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How is an Xserve "controlled"?

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by nimbuscloud, Feb 29, 2008.

  1. macrumors regular

    Hello all,

    I'm sorry, but I'm an Xserve n00b. My IT boss at a small college is planning on getting an Xserve to administer the Macs on campus, which is at most maybe 20 of them.

    How is an Xserve administered or controlled? Can you use a PC or must you have a Mac? Our Network Engineer will be administering it, but out IT department is all Windows...so there is little knowledge of Xserves.

    My boss wants to order one tomorrow, so I'd like to know if we will need to also get something like an iMac to control it (if that makes sense) or can a PC do it.

    Any help would be great. Thanks for your time!

  2. macrumors 603


    You can just SSH into the machine. No problem, it can be administered from Windows, Unix and of course Macs (and probably others as well).
  3. macrumors regular

    Another stupid question.

    When you SSH into the Xserve, you will of course be viewing Mac OS X Server OS from your PC, correct? Like I said, I'm a n00b with server stuff.

  4. macrumors regular

    Also, if the Xserve is SSH'd into, won't it have a DOS-like GUI?

    If we were to get an iMac to control the Xserve, wouldn't that let us see Mac OS X Leopard operating system as it normally looks?

  5. macrumors 603


    Argh, no it will have a Unix like command line interface. *grumbles about Unix being compared to DOS*

    You could use VNC, but the command line is better.
  6. x19
    macrumors newbie

    When you SSH into the machine you will be looking at the Mac OS X Leopard Server yes, but keep in mind it will be a command line interface. In that regard it'll be the same as any other UNIX/BSD server that you have on your network.

    Having a Mac allows you to get into the graphical OS, and manage the server via. the GUI.

    Another option is Timbuktu which I guess is owned by Motorola now(?)


    This is a remote control application, such as PC Anywhere or Apple Remote Desktop but is cross platform and will allow you to access the GUI tools on the server directly.

    Another thing to consider, all Macs can run Windows. Perhaps the best choice is to actually get a MacBook/MacBook Pro setup to Dual boot XP. Then, when you are going about your day in the Windows world you just run the Mac as any other PC but when you need to manage the Mac side you can just restart and choose Leopard at boot.

    Hope that helps.
  7. macrumors G3


    Here are your options:

    • Connect a display, keyboard and mouse to it.

    • Use Server Administration Tools (which come with it) on another Mac.

    • Use Apple Remote Desktop to pretend you're in front of it.

    • Enable VNC and use something like Chicken of the VNC to connect to it a la ARD (above).

    I'd highly recommend looking through Apple's Resources:

    They'll go a great way to you understanding how to set up and use the Xserve.
  8. x19
    macrumors newbie

    Oh, one other thing to keep in mind...you can always manage the Xserve from a direct keyboard/mouse/monitor or more realistically a KVM. They have video cards by default, and can use any standard USB mouse.
  9. macrumors regular

    Some good replies! :)

    Anywho, the Xserve will be in our server room with the other servers, so we wouldn't be able to keyboard and mouse it unless it was set up to be keyboard and moused IN the server room.

    We don't have any UNIX based servers. We're running all Windows stuff, pretty much a Windows campus (...I know :( ).

    If there is a way to get to the graphical interface via a PC, that would be great. If not, we might have to get an iMac. Again, this is mainly to administer the Macs on campus and to push software out to them. This isn't for our Windows machines.

    Again, all help is great. I accept any opinions!

  10. macrumors G4

    The xserve is just a UNIX machine with a fancy graphic interface on it. You do not NEED an xserve just becasue you have macs on your network. Macs don't care and can't even know what OS the server runs.

    If you are used to running Windows I can see where you'd guess that the servers would have to run the same OS. Microsoft rigs it that way but no one else does. So why not stand up a Linux, BSD or Solaris server? Nothing wrong with Apple's xserver but you still have not given one reason why you need it

    Oh, and if you need to access the Xserve's graphical desktop then any machine that can run VNC would work. Just about all machines can run VNC.
  11. macrumors regular

    I wouldn't be the one operating or administering it, but VNC sounds useful.

    To push out software updates to Macs on a network, you can use any type of server? For instance, if we needed to push out a Mac OS X, Flash player, Adobe Acrobat, etc. update.

    Again, thanks for your time and patience. I'm taking notes so all thoughts are being used.

  12. macrumors 603


    Mac OS X Server only supports pushing out Apple updates. The Flash player and Adobe Acrobat updates you would have to do manually, although you could script it from the server if you wanted.
  13. macrumors regular

    That sucks. I thought Xserve would be as good as or better than a Windows server. My boss is ordering one, but it almost seems pointless if you can't install or push out software to the Macs with it like how Windows servers can do for Windows. :(

  14. macrumors 6502a

    If they come in pkg format you can also push them out with remote desktop. I work at an (almost) all mac shop, and that is our preferred method. You can get a lot of machines really quick.

    Most software vendors offer .pkg downloads, the biggest one that doesn't is Microsoft with Office 2004(cannot speak to 2008 since I don't have a copy yet). They have their own little install program that you have to run manually on each machine. Whats worse is that they rarely make "combo" updates, so if you want to roll 100 machines from 11.3.5 to 11.4.0, you have to do 5 separate updates 100 times. It's a major time killer and is quite error prone. I still don't see why Microsoft does it that way, other than wanting to be different for the sake of being different. That seems to be a motto they live by.
  15. macrumors G4

    What do you mean "push". Do you want to put software on other people's computers without them having to do anything? I hope not. I would never let anyone do that. Or do you mean "make available" on a local server so Mac users can pick up software when they need it. If the latter then any FTP or even HTTP server would do.
  16. macrumors regular

    That's how software is installed for the Windows PCs, why can't it be done for the Macs? How would you install software over a mass of Macs, going to each on individually?

    But yes, the point would be to be able to install software to Macs without having to go to each individual computer, the way it is done for the Windows PCs. That's not possible with the Xserve?

  17. macrumors 6502

    foidulus already mentioned that you can push it out using remote desktop given the files are in the .pkg format - if not then tough luck more or less
  18. macrumors G3


    Just a point of interest, but have you not talked to Apple Education Sales about this? I would imagine you'd get the same sort of presales / aftersales advice as I do in Business...?
  19. macrumors regular

    You might consider looking into getting your xserve and setting up VNC to remote access into it (to see your GUI). From there, look into purchasing licensing for either Radmind or LanRev. Either of these software packages, once installed on all of the clients, will allow you to push out software packages (either as .pkg installers or custom made snapshots).

    This is what I did when I worked in an IT department, administering 2000+ macs.
  20. macrumors regular

    Awesome. I'll have to look into that. Thanks a ton!

  21. macrumors regular

    I haven't personally used LanRev, but have heard good things. Also, there is a bit of a learning curve to Radmind, but nothing insurmountable

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