MacBook Air: The bane of IT

September 11, 2008

I have in my posession right now a shiny new MacBook Air. Apple’s delightful little wafer is seen below sitting atop my regular MacBook which looks positively obese by comparison:

A client has purchased 3 of these for use in a particular project. The prototypes for the project were MacBook Pros, for which I have a disk image. The plan: push the image onto the Airs so they’d be all set to go. Problem: How the hell to push an image to a MacBook Air?

The limitation we run into is that the Air is lacking many things, and only has one lonely USB port with which to make up for them. Regardless of the fact that you could use a hub to get everything you need plugged up, that leaves us at a serious lack of bandwidth into the machine. I initially tried to copy the image onto one of our utility boot drives, boot the Air from it, and restore the image to its internal drive. Unfortunately, the Air seemed none too happy about running from that drive, and less happy about trying to restore an image. It was painfully slow, and restore attempts always failed. Subsequent attempts to boot from the drive yielded kernel panics, and investigation showed the Air had somehow wrecked the file system on the utility drives. I think it’s a bus powering issue with the portable utility drive. These drives work splendidly with Firewire though. Yeah, Apple, Firewire. That thing you created that’s so great, but you seem to be allowing to languish? I’ve since cloned one onto a 3.5″ drive with its own power supply, so we’ll see if that works any better.

The second thing I thought to try was a NetInstall. We ordered ethernet adapters with the Airs, so I decided to give it a go. I converted the image into a NetInstall and set it up on my server running OS X Server 10.5.4. All looks good, but when I try to boot the Air… kernel panic. Not sure what the hell’s up with that. I thought they’d fixed that graphics driver issue in NetInstall images. It’s too late at night for me to mess with it, so to hell with it until morning.

At this point, the only thing I want to try with the Air is throwing it at the wall to see if its thin profile allows it to embed itself like a shuriken.

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