Exploring InstaDMG

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Our regional Apple representatives held a small seminar at The Foundation, a local VAR of Apple products. The topic was about Mac administration and Active Directory integration.

Eric, the speaker for the morning, referred to a project that I’d heard about called InstaDMG, which is being developed by the fine folks at the AFP548.com website. I’ve been hearing about InstaDMG for several months but my initial research found it to be of little benefit in our environment at work. I had dismissed it as another package maker.

We’ve been using the Casper Suite for a few years at work and it has been a great tool. It allows a few of us to maintain about 250 Macs in more than a dozen sites throughout the United States, in India and other countries.

Packaging is nothing new to us. We take each application that needs to be installed and prepare it in such a way that we can install in on many machines at once and track where software licenses are being used. It allows us to create any configuration of software on the fly and install it quickly. Something like Microsoft Office 2008 can be installed in under five minutes with all our preferences, scripts, etc.

InstaDMG (pronounced IN-stuh-dim-age), developed by Josh Wisenbaker, makes packages. I gathered that from what I read on the AFP548.com website. When Eric passionately mentioned it I asked him to compare and contrast it with the Casper Suite, which also makes packages.

After some head-scratching and some “I still don’t get it” comments to Eric he finally said something that clicked: InstaDMG doesn’t require that you actually install the software first to make an image.

So what does that mean?

Not having played with it very much and not having yet built my first package, I’m hoping that I can use it to slipstream updates into a single package. That means if I have a Microsoft Office 2008 package or any other application package then I can take the latest Office update file and merge it into that package.

This would make a lot of our installs much easier to manage and a lot fresher. Some of our software doesn’t get updated often because the effort to create the new package is sometimes a time-consuming process.

I could use more me time. I’m looking forward to testing it.

 

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