I have a NetBoot image which I use for booting into to do things like disk maintenance and testing new applications without having to install them on my workstation. It's really handy, but I created it a while ago and much of the software on it is now out of date, like the OS, QuickTime, and Safari. I want to update the NetBoot image but the only way I think to do that is to use Disk Utility.app to restore it to a USB drive, boot from the drive directly, make any changes necessary and re-image the USB drive, overwriting the original image.

Is that the best series of steps or is there an easier way to update a NetBoot DMG file?

2 Answers 2


I think you've got the best way, I know you can mount the disk image inside the netboot image, but AFAIK it breaks the netboot; and some updates can't be applied to a non-boot-drive disk image.

If you're netbooting a lot, I'd recommend using DeployStudio, a free, open-source powerhouse for network deployment and the like; it makes it a bit easier to update / deploy images than netboot - but it might be a but much for what you're using netboot for.


I would suggest just using a separate user account if you want to test out applications without changing the environment you are working in, if your OS and everything else is up to date.

If that is not the route you are looking for, then I agree with glenstory that your direction is the Apple way to go, and will take more time, but maybe less time than learning DeployStudio which will let you update a netboot image, which Apple's System Image Utility will not.

Finally, a third option is to have an install on an external drive that you can update and boot to to test things. You have the base as the Netboot that you are using, so that is a good base to start from.

  • 1
    We're a mac shop, so the NetBoot setup is really handy because I can Net Boot any mac here to do maintenance on the boot drives. Also, if there's a problem with anyone's OS, they can Net Boot and have a working environment instantly. It was a pain to set up initially, but is really, really useful.
    – Josh
    Dec 13, 2010 at 12:40
  • I would do what we did then - update the netboot image on major point releases. It basically takes a day, but most of it is waiting so you can do other things while the image is recreated and updated, then you also have the last point release that you know has been working for a while.
    – eric.s
    Dec 14, 2010 at 4:32

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