A large part of what I do involves teaching Mac Admins how to work smarter, not harder. You’ll notice the word “auto” in the name of most of these tools, and that’s no coincidence. If you’ve ever worked with me, you know that I’ll find a way to automate almost anything I have to do more than once. Here is a collection of free tools that I use to help automate repetitive tasks during Mac deployments.
I use AutoDMG (by Per Olofsson) to build the base OS for every imaging project I work on, and it’s by far the biggest time saver for me on this list. It takes an OS X installer app from the Mac App Store, and turns it into a fully patched, (mostly) hardware agnostic, never booted DMG of a complete OS X image in just a couple clicks. You can even add additional packages to be installed during the build. You can download AutoDMG from Per’s Github page, and documentation can be found here.
Another great tool from Per Olofsson, CreateUserPkg does exactly what it’s name implies: it creates a pkg that will create a user account on an OS X system. This pkg can be added to your AutoDMG build above, or added later in the deployment workflow. It’s the easiest way I’ve found to automate the creation of local user accounts. You can download CreateUserPkg here.
AutoPkg is what I’d call a game changer. It’s a command line tool that will automatically download and package the latest version of just about any software that you need to keep updated in your deployment. The learning curve can be a bit steep, but the time you’ll save is well worth the effort you’ll put in to get it set up. You can find out all about AutoPkg here.
AutoPkgr is a GUI for AutoPkg, created by the extremely talented folks at The Linde Group. If you’re intimidated by the command line nature of AutoPkg (or if you just prefer working in a GUI), then AutoPkgr is for you. You can find more info on The Linde Group’s website, or if you prefer to head straight to the download, you can get it from Github.
Last but most certainly not least is AutoCasperNBI, created by Ben Toms. Admittedly this tool is only helpful if you’re using Casper, but it’s such a timesaver I had to include it in this list. AutoCasperNBI automates the process of creating a NetBoot image to run Casper Imaging. All you need is your base OS (the AutoDMG image works great for this) and a copy of Casper Imaging. AutoCasperNBI will take care of the rest. Documentation is available on Ben’s blog, and the app can be downloaded here.
What tools do you use to make your job easier? Let me know in the comments.