Mac OS X Software Update Server (SUS)

If you have more than one computer in your house, you’ve probably wondered at some point, “Isn’t there a way to download these huge software updates just once and then distribute them amongst my other computers?” There are a couple of ways to do this in os x; the manual (free) way and an automatic way that requires a Software Update Server, or SUS (available on os x server).

I won’t go into much detail about the manual way, but it involves intervening in the Software Update process and telling the application to only download (and not install) the updates, then distributing the update files to each machine and running them on your own. Sound like fun? It’s not. Not really.

The other way of doing things is by setting up your os x server’s Software Update Server. Yes, that makes this article useful to about 10 people. This post is mostly for my own use, since I’ll probably need to refer back to this in the future. For now, I’ll post the shell commands that you need to get your clients referring back to your SUS. Starting the SUS on Mac OS X Server is as easy as pushing the Start button and tweaking a few settings to suit your needs.

Here‘s where I found these commands listed.

defaults write CatalogURL "http://update.server.address:8088/"

This writes the pref only for the user that runs the command, and only affects the GUI Software Update tool.

defaults write /Library/Preferences/ CatalogURL "http://update.server.address:8088/"

Writes the pref system-wide, so any user who runs the GUI tool will get the specified server.

sudo defaults write CatalogURL "http://update.server.address:8088/"

Writes the pref for the root user, so the command line ‘softwareupdate’ tool will use the specified server.