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My first post was on how to image a Mac with a bootable Linux distro. This post will cover another option, creating an image by booting a Mac into single-user mode. I plan on following up this post with posts on creating a live image and how to mount and work with FileVault encryption after an image is complete.
Single-user mode is a limited shell that a Mac can boot into before fully loading the operating system.
In single-user mode, the internal hard drive is mounted read only and a limited set of commands are available. Once in single-user mode, a USB drive can be attached and dd can be used to create an image. While not as forensically sound as using a write blocker or booting into a Linux distro, less changes are made than fully booting the operating system to take a live image.
This may be a good option where it is acceptable to get a live image, but the examiner wishes to minimize changes to the hard drive. Another benefit is that if there is FileVault encryption, the encrypted drive is decrypted after a username and password are supplied.
Three partitions were created by default during the initial setup: I tested two scenarios, one without encryption and one with encryption FileVault 2. For each step I will cover both scenarios.
The high level steps are: I have had some people in the community provide some great tips and suggestions since this was posted! Step 1 - Boot into single-user mode The first step is to boot into single-user mode.
At this time, I do not to have the USB drive that will hold the image plugged in. Unencrypted If the system is not encrypted a bunch of white text will scroll and finally present a shell with root: Encrypted If the system is encrypted, some text will fly by that says efiboot, and then a GUI window will pop up asking for the username and password: After the username and password are entered, the single-user boot process continues and drops into a shell similar to the unencrypted system.
Step 2 - Determine what to image The next step is to determine what block device to copy for the dd command.
Unencrypted Drive On the test unencrypted system there is one disk, disk0, with three partitions: Using file -sL on each partition can give a little bit more insight into what is going on. Note - I ran these commands while in a terminal because there was no good way for me to get a screen shot in single-user mode However, the commands and outputs are similar while in single-user mode From these results I can tell that disk0s1 is the EFI partition, and disk0s3 is an HFS partition.
Some quick math give us the partition sizes: Definitely the biggest of them all! This drive has two partitions. The next few commands and outputs are the same for the unencrypted and encrypted system.
This way I can list the contents of the mount point as a sanity check to ensure that it mounted ok: Everything looks good to go.
Step 4 - Create the image To create the image, the dd command can be used.A possible fix for invalid sibling links on a hard drive Authored by: mugginsoft on Nov 14, '11 AM This is an ancillary note relevant to the topic as a whole.
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