Mac Deploy Stick offers admins a fast way to deploy Macs

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Deploying one or 100 Macs have by no means been simpler with the Mac Deploy Stick.

Picture: Tomislav Cerovski, Getty Photos

The present state of IT is rooted within the “do extra, with much less” mentality, which finds IT execs confronted with daunting duties and unending streams of tickets or work orders with skeleton crews. Nonetheless, with a little bit of mindfulness, consideration, and some good instruments, IT can and does ship on all help fronts.

One such software I am completely happy to say is on the Mac aspect of issues. Mac admins wanted a win with Apple’s triple menace of close to concurrently eradicating NetBoot from macOS Server, enabling Safe Boot to lock out booting of any “unauthorized” gadgets, and beefing up System Integrity Safety (SIP) to the purpose the place some professional software program now not runs. IT execs charged with provisioning Macs have been in a lurch when a few of their most prized instruments had been rendered ineffective with the discharge of macOS Mojave.

SEE: Server deployment/migration guidelines (Tech Professional Analysis)

Enable me to welcome Mac Deploy Stick (MDS) from Twocanoes. In keeping with the developer’s web site its, “the simplest, quickest method to deploy Macs.” They usually’re not fallacious. In contrast to image-based deployments, MDS makes use of Apple’s macOS installer to totally set up macOS on a tool. Whereas utilizing the startosinstall command carried out in Excessive Sierra, it makes use of the —installpackage flag to chain collectively any variety of flat packages that shall be put in after OS is deployed, however earlier than the gadget performs its last reboot.

By leveraging this command, admins are given the selection of provisioning a tool that shall be prepared to make use of as soon as the ultimate reboot takes impact, or minimally provision a tool with the required instruments to permit it to speak with a first- or third-party administration suite like an MDM, Profile Supervisor, or Munki, the place it should then perform the final leg of its configuration and coverage modifications.

Set up

MDS is all about pace and adaptability. MDS is a light-weight app with a decidedly small footprint that clocks in at slightly below 30MB (sure, MB not GB). It copies to your Mac simply as most apps do. Launch MDS, and it’ll carry you to the primary display screen the place the majority of the heavy lifting will happen to configure it to help your group (Determine A).

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Relaying on workflows to perform particular duties, these workflows act as blueprints, guiding the app to carry out duties you have outlined together with OS deployment, bundle set up, script processing, and profile set up. There isn’t any identified restrict to the variety of workflows that could be created, and these could also be set to lively whenever you want for them to be in use or deactivated when they don’t seem to be wanted, however you don’t want to delete them completely. By default, there aren’t any workflows configured however clicking on the “+” begins the method of making one (Determine B).

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Every workflow has a number of sections to it, some or all could also be used, however they don’t all should be configured. For instance, you might want to create a workflow that merely installs some functions or processes just a few scripts on an as-needed foundation. These can reside alongside the opposite workflows with out compromising the integrity of both (Determine C).

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As soon as the workflows are created, they should be exported to be used in the course of the precise deployment, and naturally, testing part. MDS exports the contents to an exterior drive for standalone USB-based deployments, volumes similar to these discovered on file shares, or lastly as disk photos, which can be hosted on internet servers (Determine D).

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After the supply recordsdata get exported, it is time to provision a tool. Start by booting the gadget into Restoration Mode if utilizing the file share/internet server methodology, in any other case simply boot on to the USB drive. Whereas in restoration, entry the Terminal and enter the instructions essential to mount the newly created disk picture and kick off MDS. As soon as loaded, you will be prompted to pick out from an inventory of workflows. Run the specified one (Determine E).

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One of many key factors that I’ve saved for final is the automation function discovered inside MDS. Whereas manually provisioning a dozen gadgets would not be too taxing, as soon as that quantity swells past 100, effectively, you are going to need some automation to breed the repetitive command inputs and leverage cheap Arduino boards. Twocanoes included a built-in programming utility baked into MDS that configures and flashes your Arduino boards with a set of instructions to copy each step that should be taken within the restoration partition. Simply maintain down the Command+R keys throughout boot to get to restoration, then plug within the “automaton” and permit it to magically automate all the remaining (Determine F).

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Free to make use of

Did I neglect to say that MDS is free? The MDS software is free to make use of, and I extremely advocate all Mac admins giving it a trial run to see the way it works with their enterprise’s arrange. Twocanoes expenses $29.99 for the MDS license, which incorporates one yr of help. Quantity license and enterprise degree plans are additionally accessible with help included.

Within the few weeks that I’ve examined MDS, I’ve come to get pleasure from its ease of use and modular method to deployment. I’ve examined thin-provisioning, which solely set up the OS and Munki instruments, permitting me to handle the whole lot else on the backend for a principally zero-touch deployment. I’ve carried out full provisioning, which included the whole lot wanted to get a tool end-user prepared—each labored fantastically.

The most effective recommendation I can present is to double- and triple-check your scripts for compatibility with Mojave. A few of what I believed was working was, in actual fact, now not supported or was modified a lot it now not labored.

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