestutil 
Entering interactive mode... (type "help" for commands)
> new-manifest site_default
> add-catalog testing --manifest site_default
Added testing to catalogs of manifest site_default.
> add-pkg Firefox --manifest site_default
Added Firefox to section managed_installs of manifest site_default.
> exit

We've created a new manifest named "site_default". "site_default" is one of the manifests a Munki client looks for by default if not configured to look for a specific manifest by name. We added "testing" to the list of catalogs to consult, and "Firefox" to the list of packages to install.

If you examine the file at /Users/Shared/munki_repo/manifests/site_default, it should look like this:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE plist PUBLIC "-//Apple//DTD PLIST 1.0//EN" "">
<plist version="1.0">

Again, you can check your work in your web browser by navigating to http://localhost/munki_repo/manifests/site_default. You should see the file you just created displayed in your web browser.

Munki Client Configuration

We’re done (for now) with the server. Next, we need to configure the Munki client so it knows about our server. The Munki client stores its configuration in /Library/Preferences/ManagedInstalls.plist. Unless you’ve run the Munki client before, this file won’t yet exist. We’ll use the defaults command to create it with the data we need.

sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/ManagedInstalls SoftwareRepoURL "http://localhost/munki_repo"

We’ve told the client tools the top-level URL for the munki repo -- http://localhost/munki_repo. That’s it for the client configuration. If you'd like, check your work:

defaults read /Library/Preferences/ManagedInstalls

Make sure the value of "SoftwareRepoURL" is as expected.

Testing the Munki client software

Now the moment of truth: let’s run the Munki client from the command line.

sudo /usr/local/munki/managedsoftwareupdate 
Managed Software Update Tool
Copyright 2010-2014 The Munki Project
Downloading Firefox 59.0.dmg...
Verifying package integrity...
The following items will be installed or upgraded:
    + Firefox-59.0
        Web browser from Mozilla
Run managedsoftwareupdate --installonly to install the downloaded updates.

Success! Munki saw that we needed Firefox 59.0 and downloaded it. (It did not yet install it – we’ll get to that in a bit.)

But what if instead when you run managedsoftwareupdate you see this:

sudo /usr/local/munki/managedsoftwareupdate 
Managed Software Update Tool
Copyright 2010-2014 The Munki Project
No changes to managed software are available.

The most likely reason you see this is because you already have Firefox 59.0 (or later) installed. If you really want to test Munki, delete your copy of Firefox:

sudo rm –r /Applications/

Then run /usr/local/munki/managedsoftwareupdate again – you should see it being downloaded as in the example above.

Demonstrating Managed Software

We ran managedsoftwareupdate from the command line and verified that the munki client tools could talk to our munki server and download the Firefox package. But, as we’ve noted, managedsoftwareupdate did not actually install Firefox. We could call managedsoftwareupdate again, this time passing it the -–installonly flag to make it install what it just downloaded. But instead, we’re going to introduce another tool – the one “regular” users would interact with – Managed Software You’ll find it in the /Applications folder. Double-click it to launch it.

Managed Software Center will check for updates with the Munki server, and should shortly display a window (closely resembling Apple's App Store application's main window) displaying Firefox 59.0.

If you click on Update, Firefox will be installed.


You've set up a demonstration of Munki's server and client components. Please be sure to also read Munki's Frequently Asked Questions

For a more in-depth introduction to Munki, see these MacTech articles:

Managing Software Installs with Munki -- Part 1
Managing Software Installs with Munki -- Part 2
Managing Software Installs with Munki -- Part 3
Managing Software Installs with Munki -- Part 4