Tiger Lab Migration Part 6: Base Config

So this is the part of this epic in which I build what I call the "Base Config" or "BC." The idea behind the BC is simple, really: Build a machine that's got it all (well, almost all), from which all subsequent machines in the lab can be cloned. Building the BC is always a little scary, because any mistake I make on the BC will be propegated to about 25 machines, and consequently will have to be corrected on said 25 machines. So I've got to be careful and thorough in my planning.

Essentially, all my machines are the same, or at least share the same core: the latest and/or greatest version of Mac OS X, major applications from Adobe, Macromedia, Microsoft, and of course Apple, and some smaller applications here and there, mostly utilities and drivers or things like Suitcase. These things go on every Mac in the lab. So they go into the BC Mac as well.

In addition to the OS and the applications, there are some admin things that need to get done: We have some custom scripts and dock items we like to put on the Macs, as well as a Startup Item to mount our home account server via NFS. And, of course, Directory Access must be configured to get authentication, and whatever other services we set up, from our Macserver. Then each preference pane in System Preferences should get configured the way we want. Finally, we add a few things to /etc/hosts and there are a couple cron jobs that need to get setup. And I believe that's it.

And, like I said, I hope that's it, because if it's not -- if I've missed anything -- I'll be paying for it later.

Here's where lists start to come in real handy:

Mac OS X 10.4.2

  1. Install OS
  2. Install all Software Updates

• Local User Accounts

  1. Me (admin)
  2. Lab Assistant (admin)
  3. Student (generic non-admin)

System Preferences

  1. Configure All


  1. Photoshop
  2. Illustrator
  3. InDesign
  4. Acrobat
  5. AfterEffects


  1. XCode
  2. Final Cut Pro Suite (FCP, DVDSP, Motion)


  1. Director
  2. Studio


  1. Office 2004

Other Software

  1. Stuffit
  2. Suitcase
  3. USB Serial Drivers
  4. WACOM Drivers
  5. KeyServer Software

Admin Junk

  1. Configure Directory Access to authenticate against MacServer
  2. Mount Home Account Startup Item
  3. Admin Scripts (local delete, quota alert)
  4. Add servers to /etc/hosts
  5. Add cron jobs (local delete)
  6. Spotlight Disable Script (so that home accounts do not get indexed)
  7. Application Menu

So, that should do it. I'll build this, start testing it, and add anything to the list I forgot. But that's pretty much it. Once this is built and working well, it will be time for the trial by fire. We'll start cloning this machine to the other workstations. This year will be extra special fun, because not only will we be cloning these, we'll also be wiping and repartitioning the internal drives of all our machines. Fortunately I have lots of firewire cables, and very capable and energetic Lab Assistants who are ready, willing, and able (and paid, for that matter) to help me out with all this.

And one last side note: As I build this machine, just for fun, I may create disk images along the way of slightly leaner builds than the final. Like a build with just the OS, then one with just the commercial apps, then one with the drivers, and finally one with all the fixin's. This way I have the various stages available to me in case I need to build, say, staff machines, from a leaner base system, or in case I screw something up and need to go back a step or two, I won't have to start completely from scratch.

So that's the plan. I'll let you know how it goes.

I've just finished the first stage: installing and updating the system software. The OS is at 10.4 2 and all Software Updates have been applied. I have also configured my account, and the other local accounts, and configured all the System Preferences. I have created a disk image of this install, called SysAppsBC-BaseOS.dmg, and scanned it for ASR.