No NetBoot, No problem: installr and bootstrappr

It’s 2019, and NetBoot is almost dead. All new Macs have T2 chips. Sent from the future to protect us from …. ourselves? No more NetBoot, no problem!!

When NetBoot first appeared and I was able to boot entire labs of Macs across the network I was amazed and overjoyed. It was awesome. Spinning globe, spinning…

Netboot-GlobeSpin.jpg

But in the years since I’ve moved on to no-imaging. Using Munki to manage software means no more imaging, just install Munki and a small config change to point to the Munki server, thereafter the software that should be there goes on, and what’s not supposed to be there goes away. Simple. Just install one package, well, maybe two, then you’re good.

Well, what if you want to streamline or automate these things? What if these are new Macs which don’t have users configured? What if we could do all this from recovery mode? Hmm… Enter bootstrappr and installr!!

bootstrappr

This awesome project allows to add packages to install in one step while booted in recovery mode. Plug in a USB stick with the bootstrapr script to run the package install magic or mount a disk image over http. Create a DMG with the included script make_dmg.sh. And now this is the best part: in recovery mode open the Terminal app from Utilities and type:

hdiutil mount http://server/yourDMG.dmg

Then:

/Volumes/bootstrap/run

When it’s done you can Reboot the Mac and you’ll have a set up customized to your liking with Munki installed and configured with custom settings.

installr

The installr script works in the same way but adds the macOS installer to the party. You can also mount the DMG over http and re-image a Mac and then add your custom packages. It’s awesome. Truly amazing.

One note: Added packages in Installr must be in a special format. From the installr site: startosinstall requires that all additional packages be Distribution-style packages (typically built with productbuild) and not component-style packages (typically built with pkgbuild)

productbuild --package component.pkg --version x.y --identifier com.example.component distribution.pkg

In one of my first tests with installr and pycreateuserpkg I was caught up by this, even though it is properly mentioned in the read me. Packages that work in Bootstrappr or munki directly don’t necessarily work when called by the macOS installer (startoinstall). Armin Briegel was helpful in the MacAdmins Slack and reminded me of this. Thanks Armin and thanks everyone on the MacAdmins Slack.

Many Thanks to Greg Neagle for creating these tools and Munki. Looking forward to hearing him speak at the next MacDevOps:YVR conference June 12-14, 2019. Greg will be speaking about his efforts to port some parts of Munki from Python to Swift. More info on the conference and speakers here: https://mdoyvr.com/speakers/

Also a shout out to Graham Gilbert who has worked on Imagr (MDOYVR talk), over the years, an imaging and automation tool which was also an inspiration (along with bootstrappr and installr) to Tim Perfit and his MDS project.

Update: corrected the names of installr and bootstrappr in the title because… autocorrect.

 

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