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Tailscaled on macOS

Denton Gentry edited this page Dec 6, 2023 · 17 revisions

tailscaled on macOS

There are multiple ways to use Tailscale on macOS.

This page is about how to use the open source, non-GUI tailscaled and tailscale binaries.

Requirements

Install Go

Install Go 1.21 (or whatever the most recently released Go version is) from https://golang.org/dl/ or Homebrew, etc. Tailscale always requires the most recent Go version and doesn't support older ones.

Compile Tailscale

Run:

go install tailscale.com/cmd/tailscale{,d}@main

That'll put the binaries in $(go env GOPATH)/bin, so likely $HOME/go/bin. You can copy or symlink those binaries into your $PATH, or make your $PATH include that directory.

You can also compile from a specific release version. For example to build from the source code used for Tailscale 1.38.2, use:

go install tailscale.com/cmd/tailscale{,d}@v1.38.2

Run the tailscaled (daemon)

sudo $HOME/go/bin/tailscaled

Or, to run it in the background under launchd so it starts at system boot:

sudo $HOME/go/bin/tailscaled install-system-daemon

That copies the binary to /usr/local/bin and installs a plist in /Library/LaunchDaemons/com.tailscale.tailscaled.plist and starts com.tailscale.tailscaled.

(to stop/uninstall, use: sudo tailscaled uninstall-system-daemon)

Use the tailscale CLI tool

See https://tailscale.com/kb/1080/cli (but ignore the /Applications/Tailscale.app/Contents/MacOS/Tailscale part; that's the path to the GUI's CLI)

tailscale up       # (any optional arguments)
tailscale status

Enjoy.

Comparison to GUI version

Compared to the GUI version of Tailscale, running tailscaled instead has the following differences:

  • tailscaled on macOS is much newer and less tested, but it seems to all work.
  • the App Store version uses the Apple Network Extension API; tailscaled uses the /dev/utun TUN interface
  • MagicDNS works, but you need to set 100.100.100.100 as your DNS server yourself. It doesn't yet change your DNS config.
  • tailscaled can run at system boot before any user has logged in (e.g. letting you VNC to your computer after a power outage)
  • is fully open source (Tailscale GUI parts aren't open source on non-free operating systems)
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