Time to Die: When Mac app and package certificates expire

So I had a Draft about this last week but an usure feeling. I thought: “Do I really have anything to contribute? Folks are already aware of this. What can I really add?” So, I let it slide, then Thurday came and there was a hiccup: Apple hadn’t refreshed all their packages! Oh noes. Could this have been something my script could have helped head off? No but it might have made examining the packages Thursday afternoon a bit easier. So with that, I present certChecker.command

I’d advise just copy pasting the raw script into a new BBEdit document and saving it as “certChecker.command“. The extension matters, BBEdit will set the executable bit and you won’t have to mess with cleaning off the com.apple.quaratine flag as you would if you downloaded it.

Not much of a looker at the command line but comes together nicely in Quick Look

The need to find expired packages is critical if you use Jamf Pro to deploy your packages. macOS will throw an error if you try and install a pkg with an expired cert via the installer command line tool. It will suggest you use the -allowUntrusted flag, however this is not an option with Jamf Pro. You either have to get a new resigned package or repack it. Repacking is basically expanding the pacakge then flattening it again. This will strip out all certs. repackPKGs.command is useful for when vendors have forgotten to issue new packages and you need a working package.

Cert validation caveat: some packages can expire yet remain valid! These are signed with “trusted time stamps” and Suspicious Package explains this quite well. Their tool can better help you assess what a package will do when it’s expiration occurs. For certChecker.command I use pkgutil’s assesment for package files but for apps all we have is the the “not after” date.

Speaking of apps: the Install macOS Mojave.app from the App Store was giving me the “damaged” message on Thursday around 1PM CST…

The application certs were all VALID, my script said so, what gives? Doing a bit of sleuthing revealed InstallESD.dmg to be different between the two installers. I used find to run a md5 on all the files in each installer and send the output to two files. Running find from inside the apps keeps the base paths the same and allows for easy comparison with diff or XCode’s FileMerge (a favorite).

#compare two apps in Terminal
cd <ye olde installer app>
find . -type f -exec md5 {} \; | sort > ~/Desktop/YE_OLDE.txt
cd <new installer app>
find . -type f -exec md5 {} \; | sort > ~/Desktop/NEWNESS.txt
cd ~/Desktop
diff YE_OLDE.txt NEWNESS.txt

FileMerge inside XCode.app is a great visual diff’er
Turns out we have some stowaways in the old installer.
All is well, app cert and InstallESD packages are looking good.

By ~3pm CST they’d gotten everything fixed and the packages inside were all good. Not since the great expiration of 2015, have we had to care about expiring Apple packages. This time Apple has only pushed the app certs out 1 1/2 years to April 12th, 2021. That’s not long! The packages inside InstallESD.dmg are good however until April 14, 2029. Which one will win? Will we care (will we be able to roll back?) I’ll leave that as an exercise/rhetorical question for someone else.

In the meantime you might have other packages lurking in your distribution points that need updating or repacking. If so give certChecker.command a whirl to ferret them out. I hope it saves you some time and effort <insert reference to Roy Batty and “tears in the rain here” :>

macOS shell games: long live bash

TL;DR – Bash ain’t goin’ nowhere on Mac, both version-wise and in terms of its presence. Looking at the longevity of other shells on the system, it will likely be around for a good while longer.

There’s been a lot of hand wringing and angst online about bash and zsh becoming the new default shell. Some folks feel Apple is signaling deprecation and removal and have the crushing feeling they must convert all their bash script to zsh. I think that’s a bit unnecessary.

True, the default shell is changing from bash to zsh, as Apple notes here. This is indeed a Good Thingâ„¢ as zsh shell has been one of the most frequently updated shells on macOS. Bash, on the other hand, has been stuck at varying versions of 3.2 for 12 years now! On the plus side, sysadmins have “enjoyed” predictable and stable behavior from bash during this time. Sure, you’d love new features but when you are scripting for the enterprise, across multiple OS versions, this is just the sort of thing you want: boringness and dependability.

As far as deprecations go, the only thing Apple has signaled as being deprecated eventually are scripting language runtimes (not shells):

Scripting language runtimes such as Python, Ruby, and Perl are included in macOS for compatibility with legacy software. Future versions of macOS won’t include scripting language runtimes by default, and might require you to install additional packages. If your software depends on scripting languages, it’s recommended that you bundle the runtime within the app. (49764202)

Use of Python 2.7 isn’t recommended as this version is included in macOS for compatibility with legacy software. Future versions of macOS won’t include Python 2.7. Instead, it’s recommended that you run python3 from within Terminal. (51097165)

mac OS Catalina 10.15 Release Notes

I’ve done some digging and culled the shell versions from OS X 10.0 to macOS 10.15, along with their respective release dates. I think it shows that shells, no matter how old and crusty, tend to be long lived and not soon removed on macOS.

Here’s a quick way to check your shell versions (except for dash):

macOSzshbash/shcsh/tcshkshdash
10.03.0.8 (2000-05-16)3.0.8 (zsh, no bash)6.08.00 (1998-10-02)
10.13.0.8 (2000-05-16)3.0.8 (zsh, no bash)6.10.00 (2000-11-19)
10.24.0.4 (2001-10-26)2.05b.0 (2002-07-17)6.10.00 (2000-11-19)
10.34.1.1 (2003-06-19)2.05b.0 (2002-07-17)6.12.00 (2002-07-23)
10.44.2.3 (2005-03-00)2.05b.0 (2002-07-17)6.12.00 (2002-07-23)M p (1993-12-28)
10.54.3.4 (2007-04-19)3.2.17 (2007-05-01)6.14.00 (2005-03-23)M s+ (1993-12-28)
10.64.3.4 (2008-11-03)3.2.48 (2008-11-18)6.15.00 (2007-03-03)M s+ (1993-12-28)
10.74.3.11 (2010-12-20)3.2.48 (2008-11-18)6.17.00 (2009-07-10)M s+ (1993-12-28)
10.84.3.11 (2010-12-20)3.2.48 (2008-11-18)6.17.00 (2009-07-10)JM 93u (2011-02-08)
10.95.0.2 (2012-12-12)3.2.51 (2010-03-17)6.17.00 (2009-07-10)JM 93u (2011-02-08)
10.105.0.5 (2014-01-06)3.2.57 (2014-11-07)6.17.00 (2009-07-10)AJM 93u+ (2012-08-01)
10.115.0.8 (2015-05-31)3.2.57 (2014-11-07)6.18.01 (2012-02-14)AJM 93u+ (2012-08-01)
10.125.2 (2015-12-02)3.2.57 (2014-11-07)6.18.01 (2012-02-14)AJM 93u+ (2012-08-01)
10.135.3 (2016-12-12)3.2.57 (2014-11-07)6.18.01 (2012-02-14)AJM 93u+ (2012-08-01)
10.145.3 (2016-12-12)3.2.57 (2014-11-07)6.18.01 (2012-02-14)AJM 93u+ (2012-08-01)
10.155.7.1 (2019-02-03)3.2.57 (2014-11-07)6.21.00 (2019-05-08)AJM 93u+ (2012-08-01)dash-9 (1993)

As you can see, zsh has has been updated with almost every new release of macOS. Bash really hit a wall with 3.2 and as many have noted, it was v4’s change in licensing to GPLv3 that caused this (sh is really bash in sh compatibility mode so the versions are intertwined). csh/tcsh has the same duality thing going on and took a notably giant 7 year leap in 10.15 to a version from 2019. ksh has remained at the same version just as long as bash yet I don’t think anyone is fretting that ksh will be deprecated or removed. Finally, dash is just a weirdo that apparently disdains versioning! I used a combination of what /bin/dash and man dash to get some sort of crude answer.

So there you go: In my opinion, all signs point to bash being yet another shell on macOS for some time. Removing bash from macOS would break a lot of stuff and while that reason alone hasn’t stopped Apple before, I think they will let sleeping dogs lie. Go ahead and learn zsh, master it, customize it, or make it “sexy” but take the rumors of its demise on macOS with a grain of salt and dose of skepticism.