Is NetInstall Dead in Future Releases of macOS? A Discussion for Edu IT

Is NetInstall Dead in Future Releases of macOS? In a recent article, ScriptingOSX posted new features in the iMac Pro which verify observations from the MacAdmins community about the future of imaging Macs. This article is important for my Apple IT peeps advising schools and EdTechs.


Traditional imaging and now NetInstall imaging appears to be phased out on macOS systems with the new T2 processor (iMac Pro for now). Touchbar MacPros have the T1 processor. Hints that this is coming have been noticed in macOS changes by the Mac Admins community for some time now.


What Does This Mean for Schools?

Ultimately this is good news for schools. Provisioning or setting up these devices is becoming more iPad-like. Adopting a mobile learning mindset instead of a more traditional, desktop oriented perspective is the way to go. It’s no longer important that the device itself provide a home or central share for applications and files. What is important is empowering teachers and students to collaborate and access resources or content in the cloud. If the device is damaged or compromised, simply re-provision it.

There are different methods available to school IT departments to provision devices. You still have options, it just depends on scale. For a traditional, hands-on approach, APFS allows you to create a snapshot. It is possible to simply roll back to this saved state. That is labor intensive and not scalable. It is a great solution for specific users or small areas where large amounts of data have to be installed on Macs.

Larger deployments are better served using MDM and DEP. With MDM, it is easy to issue a command to remotely wipe devices. If enrolled in DEP, they can then begin following any policies you have set up for provisioning new devices or users upon checking in with MDM after the initial boot. DEP is almost a requirement these days (though not available in all countries.) see the Apple Deployment Guide for more info. (Click here)

To Find Out More

You guys will want to keep on top of these changes moving forward. The Mac Admins Slack is a great place to start if you haven’t been using it yet. (Click here)

Apple Deployment Guideis a good resource for more info on provisioning and deployment. (Click here)

What is MDM? For resources click here.


—This article was written on an iPad.