Use ARD to Restart to NetBoot Server

It’s summer! And at many schools that means that the kids are gone and it’s time to start imaging again. And imaging means a lot of rebooting holding down the N key. But wait, you have ARD access into all those computers. And you have automated imaging tools. This means you can image the whole school from the comfort of your cabin out by the lake. Just use ARD and a little automation and you’ll be fishing in no time!

If you haven’t used the bless command to restart a client to NetBoot server then you’re missing out. The bless command is used to set the boot drive that a system will use. It comes with a nifty –netboot option. Define the –server and (assuming you have one nbi) you can reset the boot drive by sending a “Unix command” through ARD:

bless --netboot --server bsdp://; restart

I added the restart for posterity. This is something everyone with an automated imaging environment really needs to put into their ARD command templates! Now, that all works fantastic in a vanilla environment. But in more complex environments you will need potentially more complex incantations of these commands. Well, Mike Bombich wrote all this up awhile back and so I’ll defer to his article on nvram and bless here to guide you through any custom settings you’ll need. It’s a quick read and really helpful. What else are you gonna’ do while you’re fishing anyway… BTW, if you have more than three beers, please put the MacBook down. And if you don’t, at least close both terminal and ARD. And email. And iChat. Actually, just close the machine now…


  • Patrick Fergus
    June 17, 2011 - 7:33 am | Permalink

    You can also use:

    bless –netboot –server bsdp://

    If you’d prefer to tell the computer to search/broadcast for the default image. Good if you have a mix of PPC and Intel hardware that boots to 10.5 and 10.6 respectively. Or if you just don’t want to handle multiple scripts if you have multiple NetBoot servers.

    - Patrick

  • Tim Sutton
    June 19, 2011 - 8:01 am | Permalink

    An option I frequently use is –nextonly when Netbooting to DeployStudio. This way I can hand off other DS workflow tasks to technicians, and they don’t need to know that they would have to manually set the startup disk back to the internal hard drive after running workflows, if they aren’t performing a restore-based workflow. We don’t have a standardized volume name for our boot disks, so it can’t be reliably scripted except with user selection.

    Also, ARD has a built-in Startup Disk command that can be sent to clients, including an automatic restart, and options for a specific server address and volume. It doesn’t provide functionality like –nextonly, however.

  • August 3, 2011 - 6:46 am | Permalink

    Restart should be “reboot” IIRC.

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