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How to Install Mac OS X and Updates from Lion Server

When you’re upgrading a bunch of Snow Leopard clients to Lion, two Lion Server features, NetInstall and Software Update Server, let you deploy client installations of Mac OS X from the Server, as well as provide Apple’s updates from your server.

NetInstall uses the NetBoot service but uses a different image created with the System Image Utility. Where a NetBoot image is a server-based boot drive, a NetInstall image acts as a server-based installation DVD. The client Mac boots from it and launches the Mac OS X installer. You need a volume license from Apple to install multiple copies of the OS on all your Mac clients.

The Software Update Server downloads Apple’s software updates to your server, providing them to users. This feature lets you control the software versions on users’ Macs and prevents them from installing updates that your organization may not be ready for.

  1. First, enable Software Update Server: Select your server, click the Settings icon in the toolbar, and then click the Services tab.

  2. Click Software Update under your server, and select the Settings icon in the toolbar.

  3. Change any settings you like.

    You can change the location of where the downloads are stored. It’s a good idea to use a volume other than the start-up drive. You can select Automatically Enable Copied Updates to begin serving all updates or keep it unchecked to manually select updates. Lion Server contacts Apple’s server to get a list of updates, displayed in the Updates pane.

The Mac clients must be bound to a network directory and set up using Managed Preferences.

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