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A python library designed to aid the automation of Apple iOS device management, configuration and imaging.
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README.md

AEiOS (Automated Enterprise iOS)

AEiOS is a python library designed to aid the automation of Apple iOS device management, configuration, and imaging. Originally designed for our in-house Student Checkout iPads, we wanted to provide our students and patrons the ability to use our iPads without restrictions as if they were personal devices. Users can configure the devices however they like, install their own applications, and even use iCloud, while we (MacAdmins) maintain user data privacy between each checkout.

By integrating the best features of Apple's Apple Configurator, Device Enrollment Program (DEP), Mobile Device Management (MDM) and Volume Purchase Program (VPP). We have created a completely automated, and truly zero-touch solution for iOS device checkout using free and native Apple macOS solutions that requires no interaction by our very busy support staff other than plugging in with checkin.

Contents

Download

The latest release is available for download here. Uninstallation instructions are provided below.

Setup and Configuration

System Requirements

Make sure you have Apple Configurator 2 installed as well as its automation tools. AEiOS will not be able to perform any tasks without these tools installed.

Configuration

Because device automation is enterprise specific, AEiOS will need some site specific configuration before automation will work properly. It comes with a tool designed for just that purpose called aeiosutil.

Here is an example of general configuration:

$ aeiosutil add wifi </path/to/wifi.mobileconfig>
$ aeiosutil add identity --p12 </path/to/supervision.p12>
$ aeiosutil add image --background </path/to/background.png>
$ aeiosutil configure slack "https://slack.webhook" "#aeios-channel"
$ aeiosutil add app "Microsoft Word"
$ aeiosutil add app "Google Docs: Sync, Share, Edit"
$ aeiosutil start

Most configuration will be a one-time process, but as you need to update various parts (i.e. automate new apps/remove old apps, change backgrounds, different wifi, etc.) aeiosutil will be your go-to tool.

Usage

Each sub-command for aeiosutil has it's own help page, as do most of the arguments themselves. All of the following commands will provide different help pages:

$ aeiosutil --help
$ aeiosutil add --help
$ aeiosutil add identity --help

Wi-Fi Profile

A working Wi-Fi profile is necessary for DEP Re-Enrollment, and can be added via:

$ aeiosutil add wifi /path/to/wifi.mobileconfig

Be sure to test your wifi profile before adding it to AEiOS. The wifi profile can be removed via:

$ aeiosutil remove wifi

Supervision Identity

Some automated actions can only be performed on supervised devices (specifically Custom Backgrounds, and Load Balancing). These actions will necessitate AEiOS to have access to the same supervision identity used to manage the device in your MDM.

Your MDM should have a mechanism for exporting your supervision identity used for your DEP. If you've already added your supervision identity to Apple Configurator, it can be exported from there. Once exported it can be added one of two ways:

Import password protected pkcs:

$ aeiosutil add identity --p12 /path/to/supervision_identity.p12

Import unencrypted supervision identity certificates:

$ aeiosutil add identity --certs /path/to/exported/certs/directory

Importing your supervision identity is not required for AEiOS to automate Resetting Devices, DEP Re-Enrollment, or VPP App Installation.

Custom Backgrounds

Once all automation and verification is completed, AEiOS will set the Lock and Home screen with an image of your choosing, if provided.

Add custom background image:

$ aeiosutil add image --background /path/to/image

Setting the background requires the device to be supervised and an imported supervision identity. Unsupervised devices will skip this step.

Reporting

In order to keep your library of apps up-to-date and relevant, any apps installed on devices outside of AEiOS will be reported as they are encountered. Reporting is handled via Slack Incoming Webhooks.

It can be configured via:

$ aeiosutil configure slack 'https://slack.webhook.url' '#channel-name' 

Additionally, critical errors with automation that require attention will also be reported to Slack.

Automating Application Installation

All iOS app installation is done using Apple Configurator 2 GUI. You'll need to have VPP apps purchased and available for AEiOS to be able to automatically install them.

In Apple Configurator 2:

1. View > List > Add UDID column
2. Sign into your VPP account
3. Specify apps to automatically install

Configuring App Installation

aeiosutil can be used to specify apps to be installed during automation. Each app has to be added via its iTunes name (Apple Configurator 2 > Actions Menu > Add > Apps… > "Name" column). You'll be prompted for Accessibility Access the first time apps are Installed (see VPP App Installation).

The app name has to be added exactly as it appears in Apple Configurator. Be sure you have enough available licenses for all of your devices.

Adding apps:

$ aeiosutil add app "Microsoft Word"
$ aeiosutil add app "Google Docs: Sync, Share, Edit"

Removing apps:

$ aeiosutil remove app "Microsoft Word"

Additional help:

$ aeiosutil add app --help
$ aeiosutil remove app --help

Running Automation

Starting automation:

$ aeiosutil start

Stopping automation:

$ aeiosutil stop

Start AEiOS automatically at login:

$ aeiosutil start --login

Stop AEiOS from automatically running at login:

$ aeiosutil stop --login

Under The Hood

AEiOS essentially performs 6 tasks:

1. Erase
2. Re-Enroll via DEP
3. Install VPP Apps (optional)
4. Customization (optional)
5. Verification
6. Load Balancing

Erasing Devices

When an iOS device is connected for the first time to a macOS system running AEiOS, you will be given following choices:

A) Enable automation for the device which will cause it to be automatically
   erased each time it is connected to the system,
B) Ignore the device and permanently exclude it from automation.
C) Cancel

Currently, the "Ignore" and "Erase" options are not configurable apart from this first prompt. This will probably change in the near future.

If you select "Cancel", you'll be re-prompted each time this device connects until another choice is made.

If you've accidentally ignored a device you want automated you can always reset AEiOS to a default state (see Troubleshooting)

WARNING - THIS SOFTWARE IS DESIGNED TO AUTOMATICALLY ERASE iOS DEVICES!!

AEiOS will erase any iOS devices (including iPhones) that been instructed to Trust This Computer.

While efforts have been made to limit automation to explicitly specified devices. You may find an edge-case and accidentally erase a device erroneously. Be sure to test your setup thoroughly... Please don't use a computer with AEiOS installed to charge your phone...

Bugs submitted regarding an "Accidental Erase" will be redirected here.

You've been warned...

Device Supervision

Device supervision is handled via DEP, and while it's technically not required, I'm not sure how gracefully AEiOS handles non-DEP devices (see Intentionally Unsupervised Devices). If this is proves problematic in your environment, submit a bug, and I'll do my best to integrate non-DEP supervision and/or non-supervised device automation.

Because DEP Enrollment requires iOS device network, DEP Re-enrollment and device supervision cannot be done without a Wi-Fi profile.

Though I put a lot of work to integrate Tethered-Caching as an alternative network mechanism, Apple has refused to support iOS device tethering since releasing iOS 12. I could rant and complain (in detail), but it's not going to change the fact that it's currently inoperable. I've included the tethering library in AEiOS, but it doesn't really do much.

Enabling Content Caching in System Preferences > Sharing will lessen the load on your network for App installation, but a working Wi-Fi profile is still required.

If the Wi-Fi Profile works, via MDM or Apple Configurator 2, it will work with AEiOS and because DEP only requires a device to have network connectivity for few seconds, I suggest setting the profile to automatically remove itself, but hey... do whatever.

VPP App Installation

Because of inconsistencies with "Best Effort" MDM app installation, and instability with iOS device tethering, AEiOS automates the installation of VPP apps via the Apple Configurator 2 GUI. There is not currently a (viably configurable) way to manually install VPP apps other than with the Apple Configurator GUI.

However, utilizing System Events comes with baggage... namely Accessibility Access.

With known exploits, Apple is particularly sensitive about granting Accessibility Access to anything that asks, but it's also not very consistant with how Accessibility Access is handled. As far as I can tell, any script executed by cfgutil (Apple's own automation tool) executes scripts directly from /bin/sh, which means it needs Accessibility Access in order for the GUI automation to work.

I have figured out a way to circumvent giving Accessibility Access to /bin/sh, but it is going to require some significant refactoring, and will not be included in the initial release.

In this version of AEiOS, checkout_ipads.py and /bin/sh will BOTH need to be given Accessibility Access for VPP App installation to work. If that's considered too great of an insecurity, VPP App Installation does not need to be implemented via AEiOS and you can install apps via other, institutionally applicable mechanisms.

Securing Accessibility Access requirements is my top-most priority, and will be addressed before additional features are released.

While cfgutil does have an install-apps subcommand that would circumvent the need for Accessibility Access altogether, but the catch is that it only works with local .ipa files. As far as I can tell, Apple has removed the ability to easily save .ipa files locally on a system, however, even with local .ipa's, cfgutil lacks the ability to assign VPP app licenses, making install-apps almost entirely useless.

We've submitted a feature request to update install-apps to work with VPP apps, but I'm not holding my breath... If the feature is added though, it will immediately be leveraged and integrated into AEiOS.

Utilizing Apple Configurator 2 to install apps, means that it comes with some overhead has taken a significant amount of effort to mitigate. That being said, sometimes Apple Configurator 2 just freaks out for no reason...

I've integrated some blanket fault tolerance for the most common issues. (Internal VPP errors, App not available, unable to assign license, etc.), but GUI's are difficult to test, especially when the GUI is someone else's.

I'll be improving app installation as development continues.

Verification

Due to inherent uncertainty of a device's state (e.g. random disconnects, false checkouts, internal VPP errors, etc.) AEiOS has a lot of built-in fault tolerance. I'm constantly surprised how many errors are fixed simply by "trying again with fewer devices", so instead of failing on an error, it just moves along to the next step.

After any given round of automation is completed, AEiOS verifies each device and re-tasks any steps that failed. All verified devices are load-balanced and a smaller subset of tasks are performed.

Due to random intermittent issues with VPP App Installation. App verification is only performed 3 times and failure is reported (if configured) after a 3rd unsuccessful attempt.

Load Balancing

A single system tends to get overloaded around 9-10 iOS devices, this causes the USB bus to start acting oddly and as a result, devices can randomly disconnect in the middle of automation, drop all connections when another device is reconnected, or keep devices from connecting to the system at all.

Because VPP accounts can only be tied to one system at a time, you'll either have to have multiple VPP accounts, or limit the number of devices connected to a single system at a time.

To mitigate this issue as much as possible, devices that have successfully completed all automation are shutdown to limit the number of active connections on a single USB bus.

Because there is not (currently) a way to determine if a device was checked out other than it is no longer connected to the system, a device will be re-erased if it is reconnected after being shutdown (for more than 5 minutes).

Load balancing cannot be performed without supervised devices and an imported supervision identity.

CAVEATS

Apple Configurator UDID Column and Sorting

Devices are identified in the Apple Configurator GUI via the device's UDID, so if that column is missing, app installation will fail.

Before running AEiOS, make sure the UDID column is present, and used for device sorting. If Apple Configurator is set to sort by device name, and those names are modified during device selection, weird things can happen. Sorting via UDID will keep everything very consistent and keep things running smoothly.

Intentionally Unsupervised Devices

Device supervision is one of the hard-coded verification step in AEiOS, so if a device is left unsupervised, it will not be counted "verified" and it will continuously attempt to re-supervise the device.

Although Erase and App installation will still take place if a device is left intentionally unsupervised, custom backgrounds are skipped, and load-balancing cannot take place.

This may be addressed in a future release.

Troubleshooting

AEiOS is designed to work from scratch, so all .plist files located in ~/Library/aeios can be safely deleted, but you might lose some configuration

If you ever need to simply "reset" AEiOS, you can safely run the following command without deleting any existing configuration:

$ aeiosutil stop
$ find ~/Library/aeios -name "*.plist" -not -name "*apps.plist" -delete
$ aeiosutil start

NOTE: Don't rely on this one-liner in future releases, but until I add the functionality to aeiosutil, the example above is the de-facto, non-destructive way clear everything and start fresh.

WARNING: This will also delete all iOS device records, as well as ignored devices, so each device will re-prompt the next time it reconnects to the system and any device that is currently connected to the system will be re-erased.

Uninstallation

Uninstall AEiOS.app is included with the installer, as well as: /Library/Python/2.7/site-packages/aeios/scripts.

Alternatively, you can manually run the uninstall script with:

$ sudo /Library/Python/2.7/site-packages/aeios/scripts/uninstall.sh

The uninstaller will remove all trace of AEiOS from the system including itself. This includes all user files (e.g. logs, supervision identities, images, profiles, and preferences) so if you want to save them, copy them before-hand.

Files

I always find myself wanting to know where certain files are kept, so I've made sure to include that information here for those who are interested.

Installed files can be listed via the command-line:

$ pkgutil --files "edu.utah.mlib.aeios"

Most configuration and supporting files are located in: ~/Library/aeios

       Logs:  ~/Library/aeios/Logs
LaunchAgent:  ~/Library/LaunchAgents/edu.utah.mlib.aeios.plist
Preferences:  ~/Library/Preferences/edu.utah.mlib.aeios.plist

All of these files listed above are removed by the uninstaller.

Contact

Issues/bugs can be reported here. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email us.

Thanks!

Update History

Date Version Description
2019-04-25 1.0.0 Initial Release
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