Stanford University Residential Computing

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NetRestoring Macs

The NetRestore process on a Mac is akin to the ghosting process on a PC. When you NetRestore a Mac you completely erase the existing operating system and download a fresh image from our server. We use NetRestore to deliver new images to machines that have never been imaged before, but you'll rarely need to NetRestore machines for routine maintenance purposes. Most of the time you can simply Radmind a Mac to fix minor issues.

If you do decide a NetRestore is in order, you have two options for how to image the machine. You can wipe only the System partition, leaving Temporary Storage untouched, or you can wipe the entire hard drive and reformat both the System and Temporary Storage partitions. If you're imaging a machine that was just installed, or upgrading a machine to a new image, you'll want to wipe the entire hard drive as this will automatically size the two partitions appropriately and set correct permissions on Temporary Storage. If it's the middle of the quarter and you're fixing a machine that might have valuable user data on its storage partition, you'll want to NetRestore only the System partition.

Basic Instructions

Step one is to make sure the machine in question is given the correct Radmind image by the server. If you're fixing a machine that's already on the right image but has been misbehaving, this is already taken care of. If you're upgrading a machine from an old image to a new one, you may have to contact someone in the Rescomp office to update the central Radmind configuration file. (Email imaging at rescomp.)

Step two is to make sure the machine is connected via a good ethernet cable to a hot jack. This is extremely important, as a flaky network connection manifests itself in all sorts of confusing errors when trying to NetRestore.

How you proceed with the step three depends on whether the machine in question is on a recent image or not. If the machine currently has the 2005-2006 Panther image (or a later one), you can log into the machine as tech and double-click the NetRestore This Mac applet on the desktop. Click Yes to agree to the warning message, and you will be asked whether to restore just the System partition or to reformat the internal disk. If you want to reformat the entire disk, you can choose whether to format to cluster machine, multimedia studio, or ResEd machine specs. After your selection you will be prompted for the tech user's password again. Enter it, click OK, and the machine should reboot and start the NetRestore process automatically. When finished NetRestoring the machine will reboot again and run Radmind. After its third automatic reboot the machine should be ready for users.

If the machine is not on a recent image, you'll have to download the NetRestore This Mac applet from the server before you can run it. Log in to the machine using the tech account if it exists. (You need to be logged in with an account that has administrative privileges to run NetRestore.) After logging in, make sure Finder is the active application and kit Command-K. In the dialog box that appears, enter "afp://" for Server Address and click Connect. Log in to ResXserve as tech using the current tech password. Select the Clusters and Imaging share and click OK. Copy the NetRestore This Mac applet to the Desktop, then run it according to the instructions above.

Advanced Instructions

If you have problems with the NetRestore applet, and the machine is on a recent image, you can try running the netrestoreWrapper script from the command line. Open a Terminal window as tech. Type "sudo netrestoreWrapper" to NetRestore just the System partition. You'll be prompted for the tech password and asked if you're sure you want to continue. Type "yes" to start NetRestoring the machine.

If you want to wipe the entire hard drive using the script, contact the central office by email: imaging at rescomp. The Mac image developer should be able to tell you what extra flags to add to the command to wipe the drive before imaging. You should also contact imaging if the script reports any errors.

Instructions of Last Resort

Every once in a while you may come across a machine that is so FUBAR'd you can't even log in as tech. In this case, to NetRestore the machine you'll need to enter some Open Firmware commands. You'll still need a good network connection, so steps one and two from the basic instructions still apply.

With the machine plugged into the wall, turn on the machine and immediately press and hold Command-Option-O-F (all four keys at once). Wait until a white screen appears, then release the keys. You should see a couple of lines of text and a command prompt like this:

    0 >

Now enter the following command and press enter:

    setenv boot-device enet:,booter

Upon entering the command specified above, you should be prompted for the Open Firmware password. Type it and press enter. If the command executed successfully, you should see the word "ok" appear after the obscured password.

Now enter two more commands (you won't need a password for them):

    setenv boot-file enet:,mach.macosx
    setenv boot-args rp=nfs:

Note that "NetBootSP0" ends with the numeral zero, not the letter oh. Your screen should look like this:

    0 > setenv boot-device enet:,booter
    Enter password: ********** ok 
    0 > setenv boot-file enet:,mach.macosx  ok
    0 > setenv boot-args rp=nfs:  ok

Now type the final command:


and press enter. The machine should boot up and start NetRestoring the System partition automatically.

N.B. The above commands will work only if you want to restore the system partition without repartitioning. If you need to repartition the hard drive, or if this is the first time the machine is being upgraded to Tiger, then you will need to type a more complicated set of commands in place of the ones above:

   setenv boot-device enet:,NetBoot\NetBootSP0\Tiger-Wipe-Cluster.nbi\booter

   setenv boot-file enet:,NetBoot\NetBootSP0\Tiger-Wipe-Cluster.nbi\mach.macosx

   setenv boot-args rp=nfs:


Contact imaging at rescomp if you have any questions about the NetRestore procedure.

Related Topics

Standard Procedures

NetRestoring Macs
Radminding Macs
PC Ghosting
Going to MicroDisk
Moving Equipment



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