Although the trend is to move away from binding Macs to Active Directory (most commonly using NoMAD), we’re still binding for various reasons:

  • Being able to authenticate with domain credentials for doing things that require admin privileges.
  • Being able to connect remotely using domain credentials.
  • Computer labs and other multi-user Macs.
  • We’re still using AD mobile accounts, for now.

Originally, we would bind Macs to AD as part of our DeployStudio imaging workflow. Unfortunately, we faced a couple of drawbacks with this approach:

  • By installing/configuring something only when imaging, you’re not enforcing the setting – it’s a one-shot thing. In the future, the setting could change, or the application might require an update, but you’re not going to reimage your entire fleet every time that happens.
  • When we moved from DeployStudio to Imagr, we needed to trim our workflows to be as slim as possible.

With the help of Graham Gilbert’s tutorial, we were able to move AD binding to Munki. This also gave us an unexpected benefit: in the past, we frequently found that the binding on Macs would randomly break. This was a major issue in the classrooms, where students and faculty would not be able to login to computers and start class. Moving this to Munki with a custom installcheck_script made it “self-healing” – every 1-2 hours, Munki will rebind the Mac, if necessary (or prompt the user to do this through Managed Software Center).

For the past year, there’s been a big push to move to configuration profiles for applying settings. Luckily, you can use the “directory” payload to bind to AD! However, it’s just running dsconfigad in the background anyway, so it’s entirely possible for your Mac’s binding to be broken, but the AD profile to show as successfully installed. The MDM protocol currently has no method of determining if the AD profile should be reinstalled, so Munki is a much more logical choice for deploying this. Armin Briegel’s tutorial was instrumental in assisting with this transition.

Code and usage instructions are available in my GitHub repository.