Mac OS X Support Approach

This information (so far) pertains only to a Mac workstation. It is a work in progress, driven by discussions of those CSCF staff who do Mac support. Our first discussion was held 2013-10-04. We got bogged down in debates about when to (not) image vs when to install just applications/configuration on an existing system.

OS Installation

For a new personal workstation, we generally rely upon the OS that it comes installed with. For OS updates, or when a new machine doesn't have a current, or desired (e.g. for labs) OS on it, we create a desired OS image, and install that.

How do we determine whether we should always image ? The imaging approach is used especially when we buy in large blocks.

Why do we buy admin staff Macs one at a time, rather than in bulk?

Images may provide a more efficient way of setting preferences.

Why aren't we always imaging Macs in the way we do for Windows ? Cost factors:

  • OS differences across clients
  • setting preferences multiple times
  • installing common apps multiple times
  • OS downgrade
  • image compatibility
  • more time available for a single image than potentially multiple versions
  • easier to add extra apps

OS Versions

We prefer to have the same release everywhere. This is especially true for the labs, and the ISG machines. However that may not always be practical?

The Mac OS Version Notes page describes lots of versions.


DHCP is used to configure the usual parameters for each workstation.

We're still setting such network parameters in the image as well, which would seem to introduce an unnecessary subnet dependence.

Applications to Install

Common to both approaches of OS installation, are selecting and installing specific applications. What's installed depends upon the intended use of a workstation. It is documented here: TBD Perhaps in RoleRoleName, e.g. RoleGradStudent, RoleISGISC, RoleReceptionist, RoleISGManager, RoleDirectorsAssistant, RoleAdministrativeOfficer, ... ?


For some software, especially licensed Adobe products, we make our own Mac OS packages, using JAMF Composer. This avoids various manual installation steps that would otherwise be required for each instance of an installation.

Composer is licensed software; we have 2 licenses (as of 2013-10).


Role Specific

  • teaching labs
  • ISC/ISA's
  • admin staff
    • Acrobat Pro
    • Office
  • course masters
  • grads
  • researchers
  • loaner/surplus

Setting Preferences

  • printer preferences
  • disable natural scrolling
  • display properties

Creating a Golden Image

Each audience has difference application/preferences/config needs. Some of these can be automated. We have these audiences:
  • teaching labs
  • ISC/ISA's
  • admin staff
  • course masters
  • grads
  • researchers
  • loaner/surplus
We have these hardware types:
  • recent Mac Mini
  • iMac (they're all compatible now)
  • laptops (we conjecture that they're all compatible)

For Windows, we tend to make hardware specific images, and apply audience specific changes afterwards, in an automated way to the extent possible.

The recent Mac Imaging page looks to have lots of details.

Golden Image Servers

Where do we store the images ?

Methods for Deploying a Golden Image

ASR (Apple Software Restore)

This can be used manually, from the workstation console. It is present on all machines (typically /usr/sbin/asr). It is used by Deploy Studio (at least). ASR copies a disk image to the local disk, from one of a:
  • local disk
  • remote HTTP(s) server
  • remote multicast (via an "asr://" URL)
It can download to a file or disk volume. It can act as a multicast server. It can prepare a disk image for distribution.

Deploy Studio (preferred method)

Deploy Studio:
  • creates a "NetBoot Image" (NBI), which is a small kernel used for installing new images
  • somehow it installs an NBI on the client (how?)
  • causes the client to reboot using the NBI
  • causes the client to invoke ASR to replace the current image, and then reboot
  • it is unclear what Deploy Studio uses to control the client machine

Disk Utility

The graphical "Disk" (as opposed to thg `diskutil` command), can "restore" a disk partition or disk image. It can do this via directly connecting the imaged and imaging machines. And it claims to be able to do it from a WWW server. * Does it use ASR ?

An External Drive

This is a specific case of using Disk Utility, with a drive rather than an entire being the source.

Carbon Copy Cloner

This looks to be a functional subset of Disk Utility. It too does disk to disk copies. We have an older copy, prior to it requiring a purchase. It's possible that it copies files, rather than blocks, and thus is slower than Disk Utility.

Post Flight Installation

We have some things to change on each machine after it has a running OS.

User Accounts

AD Bind

This is done via ARD to run a script that is stored on Empire in /USERS/cscf-adm/Documentation/scripts/imacscript to either unbind or bind a machine to the AD.

Local Accounts

We install common admin accounts, although for historical reasons we're using "cscfadm" instead of ("cscf-adm", "cscf-op"). "cscf-adm" can become administrator, "cscf-op" can't.

Administrative Access

Security Updates


Time Machine





Ongoing Maintenance

Security Updates

Application Updates

Application Additions


Physical Security


Existing Mac Documentation

A recent survey found these pages with "Mac" in their name:

Lines Name
102 ADAddMac
35 AddingMacintoshNetworkPrinters
231 BackupMacs
20 ChangeMacShortName
134 GradStudentMacDeployment
111 LabMacSystemAdministratorDocumentation
22 MacChangeShells
29 MacChangingStaff
39 MacCloning
31 MacDisableSafeSleep
42 MacDriveCare
85 MacFirefoxPDFPluginAdministratorDocumentation
33 MacForSurplus
83 MacImaging
49 Macintosh
37 MacLabSoftware
16 MacLabs
216 MacLabTriageDocumentation
79 MacLabWorthy
10 MacMozillaTroubleshooting
37 MacNetRestoreImageCreation
30 MacNetworkTrace
63 MacOSVersions
31 MacPackageViews
12 MacPrinting
8 MacProlificUsbToSerial
18 MacSolutions
51 MacsOnMainCSPrintersHistory
19 MacsOnMainCSPrinters
178 MacStandardInstall
70 MacTestSuite
13 MacTeX
12 MacVimHighlighting
24 MacXtermDefaults
15 OldMacLab
111 TroubleShootingLabMacs

With these proposed for deletion:

5 AdvancedMacConfigurationTopics
16 MacTaskGroup
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Topic revision: r4 - 2016-05-11 - DevonMerner
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