casper first boot

Creating a modular deployment build for Education

In this blog post I’ll be describing the process we use when creating a modular deployment build for education, specifically labs of Macs. This is a unique setup that is in some ways a little old fashioned, but requires a number of devices to be deployed with a uniform setup that can be re-deployed easily by the onsite technicians.

There are a lot of different elements included in a full education setup, including Netboot, directory bindings and home folders. But for this blog I’ll focus on getting a Mac deployed using a modular process and Casper.

I’m also assuming that you have a basic Casper server environment setup, including a JSS, a distribution point, a Netboot server and Netboot set that auto-launches Casper imaging when it boots up.

Step 1 – Create a base OS image

This first step has been made much easier in recent years with Per Olofsson’s AutoDMG.

  1. Download the latest “Install OS X Yosemite from the Mac App Store, but don’t install it
  2. Launch AutoDMG
  3. Drag the “Install OS X” from /Applications into the AutoDMG window
  4. auto dmg

  5. Click the checkbox to apply all available updates (this adds in any Apple updates for iTunes etc so saves you a task later) and click Download
  6. apply updates

  7. Click “Build”
  8. auto dmg

  9. Once the image is created, add into Casper admin

Step 2 – Create a configuration in Casper Admin

  1. Launch Casper Admin and click “New Configuration”
  2. new casper admin new congfig

  3. Select Standard Configuration as the type and give it a name
  4. edit configuration

  5. Click the Management tab and Enter the management account details
  6. verify password

  7. Select to create the account if it doesn’t exist
  8. Click Save

The new configuration will show up in the side bar on the left:

new configuration

We hide the management account so the users don’t get to see it at the login window or elsewhere and we avoid locking down SSH to the management account only, in case there is a need for another local administration account to access a computer using SSH.

Step 3 – Build your base imaging configuration

  1. In Casper admin, set your AutoDMG image to a priority of 1 and add it to the imaging configuration
  2. information base

  3. Drag in your first boot script into Casper and set it to run at reboot (you can get a copy of our slim first boot script here.
  4. Add it to your imaging configuration
  5. Save the changes
  6. casper first boot

    Step 4 – Add Config Profiles to complete the initial device configuration

    To accompany the first boot script, we use a collection of configuration profiles. We blogged about the profiles we are using here. This was to make the initial setup a bit more up to date and “Apple friendly”. If you don’t want to use config profiles you can skip this section and use a full fat first boot script. Our version is blogged about here and you can download a copy of the script here.

    Assuming you do want to use a slim first boot script and config profiles, follow these steps (for each of your config profiles):

    1. In the JSS, click on Computers and then Configuration Profiles
    2. Click Upload and select the configuration profile
    3. Set the relevant options and scope for the profile (note that if you want it to apply to any new Macs that are imaged by this process, you will either need to use the “All managed Macs” smart group, or create your own smart group for the purpose
    4. Save the changes

    Step 5 – Test

    Although there will be more that you want to add to your client Macs, it will be worth performing a deployment test at this stage before you continue. Boot the target Mac from Netboot (or using Target Mode Imaging if you prefer) and run the Casper Imaging configuration you created. The Mac should be imaged, reboot and run the first boot script, then finally reboot and apply the scoped configuration profiles, resulting in a deployed and configured base OS.

    Step 6 – Add additional packages

    The additional software you deploy will depend on the classroom the Macs are intended for. We do find that there are some third party plugins and packages that are needed for various software titles so we generally include Flash, Java and Silverlight as standard. There will also be a number of software titles that are likely to be in the base image build, including Microsoft Office and Anti-Virus.

    1. To avoid duplication of work later on, we use the Casper Smart configuration feature, nesting the base application set underneath the OS configuration:
    2. casper smart configuration

    3. Beneath the base application configuration, we then add department specific builds, for example:
    4. department specific builds

    5. When you select one of the departmental builds in Casper, it will include the items that are in the configurations above it:

    netboot client macs

    That’s it. Netboot your client Macs, launch Casper imaging and run the department specific configuration.

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