I'm not sure if this is even possible, but I'm wondering about putting the Install macOS Big Sur app on an SMB share and then I could have computers on network mount it and then just run it off the SMB share instead of having to wait for it to download and then run the install. In my testing, I was able to do this with an external USB drive but when I put it on the SMB share and try it that way, terminal just sits there without doing anything when I do the startosinstall command. I know the command is right because it is the same one I used when I tried it on an USB drive. If I try to launch the Big Sur app by just double clicking on it, it jumps on the dock, but then just says the app is not responding and will sit there until I force quit it.
In my mind, since it works on USB it should work over SMB. Any thoughts or suggestions?
We have an Apple Caching server, but that still is pushing it out and caching it to the computers then and taxing the network without much control for me. The other issue is that I want all of them to be on the same version, but in my experience if I do that and set it up with 1 version, say 11.1 for example and it starts pushing it to my clients and then Apple releases 11.2, then half my fleet will have 11.1 and half will have 11.2. Theoretically I could set it to update, but it never seems to be 100%, so I want to be able to more easily control the version that I'm pushing out.
You can easily create an OS reinstall workflow using a network share or external/USB drive. I have it set up in my organization as a network share. The tech will boot to recovery, open Terminal, mount the MDS DMG with
hdiutil mount http://mydomain.com/mds.dmg, and then run one more command to kick off the MDS workflow. This has worked well for us on Intel (T2 included) Macs for a few years now. For a bit the Big Sur installer couldn't be run in recovery, but I believe that's fixed in 11.2. I have not tried this at all on Apple silicon (M1) Macs, and am not sure of the feasibility of this method in the future. Another thing to add my to list. Hope that helps! Lots of good resources on the MDS site, and there are folks willing to help in the #twocanoes-mds channel on the Mac Admins Slack if you get stuck.