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
$101.58
Apple Inc.
+0.72
MSFT
$46.52
Microsoft Corpora
-0.24
GOOG
$584.77
Google Inc.
+4.82

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

iExplorer 3.5.0.0 - View and transfer al...
iExplorer is an iPhone browser for Mac lets you view the files on your iOS device. By using a drag and drop interface, you can quickly copy files and folders between your Mac and your iPhone or... Read more
BusyCal 2.6 - Powerful calendar app with...
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
Apple iOS 8.0 - The latest version of Ap...
The latest version of iOS can be downloaded through iTunes. Apple iOS 8 comes with big updates to apps you use every day, like Messages and Photos. A whole new way to share content with your family.... Read more
Apple Digital Camera RAW Compatibility 5...
Apple Digital Camera RAW Compatibility update adds RAW image compatibility to Aperture 3 and iPhoto '11. For more information on supported RAW formats, see here.Version 5.07: Adds RAW camera... Read more
Transmit 4.4.7 - Excellent FTP/SFTP clie...
Transmit is an excellent FTP (file transfer protocol), SFTP, S3 (Amazon.com file hosting) and iDisk/WebDAV client that allows you to upload, download, and delete files over the internet. With the... Read more
Macgo Blu-ray Player 2.10.8.1715 - Blu-r...
Macgo Mac Blu-ray Player can bring you the most unforgettable Blu-ray experience on your Mac. Overview Macgo Mac Blu-ray Player can satisfy just about every need you could possibly have in a Blu-ray... Read more
Capture One Pro 8.0.0.433 - RAW workflow...
Capture One Pro 8 is a professional RAW converter offering you ultimate image quality with accurate colors and incredible detail from more than 300 high-end cameras -- straight out of the box. It... Read more
Adobe Acrobat Pro 11.0.09 - Powerful PDF...
Adobe Acrobat allows users to communicate and collaborate more effectively and securely. Unify a wide range of content in a single organized PDF Portfolio. Collaborate through electronic document... Read more
Adobe Reader 11.0.09 - View PDF document...
Adobe Reader allows users to view PDF documents. You may not know what a PDF file is, but you've probably come across one at some point. PDF files are used by companies and even the IRS to... Read more
iFFmpeg 4.6.1 - Convert multimedia files...
iFFmpeg is a graphical front-end for FFmpeg, a command-line tool used to convert multimedia files between formats. The command line instructions can be very hard to master/understand, so iFFmpeg does... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Paste+ | Clipboard Action Widget (Produ...
Paste+ | Clipboard Action Widget 1.0.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Productivity Price: $3.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Powerful clipboard widget for iOS 8. Reimagine what you can do with your clipboard! Paste+ is a... | Read more »
Agenda+ | Calendar & Reminder Widget...
Agenda+ | Calendar & Reminder Widget 1.0.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Productivity Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Best Calendar and Reminder Widget Ever for iOS 8 | Read more »
Leg·end·ar·y (Games)
Leg·end·ar·y 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Simple and yet complex. Leg•end•dar•y is a grid-based puzzle game based on numbers. Discover the adventure of Leg•end•dar•y and... | Read more »
KuaiBoard (formerly QuickBoard) (Utilit...
KuaiBoard (formerly QuickBoard) 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Utilities Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: KuaiBoard is currently 50% off for launch! Billing info. Signatures. Locations. KuaiBoard allows you to... | Read more »
Treasure Fetch - Adventure Time (Games)
Treasure Fetch - Adventure Time 1.0.1 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.1 (iTunes) Description: Adventure Time Treasure Fetch is a fresh take on the classic Snake game! STRETCHY JAKE Snake your way... | Read more »
Light in the Dark (Games)
Light in the Dark 1.1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.1.0 (iTunes) Description: Be enlightened by this delightful puzzle game that has never before seen the light of day! "A physics and color-blending... | Read more »
Transmit iOS (Utilities)
Transmit iOS 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Utilities Price: $9.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: >> LAUNCH SPECIAL: Transmit iOS is ONLY $10 for a LIMITED TIME. << THE #1 FILE TRANSFER CLIENT FOR THE MAC NOW... | Read more »
Minuum - The Little Keyboard for Big Fin...
Minuum - The Little Keyboard for Big Fingers 1.0 Device: iOS iPhone Category: Utilities Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Type faster, see more of your screen, and take control of autocorrect with Minuum: the little... | Read more »
TextExpander 3 + custom keyboard (Utili...
TextExpander 3 + custom keyboard 3.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Utilities Price: $4.99, Version: 3.0 (iTunes) Description: | Read more »
Swype - Keyboard (Utilities)
Swype - Keyboard 1.0.1411 Device: iOS Universal Category: Utilities Price: $.99, Version: 1.0.1411 (iTunes) Description: Why type when you can Swype? One of the most requested apps for iPhone is finally here. "If Swype itself ever... | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Toshiba Introduces TransMemory ID High-Speed...
Toshiba’s Digital Products Division (DPD), a division of Toshiba America Information Systems, Inc., today introduced the TransMemory ID USB 3.0 Flash Drive, a simpler storage solution for people who... Read more
New iPads and OS X Yosemite Release Coming Oc...
The DailyDot’s Micah Singleton reports that Apple is planning to hold its next product announcement event on Oct. 21, at which it will unveil the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 and release a final build... Read more
Logitech Bluetooth Multi-Device Cross-Platfor...
Logitech has an enviable track record of making some of the best computer keyboards and mice. At least in my estimation, the best freestanding keyboards I’ve ever used have been Logitech units,... Read more
Roundup of Apple refurbished iPad Airs and iP...
Apple is offering Certified Refurbished iPad Airs for up to $140 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each model, and shipping is free. Stock tends to come and go with some of these... Read more
Sprint offers 16GB iPad mini for $199.99 with...
Sprint is offering 1st generation 16GB iPad minis for $199.99 with a 2-year service agreement. Standard MSRP for this iPad is $429. Their price is the lowest available for this model. Read more
2.5GHz Mac mini remains on sale for $549, sav...
B&H Photo has the 2.5GHz Mac mini on sale for $549.99 including free shipping. That’s $50 off MSRP, and B&H will also include a free copy of Parallels Desktop software. NY sales tax only. Read more
Apple refurbished iMacs available for up to $...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished iMacs available for up to $300 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free. These are the best prices on... Read more
13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro offered for $100 off M...
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
Free GIMP Professional Grade Graphics App Ver...
The latest 2.8.14 version of the oddly-named GIMP (acronym for: GNU Image Manipulation Program) open source, high-end image editing and creation alternative to Adobe’s Photoshop and refuge from... Read more
Apple Announces Record Pre-orders for iPhone...
Apple has released metrics showing a record number of first day pre-orders of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, with over four million sold in the first 24 hours. Demand for the new iPhones exceeds the... 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
*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
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.