Connecting to a file server from Mac OS X – Part 3

Next in this series is a short blog about a relatively new way to mount network drives with configuration profiles. This process uses the login items payload in a configuration profile to set the target Macs to mount the network drives at login.

So first off, how to do it.

As a lot of the MDMs have slightly different interfaces, I’m going to use the layout in Casper as the example. If any of you are using Profile Manager you’ll find it almost identical.

Steps

1. Log in to your JSS

2. Select Computers from the top menu

1.Select_computers

3. Select Configuration Profiles in the left menu

2.Configuration_Profiles

4. Click New

3.Click_new

5. Enter a name in the General section of the configuration profile.  The name won’t have any bearing on the functionality, but will show up in the Profiles System Preference pane so you should call it something useful.

6. Select the Login Items payload

7.Select_login_items

7. Click Configure

4.Click_configure

8. Under Network Mounts, click Add

5.Click_Add

9. Enter the server and share URL, such as: afp://your.server.com/YourShare and click Save

10. Click Scope

6.Click_Scope

11. Scope the configuration profile to the computers you want to use the new share

Issues we’ve noticed

Now we’ve been through the steps, its worth pointing out a few gotchas.

Login Items

Shares are added as login items, but aren’t removed if you delete the profile or take the computer out of the scope.  This is also the case if you edit a share with a different server address or share name.  The old entry is left in the users login items and another, updated entry is added.

As a side note, if you have found these items stuck in the login items of your users computers, run the following command to clear it out:

osascript -e 'tell application "System Events" to delete login item "MyShare"'

Reliability / Consistency

The second issue we’ve had with this drive mounting method is consistency. On a larger scale, perhaps in a school environment, the results have been a little unpredictable, with some machines working correctly, and some not.

Drives trying to mount when offline

The last issue we’ve seen is that the drives try to mount, even if the user is off the network. The configuration profile doesn’t have any intelligence built into it so it simply tells the computer to try and mount the share at every login.  So if you have a laptop user that is logging in while out of reach of the file server, they will get an error message.

Summary

Our drive mounting series wouldn’t be complete without including configuration profiles, although in reality, we’re using login scripts and other methods as the issues mentioned above would cause us too many difficulties.

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