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It is possible to create a Boot CD/DVD for Mac OS X?

What I would like would be a disc I can put in and boot up into something with a few utilities. We often, for example, have NetRestore NetInstall sets that you can boot up into over the network, and then you have a hugely stripped down system; it has Terminal and some CLI utilities, it has Disk Utility, and it has NetRestore (which is wonderful for imaging, even if it has been discontinued). Could I make a CD that does that?

Some notes

  • This would be useful for occassions on which I don't have a netboot server running, and don't have a properly formatted external hard drive to boot off of.
  • The OS X install DVDs do most of what I want, but it would be nice to run NetRestore. (Disk Utility works in a pinch).
  • There is a utility called "Boot CD" (scroll to the bottom of the page) but it doesn't work with Tiger or Leopard.
  • It would be nice to be able to customize the software on the disc.
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closed as off-topic by masegaloeh, Jenny D, Ward, mdpc, BigHomie Apr 14 '15 at 12:48

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FWIW, NetRestore was discontinued as a third party product as it is now a new feature of Mac OS X 10.6 Server (Snow Leopard Server). – Chealion Jun 9 '09 at 16:53
Seriously? That's great! – Clinton Blackmore Jun 9 '09 at 17:45
up vote 4 down vote accepted

I still think a stripped down install on a external hard drive (I use a nice one that uses firewire or USB, and has no extra power cord...) or USB key would be superior, but it is possible to have a custom boot DVD.

Start with the install DVDs - these boot a version of the OS that doesn't assume a writable filesystem.

Make a new, writable disk image (CD/DVD Master) from the DVD using Disk Utility.

Mount the image and prune it down as much as possible to make room for your custom apps. Remove the XCode installer and other extras from /System/Installation/Packages. Keep at least the file MacOSinstall.pkg.

Drop the .app for any custom programs you need in the root folder, or in an Applications folder.

Umount the image, and burn to a new DVD.

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Sounds great. What do you do to make a bootable USB key? – Clinton Blackmore Jun 9 '09 at 17:35… looks like it covers installing onto a USB key. I haven't tried your answer yet, but is sure looks right so I'm going to accept it. Thank you! – Clinton Blackmore Jun 9 '09 at 21:13
You can actually delete the entire /System/Installation/Packages folder; couple that with deleting /Optional Installs (and /Instructions and /Install Mac OS means the whole thing only takes about 1.4GB (down from 7.1GB). I did copy over /usr/bin/open and /System/Library/CoreServices/, but wasn't able to get the Finder to run. – Clinton Blackmore Jun 19 '09 at 20:24

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