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Our corp is implementing Macs for the first time. We are using Casper to manage them. Unfortunately our Computing Security folks will not allow a Mac Server with NetBoot on our network, which puts us in a real jam. How do we boot up to get an image?

We are stuck using USB devices to boot from - a huge expense and a lot of trouble. I would like to be able to boot to the Lion recovery partition and use Terminal to execute the Casper Imaging app from a remote share. Is this possible? What are the terminal commands to mount a remote windows share from the (non-writable) Recovery Partition? If I can do that then we can at least get to our images without needing a 16GB USB stick loaded with the Mac OS.

It would be awesome to have a bootable ISO that would have a Mac runtime environment and network. Is there anything like this? No "WindowsPE" for Mac?

Thanks !

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Tell your network people that you want a VLAN that you can use to image your macs on. Chances are they're worried your net boot env will mess with existing machines on the network. A VLAN would allow you to run your net boot stuff without affecting the rest of the network. The problem with this method is that in order to image a machine you need to also place the target machine on the same VLAN. Depending on your situation this might not be a problem.

At any rate, I think your network people are being lazy, this is an easy problem to solve.

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If you opt for the sneaker-net method, use an external FireWire hard drive, not a USB stick. Installs will be much quicker. Also, learn how to use Target Disk Mode with FireWire between a working Mac laptop and the target machine you want to re-image. This will save you a great deal of time.

Carbon Copy Cloner and SuperDuper! are great and inexpensive third-party disk cloning and restore tools for Mac OS X.

Using a working Mac laptop with Target Disk Mode over Firewire, and a utility like Carbon Copy Cloner, gives you a "Windows PE" and much more.

Whether you can work out a network method or not, understanding FireWire external drives, Target Disk Mode, and the use of a Mac OS X disk cloning tool should be important parts of your IT support toolkit.

I also want to point out that you can use a SINGLE image for all Intel-based Macs, even if they are of many different models and model years. This is in sharp contrast to the Windows world where you need a different image for each make and model of PC and all the various network interface cards and variant hardware between them. None of this is necessary on the Mac platform.

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