Mass Deploying a Winclone Package with an External Drive

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Update: It is now recommended to use MDS to deploy Winclone with an external drive.

The packaging feature of Winclone Pro makes it easy to create and deploy Windows to a large number of Macs.  This article outlines the process for creating a bootable external drive to easily deploy Windows to a large number of Macs.  Once set up, the process will be:

  1. Boot each Mac to the external drive by holding the option key and selecting external drive
  2. Mac starts up from the external drive.  Imagr starts and the workflow is started to install the Winclone Package
  3. The Winclone package creates the Boot Camp partition, restores Windows, and shuts down the Mac.
 Creating the Bootable Drive

In order to run a workflow with Imagr from an external drive, you’ll need an external drive to boot from and run Imagr.  It is recommended that you use a fast drive to speed up the deployment times.  We have done deployments with the Samsung T3 SSD that is USB-3 and is very fast.

Creating an external bootable drive with this process has two steps:
  1. Create a bootable version of macOS using AutoDMG
  2. Create an image to restore to the external drive using AutoImagrNBI.  This creates an environment to boot into that is optimized for deployment.
Create a System Image using AutoDMG
  1. Download the latest macOS installer from the App Store.
  2. Download AutoDMG and install.
  3. Drag the macOS installer onto AutoDMG:
  4. Click Build and save the image to a drive that has plenty of space (20GB or more).
Create the installer environment using AutoImagrNBI
  1. Download and install AutoImagrNBI
  2. Select the OS.dmg you created in the prior step.
  3. Download Imagr by clicking Download. Imagr is an app that will run automatically once you are booted form the external drive.
  4. Under Imagr Configuration Plist URL, enter in the URL below.  This is the URL that defines where the Winclone image is located on the external drive and how to install it.
    file:///Users/Shared/imagr/imagr_config.plistNote: Once you enter in the URL, make sure you press return. You’ll get an error message that it can’t find the file, but you can safely ignore that message.
  5. Click Options, and under Advanced, select the option to Create a Restorable DMG:
  6. Click Close to close the options dialog, then click Build to create the image.  You’ll get another error about the plist file (which you can ignore) and then enter in your Admin credentials for the Mac you are running AutoImagrNBI:
  7.  When prompted to save, save to a folder on a drive that has plenty of space.
  8. After the operation is completed, the folder will contain a restorable.dmg file:
  9. Open Disk Utility, select a partition on an external drive, and restore the restorable.dmg:
  10. Once the restore has been completed, you are ready to configure Imagr.
Configuring Imagr

Imagr is the app that automatically gets launched when the booted from the external volume.  The configuration was specified in the prior step as “file:///Users/Shared/imagr/imagr_config.plist”, so that is where the configuration file needs to be set up.  On the external drive volume that you restored:

  1. Navigate to /Users/Shared and create a folder called “imagr”
  2. In the imagr folder, create 3 folders: images, packages, and scripts:
  3. Inside the packages folder, copy the Winclone package you created from Winclone Pro:
  4. The imagr configuration file specifies what packages to install. Here is a sample configuration:
    You can download the config file here.
  5. Create and copy the imagr_config.plist into /Users/Shared/imagr on the external volume, and update the url so that it points to your Winclone Package that you copied to the packages folder.Note some interesting parts:
    1. the URL points to the Winclone package in /Users/Shared/imagr/packages/GPWin10_HalfDisk.pkg
    2. first_boot is NO.  If set to YES, the package would be run when booted into macOS the next time it starts up.  It should be set to NO since macOS is not being restored and SIP would be enabled when booted from the destination macOS.
    3. restart_action is set to none.  If set to “shutdown”, the Mac will be shutdown after the workflow is run.
    4. The Winclone package was configured to partition the disk, so that will be done automatically when the package is installed.
  6. Boot from the external drive and you should see Imagr and the workflow selected:
  7. Select the drive that you want to be partitioned and Windows restored on to, and click Run Workflow.