08 May 2013

Cloning MacOS X from Linux

I just finished to work out a way to clone a MacOS X installation from Linux (for automatic installation of MacOS X with fai – fully automatic installation). All tools discussed in the article are available in Debian 7.x (wheezy).


First we save the GUID (Globally Unique Identifier) Partition Table (GPT), so that we can restore the same partition table on the target machine. We use the commandline version of gdisk for this, named sgdisk

sgdisk --backup=/srv/macos/parttable.gpt.sgdisk /dev/sda

The content of the partitions can be cloned using the partclone tool. A default MacOS X installation has three partitions:

  1. EFI system partiton
  2. MacOS X (named "Customer")
  3. Recovery partition
Model: ATA APPLE HDD HTS547 (scsi)
Disk /dev/sda: 976773168s
Sector size (logical/physical): 512B/4096B
Partition Table: gpt

Number  Start       End         Size        File system  Name                  Flags
 1      40s         409639s     409600s     fat32        EFI system partition  boot
 2      409640s     975503591s  975093952s  hfs+         Customer
 3      975503592s  976773127s  1269536s    hfs+         Recovery HD

First we create backup images of all partitions:

partclone.vfat -I -c -s /dev/sda1 | gzip > /srv/macos/sda1.partclone.gz
partclone.hfsplus -I -c -s /dev/sda2 | gzip > /srv/macos/sda2.partclone.gz
partclone.hfsplus -I -c -s /dev/sda3 | gzip > /srv/macos/sda3.partclone.gz


To restore the saved MacOS X installation, boot another Mac using Linux (a Knoppix live Linux DVD will work).

Next we restore the partition table (GPT) using sgdisk (/dev/sda is the target disk, all data on that disk will be erased, be warned!):

sgdisk --load-backup=/srv/macos/parttable.gpt.sgdisk /dev/sda

as an alternative, the partitions can be created using parted and the GUID type codes set by sgdisk (important!):

sgdisk --zap /dev/sda
parted -s /dev/sda mklabel gpt
parted -s /dev/sda mkpart primary 40s 409639s
parted -s /dev/sda name 1 "'EFI system partition'"
parted -s /dev/sda set 1 boot on
parted -s /dev/sda mkpart primary 409640s 975503591s
parted -s /dev/sda name 2 "'MacOS X System'"
parted -s /dev/sda mkpart primary 975503592s 976773127s
parted -s /dev/sda name 3 "'Recovery HD'"
sgdisk -t 1:C12A7328-F81F-11D2-BA4B-00A0C93EC93B /dev/sda
sgdisk -t 2:48465300-0000-11AA-AA11-00306543ECAC /dev/sda
sgdisk -t 3:48465300-0000-11AA-AA11-00306543ECAC /dev/sda

Restore the partition content:

zcat /srv/macos/sda1.partclone.gz | partclone.vfat -r -o /dev/sda1
zcat /srv/macos/sda2.partclone.gz | partclone.hfsplus -r -o /dev/sda2
zcat /srv/macos/sda3.partclone.gz | partclone.hfsplus -r -o /dev/sda3

If all went well, the new disk is ready to boot MacOS X.

For reference, here are the GUID details of a default MacOS X 10.8 MacBook Pro install:

root@(none):~# sgdisk -p /dev/sda
Disk /dev/sda: 976773168 sectors, 465.8 GiB
Logical sector size: 512 bytes
Disk identifier (GUID): 497736B0-7EA0-4C45-AB5F-8841CD773D24
Partition table holds up to 128 entries
First usable sector is 34, last usable sector is 976773134
Partitions will be aligned on 8-sector boundaries
Total free space is 262157 sectors (128.0 MiB)

root@(none):~# sgdisk -i1 /dev/sda
Partition GUID code: C12A7328-F81F-11D2-BA4B-00A0C93EC93B (EFI System)
Partition unique GUID: 6749C82F-02C9-4FF5-A889-F31A21726F8E
First sector: 40 (at 20.0 KiB)
Last sector: 409639 (at 200.0 MiB)
Partition size: 409600 sectors (200.0 MiB)
Attribute flags: 0000000000000000
Partition name: 'EFI system partition'

root@(none):~# sgdisk -i2 /dev/sda
Partition GUID code: 48465300-0000-11AA-AA11-00306543ECAC (Apple HFS/HFS+)
Partition unique GUID: 60F7A3AA-69B3-4E59-87A0-3A47BB659255
First sector: 409640 (at 200.0 MiB)
Last sector: 975241447 (at 465.0 GiB)
Partition size: 974831808 sectors (464.8 GiB)
Attribute flags: 0000000000000000
Partition name: 'MacOS X System'

root@(none):~# sgdisk -i3 /dev/sda
Partition GUID code: 48465300-0000-11AA-AA11-00306543ECAC (Apple HFS/HFS+)
Partition unique GUID: FD007AA4-CF3A-42F6-BFC6-B3BC25521FC2
First sector: 975503592 (at 465.2 GiB)
Last sector: 976773127 (at 465.8 GiB)
Partition size: 1269536 sectors (619.9 MiB)
Attribute flags: 0000000000000000
Partition name: 'Recovery HD'
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