Written by @haircut
Matthew Warren is an Apple Systems Administrator working in higher education.
A couple of years ago, I shared a method to set a Mac’s hostname via a Google Sheet. It’s worked well at my organization (as well as many others!) and helped us keep our computer names consistent.
We’ve since moved to using Snipe-IT for asset management. Snipe is a fantastic open-source tool that simplifies inventory tracking for our whole IT shop. It also includes a robust API that allows us to integrate with external systems and processes.
I’m now using the Snipe API to script our computer naming process. We treat Snipe as the system of record for all inventory, and any change made to a computer’s hostname in Snipe can be reflected on both the client system and in Jamf Pro. Here’s how.
For many years, Apple included Python 2.7 with the default installation of macOS. With the 2019 release macOS Catalina, of Apple began warning that “future versions of macOS will not include” runtimes for popular languages including Python.
As of macOS Big Sur 11.1, the Python 2.7 runtime is still present. However, Python 2 is no longer maintained and is not a good choice for forward compatibility. Many administrators are moving their system administration processes to shell scripts, which mostly “run anywhere” and don’t rely on any runtime dependencies.
Despite the convenience and portablity of shell scripts, I maintain a number of complex Python workflows that are arduous or ill-suited to port to shell.
This script interfaces with the Snipe API, which accepts and returns data in JSON format. While tools and workarounds exist to work with JSON in shell scripts, it’s frankly painful.
In my organization, I’ve taken to installing Python 3 to a known location using Greg Neagle’s Relocatable Python tool. This allows me to use Python’s native JSON tooling and interact with the Snipe API without hassle.
As such, this script is written in Python 3, and the shebang on line
1 requires you to specify the path to the Python 3 runtime you’ve installed on the client system.
I’ve published this script is as a project on Github at haircut/jamf-snipe-rename.
set_computer_name.py script is what you’re looking for.
The script gathers the serial number of the computer upon which it’s running,
then queries your Snipe instance via the API to discover its current Asset Name
as set within that system. Then, it sets the hostname of the computer using
the Jamf binary’s
As a fallback, if your Snipe instance does not have a record of the serial number, the computer name will be set to that serial number. Setting the hostname to the computer’s serial number is a reasonable alternative, as it lets us easily identify machines that could not be renamed by the script, then fix the source data within Snipe. And, the serial number is much better than a bunch of Macs named “Sarah’s MacBook Pro!”
I recommend setting up a dedicated local user with restricted access in Snipe to handle all requests associated with this workflow.
Following the principle of least privilege, grant this local user only the View permission under Assets and Create API Keys under Self.
Save a local copy of
set_computer_name.py and configure the
value (near the top of the script) to point toward your Snipe installation.
It’s important to only provide the base URL here, as the script will add the
full path to the API endpoint we need.
Since we’re using the sensitive API key in our script to authenticate requests to Snipe, it’s best not to hardcode that API key into the script. Nor is it wise to pass the API key as a script parameter in cleartext.
While the restricted permissions of the Snipe user limit the potential damage from a leaked key, it’s still best to avoid the hazard by encrypting the user’s API key and passing it as a script paramter.
I’m using Jamf’s Encrypted Script Parameters utility to securely pass the API token from Jamf Pro to the client system. A full explanation of the utility is beyond this article’s scope, but briefly:
TOKEN_PASSPHRASEconstants near the top of your copy of the script.
Within your Jamf Pro instance, visit Management Settings > Computer Management > Scripts, then add a new script. Name it something helpful, like “Set Computer Name from Snipe” and then set the label for Parameter 4 to “Encrypted API Key.” Paste in your (configured) copy of the script, then save.
Create a new policy, then configure the “Script” payload. Add the “Set Computer Name from Snipe” script, then fill in the “Encrypted API Key” script parameter with the encrypted API key you created earlier.
I recommend updating the computer’s inventory after renaming it, so that your Jamf instance is updated with the new hostname as soon as possible. If your deployment is large, consider omitting the inventory update to save on the processing burden inherent in updating inventory.
How and when to run the script is largely dependent on your needs. I run the renaming process early in our provisioning workflow using Jamf’s “Enrollment Complete” trigger.
You could also create a secondary policy that runs on a routine basis – say, weekly – to ensure Jamf data stays consistent with your inventory data in Snipe.
If your organization does not use Jamf Pro to manage Macs, you can still use this script after a few modifications.
As written, the script uses the Jamf binary’s
setComputerName command. This is
a convenient shorthand for running the following three commands:
sudo scutil --set ComputerName "name" sudo scutil --set LocalHostName "name" sudo scutil --set HostName "name"
Within this project’s repository, I’ve also shared
which substitues the Jamf binary call for the three commands above. This non-Jamf
script expects an encrypted Snipe API token as its first positional parameter.
If you’re using this workflow with a management platform other than Jamf, I’ve
left it as an exercise to the reader on passing the parameter. Even if you’re
not using Jamf, their encrypted script parameters project is platform
This transition from my previous Google Sheets-based workflow has been a big help in my organization. It allows us to treat our inventory system as our source of truth for computer names, as it should be. Changes made in the inventory system are reflected on the client system with no manual intervention.
Originally published January 13, 2021
Last updated January 13, 2021