An NSTask-like wrapper around the macOS Security Framework's AuthorizationExecuteWithPrivileges() to run shell commands with root privileges in Objective-C / Cocoa
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PrivilegedTaskExample
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README.md
STPrivilegedTask.h
STPrivilegedTask.m
STPrivilegedTask.podspec
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README.md

STPrivilegedTask - Objective C class

An NSTask-like wrapper around AuthorizationExecuteWithPrivileges() in the Security API to run shell commands with root privileges in Mac OS X.

STPrivilegedTask was created a long time ago. It has now been updated to support ARC and is available via CocoaPods.

Examples

Create and launch task

// Create task
STPrivilegedTask *privilegedTask = [[STPrivilegedTask alloc] init];
[privilegedTask setLaunchPath:@"/usr/bin/touch"];
[privilegedTask setArguments:@[@"/etc/my_test_file"]];

// Setting working directory is optional, defaults to /
// NSString *path = [[NSBundle mainBundle] resourcePath];
// [privilegedTask setCurrentDirectoryPath:path];

// Launch it, user is prompted for password
OSStatus err = [privilegedTask launch];
if (err != errAuthorizationSuccess) {
	if (err == errAuthorizationCanceled) {
	    NSLog(@"User cancelled");
	} else {
	    NSLog(@"Something went wrong");
	}
} else {
	NSLog(@"Task successfully launched");
}

See Authorization.h for a list of possible error codes.

Launch task one-liner

OSStatus err = [STPrivilegedTask launchedPrivilegedTaskWithLaunchPath:@"/bin/sh" 
                                                            arguments:@[@"/path/to/script.sh"]];

Getting task output

// ... launch task

[privilegedTask waitUntilExit];

// Read output file handle for data
NSData *outputData = [[privilegedTask outputFileHandle] readDataToEndOfFile];
NSString *outputString = [[NSString alloc] initWithData:outputData encoding:NSUTF8StringEncoding];

Getting output while task runs in background

// ... launch task

NSFileHandle *readHandle = [privilegedTask outputFileHandle];
[[NSNotificationCenter defaultCenter] addObserver:self selector:@selector(getOutputData:) name:NSFileHandleReadCompletionNotification object:readHandle];
[readHandle readInBackgroundAndNotify];

// ...

- (void)getOutputData:(NSNotification *)aNotification {
    //get data from notification
    NSData *data = [[aNotification userInfo] objectForKey:NSFileHandleNotificationDataItem];
    
    //make sure there's actual data
    if ([data length]) {
        // do something with the data
        NSString *outputString = [[NSString alloc] initWithData:data encoding:NSUTF8StringEncoding];
        NSLog(outputString);

        // go read more data in the background
        [[aNotification object] readInBackgroundAndNotify];
    } else {
        // do something else
    }
}

Task termination

You can observe STPrivilegedTaskDidTerminateNotification:

[[NSNotificationCenter defaultCenter] addObserver:self selector:@selector(privilegedTaskFinished:) name:STPrivilegedTaskDidTerminateNotification object:nil];

- (void)privilegedTaskFinished:(NSNotification *)aNotification {
	// do something
}

Or alternately, set a termination handler:

privilegedTask.terminationHandler = ^(STPrivilegedTask *privilegedTask) {
    NSLog(@"Terminating task: %@", [privilegedTask description]);
};

Launch using external AuthorizationRef

// ... Create your own AuthorizationRef

[STPriviledTask launchedPrivilegedTaskWithLaunchPath:@"/bin/sh"  
                                           arguments:@"/path/to/script" 
                                    currentDirectory:@"/"
                                       authorization:authRef]

AuthorizationExecuteWithPrivileges() is deprecated

AuthorizationExecuteWithPrivileges() is deprecated as of macOS 10.7 but remains available in 10.14 Mojave. If you want to be future-proof, here's how you check if STPrivilegedTask works in the running version of macOS:

OSStatus err = [privilegedTask launch];
if (err == errAuthorizationFnNoLongerExists) {
    NSLog(@"AuthorizationExecuteWithPrivileges not available");
}

If you need to check whether STPrivilegedTask works before you launch the task:

BOOL works = [STPrivilegedTask authorizationFunctionAvailable]

Sample app

A sample app which makes use of STPrivilegedTask is included in the project. This app runs the following script:

#!/bin/sh

echo "/usr/bin/whoami:"
whoami
echo ""
echo "Real User ID:"
echo $UID \($USER\)
echo ""
echo "Effective User ID:"
/usr/bin/id -u
echo ""
echo "Current working directory:"
echo "$PWD"

exit 5

It then presents the output of the script in a window, along with the exit code.

BSD License

Copyright (c) Sveinbjorn Thordarson <sveinbjorn@sveinbjorn.org> All rights reserved.

Redistribution and use in source and binary forms, with or without modification, are permitted provided that the following conditions are met:

  1. Redistributions of source code must retain the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer.

  2. Redistributions in binary form must reproduce the above copyright notice, this list of conditions and the following disclaimer in the documentation and/or other materials provided with the distribution.

  3. Neither the name of the copyright holder nor the names of its contributors may be used to endorse or promote products derived from this software without specific prior written permission.

THIS SOFTWARE IS PROVIDED BY THE COPYRIGHT HOLDERS AND CONTRIBUTORS "AS IS" AND ANY EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE ARE DISCLAIMED. IN NO EVENT SHALL THE COPYRIGHT HOLDER OR CONTRIBUTORS BE LIABLE FOR ANY DIRECT, INDIRECT, INCIDENTAL, SPECIAL, EXEMPLARY, OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES (INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, PROCUREMENT OF SUBSTITUTE GOODS OR SERVICES; LOSS OF USE, DATA, OR PROFITS; OR BUSINESS INTERRUPTION) HOWEVER CAUSED AND ON ANY THEORY OF LIABILITY, WHETHER IN CONTRACT, STRICT LIABILITY, OR TORT (INCLUDING NEGLIGENCE OR OTHERWISE) ARISING IN ANY WAY OUT OF THE USE OF THIS SOFTWARE, EVEN IF ADVISED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGE.