Working with DeployStudio

Being the most proficient Mac user in our small IT Team, it typically falls to me whenever there’s a mac issue or an issue concerning macs that I want to somehow improve.  Improving the management of our macs – while there are only 30 or so, is still quite a headache and I hate the way we do it currently.

At present – and as long as I can remember, we’ve had a policy in place to use a window of about 2 weeks to go through sometime during the summer break – and re-image all the machines – desktops and laptops – if we have enough time.  We also currently have student workers who have access to a local administrative password so they can apply updates and install other software as necessary.  This gets to be a management nightmare.  While the system kind of works we run in to the following sorts of problems:

  • Configuration settings changes
  • Updates not applied consistently
  • Installing major new versions of software
  • Printer installation and management
  • Inconsistent update of laptop images/packages
  • Sharing of local admin credentials with standard users

There are other issues as well, most which require a knee-jerk response on my part.  Some issue needs to be fixed “right now” and I have to spin my wheels a bit to get on top of it – mostly by going ring-side and dukeing it out with the machine.

Finally – after getting some strategic pieces in place – over several years, we finally have an OSX server, dwarfed by all the Windows servers in the server room, but it holds it’s own in it’s satin-colored armor. It’s setup with OSX Server 10.6 including Apple Remote Desktop with an unlimited number of clients.

I recall the days of Bombich and all the phenomenal work he did and published for folks to see and use in getting OSX clients to work in a mostly Windows environment.  The biggest issues for us were always:

  • Getting AD managed clients to authenticate to the domain from their OSX machines
  • Having the ability to manage print ques and printers for those OSX machines
  • Being able to track print jobs for per user print auditing purposes.
  • Being able to push out new updates and patches
  • Being able to update images automatically

Through OSX’s evolution we’ve actually been able to tackle the first three.  The last two have been a constant struggle – even with some of OSX Server’s built in tools. 

Enter Deploy Studio.

I’ve just begun working with Deploy Studio and it’s taken me a while to get my brain wrapped around the process, esp. with how to get the client machines to look for the netboot server on other subnets.  I hope to document how things are progressing here, so I can figure this all out later.

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