Netboot Any OSX Version

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by AmestrisXServe, Mar 1, 2014.

  1. AmestrisXServe macrumors 6502

    Feb 6, 2014
    I don't know if any of you use the Netboot service on your PPC systemsa, however, i have completed some exhaustive tests of Imager 10.4.7 (Tiger/PPC), and found that it was able to create images of all OSX versions, from 10.0, through to 10.6.

    As many of you likely have spare Powerbooks, and other Powermacs laying about, possibly without working HDDs, you may wish to onsider trying the Netboot (diskless) service, to get those systems back up and running.

    I have covered the use of Tiger Imager in this article, and have used it to deploy a series of Powerbook units in diskless operation.

    If you have any systems that have become doorstops due to HDD failure, that you would like to use again, but on which you don't want to spend any more funds, you may wish to consider this option too.

    It requires the following:

    1. Any Mac system running 10.4.
    2. The 10.4 Server Admin Tools (a free download from Apple).
    3. An Ethernet Switch (Gigabit is best, but 100bT will suffice.)
    4. Ethernet cables for all systems involved.
    5. Networking the systems to a central server that hosts the Netboot images.
  2. G4fanboy macrumors regular

    Mar 9, 2013
    Andalucia Spain
    Are you aware of Bootmania ?

    Diskless booting is great. You have to press N to boot thru the net?
  3. AmestrisXServe, Mar 1, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2014

    AmestrisXServe thread starter macrumors 6502

    Feb 6, 2014
    That depends on the system: Most Macs will retain the netboot information in PRAM, but some will not, or have difficulty in using it, on ocasion. Most seem to retain that value through a soft resent, but not always a power on/power off cycle. That said, most of the time, a soft reset, or a ull power-off/power-on will result in the system reloading the same Netboot or NetInstall image; or at least, NWR Macs retain this. You may run into problems with early NWR Macs, or OWR Macs.

    For those that do, once you start a system as Netboot, when powering it up next, the value should be retained in PRAM as the startup volume, and the system will automatically use the Netboot volume to start. In fact, until you change the startup volume manually, any new Netboot (by holding the N key) on older systems, will always load the same Netboot or NetInstall image, as the server retains a log of the image to serve each system by its MAC address.

    You cannot change this at all, save by doing one of two things:

    1. Change the value for the startup disk locally (on the client system); a PRAM ZAP will not help, as the server retains the value of the last image served to any individual system, and will continue to use that until that client system requests another image.

    2. Disable the Netboot image on the server, which will result in server using the default image.

    It would be nice if the use of Netboot values in PRAM was consistent and reliable, but that is not the case.

    I'ven't used Bootmania, as I have several XServe systems at my disposal, and I use them as a central location for all of this The idea is to keep all of the user systems identical, and to store all client datum in a way that it is easily accessible from any system that is part of the lab. I would think that Bootmania would directly conflict with Apple Netboot, and it runs on only a limited versions of OSX. I don't believe that it does anything that Apple Netboot does not do, but I may be mistaken in that regard.

    The lab setup that I mentioned is a series of Titanium G4 Powerbook units, all diskless, that use a Neboot 10.4.11 image, containing several programmes, including Word and Photoshop CS; with other programmes in a central repository. On start-up, a custom shall script mounts the network volumes, and then mounts a sparse image, that Photoshop (and other software) uses as a swap volume; and then a script to mount other directories, paths, swap space, etc..

    Shell scripts are your best gateway to establishing a viable diskless Netboot array, as you can mount disk r/w disk images, and other paths, establishing capabilities, and assigning system swap areas to specific locations.

    The system becomes an old-style terminal in essence, slaved to the server for everything. You can expand on this using OpenDirectory for /Users, and a central Applications repository of /Applications, as well as symlinks to specific frameworks, to keep the basic Netboot image as small as possible.

    The downside is that the 'slave' terminals are anchored to your server, which means that you had better keep backups, and possibly a secondary server with the same file hierarchy, as a precaution to keep everything running.

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