OS X Server: Creating a single NetBoot, NetInstall or NetRestore image for multiple Macs

Learn which OS X releases can be used to create a NetBoot, NetInstall, or NetRestore image that can be used on multiple Mac models.

In general, you can use a reference release of OS X to create a single NetBoot, NetInstall, or NetRestore image for multiple Mac models. The image will support those computers that meet the minimum system requirements of the reference release, and did not ship with a later version of system software. For example, the Mac OS X v10.6.3 retail installation disc will support all Intel-based Macs that shipped with a version of Mac OS X earlier than v10.6.3.

Starting with OS X Lion, you can use the latest version of the "Install Mac OS X Lion" application, which you can download from the Mac App Store. To redownload the installer, press and hold the Option key while you click the Purchases tab in the Mac App Store application. The button to the right of the "Install Mac OS X Lion" item should change to "Install."

Releases support specific, newer models

Macs ship with a computer-specific Mac OS X release (called a "build"). If this release is newer than the latest reference release, you must use it when creating a NetBoot or NetInstall image for this Mac, to ensure that the proper system software is installed. You may also be able to use a reference release combined with a software update, as described below.

See this article for a list of which versions of Mac OS X shipped with which Macs.

Important: In all cases, do not install an earlier version of OS X than what your computer shipped with.

OS X Lion and later NetBoot and NetRestore Images created from updated volumes can support multiple models

You can create a NetBoot or NetRestore image that supports multiple Macs from a computer on which a reference release has been updated using the latest version of the "Install Mac OS X Mountain Lion" or "Install OS X Lion" application from the Mac App Store.

Important: Even if the computer you are imaging has the latest version of OS X installed, you must update it using the latest version of the installer to create an image that supports multiple Macs. You can redownload the installer by pressing and holding the Option key while you click the Purchases tab in the Mac App Store application.

Mac OS X v10.6 NetBoot and NetRestore Images created from updated volumes can support multiple models

You can create a NetBoot or NetRestore image that supports multiple Macs from a system on which a reference release has been updated using the latest Mac OS X v10.6 combo update.

A Mac OS X v10.6.7 image created using the combo updater supports all Intel-based Macs introduced in 2010 or earlier. Models introduced in 2011, such as the MacBook Pro (Early 2011) and iMac (Mid 2011), require a NetBoot or NetRestore image that is based on their computer-specific release.

A Mac OS X v10.6.8 image created using the combo updater will support all Macs that support Mac OS X v10.6.x Snow Leopard. This includes support for the MacBook Pro (Early 2011) and iMac (Mid 2011) models.

Important: Even if the system you are imaging has the latest version of Mac OS X version installed, you must update it using the combo update in order to create an image that supports multiple Macs. You can manually download and re-install the latest combo updater from Apple Support Downloads before creating an image.

Learn more

You can restrict access to images based on the computer model to prevent users from installing an unsupported version of the OS X onto their computer.

If you're creating a new image you can use System Image Utility to restrict which models of computers will be allowed to start from a specific image. Refer to the Advanced Administration Guide for OS X Server for more information about configuring the Filter Computer Models workflow action.

If you've already created an image, you can use Server Admin to restrict which models of Macs will be allowed to boot from a specific image. When viewing the list of images in Server Admin, select an image, then press the Edit button to configure filtering options.

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