Picture of Make Your Regular Mac a NetBoot Server!
In this instructable, I'm going to demonstrate to you how to setup your Mac to allow any other Macs on your network to boot from it. Apple actually put all the pieces into the operating system to do this! All you really need to do is set it up. Once this is done, it's automatically turned on and managed by the Operating System...

This can be convenient for installing updates, new OS's or performing diagnostics/repairs. My process of accomplishing this will, as often as possible, use the GUI utilities available. Much of it can also be done using command-line instructions, but in my opinion, leaves too much room for errors.

I'm definitely not the first to accomplish this and without the information from others that have, it would have taken me forever to figure out. Nor am I attempting to steal the glory from others that have published processes to do this. While most of this information is available elsewhere, I am attempting to put it all in one place and make it possible for less experienced users to accomplish. Direct references to all of my sources will be in the last step of this Instructable.

Also, be sure that you have a license to support any OS or software that you serve to cover all the computers on your network.

Step 1: The Network

Picture of The Network
It's important, before you start that you already have a working network with a DHCP Server. A router supplying all of your computers access to the Internet will suffice. This could also be another Server on the network as long as it is not supplying NetBoot services.

Only computers connected directly to the network through Ethernet will be able to boot off of the network. Computers that normally connect with a WiFi adapter (Airport) will have to be connected physically with an Ethernet cable before using the NetBoot facilities.
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dermodyr4 years ago
I cant find any bootx.bootinfo on 10.6.4 (Snow Leopard).
it says: -bash: -s: command not found what can i do?
LasVegas (author)  Emiliano Valencia5 years ago
That's because '-s' is not a command. You didn't issue the 'ln' prior to the -s?
vajun5 years ago
Hi, This guide is amazing. Though i was not able to follow the procedures because am using Leopard. Its great if you can give us a guide using Leopard.Looking forward to your response.

vajun5 years ago

I am using Leopard now. And NetInfo Manager is no longer exists.Can i know what is the replacement for this. Especially this part 6 of Make your Regular Mac a NetBoot Server. i was not able to follow the steps for this part. Please share if you have info.

thanks in advance

ReCreate6 years ago
i hate macs they used macs in my school and none of my software can run on them! It drives me insane!!
LasVegas (author)  ReCreate6 years ago
Then I suggest, by all means, don't buy one! Leave them for the more advanced of the species...
lol advanced species, i think the ones that are truly advanced are the ones who use the less user friendly OS that was developed my the same company that developed MS DOS ;)
typo my-By
I totally agree. The only problem I see with the previous-generation iMacs at our school is Dashboard. Whenever the teacher looks the other way, *middle click!* The current favorite is Paradise Paintball. Quite good, actually. However, our admin/teacher just started using Remote Desktop, so now he can see every single computer's display in a little window on his computer. Now we actually have to research.
there is a big debate over mac and pc here
its funny
mbosch6 years ago
Thanks for taking the time to consolidate all this info in one place. However, I'm using Leopard , which no longer has NetInfo Manager. After searching around for a few days, it seems like setting up the NFS in 10.5 is easy ** if ** you know how to use terminal/unix commands. Can anyone help shorten the learning curve?

when i try to make a installer of an update i get a message saying destination to small, i got over 100 Gb's of free space
Look at all that retro power in one room !
I have a bootable external drive on my computer but it won't let me choose it as an image source. (as in pic 2)
LasVegas (author)  lordofthestrings866 years ago
If you've got an Intel Mac, any bootable drive must use the GUID structure. Likewise, a PPC Mac must use Apple Partition Map.
Dang. This is totally out of date for Leopard, which is a big shame as I desperately need a netinstall for my Aspire One. It is currently empty and useless.
There's steps for setting up Leopard for a NetBoot server here:

Admin the Mac: Making a NetBoot Server
LasVegas (author)  undeadbydawn6 years ago
Unfortunately, Apple completely replaced the NetInfo Manager system in Leopard and this process cannot be accomplished without Leopard Server (yet).
rimar20006 years ago
GREAT, LasVegas!! This is very useful. But I have Windows (still), sorry.
After following the instructions and restarting, it doesn't seem to work. Server Admin says there is no services running on my computer, everything is marked not running. I wonder if it's because theres something wrong with the image I built.
LasVegas (author)  virtualground6 years ago
Take a close look at your System error logs (Utilities/Console) to find what happened. The most common problems are permissions.
In picture 8, it looks like the "booter" file should be inside the "10.4_install.nbi" folder. The command "ditto ppc/bootx.bootinfo /Library/NetBoot/NetBootSP0/10.4_Install/booter" places it into another folder called "10.4_Install", without the .nbi extension. Should the booter file be in this separate folder or is it a typo?
LasVegas (author)  virtualground6 years ago
You're right! It was a typo. Thanks.
Noodle936 years ago
Would this work with a Power Macintosh 8600?
iibyte7 years ago
I`ve gotten it to boot but the client asks for login info and everything I`ve put in won`t work. What am I doing wrong?
natere27 years ago
for leopard users, you do the root enable like this!

pbaaten7 years ago
I have 10.5.2 and was wondering if it can be configured as a Netboot Server? The change away from Netinfo Manager is where I am stuck and not sure where to go.
natere2 pbaaten7 years ago
try downloading the server admin toolz here


good luck
jameskrop7 years ago
im having a problem. I followed the intrustions and when i get to step10. when i click it seems to do nothing, there is a loading icon but it never asks me where to save. I get the terms and i agree to them.Can you help me
CaraL7 years ago
This is a great document. Is it possible to deploy a dual boot Intel Mac using Netboot and a regular Mac acting as the Netboot server? I saw a few references to Intel Macs. I'm looking for a way to image machines with both a Mac (dmg) image and an XP (ntfs) image. Thanks for any suggestions.
LasVegas (author)  CaraL7 years ago
I've been successful booting Intel OSX from a PPC Netboot Server. I'm still looking into how to boot Windows through the network though. I'm not sure if it's even possible... It might work if one could figure out how to boot Windows using EFI.
xsmurf LasVegas7 years ago
I believe <a rel="nofollow" href="http://bombich.com/">http://bombich.com/</a> may have, at least part, of the answer.<br/>
xsmurf LasVegas7 years ago
I'm thinking it might be necessary to install BootCamp and not install Windows. Possibly have grub or ntloader on a small partition and use that to setup netboot. But I'm speaking through my hat. I'd sure love that! No room on my mactel laptop to install windows, I could use the old Quicksilver or the NetBSD server to netboot the laptop... should be fast enough in gigabit :)
xsmurf xsmurf7 years ago
Oh! On the site of the shareware I posted above....

"EFI Shell Environment 0.3 NetBoot Image http://beanz.nm.land.to/efishell.dmg " I'm not too sure of what it does but the name's intriguing!
xsmurf xsmurf7 years ago
Errr my bad... that's what it's all about http://www2.tba.t-com.ne.jp/beanz/files/honeybee02e.pdf

"Net2USB Boot (Legacy Boot) :
OS which needs BIOS compatibility mode can boot. Bootable disk image is downloading from BootMania. In order to validate BIOS compatibility mode, it boots from a USB memory stick.In NetInstall of Linux, a USB memory stick with about 20 M bytes of capacity is required."

(sorry for the multi-posts)

Can this be done on an imac intel running 10.5.2?
LasVegas (author)  coolmikedogg7 years ago
Not at this time, unfortunately.
xsmurf7 years ago
Oh yeah, I know this is shareware, but it's still a nice app! http://www2.tba.t-com.ne.jp/beanz/product_e.html

Great instructables though!! A+++ (as usual LV :)
alexhoward7 years ago
Your screen shot of the terminal seems incorrect. You're creating a folder called Netboot in /private/tftpboot so you end up with an error when you try and create a link there by the same name.
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