I usually don't use discussion forums to look for answers to my problems, but after scouring the net it feels like it's the only place I might be able to get a straight answer. I've recently been assigned to a project in a school district that involves imaging about 50 brand new macbook air's. Upon doing some quick internet research I've come to the understanding that "thin imaging" via Casper admin would be best suited for the task. Unfortunately I've been unable to discover any set of step by step instructions on how to do this, which I would think it'd be fairly simple. Any assistance would be extremely helpful
Whats your knowledge level of Casper would be the first question?
Second, start by packaging all the applications and settings you need. This is the long part, since you should test them all to make sure they work.
Then create a configuration profile with all the applications and settings. You can either use self service for it, or set it to run on enrollment complete.
Now here's what you need to do on the Casper side, turn on user initiated enrollment.
so now you open up a brand new mac, create a simple login account and log in. Then go to:
put your credentials in, download the package, run the package.
This is an overly simplified version...but you get the basics here.
If you haven't already, take a look at the Admin's Guide as that has a more step by step outline of what that workflow would look like.
Thin imaging basically means that you're just using the OS that Apple ships with the machine instead of re-installing the full OS in a standard imaging workflow. After that, you'll need a policy to run to full patch the machine's OS, and that's where it might be a possible downside for you depending on what your organization needs/wants the user experience to be.
Although a lot of admins are moving away from traditional imaging workflows, it is still relatively common in the EDU space to use a full imaging workflow. This is because you can create your full imaging configuration with a (at the time) fully up-to-date OS as well as the required settings and applications on the machines and little to no follow-up needed by the admin.
If you have additional questions, reach out to your JAMF Support contact, as they'd happily walk you through any additional questions you might have.
In that presentation I roughly cover the different imaging techniques, including Thin Imaging and what might work for you, Target Mode imaging.
Thin Imaging, as @drew.duggan pointed out, is really just leaving the factory OS on the machine while applying the software and settings on the machine that you want. Some would argue that thin imaging is really just getting the pieces of your management software on the machine and then allowing the users to install software via a self service portal, or some other deployment method.
As @roiegat pointed out, with Thin Imaging you get the machine enrolled and then allow Casper to push software and settings via policies, or via an Configuration that is used with Casper Imaging. Or, if you like, you can also use Casper Imaging with a first boot, or postimaging, script that calls policies from Casper to install software. (another shameless plug: To Image or First Boot )
If you are under a time crunch, and need to get those 50 machines imaged quickly, you may want to look at Target Mode imaging. With Target Mode, you will be deploying a fat image, one that has OS plus all software and settings, and then using Casper Imaging to deploy that image to a machine booted to Target Disk Mode. With this method, you can image a machine in under 5 minutes depending on the size of the fat image. So, you have one machine running Casper Imaging, boot the machines that you want to image to Target Disk Mode, plugin via Thunderbolt, let Casper Imaging image the machine, unplug, plug in the next, and continue on. I've imaged 25 machines in under 40 minutes using this method.
Hope this helps and doesn't confuse you more. If you have further questions, just post and I'm sure someone from the Nation will help you out.
Some other stuff to think about, if your going to have user using the enrollment process, you should ideally sign your packages so they get one less alert.
Overall, thin imaging works great depending on your environment. Right now were transitioning to it. We have four netboot servers that I have to stay on top of with new OS's every time we migrate to the new OS, so thin imaging saves us time by not having to always chase the OS. We leave the OS that comes from Apple and just add to it.