What can Lion Server do for me?

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by Ruahrc, Jan 28, 2012.

  1. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    #1
    I have a 2011 mac mini server with Lion Server. I've played a little bit with the "Server" application mainly for fun but as I'm the only user of the machine, and am the only person in my household, I haven't had a real pressing need for the features of Lion Server. I own an iPod Touch but don't really see the need/point of remote managing it since it's just the one device that I always use. I also have a MBP laptop that runs Snow Leopard right now but I will probably upgrade it to Lion this summer. I was thinking maybe it would be cool to get a network-based user system up so I can have the same experience on my desktop and laptop, but wonder how effective that would be if I used my laptop for travel purposes?

    I guess I'm still not totally familiar with what Lion Server can actually do for someone like me. What functionality is there in Lion Server that I might be able to take advantage of?

    One thing I know I am interested in is the VPN server. Right now I'm a student and my school provides a VPN server that I can use wherever I am, giving me a secure connection whenever I am on travel. I'm supposed to graduate relatively soon, however, and presumably will lose access to this great VPN service. Perhaps I can create my own using Lion Server though?

    I don't have a website or domain. But maybe in the future I'd like to set one up, again since I will be soon losing my university provided web services. Basically if I want to set up my own VPN I'd need to get myself a domain name? And then I can start setting up some services like the VPN server? What other uses for Lion Server do you guys find useful, particularly if you're in just a single user environment?

    Or am I really just trying to make a square peg fit in a round hole, and whatever I'm doing now is the best approach to my situation?
     
  2. jackhdev macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2011
    Location:
    Bismarck, North Dakota
    #2
    Mac OS X Server is definitely worth the buy. You can set up accounts on your network and log into them using both your laptop and desktop. You have the ability to make the account "mobile" meaning that files are synced between your laptop and the server whenever it is on the network (so whatever files are created/modified when not on the network will show up on your desktop).

    VPN is also super easy to set up and use. You can do this with Lion Server.

    When running a server, you'll probably use something called DNS. It's really simple actually, it stands for Domain Name System. It links a domain name to an IP address. So when you type "apple.com" into your web browser, you're really brought to 17.172.224.47. The point of this is that you can still get to your server via an IP address, so there isn't a need for a domain name if you want to save money.

    However, just a quick note on IP addresses: you'll need a static IP address from your ISP. If your IP address changes, then you won't be able to access any of your server's services until you figure out what the new IP address is. ISPs charge extra for this.

    Lion Server can provide web services for you, too. It uses Apache. The Server app provides easy to use, yet limited modification of your web service (one of the huge complaints from Snow Leopard Server to Lion Server). You can always edit the configuration files themselves manually. Additionally, the web service allows you to access your email and calendar online AND set up a Wiki and a blog.

    While my server is for personal use too, I use it for my email, calendar, contacts, website, VPN, firewall, backup, and file transfer. It's very easy to set up and use. You don't need to learn anything.

    Lastly, I would recommend buying this book: http://www.peachpit.com/store/product.aspx?isbn=9780321775085. It walks you through everything about Lion Server and you can even become certified. Please let me know if you have any other questions.
     
  3. kas23 macrumors 603

    kas23

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2007
    #3
    This sounds like a cool feature. I never even knew about it. Can you please tell me what this feature is called or a link for setting it up?
     
  4. calderone macrumors 68040

    calderone

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2009
    Location:
    Seattle
    #4
    This is done through Workgroup Manager, you give the user a network home and set the mobility MCX for the user in Workgroup Manager.
     
  5. belvdr macrumors 603

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2005
    #5
    Or you can use a free service, like DynDNS, so that you can always connect to your home network.
     

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