Published September 29, 2018 / 1095 words / ~6 minutes to read

NoMAD Login offers up two flavors of installer package - NoMADLogin.pkg and NoMADLogin-authchanger.pkg. This post aims to explain what authchanger does, differences between those two packages, and how to deploy NoMAD Login using authchanger.

## authchanger

authchanger is a binary that adds or removes authorization mechanisms from the authorization database. If you read my last post on NoMAD Login and DEP workflows you’re already familiar with mechanisms as the functions that define what referenced code is run, and in what order, at the login window. To view mechanisms without authchanger run the follow command in Terminal.

security authorizationdb read system.login.console

If modifications haven’t already been made using a security authorizationdb write command or authchanger then the default plist will be printed with no reference to NoMAD Login. There are also a few less important fields, including the somewhat ominous comment key.

<key>comment</key>
<string>Login mechanism based rule.  Not for general use, yet.</string>


Oops, guess we’re using it anyway. Now, if you haven’t already, install authchanger using the vanilla, non-authchanger package. Run sudo authchanger -print to view how it parses out only the mechanisms like below, not the entire plist.

    builtin:policy-banner
builtin:authenticate,privileged
PKINITMechanism:auth,privileged
HomeDirMechanism:status


authchanger can also be run with a -help argument to print a whole bunch of other options, but since many like -preLogin and -postAuth are still only available in the premium NoMAD Login+ (now Jamf Connect), I won’t be addressing them here. My guess is those features will eventually make it into the free, open source version as well.

In most scenarios the only arguments required are -AD and -reset. authchanger -AD will have the same as result as running the command below where console.bak is a properly formatted plist with NoMAD Login AD mechanisms included.

security authorizationdb write system.login.console < /path/to/evaluate-mechanisms/console.bak

This will write all required additional mechanisms to the authorization database. Those of you using my AutoPkg recipe are already familiar with this as part of my previous postinstall script. The downside to using security referencing a file on disk, and a major reason for moving to authchanger instead, is that file must be available. If stored in /tmp/ it will be removed on next reboot, stored anywhere else you have to assume it exists or run a check first to ensure it does.

This becomes even more of an issue if the authorization database is modified incorrectly, something breaks, and you become stuck with no backup to revert to. That’s where sudo authchanger -reset can save you. The -reset flag, you guessed it, resets authorization mechanisms back to system defaults. Those are hard coded, and as of writing this, are the same on all recent macOS versions. At least for now authchanger will always have the correct mechanisms, making it a worthwhile tool to keep around even when NoMAD Login isn’t being used as a permanent login window replacement.

Now run sudo authchanger -AD and then sudo authchanger -print. Output will include the additional mechanisms NoMAD Login requires to run at login window. Without these it will not work even if /Library/Security/SecurityAgentPlugins/NoMADLoginAD.bundle exists with correct permissions.

    builtin:policy-banner
builtin:authenticate,privileged
PKINITMechanism:auth,privileged
HomeDirMechanism:status


Note running sudo authchanger -AD multiple times in a row will append these entries one after another. It does not have logic built in to check for current state of the authorization database. A standard deployment involves running these two arguments together.

sudo authchanger -reset -AD

First resetting the authorization database back to a known good state in case it was mucked with earlier, and then adding in NoMAD Login specific authorization mechanisms.

## Vanilla v authchanger Packages

Both packages contain the exact same file structure.

#!/bin/bash

# Post Install script for NoMAD Pro

# Dec 2017 - Joel Rennich joel@orchardandgrove.com

# based on collective work done in the #nomad Slack channel, including from @yohan
# Eventually we'll rewrite this in Swift, but adding in 11 MB of Swift libraries for
# a 30-line post install script seems a bit daft currently

# Start the preinstallation process.

logger "NoMAD Login post install completed"

That’s it. Seventeen lines for one command :wink:Thinking those comments need to be updated too. Both packages install NoMADLoginAD.bundle and authchanger.

In my last post I detailed how to use a postinstall script to configure preferences using defaults write commands and kill the loginwindow process to force NoMAD Login to launch. That script and process remains the same except with authchanger replacing security commands, and evaluate-mechanisms folder remove since it’s no longer needed. The postinstall script below can either be included in a Jamf Pro policy or added directly to a package. Before using it edit in your favorite text editor to add or remove preferences as you’d like following the preference keys reference. For example, to add LDAPOverSSL include the line below.

defaults write /Library/Preferences/menu.nomad.login.ad.plist LDAPOverSSL -bool TRUE

There are a few variables included in the example to more easily set common preferences. The script will…

• Set preferences
• Use authchanger -reset -AD to set authorization mechanisms
A longer example can be found in my AutoPkg repo where there’s a recipe to include a postinstall script directly in the package. Some people prefer separating package and script, I prefer them bundled together. The advantage to a package based postinstall script is that it’s portable. That package can be copied to any machine to be used without a management tool like Jamf Pro or Munki. Keep in mind though as soon as that package is installed NoMAD Login will launch. Reverting back to stock login window behavior will require running sudo authchanger -reset.