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Building Modular NetRestore Images with SIU

Assuming you have prepared the system image components, as outlined previously in the “Modular Image Overview and Preparation” section of this chapter, building a modular image is relatively easy. The Mac OS X v10.6 version of SIU includes upgraded Automator actions that can be used to build a NetRestore image that will restore a system image built from installation packages.

Building a Modular NetRestore Image

To create a custom NetRestore image using installation packages:

  1. Mount your source system volume.

    The source system can be either Mac OS X v10.6.x or Mac OS X Server v10.6.x. Because you are building a new system image from scratch, the source can be the original installation media or a mounted disk image containing the original installation media.

  2. Open /Applications/Server/System Image Utility.app.

    SIU will open to the basic network disk image creation interface.

  3. Click the Customize button, and then the Agree button.

    SIU will change to the workflow creation view. The required primary actions, Define Image Source and Create Image, are already placed in the new workflow.

    The Automator Library floating window also automatically opens to the list of all available SIU-related actions. Selecting an action from the list will display a brief description of the action below the list.

  4. From the Define Image Source action, make sure that the appropriate Mac OS X or Mac OS X Server installation media is selected. If not, select the system source from the Source pop-up menu.

    This source will provide the base system for your modular image.

  5. Drag the Add Packages and Post-Install Scripts action from the Automator Library to the SIU workflow area. Make sure to drag this new action between the two default primary actions.
  6. Add your additional installation packages by clicking the small plus button to open a selection dialog or by dragging installers from the Finder.

    These packages will be installed on top of the base system in the order that you have added them to the listing. Unfortunately, you cannot reorder the installation list, so you must delete installers (using the minus button) if you want to rearrange the order.

  7. At the top of the Create Image action window, make sure to select the NetRestore button.
  8. Configure the remainder of the Create Image action according to your specifications. The following describes each option:
    • Installed Volume is the name of the system image volume. Thus when this image is restored to a Mac, the Mac’s system volume will take on this name.
    • The Save To pop-up menu and Image Name define the location and the name of the resulting network disk folder.
    • The Network Disk name will be displayed by any interface that allows you to select this image, including the Server Admin application and the Startup Disk preferences.
    • Image Index is used by the NetBoot service for load balancing purposes, as covered in Chapter 5, “Deploying System Images.” If you’re not sure what number to use, simply leave the default setting, as this can be easily changed later.
    • Description is extra text used to describe the contents of the network disk image. This will be displayed in Server Admin.
  9. Optionally, once you have configured your modular image build workflow, click the Save button to save this workflow for future use.

    Choosing this option will create a “.workflow” file that can be used in both SIU and Automator. This also places the workflow in the SIU Workflows list to the right for easy access.

    Saving a workflow is extremely useful for future image modifications: for example, if you intend to change the contents of your source volume on a regular basis and you need to create updated system images based on your new system volume. You can also save workflows and move them to another Mac or share them with another administrator.

  10. When you are ready to create a modular NetRestore image, click the Run button to initiate the creation process.

The build process takes from a few minutes to a few hours, depending on the size of the resulting system image and the speed of your hardware configuration. SIU will show a small spinning gear in the lower-right corner to indicate progress, and you can always click the Stop button to stop the progress. For a more detailed log of the creation process, you can choose View > Show Log.

Updating a Modular NetRestore Image

Here is where using the modular system workflow really pays off. To update your image, simply specify new or updated system source or installation packages and then have SIU build a new image for you. If you saved your previous SIU workflow, updates are even easier because you already have a starting point for your new build. This new image will be exactly the same as the previous system image for the items that you have not updated or changed. Thus, updating a modular system image generally requires much less work than updating a cloned system image.

Further, because in this workflow all your additions and updates take the form of installation packages, you can easily update systems that are already deployed. Using a tool such as Apple Remote Desktop you can distribute these new installation packages to your deployed systems. Once updated, your deployed systems should have nearly the same system configuration as your new modular system image.

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