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Jamf and…

As a senior Apple consultant for large enterprises, François Levaux-Tiffreau, has helped many companies embrace the Apple vision of always putting users first. In today’s session, he discussed how leveraging open-source tools can complement Jamf workflows and help make this vision a successful reality.

The presentation started by looking back to a professional challenge of his own. “Two years ago, I was hired by a large company to deploy a pilot of 100 Macs across the world,” Levaux-Tiffreau said. “I had two hard requirements: keep the Apple experience that users love; and make it no more expensive to deploy than a PC.” How? He purchased Macs directly from Apple Retail and used Apple’s Device Enrollment Program (DEP) to connect with Jamf. But this was only the beginning. Levaux-Tiffreau went on to explain how using open-source tools, in conjunction with Jamf, can help IT admins solve key problems within their environments.

He went on to explain that free software is based on what he calls four essential freedoms:

  1. It gives you the ability to run the program as you wish, for any purpose.
  2. If offers you the possibility to read the source code and modify it.
  3. You are free to redistribute copies, either with or without modifications, either gratis or charging a fee for distribution, to anyone, anywhere.
  4. You can also do the same with your modified version.

“Apple and Jamf use open-source software to build their products. They are not open source at the moment, but we can use open source software to make them better,” Levaux-Tiffreau said. He then introduced three solutions he recommends checking out.

AutoPkgr: A GUI interface to AutoPkg, an automation framework for macOS software packaging and distribution that automatically downloads, prepares, fixes, packages and uploads software to an MDM.

JamfMigrator: An open-source tool that helps migrate items from one Jamf Pro instance to another.

SplashBuddy: An open-source software based on trust and transparency.

Levaux-Tiffreau explained each of these in detail, giving guidance on best practices. And for those interested in creating their own open-source projects, he suggested keeping one thing in mind, “The gap between something you do for your own use and a product is huge.”

Then taking a look at Python, Objective-C, Swift and Cocoa, Levaux-Tiffreau explained how his experiences with each helped facilitate the creation of his own product. “Two years ago, I started working on the application that would later become SplashBuddy.” He walked through the three main open source licenses, looking at the key focus of each before digging into the specifics of how to begin creating an open-source project.

At the end of the day, Levaux-Tiffreau said reading thought leadership on the specific topic you’re trying to tackle, not being afraid to try and fail, and using tools like Sketch to get the ideas out of your head and onto a screen, are a few key ways to move toward success with open-source software. And when you’re ready to share, “TestFlight makes it easy to invite users to test your apps and collect valuable feedback before you release them on the App Store,” Levaux-Tiffreau said. “You can invite up to 10,000 testers using just their email address.”

And when seeking out even more honest feedback about your project, Levaux-Tiffreau had a solid recommendation. “The MacAdmins Slack is one of the best resources to meet your community. More than 13 thousand Mac admins are present, including vendors and some Apple employees. SplashBuddy would have never been as good if it wasn't for the MacAdmins Slack community.”

He also praised one of Jamf’s biggest assets – Jamf Nation. “Lots of Mac admins participate, from beginners to seasoned experts like Macmule. The tone is positive and people thank each other!”

Ending with high praise for both Microsoft and Apple and their involvement in community-driven software, Levaux-Tiffreau said if there’s one thing he wanted people to take from his session, it is to remember, “Community is our most important asset. Please respect it, contribute back and help each other.”