In a previous article, I introduced DeployStudio, a server application used to facilitate the creation, management, and deployment of images for OS X. It included information to help system admins get the server app installed and configured to meet the needs of their environment.
Before continuing onto the next phase and creating a DeployStudio-compatible NetBoot image, let's first review the requirements:
- Apple computer running OS X Server 10.6.8+
- NetInstall service running and configured on OS X Server
- Available storage space sufficient to server OS X images for deployment
- Broadband internet access (Ethernet)
- Administrative-level credentials
- Static IP
Now, let's move on to creating a NetBoot image that DeployStudio will use to boot client computers over the network for deploying captured images. Note: Executing workflows and commands will be covered in upcoming articles.
- Launch the DeployStudio Assistant.app from the Utilities folder and select Create a DeployStudio NetBoot set (Figure A).
- After clicking Continue, the following screen holds a very important message regarding NetBoot image sets and various versions of OS X. Best practices advocate using the latest version of OS X that you'll support to create a NetBoot set, as this will ensure maximum compatibility across all client systems (Figure B).
- Under General settings, information regarding the resulting NetBoot image file that will be created may be changed here to suit the environment's needs. Of highest importance are the System name and Unique identifier. Both serve as the file name and the identifier that will be used by the NetInstall service to deploy the image (Figure C).
- Service discovery deals with how client computers will "find" DeployStudio servers on a network. The rule of thumb is that if you're using one server, assign it a static IP address and enter that IP into the Preferred and Alternative fields. However, if using multiple DeployStudio servers in a master/replica scheme, or creating modular NetBoot image files that will be shared across departments or physical locations, setting the Bonjour protocol would be the best configuration, as it will allow each site to use their own local DeployStudio server instead of trying to reach across the WAN to locate the hard-coded one (Figure D).
- Authentication plays a significant role in securing access to the DeployStudio server. More over, entering admin credentials in the default login and password fields will automate the authentication portion of the service as client computers connect to the repository. This is extremely useful if automation is a key component to rolling out images. However, if you wish to keep tighter control over security, leaving the fields blank will still allow the system admin to enter his/her credentials when establishing a connection to the server. Optionally, if using Apple Remote Desktop (ARD), VNC, or the built-in Screen Sharing.app in OS X to remotely monitor clients, entering these credentials in the ARD User Login and ARD/VNC password fields will extend remote management capabilities to nodes that are connected to DeployStudio, so you can monitor the progress or manually execute tasks remotely as needed (Figure E).
- The Options section offers support for Python or Ruby programming languages, if desired. The Advanced options let you control the network protocols used to connect, TCP stacks for performance tweaking, and aesthetic changes so as to alert end users that their computers are currently being managed by DeployStudio (Figure F).
- The final step in the wizard, the Destination section, allows system admins to locate the path where they wish their .nbi file to be saved. By default, NetInstall stores .nbi files at the following location: /Library/NetBoot/NetBootSP0 (Figure G)
- After clicking Continue to create the customized NetBoot image set, OS X will prompt for admin credentials, since it must access protected system directories (Figure H).
- Once the process has been completed, a message will indicate that the NetBoot set was created. Click OK (Figure I).
- To verify that the NetBoot image set was indeed created and saved to the proper location, launch Server.app and select the NetInstall service pane. Under the Images section, the newly created DeployStudio-ready NetBoot set should be listed. If you checked the box next to Make it the default NetBoot set, the words default in parenthesis should appear to the far right of the image name. If not, it may be modified directly from NetInstall by clicking the gear icon and selecting it from the drop-down menu (Figure J).
It should be noted that for a client computer to boot to the DeployStudio-compatible NetBoot set, it's not required to be set as the default file. However, when booting an Apple computer onto a network-based disk image by holding down the [N] key while booting, the default boot set is automatically chosen. If you wish to choose from a list of boot sets, hold down the [option] key while booting to bring up the boot menu and make the correct selection from there.
With the installation and initial configuration of DeployStudio covered, and now the creation of a NetBoot image set, the next article will cover the process of capturing an image from a reference computer to use as a master image to redeploy to new or refreshed Macs.
Jesus Vigo is a Network Administrator by day and owner of Mac|Jesus, LLC, specializing in Mac and Windows integration and providing solutions to small- and medium-size businesses. He brings 19 years of experience and multiple certifications from several vendors, including Apple and CompTIA.