Last updated at 2021-04-13 09:43:36 by ouit0354

The Orchard Software Centre

Screenshot of the Orchard Software Centre The Orchard Software Centre is besides the Apple App Store for Mac your primary source for centrally provided software for University-owned Macs. When looking for an App, please check the Orchard Software Centre first. Installing applications from the Orchard Software Centre is simple and pain free. It also delegates the task of managing application updates to your IT team. We take care of all updates for you. All updates are tested on a small amount of devices before we notify you that it is time to install newer versions on your Mac.

The Orchard Software Centre provides:

  • University licensed applications
  • Departmental software
  • Adobe Creative Cloud
  • Free and Open Source applications


The Orchard Software Centre offers four main tabs:

  • Software provides a list of software that is available for you to choose to install (or remove) from your Mac. To install something, just press the Install button. The progress of the installation is then shown in the Updates tab. The process is the same if you choose to uninstall an application to recover some disk space.

  • Categories displays the same list as in the software tab but split into small groups of applications. We hope this makes it easier to discover software of interest.

  • My Items lists software titles that you have already installed or chosen to install on your Mac. Please note that unlike purchases on the Mac App Store, these are specific to the computer you are using.

  • Updates shows any updates that are available to software that is installed on your Mac via the Orchard Software Centre. It also shows any available Apple Software Updates, e.g. iTunes, Safari etc.


How does the Orchard Software Centre work?

Orchard Software Centre interacts with a software repository maintained by the Orchard team. The underlying software is called Munki, an Open Source system used for Mac software deployment in hundreds of organisations internationally.

Orchard Software Centre periodically checks in with our servers to see if there are updates available. This includes both Apple updates and any third-party software you have previously chosen to install. When updates are available you will be informed of the available updates, just like with Appleā€™s Software Update system.

How will it help me?

We intend to make a list of University-licensed and previously awkward-to-install software titles available via Orchard Software Centre to make it easier to obtain these titles or to have to plough through a long set of instructions. Paid-for, individually licensed software such as Adobe Creative Cloud can also be made available via Orchard Software Centre.

Additionally, we provide automatic updates for frequently updated software such as Firefox and Adobe Reader. These updates are installed automatically in the background if you're not using the software, so you don't have to manually update them.

Will the Orchard Software Centre take take away my Administrator Rights?

Orchard Software Centre is just an alternative to the built-in Apple Software Updates system and the Apple App Store, allowing us to provide and maintain third party software titles to you in a very easy and convenient way. The decision whether you have administrative privileges on your Mac is governed by your departmental IT policy. Orchard Software Centre works in both cases, you having administrative privileges or not. It happily coexists with software installed via other means.

What software is available, and who decides what will be added?

Our initial priorities for adding software to the Orchard Software Centre are for items that are not easily available, such as University-licensed Software, and those items which update frequently requiring time-consuming user intervention, such as Java. We will continue to make as much software as possible available via Self Service, but what appears in the list is dependant upon license or other restrictions. If you have any questions or want to request installation of software that does not appear in the list, please contact the Service Desk.

Can I add my own software to the Orchard Software Centre so that it updates automatically?

You can't add it yourself, but please do put a request in to the Service Desk, and we'll see if it is possible to add.

Can I use this on personal machines?

No, we can only provide this resource for University-owned Macs.

Can I install the software and updates at home?

Our testing shows that the system works offsite. In case you are experiencing issues we recommend you first connecting to the Oxford VPN.

Software available in the Orchard Software Centre

All software available in the Orchard Software Centre undergoes a multi-stage testing process. These stages are referred to as releases.

  • The stable release is the production version of Orchard containing tested and approved software. This is the production release of Orchard, the one which we primarily recommend using.

  • The testing release contains packages that have not been accepted into the stable release yet, but they are in the queue for that. The advantage of the testing release is that it contains more recent versions of software. Each department should have a few superusers following the testing release to provide feedback on potential issues and test upcoming software prior distribution.

  • The unstable release is where active development of Orchard occurs. Generally, this distribution is run by developers. However, we are happy to add your system to the unstable release if you would like to live on the edge and provide us helpful feedback.

By default every system is in the stable release. If you would like to be considered for one of the more volatile releases, please contact your IT Support team.

There is an RSS feed available for each release: stable, testing, and unstable. You might be interested in our fully automated software staging process.

Some content of this page has been derived from the Bristol Mac Virtual Team help pages.


Orchard is a close co-operation of