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Are there any decent ways to accomplish PXE booting on a mid-2011 Mac Mini (Core i5)? I need to be able to boot into CloneZilla over the network (as I want to image the Mac Mini's hard drive, and later on clone it to other Mac Minis). I've already tried booting the Mac Mini using gPXE and iPXE, and in both cases the [gi]PXE complains that it can't find any network hardware. I could, possibly, hack the codebase of either project to – maybe the PCI IDs for the Mini's network card just isn't listed, but I need to find other alternatives.

Do note that I don't necessarily want to do Apple NetBoot. If I could do Apple NetBoot into the CloneZilla client, that would be nice.

I also don't want to have to purchase Lion Server either, as much as possible. I do know you could set up NetInstall/NetRestore on Lion Server, but that's a cost I want to avoid: we've already set up CloneZilla for imaging our Linux machines, and having to set up parallel infrastructure just for the handful of Mac Minis we're going to clone is going to add to our costs.

Alternatively, is there a way to accomplish something like a PXE network boot via USB? What I mean is, is it possible to boot of a USB, and then continue the rest of the boot process as though the machine were booted off of PXE?

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I think this belongs to superuser. –  Khaled Dec 3 '11 at 14:59
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No, this is a desktop imaging question. It is relevant. –  ewwhite Dec 3 '11 at 15:06
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2 Answers

Have you looked at DeployStudio? It doesn't require a Mac server and can be hosted on a standard Mac client. It'll set up local NetBoot for you if you want, or you can boot from a USB key or FireWire drive. You can even install it on a self-contained FireWire drive, and not use the network at all, but then you're limited to deploying a single machine at a time.

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I would look into booting the Mac Mini from its internal SD card slot... Just for the challenge.

But for PXE, you can simply insert a Linux-based live CD (or even a Clonezilla Live CD) and allow it to become the startup disk. Let it boot to gPXE and proceed as normal.

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As I mentioned in my question, I've tried gPXE (as well as the newer iPXE) both burned standalone on a CD and on the CloneZilla Live CD, and in both cases [gi]PXE complains that it can't find any network devices. :) –  jmibanez Dec 3 '11 at 15:43
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