TweetFollow Us on Twitter

MacEnterprise: Modularity

Volume Number: 24 (2008)
Issue Number: 04
Column Tag: MacEnterprise

Modularity

Continuing our look at creating deployment images, with an intro to InstaDMG

By Philip Rinehart, Yale University

MODULARITY

Recently, the MacEnterprise list has been talking quite heavily about a topic from last month's article: image modularity. This month, let's take a look at new ways of creating images, focusing on a new tool from afp548.com, InstaDMG. The idea here is that any image can be created quickly, is not machine dependent, and can be deployed across the entire population of managed machines.

INSTADMG

InstaDMG, from afp548.com, starts to address the issues that we talked about in previous articles: scalability, modularity, and flexibility. At its core, a large shell script drives this solution. By using a shell script to drive the process, it is quite transparent, and can be easily understood. The first step to begin using the process is to insert a retail version of Leopard and creating a disk image of it. Wait, doesn't the break the cardinal rule of always using the disks that came with the machine. It does, but read on, and you'll begin to understand why you can break this rule with InstaDMG. At the time of this writing, once the dmg has been created, drop it into the BaseOS folder. You can keep the name as Mac OS X Install DVD.

Next, download each installation package from the Apple download site. As you are working off the retail version of Leopard, each and every download has to be applied to the image. This is where the beauty of InstaDMG begins to come through. Take all of the updates, and place them one at a time in individual folders in the AppleUpdates folder of the InstaDMG tree. There is one caveat, order is important for some packages, and you will have to know that when you create the tree. How do you know? It's a bit of a black art, in that there is nothing that will definitively give you that answer. In general, I've resorted to taking a base installation, taking a base install, and applying all software updates from the command line, paying attention to order of application.

After all of the Apple updates have been ordered, and placed in their correct folders, do the same for any software that you want to add to the base image. Again, placing the installation packages in folders controls order. Note though, that everything has to be packaged, as InstaDMG relies on being driven from the command line installer. These means no VISE installers, no ZeroG installers, nothing but Apple packages. Fortunately on Leopard, this task isn't as difficult as it once was thanks to the new Packagemaker snapshot option. Some packages may also need to be repackaged, as they aren't installed correctly from the command line. I ran into this straight away, as the CiscoVPN installer is a package, but doesn't install correctly from the command line. After repackaging, it was much happier and did work.

Automagic

One of the interesting things that recently was added is a new feature for the installer in Leopard. It allows for item selection directly with the use of an XML file. How does it work? In simple terms, an xml file is fed to installer at the command line, and options are selected or deselected. I'll summarize an excellent post from Patrick Fergus found on the afp548 forums,http://www.afp548.com/forum/viewtopic.php?showtopic=18907.

First, run the installer from the command line in the following way:

sudo installer -showChoicesXML -pkg my.pkg

This dumps an XML list showing all of the choices available in any package installer. Run this command on the OSInstall.pkg from an OS X Installation. Look for the xml tag, choiceIdentifier. Note how they are formed, they should look somewhat similar to the choices provided in a GUI installation dialog. The choice should show as being selected using 1 for selected or 0 for unselected.

Now, create a plain text file, with an array of strings, like so:

<array>
<string>choice1</string>
<string>choice2</string>
</array>

Save it as an xml file. One quick note, you can select/deselect options, even nested ones. Enter the option as many times as you need to click the option to enable it in the GUI. It sounds a bit more complicated than it is. After you have the xml file, check your options using the following command:

sudo installer -showChoicesAfterApplyingChangesXML my.xml -pkg my.pkg

Compare it to the first command above. If the installer doesn't reflect the changes that you entered, then your xml file is incorrect. How does this new ability apply to InstaDMG? Creating an InstallerChoices.xml file can control the options that are installed with the operating system during image creation. Place this file at the root level of the directory. Here's how mine looks:

<array>
   <string>AdditionalFonts</string>
   <string>X11</string>
</array>

This file installs the Additional Fonts package, as well as the X11 package. Right now, InstaDMG only deals with an InstallerChoices.xml file for the Base OS. In the future, it will accommodate xml files for any other package that can use options.

Last steps

Once all of the packages and updates have been added, it really is simply a matter of running the bash shell script in the InstaDMG package. Launch it, and it will create an ASR scanned image in a rather short period of time. Note, the speed at which the image is created is entirely dependent on the computer that is creating the image. After the ASR image has been created, use whatever method you have to apply the image to a machine. In my usage of this product, I was able to build an image that I could apply to a MacBook Air! Pretty darn cool!

One last note this month, even though I've talked about InstaDMG, there are other programs that are attempting to do similar things. You could also use System Image Utility or PKGImage to do similar things. I just find InstaDMG to be straightforward and simple. With it, I no longer have to maintain a "build" sheet, and any of my staff can use the process – a major plus. Until next month, see you on the lists!


Philip Rinehart is co-chair of the steering committee leading the Mac OS X Enterprise Project (macenterprise.org) and is the Lead Mac Analyst at Yale University. He has been using Macintosh Computers since the days of the Macintosh SE, and Mac OS X since its Developer Preview Release. Before coming to Yale, he worked as a Unix system administrator for a dot-com company. He can be reached at: philip.rinehart@yale.edu.

The MacEnterprise project is a community of IT professionals sharing information and solutions to support Macs in an enterprise. We collaborate on the deployment, management, and integration of Mac OS X client and server computers into multi-platform computing environments.

 
AAPL
$102.50
Apple Inc.
+0.25
MSFT
$45.43
Microsoft Corpora
+0.55
GOOG
$571.60
Google Inc.
+2.40

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

VueScan 9.4.41 - Scanner software with a...
VueScan is a scanning program that works with most high-quality flatbed and film scanners to produce scans that have excellent color fidelity and color balance. VueScan is easy to use, and has... Read more
Cloud 3.0.0 - File sharing from your men...
Cloud is simple file sharing for the Mac. Drag a file from your Mac to the CloudApp icon in the menubar and we take care of the rest. A link to the file will automatically be copied to your clipboard... Read more
LibreOffice 4.3.1.2 - Free Open Source o...
LibreOffice is an office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, drawing tool) compatible with other major office suites. The Document Foundation is coordinating development and... Read more
SlingPlayer Plugin 3.3.20.505 - Browser...
SlingPlayer is the screen interface software that works hand-in-hand with the hardware inside the Slingbox to make your TV viewing experience just like that at home. It features an array of... Read more
Get Lyrical 3.8 - Auto-magically adds ly...
Get Lyrical auto-magically add lyrics to songs in iTunes. You can choose either a selection of tracks, or the current track. Or turn on "Active Tagging" to get lyrics for songs as you play them.... Read more
Viber 4.2.2 - Send messages and make cal...
Viber lets you send free messages and make free calls to other Viber users, on any device and network, in any country! Viber syncs your contacts, messages and call history with your mobile device,... Read more
Cocktail 7.6 - General maintenance and o...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for OS X that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more
LaunchBar 6.1 - Powerful file/URL/email...
LaunchBar is an award-winning productivity utility that offers an amazingly intuitive and efficient way to search and access any kind of information stored on your computer or on the Web. It provides... Read more
Maya 2015 - Professional 3D modeling and...
Maya is an award-winning software and powerful, integrated 3D modeling, animation, visual effects, and rendering solution. Because Maya is based on an open architecture, all your work can be scripted... Read more
BBEdit 10.5.12 - Powerful text and HTML...
BBEdit is the leading professional HTML and text editor for the Mac. Specifically crafted in response to the needs of Web authors and software developers, this award-winning product provides a... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Rhonna Designs Magic (Photography)
Rhonna Designs Magic 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Photography Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Want to sprinkle *magic* on your photos? With RD Magic, you can add colors, filters, light leaks, bokeh, edges,... | Read more »
This Week at 148Apps: August 25-29, 2014
Shiny Happy App Reviews   | Read more »
Qube Kingdom – Tips, Tricks, Strategies,...
Qube Kingdom is a tower defense game from DeNA. You rally your troops – magicians, archers, knights, barbarians, and others – and fight against an evil menace looking to dominate your kingdom of tiny squares. Planning a war isn’t easy, so here are a... | Read more »
Qube Kingdom Review
Qube Kingdom Review By Nadia Oxford on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: KIND OF A SQUARE KINGDOMUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Qube Kingdom has cute visuals, but it’s a pretty basic tower defense game at heart.   | Read more »
Fire in the Hole Review
Fire in the Hole Review By Rob Thomas on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: WALK THE PLANKUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Seafoam’s Fire in the Hole looks like a bright, 8-bit throwback, but there’s not enough booty to... | Read more »
Alien Creeps TD is Now Available Worldwi...
Alien Creeps TD is Now Available Worldwide Posted by Ellis Spice on August 29th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Dodo Master Review
Dodo Master Review By Jordan Minor on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: NEST EGGiPad Only App - Designed for the iPad Dodo Master is tough but fair, and that’s what makes it a joy to play.   | Read more »
Motorsport Manager Review
Motorsport Manager Review By Lee Hamlet on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: MARVELOUS MANAGEMENTUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Despite its depth and sense of tactical freedom, Motorsport Manager is one of the most... | Read more »
Motorsport Manager – Beginner Tips, Tric...
The world of Motorsport management can be an unforgiving and merciless one, so to help with some of the stress that comes with running a successful race team, here are a few hints and tips to leave your opponents in the dust. | Read more »
CalPal Update Brings the App to 2.0, Add...
CalPal Update Brings the App to 2.0, Adds Lots of New Stuff Posted by Ellis Spice on August 29th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

The Rise of Phablets
Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group, a businesses and technology consulting firm focused solely on the financial services industry, has released an infographic depicting the convergence of... Read more
Eddy – Cloud Music Player for iPhone/iPad Fre...
Ukraine based CapableBits announces the release of Eddy, its tiny, but smart and powerful cloud music player for iPhone and iPad that allows users to stream or download music directly from cloud... Read more
A&D Medical Launches Its WellnessConnecte...
For consumers and the healthcare providers and loved ones who care for them, A&D Medical, a leader in connected health and biometric measurement devices and services, has launched its... Read more
Anand Lal Shimpi Retires From AnandTech
Anand Lal Shimpi, whose AnandTech Website is famous for its meticulously detailed and thoroughgoing reviews and analysis, is packing it in. Lal Shimpi, who founded the tech site at age 14 in 1997,... Read more
2.5GHz Mac mini, Apple refurbished, in stock...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 2.5GHz Mac minis available for $509, $90 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is included, and shipping is free. Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $999,...
B&H Photo has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $999.99 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
Labor Day Weekend MacBook Pro sale; 15-inch m...
B&H Photo has the new 2014 15″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for up to $125 off MSRP. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only. They’ll also include free copies of Parallels Desktop... Read more
Labor Day Weekend iPad mini sale; $50 to $100...
Best Buy has the iPad mini with Retina Display (WiFi models) on sale for $50 off MSRP on their online store for Labor Day Weekend. Choose free shipping or free local store pick up. Price is for... Read more
13-inch 1.4GHz MacBook Air on sale for $899,...
Adorama has the new 2014 13″ 1.4GHz/128GB MacBook Air on sale for $899.99 including free shipping plus NY & NJ tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more
It’s Official: Apple Issues Invitations To Se...
Apple has issued one of its characteristically cryptic press invitations for a special event to be held at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts in hometown Cupertino on Sept. 9, 2014 at 10:00 am... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
Senior Event Manager, *Apple* Retail Market...
…This senior level position is responsible for leading and imagining the Apple Retail Team's global event strategy. Delivering an overarching brand story; in-store, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.