Mac OS X Server for newbies

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by esquire360, Jan 27, 2008.

  1. esquire360 macrumors regular

    Sep 8, 2007
    Hey mac peoples, got a few mac os x lopard server questions. is it easy to learn? I'd like to host a few web sites. and intergate my business with iChat server. I'm a pc tech but networking confuses me. any thoughts advice.

    How does Time machine server work? can they vpn in and do time machine backups over the web?

    on can i run .mac type services with it? like web gallerys?
  2. Cromulent macrumors 603


    Oct 2, 2006
    The Land of Hope and Glory
    If you are reasonably comfortable with Unix type systems then it will be easy to pick up. Setting up the simple things is a piece of cake in OS X Server, just be aware that at some point you will need to get down and dirty and start using the terminal.
  3. Fearless Leader macrumors 68020

    Mar 21, 2006
    I would really read up on this. invest on some professional grade advice. this is something that can go really wrong really fast if you are don't know what you are really doing.

    stay away from mail hosting. it isn't worth it unless you really need it or understand it.
    learn about security, its your main goal.
    you can put anything you want on the web server. You need to either build or find .mac like services.

    the vpn and time machine would work (im 99% sure) but it'll be slow.
  4. twoodcc macrumors P6


    Feb 3, 2005
    Right side of wrong
    yeah, i'm a newbie when it comes to servers, and i still haven't figured out os x server. been trying for over a year now it seems. i usually give up for a few months and then try again later
  5. foidulus macrumors 6502a

    Jan 15, 2007
    My advice

    is to use Linux. In my professional opinion, in the server world it is not only more secure, its a LOT less buggy. Be prepared for frustration if you use OS X server, Apple will go for YEARS with major bugs left in the product.

    As a software engineer/sysadmin on the side, I have had nothing but frustration with OS X server and nothing but good experiences with Linux. Linux might be a bit harder to pick up at first, but there is a better support system for when things go wrong. Meanwhile, often OS X guis will not even tell you when you have an error, they will just happily pretend to accept your command and do nothing.

    Stay away from OS X server, stay far away.
  6. darwinian macrumors 6502a


    Jan 4, 2008
    In R4, more or less
    Wow, interesting. Never heard much about server updates before.
  7. esquire360 thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 8, 2007
    i was hoping for different answers... bummer...

    were your experiences with os x leopard? can anyone comment on the changes?
  8. fall3n macrumors 6502

    Aug 17, 2006
    imo, if you want something that will work and is easy to use Leopard is a pretty good solution. Linux may be more flexible, but you'll have a large learning curve ahead of you and there's tonnes you can do through Leopard. You can even dive into Terminal to get a little dirty if you want.

    That aside, get Leopard, and stick it on a testing environment so it doesn't affect your daily business. Keep in mind your production demands, what kind of stress is this server going to be under? Is it something you can get by on just using a Mac Pro for such things like file serving? Or do you need a full fledged Xserve? If so, get a consultant in to help you out. If your business relies on this, you want it done right.

    As for Time Machine backups...TM is really a product designed for consumers, yes they stuck in TM Server for small businesses that can't afford a proper RAID solution, but it's still really not a very good backup solution. Don't even bother trying to VPN and TM, it will be dreadfully slow.

    Grab this book as it will help you immensely at the essentials of Leopard Server, they rest is up to you. Good luck!
  9. RedTomato macrumors 68040


    Mar 4, 2005
    .. London ..
    You don't need OSX server to host websites. Tiger or Leopard can do that as well.
  10. longofest Editor emeritus


    Jul 10, 2003
    Falls Church, VA
    You may be surprised from an editor of this site to say it, but I agree 90%.

    Mac OS X Server's learning curve is actually BIGGER than Linux, and they don't keep it patched enough to be secure. However, I will say that you do have a security advantage simply because you are running something that bots looking for vulnerable systems won't pay attention to.

    But yeah... Linux for servers is much better than Mac OS X server, unless you have a very specific need.
  11. mmcxiiad macrumors 6502

    Jul 19, 2002
    If after all that good advice you still want to learn how to set up leopard server, has a good video tutorial about how to get going. It is a good place to start to get up and running. after that, buy some big thick books. Good Luck!
  12. Evangelion macrumors 68040

    Jan 10, 2005
    I have been thinking about running OS X Server on my good 'ol Mac Mini. But that would be just so I could learn ins and outs of the OS. If I were planning to set up a production-server, I too would go with Linux. Granted, I have very little experience with OS X Server, but what I have heard from others is that it's simply not there yet. Linux on the other hand is tried, tested and battle-hardened Server-OS that feels right at home in the server-room.

    Linux is pretty much a no-brainer as server-OS goes these days. There might be some hi-end cases where something like Solaris might be better, but Linux is moving there as well. And Windows might make sense if you are 100% Microsoft-shop with lots of Windows-knowhow, and very little Linux-knowhow. But generally speaking Linux is the safe choice.

    If you want to build a supercomputer, Linux is practically your only choice. There's a good reason why Linux has about 90% market-share in high-performance computing :).
  13. saltyzoo macrumors 65816


    Oct 4, 2007
    RAID is not a backup solution and does not replace the need for backups. RAID will keep your server online in case of a disk failure, but it does not backup crucial data that may be inadvertently deleted, or corrupted due to application or human error.
  14. natech macrumors newbie

    Feb 4, 2008

    I manage a Tiger Server-based network of ~750 users and ~300 machines. Not as large as some, but it's decent for its size. We make full use of network home folders, Open Directory, netboot managed preferences and we certainly push AFP to its limits :)

    The basis of getting a reliable OD setup on Leopard (or any version of OS X server, really) is as follows:

    1) Never ever ever ever use an Apple server product in a production environment on its .0 or .1 or even .2 release unless you absolutely must. Bugs are abound.

    2) Do the advanced install (applies to Leopard only), unless you know you'll only need a basic workgroup server. Switch to advanced later is not really an option :)

    3) Pay careful attention to your DNS setup. This is crucial, especially if you run or plan to run Open Directory. Apple's DNS management via Server Manager is woefully inadequate and buggy. I *strongly* suggest using something like the wonderful Men & Mice Suite ( It uses OS X's built in BIND, but with its own custom config files. A true gem.
    Remember the following command to check your DNS. Tattoo this on you if you must:

    changeip -checkhostname


    4) Open Directory setup is straightforward, be sure to follow the prompts and WRITE DOWN ALL THE INFO. Furthermore, OD setup *will* fail if you are not plugged into a switch - even if it's the only machine on the switch. It needs to see itself. Internal loopback is not enough.

    4) Test, test, test.

    IMHO, OS X Server still isn't ready for prime time usage yet. I'd stick it on a small workgroup or a very specific environment. An enterprise-level server OS, this isn't. Do not expect a simple, straightforward, consistent Apple-like environment. It can be *extremely* challenging to get OS X Server to do what you want if it deviates even slightly than what Apple lists in its specs.
    Challenging, but not impossible ;)

    Feel free to leave a message and I'll try to help to the best of my ability. is also a wonderful, wonderful resource.

    -NA Tech
  15. Evangelion macrumors 68040

    Jan 10, 2005
    Exactly. I can't underline this enough: RAID is not backup! RAID is redundant storage, it's not backup!
  16. Moof1904 macrumors 65816

    May 20, 2004
    Visual Quickstart Guide was useful to me

    I bought the "Visual Quickstart Guide" for Apple 10.4 Tiger server and found it useful.
  17. saltyzoo macrumors 65816


    Oct 4, 2007
    I never realized how important condiment distribution was to server installation. :p
  18. simag macrumors newbie

    Jan 14, 2008
    then of course there are the mainstream unix flavors. I suspect solaris is the easiest to learn.
  19. xparaparafreakx macrumors 65816

    Jul 29, 2005
    Isn't that the truth.

    I had to test, fix, test and refix for two weeks two summers ago. Now I never touch the server unless I have to add kids to the OD list.

    I would try making a small little network from the manual to get an idea how things work. The K-12 one is good since it deals with netboot, OD and home folders. That what I did to learn the workflow.
  20. subgenius macrumors newbie

    Feb 4, 2008
    Back On Topic and with an ANSWER!!!

    Esquire, OS X 10.5 Server (aka Leopard or as I joking call it "the Leper") is very Easy to administer and use for small businesses or work groups (under 20 people). When you run the install and the option for server type appears, select "Standard" this will give you File and Printer Sharing, Web and Apps hosting, EMail Services, iCal & iChat as well as User Authentication (Aka Open Directory), Client Backup via TimeMachine (clients must also be on 10.5) and tons of other cool workflow and automation stuff.

    This also gives you a simple management interface called "server preferences" kind of like System Preferences on your mac.

    For the first time Admin, go get Mac OS X Server Essentials (2nd edition isbn # 978-0-321-49660-7) I have been a Network Admin & Engineer for a long time (over 10 years in the computer industry, and not a single hair on my head to show for it), and I keep a copy handy. I also use it as something heavy to throw at my End Users.

    - SubGenius
    And for all of you guys thats hearts are in the right place, but said Linux. Wow! APPLE FORUM!:cool:
  21. twoodcc macrumors P6


    Feb 3, 2005
    Right side of wrong
    yeah i need to buy a leopard server book sometime. my local bookstore doesn't have them though. i guess i can order online
  22. esquire360 thread starter macrumors regular

    Sep 8, 2007
    SubG that was a well articulate comment bravo i hope you get may bushy hairs back ;) I don't want to lose my hair so no leper for me...

    I might give it a whrrrrllll

    I was thinking of getting fios dedicated ip... to make it easier, would having a static ip help? (plus i'd get 30/15 down/up ;)
  23. twoodcc macrumors P6


    Feb 3, 2005
    Right side of wrong
    yeah i'm guessing a static ip would help. i don't have one, so maybe that's one reason why i've had so much trouble with this
  24. Zjef macrumors newbie

    Feb 4, 2008
    Can someone else confirm this? I didn't notice this requirement in Apple's documentation. It could be an answer to some of the issues I'm experiencing.

    I tried to setup OD with a regular hub instead of a switch. Authentification works great, even with Kereberos. Loading the network home folders fails on client machines, not on the server itself. Is this the kind of issues you are refering too?
    I assumed I did something wrong with either the binding of the client or the POSIX/ACL settings?
  25. subgenius macrumors newbie

    Feb 4, 2008
    Static IP, the way to go...

    A static ip would simplify your setup and ability to connect from the "Big Cloud" (internet). This would also make hosting your own website and other external facing services (ie: VPN or private iChat server) much simpler. One key benefit would be DNS. is much better looking on a business card then 123.456.78.9 (or what ever assigned Static IP you get).

    However static IP's are considered to premium or additional service by many ISP's. If cost is a issue, you could try using OpenDNS, but this will complicate your configuration, and I do not recommend using OpenDNS for new administrators or companies with out a dedicated Administrator.

    A word of warning, if you self host any mission critical services (ie Email), you must adhere to a regimented backup of your server! In my case our Open Directory Servers have full backups nightly (2:30 AM start time). This takes less then a Hour per server when we omit User home folders & Time Machine Data (so the data set is about 30GB with web site, wiki, etc, etc...). Test Full restores take about an hour a half. You should still have a back up routine for user data as well.:cool:


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