Apple Delays Major macOS Server Upgrade

Back in January, Apple published a document detailing changes that were coming to macOS Server, the company’s server version of its desktop operating system. I reported about it when the company made the announcement, which said that macOS Server:

is changing to focus more on management of computers, devices, and storage on your network.

Apple had said this new version would be released in Spring 2018, which could mean any time up to the WWDC conference in June.

I revisited the document that Apple had published yesterday, and noticed that it had been updated a couple of weeks ago, and that it now says:

In fall 2018, Apple will stop bundling open source services such as…

This coincides with the next release of macOS, which probably makes more sense overall, but it won’t make those people who depend on macOS Server any more confident, since they’ve certainly started looking for solutions already, and they are in the air about how the new version of Server may work. It is, of course, possible that Apple pushed back this release in the face of customer complaints.

Apple System Migration Guide for macOS Server

Apple recently announced that macOS Server would be changing, “focus more on management of computers, devices, and storage on your network.” But for many people who depend on macOS Server, this will be problematic.

Apple recently released a macOS Server Service Migration Guide that is:

designed to assist those administrators comfortable with installing and maintaining open source projects to migrate their service data to the underlying open source project that was previously bundled with macOS Server.

This guide essentially tells system administrators how to install software that will replicate the features that will be removed from macOS Server. It’s a lot of heavy lifting, but if you depend on Server, you should either read this and prepare for the changes, or not update (but, of course, that’s not a viable long-term solution).

How to Turn On Server Services in macOS

Earlier this week, I discussed the future of macOS Server. Apple is deprecating a number of services, “To focus more on management of computers, devices, and storage on your network.” Many of the services that will be deprecated–hidden from the Server app, but still available via the command line–are not very useful for those not running an enterprise-type solution, but macOS High Sierra already provides access to a number of Server services that small businesses, and even home users, may want to use.

In this article, I’m going to discuss the most commonly used services of macOS Server and how you can turn on the same features with a standard Mac running macOS High Sierra. This guide is an overview about using macOS High Sierra with three basic services: file sharing, Time Machine, and content caching.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

The Future of macOS Server

If you use an iMac or a MacBook Pro, you may not realize that, with some additional software, you could turn that computer into a server, a computer that can share files, host websites, run a virtual private network, and much more.

Apple’s macOS and its predecessor Mac OS X have long been able to work as servers with the installation of a single $20 app. The Server app, available from the Mac App Store, provides an easy-to-use interface to configure and manage services that are built into macOS. You could run all these services without the Server app, if you know the right commands to turn them on and manage them from the command line, using Terminal, but the Server app makes it easy so almost anyone can do it.

Apple says that “macOS Server is perfect for a small studio, business, or school,” and points out that “it’s so easy to use, you don’t need your own IT department.” This was very useful some years ago, but now, as most of these tasks are entrusted to the cloud–email, shared contacts and calendars, websites, and more–most people don’t need to run a server. If they do, it’s much easier to rent a server; this could be a dedicated server, where you rent your own computer located in a data center, or a virtual server, where you rent space on a cloud server.

Because of this, Apple has said that they are “deprecating” certain services in macOS Server. They won’t be killing them off completely, but they are changing this software “to focus more on management of computers, devices, and storage on your network.”

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

Apple Is Dumbing Down macOS Server

Apple has published a technical document explaining future changes to macOS Server. In a version to be released in spring 2018, Server will be shedding many of its server features. Apple says that it:

is changing to focus more on management of computers, devices, and storage on your network.

As such, they’ll be “hiding” services, such as Calendar, Contacts, Mail, Messages, VPN, and others. These hidden, deprecated services will be fully removed in a later version of the software.

This is an interesting change. Gone are the days of the Xserve, Apple’s attempt to gain a foothold in the server market, which is now essentially based on virtualization and cloud servers. There is still a place for small servers – such as the Mac mini server that Apple sold from 2009 to 2014, but I would guess that fewer and fewer users really need these services.

I have been running a standard Mac mini as a server for a few years, and when macOS High Sierra was released, I updated that Mac but didn’t install the Server front-end software, since the services that I use – file sharing and Time Machine – are both available in the standard version of the operating system. It’s one less headache for me – not that Server was hard to manage for my use – to not have a different interface for settings on that Mac.

I find interesting, however, Apple’s description of “management of computers, devices, and storage on your network.” I wonder if this means Server is going to become an MDM (mobile device management) tool. Or if they’ll be finally releasing an iTunes server, or server tools for other media, such as photos (to allow multiple users to more easily share and manage photo libraries).

I look forward to this change.

Bring an Old Mac to Life with OS X Server

You’ve certainly heard the word “server.” It’s a type of computer that generally provides or manages services. For example, this website is hosted on a web server, a computer running specific software that can respond to browser requests and send web pages to users anywhere on the internet. You send email through a mail server, a computer with software that routes email to and from your account. And a file server is a computer set up as a receptacle for files, so other users can connect to it and copy files to and from it.

A server is nothing more than a standard computer; what differentiates it from a “client” computer–such as the one you’re working on–is its software and its ability to receive and process connections and requests.

You may not realize it, but your Mac is a server too. It contains all the software you need to host websites, manage email, serve files, and much more. All you need to do is turn on these “services.” Apple makes this really easy; you can buy the OS X Server app (for $20) from the Mac App Store, and tweak a few settings, and then turn your Mac into a server in minutes.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

Change Screen Resolution on Headless OS X Server

I recently set up my old Mac mini as a server. I replaced it a few months ago with a Mac Pro, and wanted to muck around with OS X Server, taking advantage of some of its features, especially centralized Time Machine backups and software download and update caching.

I set up the server, but, since I’m running it headless – with no attached display – I could only view it in one resolution using OS X’s screen sharing feature. If the Mac mini runs headless, the GPU, not detecting any display, doesn’t activate.

There’s a way around this, however, and it’s pretty simple. I bought this CompuLab HDMI Plug with Remote Desktop Access, or 4K Display Emulator (the name is different on the two Amazon sites, Amazon.com and Amazon UK). This $25/£21 dongle fits in the Mac mini’s HDMI port, and emulates the presence of a display. With this attached, there are a number of different resolutions, from 1360 x 768 to 4088 x 2304.

Mail002.png

I’ve chosen a low resolution, since running it at, say, 4K resolution makes interface elements so tiny that I can’t do anything. The only downside to me is that all the resolutions are 16:9; I’d have preferred something with less width.

This is a really simple solution to an annoying problem. If you’re running a headless OS X server, you should definitely get one of these. It will make your life a lot easier.