A follow up on Big Sur VM building, and a tip for automated enrollment success

In which disabling the network adapter once again saves you time and heartache.

In my last post about building Big Sur VMs I was like "this will be irrelevant shortly lol" but as it turns out, it's still relevant. As of macOS Big Sur 11.1 that workaround is still needed to build a VM. Go figure.

I'm actually glad I blogged about it because I always forget and then have to look back at my post to remember what to do.

Something I keep seeing pop up on the Mac Admins Slack team is that after building the VM folks are noticing the VMs aren't going through automated enrollment, even if they're configured with an appropriate serial number and hardware model ID. Big Sur's recovery OS installation—which is what VMware Fusion uses to build its installer medium—phones home to Apple at some point during configuration and/or installation, and at this moment its ability to trigger automated enrollment is determined. Someone from Apple can probably comment on when this happens and why (they likely won't) but it definitely explains the behavior many folks have seen around automated enrollment for VMs. 

If your new VM doesn't have a hardware model ID and serial number set from a Mac that is in your prestage for automated enrollment before it boots for the first time, it likely will not kick off automated enrollment once it's built.

You can get around this a few ways:

  1. Disconnect the network adapter from the VM disk before you boot it to build and install the OS.

  2. Set the hardware model ID and serial number in the config file before you boot it up for the first time (you can quickly get to the config file by right-clicking on the VM in the Virtual Machine List and holding down the option key).

I'd recommend option 2 because going back in later to re-enable the network adapter is extra clicks that I find annoying. But you do you.


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