Starting up from NetBoot and NetRestore images

In our last episode we created two images: A NetBoot image to start an entire operating system over a network and a NetRestore image to restore a block-for-block image of an existing Mac. You should also have added these two images to your server’s NetBootSP0 folder. To verify that these files are here, from the Finder on your server:

  1. Click the Go menu.
  2. Click Go to Folder.
  3. Confirm that the two NetInstall images you created last week are in this folder.
    If these folders are not here, copy or move them from where you originally saved them to the NetBootSP0 folder.

Verify that that NetInstall service is on and working

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How to create NetBoot and NetInstall images

Now that we’ve created an image with a basic installation of El Capitan and a couple of apps, it’s time to create images we can add to the NetInstall service.

As a reminder, there are three kinds of images you can create with the System Image Utility.

  • NetInstall Image: A network-based installer image you can use to install or update an operating system over a network connection.
  • NetBoot Image: A network-based operating system you start your Mac with rather than using an operating system installed on a local hard drive.
  • NetRestore Image: A network-based image that wipes your Mac’s hard drive and replaces it with the contents of the network image.
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Create a disk image for NetBoot and NetRestore

In our previous lesson we configured the NetInstall service and started a Mac using an installer image hosted on a server. This week we’re going to up our game a bit and create a disk image we’ll use next week to create NetBoot and NetRestore images.

Create a disk image using AutoDMG

Previously we created an installation image from a fresh copy of the El Capitan installer. This week we’re going to use a tool called AutoDMG to install OS X (or is that macOS?!?) and a couple of other apps onto a disk image we’ll use to create our next two NetInstall images.

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Fire up the NetInstall Service

Once you’ve created your first NetInstall image, which we did last week, you’ve got what you need to begin using the NetInstall service. But, in order to start the service up, you’ll need to configure some settings.

To test the NetInstall service, in addition to your Mac running Server, you’ll need to have another Mac connected to your Ethernet network to connect as a client. Remember, every Mac using this service needs to have an Ethernet connection.

Configuring the NetInstall Service

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How to create your first NetInstall Image

Before you can turn the NetInstall service on you need to create a network disk image to boot from. The easiest image to create is a NetInstall image, which lets you install or update an operating system on any Mac.

Download a fresh copy of El Capitan

Before you can create a NetInstall image you need to make sure you have a fresh copy of the El Capitan installer downloaded to your hard drive.

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How the NetInstall Service works

Before you begin using the NetInstall service it's a good idea to gain a basic understanding of how it works and to learn about the four different types of NetInstall images. During the course of this series we'll create basic versions of every type of NetInstall image and we'll also create images that incorporate some the NetInstall service's more advanced features.

The NetInstall service consists of three components:

  • NetInstall server
  • NetInstall image
  • NetInstall client
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Mastering the NetInstall Service: Network and system requirements

Before you can begin using the NetInstall service you need to make sure you have a few basics in place. Unlike setting up Profile Manager, we don’t need to worry about certificates, or Open Directory, or user accounts. In fact, you really don’t need to do much more than switch this service on and it just works. But there are a few things you need to make sure you have in place before you get started, otherwise you may discover that what should have been a boon turns out to be a boondoggle.

What are the basic requirements?

  • ethernet
  • high-speed network switch
  • DHCP
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