NetBoot with Parallels Desktop

ParallelsWith the introduction of Parallels Desktop 10 Mac Enterprise Edition, you can now NetBoot with Parallels Desktop virtual machines! This can drastically increase the speed in which you can test and verify bare metal imaging workflows for OS X. Before we dive into the technical bits, I want to recognize Der Flounder who has previously written about NetBoot for VMware Fusion on his blog. I also would like to mention that I have used this workflow in previous posts, like  AutoDMG” href=””>Building and Deploying OS X with AutoDMG. Running one VM as a server with NetBoot and packages, and another VM as the client on a SSD drive will get me a fully imaged VM in roughly five minutes! It’s pretty fast!

First thing to do will be to create a new Virtual Machine. To do this open Parallels Desktop and go File > New. This will bring you to a screen like the one capture below. Select Install Windows or another OS from a DVD or image file and click Continue.

Parallels Create New VM

Once you are on the next screen, Parallels will want to find your have you select a source. We don’t need one since we are going to be imaging soon. Click the checkbox in the bottom left that says, Continue without Source. When you click Continue, the wizard will ask you what operating system this blank VM will be. Select Mac OS X and click Ok.

Parallels Empty VM

The last piece to do in the wizard will be to choose a name, location, and customize the VM’s settings. Name and location are completely up to you. I would recommend choosing something that has NetBoot or something in it so that it is easily distinguishable. I would also recommend selecting the Customize settings before installation check box. This will allow us to modify network settings and hard drive size.

Parallels VM Configuration

Once continue is clicked, the VM’s settings will pop-up. Feel free to modify settings like hard drive size, VRAM, or Networking like I have below.

Please note: I have tested both Shared Network and Bridged Network and have not noticed a difference in speed.

Parallels Networking

Once you have saved your settings and are ready to go, do not start your VM! Take a snapshot first! To manage your snapshots, it is easiest to right click on the VM and select Manage Snapshots. I like to take a snapshot at this point so I can quickly rollback when testing minor changes to imaging workflows.

Parallels Snapshot

Once we have snapshots and settings finished, it is time to start the VM. At first boot, you will notice failed booting messages, PXE boot info, and what looks to be a kernel panic. Don’t worry, this is all normal. Here are a couple screenshots of what the process of booting looks like from start to Casper Imaging loading.

Pretty quick and pretty easy! Like a said above, if used with a local distribution point and an SSD drive, testing of imaging workflows with NetBoot can go very quickly!

2 thoughts on “NetBoot with Parallels Desktop”

  1. So, I think maybe you missed a step? My netbook server isn’t in the same subnet so it’s not being seen as an option – we normally boot to a hard drive/internal or recovery partition and run a script to point the machine in the right direction – any hints for making that happen?


    1. Hey Adam,

      Correct me if I am wrong but you are talking about a script with a bless command. The reason why you need to do that is because the bootp packets are not being allowed to cross your network. AFP548 has a good write up on the process at:

      As far as getting Parallels to work with your script, you would need to have an VM with an OS installed and run the bless script. I would try creating a new OS X VM with Parallels, finish the Setup Assistant, copy the script to the VM, and finally do a snapshot. Once the snapshot is done, you can run the script and see if everything connects.


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