It is pretty cool how Apple System Profiler has a command line equivalent (system_profiler). And it is pretty cool how system_profiler has a -xml option to allow for easier parsing. You might use this info for extracting asset information into a database or for puppet facter facts.
However if you’ve ever looked at that xml, you know that it is a tree full of unpredictable semi-structured data that was designed specifically for the GUI app. So even though you can parse it with your favorite plist parser, there is still a lot more work to do to get to the data you care about.
The tree structure is nice for a browsing through on a single machine, but not so good for reporting across many machines.
Apple stores most of the same data as key value pairs in its database for ARD reporting, but they do a lot of massaging of the data to get it that way.
It is possible to get at this data in an ARD database if you have an ARD collection server, but an ARD collection server isn’t for everyone and doesn’t serve every use case.
You can still get at the nicely formatted ARD information. ARD client includes a tool that outputs most, if not all of the asset information you care about in a much nicer structured format for reporting.
The tool is called sysinfocachegen and you use it like this:
sudo /System/Library/CoreServices/RemoteManagement/ARDAgent.app/Contents/Support/sysinfocachegen -p /tmp/com.yourorganization.systeminfo.plist
Just use your favorite language’s plist parser to read the plist.
As a Mac sysadmin, I’ve had the need to manipulate the dock on hundreds of systems at a time.
I used to cobble together terrible shell scripts to do the job, but now thanks to plistlib and python, plist manipulation is really easy. I am releasing this utility free under the Apache 2.0 license. Hopefully some other sysadmins will find it useful.
dockutil is a command line utility for managing Mac OS X dock items.
It can add, replace, list, move, find, and delete dock items. It supports Applications, Folders, Stacks, and URLs. It can act on a specific dock plist or every dock plist in a folder of home directories.
It is compatible with Mac OS X Tiger and Leopard.
Here is the usage information:
usage: dockutil -h
usage: dockutil --add (path to item) | (url) [--label (label)] [ folder_options ] [ position_options ] [ plist_location_specification ]
usage: dockutil --remove (dock item label) [ plist_location_specification ]
usage: dockutil --move (dock item label) position_options [ plist_location_specification ]
usage: dockutil --find (dock item label) [ plist_location_specification ]
usage: dockutil --list [ plist_location_specification ]
--replacing (dock item label name) replaces the item with the given dock label or adds the item to the end if item to replace is not found
--position [ index_number | beginning | end | middle ] inserts the item at a fixed position: can be an position by index number or keyword
--after (dock item label name) inserts the item immediately after the given dock label or at the end if the item is not found
--before (dock item label name) inserts the item immediately before the given dock label or at the end if the item is not found
--section [ apps | others ] specifies whether the item should be added to the apps or others section
(path to a specific plist) default is the dock plist for current user
(path to a home directory)
--allhomes attempts to locate all home directories and perform the operation on each of them
--homeloc overrides the default /Users location for home directories
--view [grid|fan|list|automatic] stack view option
--display [folder|stack] how to display a folder's icon
--sort [name|dateadded|datemodified|datecreated|kind] sets sorting option for a folder view
The following adds TextEdit.app to the end of the current user's dock:
dockutil --add /Applications/TextEdit.app
The following replaces Time Machine with TextEdit.app in the current user's dock:
dockutil --add /Applications/TextEdit.app --replacing 'Time Machine'
The following adds TextEdit.app after the item Time Machine in every user's dock on that machine:
dockutil --add /Applications/TextEdit.app --after 'Time Machine' --allhomes
The following adds ~/Downloads as a grid stack displayed as a folder for every user's dock on that machine:
dockutil --add '~/Downloads' --view grid --display folder --allhomes
The following adds a url dock item after the Downloads dock item for every user's dock on that machine:
dockutil --add vnc://miniserver.local --label 'Mini VNC' --after Downloads --allhomes
The following removes System Preferences from every user's dock on that machine:
dockutil --remove 'System Preferences' --allhomes
The following moves System Preferences to the second slot on every user's dock on that machine:
dockutil --move 'System Preferences' --position 2 --allhomes
The following finds any instance of iTunes in the specified home directory's dock:
dockutil --find iTunes /Users/jsmith
The following lists all dock items for all home directories at homeloc in the form: item(tab)path(tab)(section)tab(plist)
dockutil --list --homeloc /Volumes/RAID/Homes --allhomes
When specifying a relative path like ~/Documents with the --allhomes option, ~/Documents must be quoted like '~/Documents' to get the item relative to each home
Names containing special characters like accent marks will fail
Send bug reports and comments to kcrwfrd at gmail.