Casper Imaging in the Recovery HD and A Lightweight Netboot Image

Casper Imaging in the Recovery HD and A Lightweight Netboot Image

[UPDATE] JAMF has set the feature request for this as under review

OS X Netboot images can be many GigaBytes in size, which is not great when multiple client computers are trying to download that image from the network, especially if the infrastructure is not there to support it.

I wanted to create a lightweight netboot image to run Casper Imaging.  Not only would this save network bandwidth, but it would also be faster, which means you could image more computers in a shorter amount of time.  In addition, this could even be used to replace the existing Recovery HD so the computer could be imaged without netbooting at all.

Fortunately and unfortunately for me, Apple has already done most of the work on creating a minimal OS: the Recovery HD.  Even the latest version in Mavericks, the recovery partition weighs in under 1GB.

For many months I tried different ways to get Casper Imaging to run in the Recovery HD.  It was easy enough to get the app installed to the Recovery partition and show up in the Utilities window.  But the app does not launch from this mode.

From what I can tell, I think the Recovery partition is 64-bit and won’t launch the 32-bit Casper  Anytime I try to launch it, I end up with the error:

illegal instruction 4

I tried adjusting the .plist to 10.6 but I don’t think this can be changed after the app has been compiled.  I also tried force the Recovery HD to boot into 32-bit mode, but the setting doesn’t stick when running this command:

sudo systemsetup -setkernelbootarchitecture i386

most likely due to the partition being read-only.  I also tried to apply this setting when I was building the custom Recovery HD, but it only ended up booting to the prohibitory sign.

I believe it should still be possible to image a computer using asr, but it would require more of a manual setup.  It would be ideal if this could be integrated with the Casper Imaging because management would remain basically the same.  While waiting for JAMF to update their app to 64-bit, I will continue to work on this.

Star Trek LCARS Casper Imaging Bonus

Use this Star Trek-themed wallpaper for your existing Netboot images and propagate the Federation’s reach!