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
$105.22
Apple Inc.
+0.39
MSFT
$46.13
Microsoft Corpora
+1.11
GOOG
$539.78
Google Inc.
-4.20

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

OS X Server 4.0 - For OS X 10.10 Yosemit...
Designed for OS X and iOS devices, OS X Server makes it easy to share files, schedule meetings, synchronize contacts, develop software, host your own website, publish wikis, configure Mac, iPhone,... Read more
TotalFinder 1.6.12 - Adds tabs, hotkeys,...
TotalFinder is a universally acclaimed navigational companion for your Mac. Enhance your Mac's Finder with features so smart and convenient, you won't believe you ever lived without them. Tab-based... Read more
BusyCal 2.6.3 - Powerful calendar app wi...
BusyCal is an award-winning desktop calendar that combines personal productivity features for individuals with powerful calendar sharing capabilities for families and workgroups. BusyCal's unique... Read more
calibre 2.7 - Complete e-library managem...
Calibre is a complete e-book library manager. Organize your collection, convert your books to multiple formats, and sync with all of your devices. Let Calibre be your multi-tasking digital... Read more
Skitch 2.7.3 - Take screenshots, annotat...
With Skitch, taking, annotating, and sharing screenshots or images is as fun as it is simple.Communicate and collaborate with images using Skitch and its intuitive, engaging drawing and annotating... Read more
Delicious Library 3.3.2 - Import, browse...
Delicious Library allows you to import, browse, and share all your books, movies, music, and video games with Delicious Library. Run your very own library from your home or office using our... Read more
Art Text 2.4.8 - Create high quality hea...
Art Text is an OS X application for creating high quality textual graphics, headings, logos, icons, Web site elements, and buttons. Thanks to multi-layer support, creating complex graphics is no... Read more
Live Interior 3D Pro 2.9.6 - Powerful an...
Live Interior 3D Pro is a powerful yet very intuitive interior designing application. View Video Tutorials It has every feature of Live Interior 3D Standard, plus some exclusive ones: Create multi... Read more
The Hit List 1.1.7 - Advanced reminder a...
The Hit List manages the daily chaos of your modern life. It's easy to learn - it's as easy as making lists. And it's powerful enough to let you plan, then forget, then act when the time is right.... Read more
jAlbum Pro 12.2.4 - Organize your digita...
jAlbum Pro has all the features you love in jAlbum, but comes with a commercial license. With jAlbum, you can create gorgeous custom photo galleries for the Web without writing a line of code!... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Rami Ismail Opens Up distribute​() for D...
Rami Ismail Opens Up distribute​() for Developers Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 24th, 2014 [ permalink ] Rami Ismail, Chief Executive of Business and Development at indie game studio | Read more »
Great Hitman GO Goes on Sale and Gets Ne...
Great Hitman GO Goes on Sale and Gets New Update – Say That Three Times Fast Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 24th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
Rival Stars Basketball Review
Rival Stars Basketball Review By Jennifer Allen on October 24th, 2014 Our Rating: :: RESTRICTIVE BUT FUNUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Rival Stars Basketball is a fun mixture of basketball and card collecting but its... | Read more »
Rubicon Development Makes Over a Dozen o...
Rubicon Development Makes Over a Dozen of Their Games Free For This Weekend Only Posted by Jessica Fisher on October 24th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »
I Am Dolphin Review
I Am Dolphin Review By Jennifer Allen on October 24th, 2014 Our Rating: :: NEARLY FIN-TASTICUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Swim around and eat nearly everything that moves in I Am Dolphin, a fun Ecco-ish kind of game... | Read more »
nPlayer looks to be the ultimate choice...
Developed by Newin Inc, nPlayer may seem like your standard video player – but is aiming to be the best in its field by providing high quality video play performance and support for a huge number of video formats and codecs. User reviews include... | Read more »
Fighting Fantasy: Caverns of the Snow Wi...
Fighting Fantasy: Caverns of the Snow Witch Review By Jennifer Allen on October 24th, 2014 Our Rating: :: CLASSY STORYTELLINGUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Fighting Fantasy: Caverns of the Snow Witch is a sterling... | Read more »
A Few Days Left (Games)
A Few Days Left 1.01 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $3.99, Version: 1.01 (iTunes) Description: Screenshots are in compliance to App Store's 4+ age rating! Please see App Preview for real game play! **Important: Make... | Read more »
Toca Boo (Education)
Toca Boo 1.0.2 Device: iOS Universal Category: Education Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.2 (iTunes) Description: BOO! Did I scare you!? My name is Bonnie and my family loves to spook! Do you want to scare them back? Follow me and I'll... | Read more »
Intuon (Games)
Intuon 1.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.1 (iTunes) Description: Join the battle with your intuition in a new hardcore game Intuon! How well do you trust your intuition? Can you find a needle in a... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Weekend sale: 13-inch 128GB MacBook Air for $...
Best Buy has the 2014 13-inch 1.4GHz 128GB MacBook Air on sale for $849.99, or $150 off MSRP, on their online store. Choose free home shipping or free local store pickup (if available). Price valid... Read more
Nimbus Note Cross=Platform Notes Utility
Nimbus Note will make sure you never forget or lose your valuable data again. Create and edit notes, save web pages, screenshots and any other type of data – and share it all with your friends and... Read more
NewerTech’s Snuglet Makes MagSafe 2 Power Con...
NewerTech has introduced the Snuglet, a precision-manufactured ring designed to sit inside your MagSafe 2 connector port, providing a more snug fit to prevent your power cable from unintentional... Read more
Apple Planning To Sacrifice Gross Margins To...
Digitimes Research’s Jim Hsiao says its analysts believe Apple is planning to sacrifice its gross margins to save its tablet business, which has recently fallen into decline. They project that Apple’... Read more
Who’s On Now? – First Instant-Connect Search...
It’s nighttime and your car has broken down on the side of the highway. You need a tow truck right away, so you open an app on your iPhone, search for the closest tow truck and send an instant... Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $949,...
Best Buy has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro available for $949.99 on their online store. Choose free shipping or free instant local store pickup (if available). Their price is $150 off MSRP. Price is... Read more
Save up to $125 on Retina MacBook Pros
B&H Photo has the new 2014 13″ and 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... Read more
Apple refurbished Time Capsules available sta...
The Apple Store has certified refurbished Time Capsules available for up to $60 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each Time Capsule, and shipping is free: - 2TB Time Capsule: $255... Read more
Textilus New Word, Notes and PDF Processor fo...
Textilus is new word-crunching, notes, and PDF processor designed exclusively for the iPad. I haven’t had time to thoroughly check it out yet, but it looks great and early reviews are positive.... Read more
WD My Passport Pro Bus-Powered Thunderbolt RA...
WD’s My Passport Pro RAID solution is powered by an integrated Thunderbolt cable for true portability and speeds as high as 233 MB/s. HighlightsOverviewSpecifications Transfer, Back Up And Edit In... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Apple Inc. (U...
…important role that the ASC serves is that of providing an excellent Apple Customer Experience. Responsibilities include: * Promoting Apple products and solutions 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
*Apple* Solutions Consultant (ASC) - Apple (...
**Job Summary** The ASC is an Apple employee who serves as an Apple brand ambassador and influencer in a Reseller's store. The ASC's role is to grow Apple Read more
Project Manager / Business Analyst, WW *Appl...
…a senior project manager / business analyst to work within our Worldwide Apple Fulfillment Operations and the Business Process Re-engineering team. This role will work Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Job Description: Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.