Tips on hosting PKG files for remotely deploying content

Tips on hosting PKG files for remotely deploying content

Mosyle Team
written by Mosyle Team

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When you are deploying content such as applications and books in your school or district, you might have noticed that the app install process for macOS and iOS are different most of the time. When installing apps on iOS, most of them are purchased and distributed directly from the App Store itself (or through the Apple School Manager (ASM) Apps and Books or the Volume Purchase Program (VPP) where you are able to purchase and distribute the apps in bulk).

But for macOS devices, the main source for installing apps is not usually the App Store, but deploying PKG files or running scripts. Deploying PKGs works with MDM solutions very well. The basic workflow when using this method is creating the PKG file using one Mac computer, hosting this file in some cloud host service and installing it remotely using the mobile device management software solution. There are other methods that we explained on this article about installing applications to Mac devices, take a look!

Tips about either installing applications or softwares to the Mac computer, especially how to host them, is a very common question that we receive here at Mosyle. So in this article we will go over the process of hosting a PKG through a CDN and the process to simplify the installation of apps on macOS computers, let’s dig in!

But before the hosting step, learn how to generate the PKG file

To host the PKG, you need to have generated this file first, right? Now, if you do not have a PKG yet, there are two ways we can go about creating the PKG - and both ways can be done through your Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution, in one of them using our PKG Generator. Both are very effective and we will go over it all with you here! Let’s get started.

Now, like we said above, both ways are done through your MDM solution, so you will have to make sure you are logged into your account and access both ways of creating a PKG. Go to the Install PKG area and select if you want to generate the PKG using Mosyle Manager or if you already have the PKG file.

If you are choosing to generate the PKG file through Mosyle Manager, there are two options. The first is generating it on the Mac that you are on currently - which is the option we highly recommend - or you can generate it remotely if the software is installed on another Mac device. If you choose to do this remotely, you would just select one of the Macs enrolled to already generate the PKG. A heads up: the Mac must be enrolled in Mosyle Manager! The PKG file will then be generated on the desktop of the selected Mac.

If you already have the PKG file ready, you can go forward with the process of deciding to distribute the file itself. Here you will have two options. The first one is to automatically set App info, which will host the PKG File on a public link with SSL/HTTPS - which is the option we highly recommend - or you can manually set the App info, Mosyle will not validate the PKG if you do choose to manually enter the app bundle ID and version.

So what is hosting the PKG file?

Hosting a PKG, to start, what does that mean? PKG Hosting is a very crucial part of the non-App Store installing process. The thought of installing apps to a large amount of macOS devices can be daunting, but following the steps and getting those tips, the procedure will run smoothly.

In summary, hosting the PKG is to save it into a cloud service where the file is reachable for download. When we think about hosting the PKG as part of the content deployment of a school or district, we should keep in mind that all of the managed Macs must be able reach the hosted file automatically, which is why the installation file must be reachable from a public IP address. This such an important step to be able to install enterprise apps to the Mac computers, ensuring that all of your devices can reach the file using any internet connection source regardless of their location. From the installation file using this method, the MDM solution can get the important information needed, like name, version and the bundle ID.

A common question we get is if people can use Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive or any other solution similar, to host the installation file. Now, the reason why we don’t recommend that is due to the cost to host a file and the volume of the file being transferred. So even a small 10MB file, if transferred several times per day, can bring a relevant transfer cost and at the end of the month. If this happens, it will end up getting blocked - due to the solution not being made to handle that amount of volume. The public IP address will allow the MDM to get all of the information needed, to be able to install the apps.

Building a Content Delivery Network (CDN) will be the easiest way that your Public IP address will be functional to host the PKG. To do this, you can hire a CDN service from a provider, like Amazon AWS, Rackspace, or KeyCDN. If you are using Mosyle Manager as your MDM solution, another option is to check out our add-on service of hosting. We offer the Mosyle CDN as an add-on service for hosting enterprise or non-App Store applications, so you don’t need to worry about creating a CDN with cloud providers, being able to host your PKGs directly in Mosyle’s CDN. Contact our team to learn more about this add-on service!

We have stated the importance of the public IP address, in order for that process to go accordingly, Mosyle Manager will need access to the Installation file to get the name, version and the bundle ID. If it is locally hosted, it will not be reachable by the MDM servers. The reason why, is there will be an enormous amount of data being transferred on the network which will cause it to get stressed and eventually crash.

Need some help?

This is a very important task to get down to ensure that the applications are installed correctly onto the Mac computers. You are able to check out more information here on our Library! If you have a Mosyle Manager account, you are able to go to our Help Center and get incredible step-by-step tutorials.

Our Premium Plan also offers a brand-new deployment service called The Hangar, in which you can get personalized tips for your specific deployment needs. Not to mention our amazing support team that can further assist you and help you with any problems that you could run into while doing this process. Let us know your thoughts below in the comments!

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