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I have a project where Mac Minis will be used to run different applications. Each Mac Mini will have ONE application that it will ever have to run in its lifetime, and it will have to run it all day every day. Ideally, I would love to have it set up so that the Mac Turns on when power is applied, and automatically runs the application, fullscreens it, etc...

The Minis are running 10.7 (OS X Lion)

I've got most of this taken care of, however, I was wondering if there is perhaps some software out there that will "auto-restore" the Mac's hard-drive to the exact same state on every boot.

Is there any way to auto-restore the hard-drive to an EXACT state on every startup? (I'm thinking something like the software they sometimes use on university computers to make sure the computer gets restored to a clean state after a student uses it. This means there will NEVER be any changes made to anything after a restart. The computer will be cut off from the internet.)

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Would it be sufficient to grant users write access only to their temporary user profile, and then have that profile be overwritten on every login? – soandos Dec 17 '11 at 23:09
No, this is actually a little bit of overkill since there will never be a user of the machine, it will be completely automated and the only human interaction it will ever get is someone pressing the power button. However, in case the application running on it causes problems over a long period of time, or a hard power reset causes an issue, I was thinking some kind of hard drive restore from a "perfect" image on startup would be beneficial. – JonathonG Dec 17 '11 at 23:12
This might be an odd question, but does it need to be running on a mac, or will a linux machine do? – soandos Dec 17 '11 at 23:27
I would much rather use a linux machine, but unfortunately this particular project requires the use of the Macs... – JonathonG Dec 17 '11 at 23:42
Does your program need to write to the hard drive? – soandos Dec 17 '11 at 23:44
up vote 1 down vote accepted

This is exactly what Faronics Deep Freeze does.

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Thank you, I'm glad someone could finally answer this! – JonathonG Dec 30 '11 at 22:17

If you want to be able to do just about anything at login you can use Mike Bombich's login script templates. I used these in a dozen Computer labs full of macs I was able to completely reset the machines every time a new user logged in.

I did it by copying a template user home into the current user home in the script, chowning it to that user and then doing any setup necessary (mostly setting some paths for Adobe CS). The beautiful thing about it is that on login the new user gets a completely fresh home with any changes (and problems) the previous user made reverted. Any time I wanted to make a change. I logged in as the template user, made the change, and then logged out. If I wanted a program open on login for the template and loaded to a specific state I could just leave it as such when I logged out.

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