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scripts and documentation for creating a useful macOS base image
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This is a repo for building an NBI (never-booted image) of an OS X (pron: oh ess ten) root partition, which can be easily and quickly (<10m) imaged onto a Mac with the asr utility readily available on OSX boot media.

HOWTO: Creating the NBI


Per AutoDMG, you have to be on the same OS as you're building. To build a 10.12 image, the build system must be running Sierra.

  • Install the following to /Applications:

  • create ~/Documents/packages.10.12

    • put in all those apple printer driver pkgs you can download
    • the "enhanced dictation" offline speech recognition 800mb pkg that system preferences will download if you ask it
      • run this while it's downloading to find the temp file, then hardlink it to whatever.pkg
    • any other packages you want preinstalled on the root but not:
      • Virtualbox (won't work unless installed from inside the running OS for some reason)

My packages.10.12

48516a7b6e5286cc44ab30ff3c5aa171e0888519  200.BrotherPrinterDrivers.pkg
ebf0abac1483fd6de9262e92b047dcc80ceabeab  200.CanonPrinterDrivers.pkg
b8442185bfa0e182b84a7f6f5f298deb04d81a74  200.EPSONPrinterDrivers.pkg
2cd5d3bfc434226125d068bb09e90cbb2157a7ba  200.FujiXeroxPrinterDrivers.pkg
f44f5769579f3be7a771f54690de221e04f496cf  200.HewlettPackardPrinterDrivers.pkg
9c303c08e76aaef2fc9d1599aeea9ff15e8bce2b  200.InfoPrintPrinterDrivers.pkg
c45d3616f5995846313b9afc159ca6793b00ed08  200.LanierPrinterDrivers.pkg
9bcdb8492b00b0d7079dde23e1db4ac8da4fe0c0  200.LexmarkPrinterDrivers.pkg
c6218afb33b68fe6fab803d5b327e4f628857039  200.RicohPrinterDrivers.pkg
1ef9a998e680df23ca0cf8ba1426ed7673a2c37a  200.SamsungPrinterDrivers.pkg
df267df6198781d3fae736112a66a4a150c46b67  200.SavinPrinterDrivers.pkg
59b0306fe33693a73dc709641262f0ed2d63285a  200.XeroxPrinterDrivers.pkg
b77920f32f36f3229611ea0e10c01f2dad157ceb  20161003.EnhancedDictation.pkg

Build Image

Finally, just run make in the cloned repo to build the NBI. You will need to enter your sudo password up front, but don't go get coffee yet... AutoDMG will ask for it again about 30-60 seconds later. Then go and kill an hour.

The OSX Installer .app, AutoDMG, and Xcode (for make) will all be included in the built image, so if you're using the image so built it will have everything you need to make further images later.

If you aren't installing any extra packages, edit the Makefile to remove the ~/packages.10.12/*.pkg part.

It writes the image as it's building to /tmp (to leverage fast internal SSD in case your osximage clone is on removable media) then moves it to the repo directory in the last step.

HOWTO: Imaging A Mac

Before You Begin

Get all data to be saved off of target system. Recommended: install Google Drive and log in to your Google account and put everything to be saved in there. Wait for sync (upload) to complete.

Create bootable USB media

  • Install OS installer .app bundle to /Applications
  • Insert USB3 media. 64GB or larger to store OS installer and image.

e.g. USB disk named "Untitled":

sudo /Applications/Install\ macOS\ High\ \
  --volume /Volumes/Untitled \
  --applicationpath "/Applications/Install macOS High"

Copy image to USB

Copy the never-booted disk image (nbi) ending with .dmg to the root of the newly-imaged bootable USB disk, alongside the installer .app the createinstallmedia tool placed on the disk.

Image Mac

  • Insert the bootable USB drive into the machine to be imaged and boot holding the Option key on a wired keyboard. (Alt on a PC keyboard.)
  • Select Terminal from the Utilities menu.
  • Run the following commands:

Repartition and Reformat disk0

⚠️⚠️ This will delete all data on the internal disk. Proceed with caution. ⚠️⚠️

diskutil partitionDisk /dev/disk0 1 GPT jhfs+ root R

Write OS NBI to disk0

asr restore --source file:///Volumes/Image\ Volume/nbi.dmg --target /Volumes/root --erase

HOWTO: Using the Custom Image

1/5 Initial Password

  • The password for the admin user is admin. Log in as admin.

2/5 Create User Accounts

The example user in this document is John P Smith, username jps. Replace the name and username with your own.

  • Create an administrator user account for yourself.
    • Username: jpsadmin
    • Real Name: John Smith (admin)
  • Create a second non-administrator local user account for daily job tasks.
    • Username: jps
    • Real Name: John Smith
  • Create a third non-administrator local user account personal for personal use.

3/5 Set Up Systemwide Configuration

  • Log out of admin and into jpsadmin.
  • Delete the admin user in System Preferences > Users & Groups. Choose to delete the user's home folder.
  • Open System Preferences > Sharing and set the machine hostname.
  • Connect machine to network (potentially entering wifi password).
  • Open a terminal and run new-system-setup. Enter the jpsadmin password when initially prompted.
    • When prompted to "Enter the user name:", enter your normal username (e.g. jps)
      • This is for FileVault (FDE) to enable the specified user from the encrypted disk.
  • Wait for the script to finish, then enter sudo reboot.

4/5 Set Up User-specific Configuration

  • Log in with your normal user. (e.g. jps)
  • You may log in to your personal iCloud account/Apple ID, however, make sure you disable iCloud Drive as soon as you log in.
    • Uncheck Store files from Documents and Desktop in iCloud Drive when prompted!
  • Disable iCloud Drive and Mail in System Preferences > iCloud if you logged in to iCloud.
  • Open a terminal, and run new-user-setup.
    • This will take a while, as it will be downloading and installing a full set of apps.
  • Log out, and log back in again with the same user so that changed preferences will take effect.
  • Log in to Google Drive (already installed under ~/Applications) with your Google Apps account.
  • Avoid installing any additional software to the machine unless strictly necessary. Prefer web applications and built-in apps.
  • Do not install third-party software to /Applications except via the App Store.

5/5 Finally, Systemwide Security Software

  • Little Snitch
  • Little Flocker

6/5 Optional Manual Configs

  • Enable pretty native OS notifications for Chrome: chrome://flags/#enable-native-notifications
  • Re-enable Location Services


  • DefaultDesktop.jpg
  • other desktops
    • a whole bunch of 5120px wide (5K Retina iMac res) images from InterfaceLIFT
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