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OS X Mountain Lion Server For Dummies by John Rizzo

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NetBoot, NetInstall, NetRestore

In Chapter 4, I recommend installing Mountain Lion Server by creating a recovery drive on a USB flash drive. The Mac then boots from the USB stick, downloads Mountain Lion from Apple, and installs the operating system on the Mac’s internal drive.

This process is similar to how NetBoot works with NetInstall and NetRestore. Instead of using a USB flash drive, NetBoot enables the client Macs to boot from your server from a disk image. Every time the Mac starts, it boots from a clean copy of the startup drive image, regardless of any changes made by users. Booting from a known clean configuration is a useful way to deploy public Macs, such as those in a school computer lab.

But you can also use NetBoot as a mechanism to deploy the operating system remotely. Boot the client Macs from the server with NetBoot while using NetInstall or NetRestore to install OS X on the Macs’ internal hard drives. The two deployment techniques both result in a remotely installed OS, but work a little differently.

NetInstall installs a disk image at a distance. Think of it as running an installer from the server to install the OS on the client. This installer-at-a-distance can then set up some customized settings. NetRestore sends the entire disk image out to the client, erasing the client drive and restoring the disk image on the blank drive. NetRestore is a quick way to restore a Mac’s hard drive to a predetermined state. A NetRestore image is like a clone of a user’s volume ...

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