Software Update Brings Command Line Goodness

by James Duncan Davidson

Apple's getting much better about updating Mac OS X in response to security concerns. Recently they upgraded OpenSSH and Apache in quick reponse to announced vulnerabilities--and they did it about as quickly as humanly possible considering the testing that anything that goes out via Software Update must go through. This is essential to Apple's continued success in wooing the Unix market and a major improvement from last year when Apple was sometimes percieved to be a bit slow with critical fixes.

In another move that shows that Apple is continuing to figure out that they now have a whole lotta Unix weenies using their OS, the latest version of Software Update adds a bonus feature in addition to its stated purpose of securing the update process. This new feature is a command line interface to the software update utility. Yes, you too can now remotely log into your Mac OS X client machine and update it.

Try it out (you may have to launch a new Terminal window after upgrading--or use rehash):

[titanium:~] duncan% softwareupdate

Software Update Tool

Copyright 2002 Apple Computer, Inc.

Your software is up to date.

Even better, there's a man page to go along with it:

[titanium:~] duncan% man softwareupdate

man: Formatting manual page...



     softwareupdate - system software update tool


Spiffy I say. Very spiffy. I know it's a small thing, but it shows that the clue centered in Cupertino is strengthening.

What do you think?


2002-07-16 06:16:04
Must be run as root?
Great, but the manpage says softwareupdate must be run as root. That said, it runs just fine when you're not root.

The manpage could use some work, but either way, it's a nice feature to have.

2002-07-16 14:29:50
Mac OS X just keeps getting better
I have to say I'm impressed with Apple's seriousness about maintaining a usable UNIX command-line. This is very encouraging. The UNIX developers currently flocking to Mac OS X will appreciate these small touches and tell their friends about them.

I only hope Apple takes as seriously user criticism regarding other important aspects of the operating system -- specifically, criticism regarding handling of file meta data. This issue was well summarized by John Siracusa's article at Ars Technica meta data support:

2003-04-02 19:16:47
Root Access
Actuall you can run the program from any account, but to install any piece of software you have to be installed as root.