Reducing Time Spent Applying Updates

I wanted to briefly share a win we had a little while back involving the Nursing Wiki. Security and maintenance patches for the current LTS version of MediaWiki are released roughly every quarter, and these have historically been a time-consuming manual process — around 90 minutes.

For the most recent update, we scripted the majority of the required steps and reduced the time spent applying the patch down to around 30 minutes, a 66% savings!

Public Web Typography Refresh

In September 2019, Digital Strategies implemented a typography refresh for all Vanderbilt websites, introducing improvements such as larger, simpler fonts and increased content area width in order to stay current with modern web trends.

On Tuesday, January 21 LTDS will apply these changes to the Libraries’ public website. In addition to the changes provided by this refresh, we’ve taken the opportunity to refine certain page elements, such as the right sidebar you see on the Heard and division homepages. Here are a couple of preview shots:

Screenshot of Heard Libraries homepage

Screenshot of Central Library homepage

As always, please let us know if you have any questions or comments.

macOS Catalina Released

Apple has released the latest version of the Mac operating system: macOS Catalina (10.15). Currently, there are no plans to push this upgrade out via AirWatch, so staff may choose to manually install if desired. However, a couple of things to keep in mind before you upgrade:

Catalina drops support for 32-Bit apps

We don’t recommend upgrading to macOS Catalina without first confirming that the apps you need are 64-Bit. 32-Bit apps will not work on Catalina.

How can I tell which apps are 32-Bit?

Here’s a quick and easy way to check:

  1. Click the Apple icon on the left side of your menu bar
  2. Select About This Mac
  3. Select System Report…
  4. Under Software (third drop-down), choose Applications
  5. Look under the field 64-Bit (Intel) to see which of your apps are 64-Bit vs 32-Bit; you can click on the field to sort 32-Bit apps first

What do I do if an app I need is 32-Bit?

First, check to see if your app is up-to-date; if not, install the updates. If this doesn’t resolve the issue, then you’ll have to stick with your current version of macOS until you can find a suitable alternative, or the app’s developer updates to 64-Bit.

Upgrading Parallels

Upgrading macOS before installing the latest version of Parallels may prevent your VMs from booting up. If you use Parallels and would like to upgrade macOS, please let LTDS know via INFORM so we can purchase a new Parallels license for you first.



With that said, it’s generally a good idea to wait for a major update (10.15.1) or two (10.15.2) before upgrading to a new macOS. This gives Apple time to identify and resolve many of the initial issues related to a new macOS release. If you have any questions or concerns about updating your Mac to Catalina, please let us know!

AirWatch for Staff Macs

As many of our staff Mac users are aware, LTDS is in the process of deploying AirWatch, a mobile device management (MDM) solution that the University uses to administrate Macs around campus. Moving to AirWatch allows us to remotely manage our Mac computers through a central online console. Through this console, we’re able to:

  • See the current owner of a computer
  • Read information about the model to inform hardware replacements
  • View the OS version to ensure that everyone is using a currently supported macOS
  • Deploy applications
  • Assign profiles to computers that enforce specified policies, like FileVault encryption
  • Lock the device should it ever become lost or stolen
  • Provide an App Catalog in the Dock from which you can install on-demand applications as desired

If you have any questions about or issues with AirWatch, please let us know.

Public Mac Deep Freeze Upgrade

With macOS High Sierra, Apple introduced a new file system creatively named Apple File System (APFS), replacing the old HFS+ file system (also known as Mac OS Extended) from the 90s. Unfortunately, Deep Freeze at the time was incompatible with APFS-formatted volumes, preventing us from upgrading our public Macs beyond macOS Sierra. For those unfamiliar with Faronics Deep Freeze, it is reboot to restore software; in other words, any changes made to a computer do not persist across reboots, thus protecting the machine and reducing administrative time.

Faronics recently released Deep Freeze Mac version 7 with full APFS compatibility, allowing us to upgrade to the recently released macOS Mojave starting with the Science Library’s public iMacs. LTDS plans to upgrade the remaining public Macs this summer.