PSU Mac Admins -- Reflecting

Last week was the PSU Mac Admins conference in State College, PA. It was a three day conference with about 150 attendees. It was excellent. Here's what I took away from it:

Apple is Still Weird

After the conference was over, the slides were posted to the conference website. John DeTroye, as a senior consulting engineer, was allowed to post his slides. Brett Gross, a senior systems engineer, was not allowed to post to his slides on deployment nor his slides on DIrectory Services. What's up with that, Apple? We want those slides.

Modular Imaging

If we as Mac sys admins didn't already know modular imaging would be the primary imaging methodology moving forward, we certainly do now. The good old golden master image that has treated us all so well over the years was trashed so hard, one would have thought it was Obama at a Tea Party rally.

I disagree with most of the trashing. The golden master method, when used with tools like DeployStudio, works well. It's relatively quick to capture an image, and DeployStudio cleans the image for you upon restoration. It's the easiest way to build and test an image before deployment. Honestly, I think it's faster too. I can build a very good golden master image in a few hours and have it captured and ready for restoration shortly thereafter. Using a tool like InstaDMG, it usually takes several hours (3-5?) for just the base image to build. Then you have to spend time repackaging applications, scripting your configuration changes, etc.

Overall it takes more time. It's cleaner, yes. But how much cleaner? Is it really worth all the extra time? Those are the questions I'm asking myself now.

The Tools

The Luggage - Useful for building & creating packages without having to use the GUI
Munki - Manage software installations
Puppet / MCX - Manage configuration and state
DeployStudio - Deploy images and much more

The People

I always say this, but the best part of going to Mac sys admin conferences is the people. In addition to seeing good friends like Rich Trouton, Rusty Meyers, Gary Larizza, Adam Girardi, and Alan Golby, I met a lot of great new people as well. People like Jeremy Reichman, Allister Banks, and Tom Bridge, to name a few. Gaining new contacts and putting faces to names of fellow tweeters was absolutely the best part of conference.

The Impact

I put together my first real modular imaging workflow yesterday. I ran it this morning as I needed to let the InstaDMG build run overnight. It tanked, but it was a good start. I need to resolve some quirks and try again. Shifting from golden master to modular is going to take some time and I'm committed to making it work (I think).

943 views and 4 responses

  • May 20 2011, 6:26 AM
    Adam responded:
    Ok, its tomorrow ish... ;)
  • May 20 2011, 7:45 AM
    Mike Boylan responded:
    Updated. :p
  • May 20 2011, 8:02 AM
    Allister responded:
    It takes me such little time to build since I got an ssd, and so many optimizations have been built into instaDMG, that I cannot say monolithic is worth the reliance on DS to clean things up for you. What if DS isn't aggressive enough/too aggressive? All the time you invest in repackaging benefits the other management methods, and helps you understand what's in the stuff that gets installed so you can debug when its live in the field. That being said, YMMV, I understand different strokes and all that.

    Oh, and Tumblr rools Posterous drools
    When Tumblr is up...
  • May 20 2011, 8:18 AM
    Mike Boylan responded:
    InstaDMG is a great tool. I just wish I didn't have to buy an SSD for it to build quickly. Are you using the same SSD for reading the packages as you are writing the output file?

    From my experience DS has been fine. Of course you do have to build one image per machine family to make sure network interfaces and such are correct, but it's not such a huge deal. 

    The good news is that we have people like you maintaining the instaDMG project trying to make it better. :)