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Top Myths and Misconceptions About Mac OS X Server

written by: •edited by: Michael Dougherty•updated: 12/10/2009

In this article, I will examine the top misconceptions IT techs and system administrators make about Mac OS X Server.

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    Mac OS X Server Supports Only Macs

    This is one of the most common myths about Mac OS X Server. It is said that since Mac OS X Server is an Apple product, it only provides services for Mac clients. In reality, Mac OS X Server does provide support for Windows clients. It provides support for SMB printer and file sharing, its Open Directory can host a Windows-NT style domain with full support for roaming profiles, home directories, authentication from Windows login window and more. Mac OS X Server can also function as one of the member servers in an Active Directory domain while providing full range of options for integrating with AD. Mac OS X Server also provides support for many common network services like NAT, DHCP, VPN and DNS.

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    It’s Not a “Real” UNIX Flavor

    Mac OS X Server and all Mac OS versions are based on Unix and allow you to install and use standard Unix tools. Leopard Server is actually certified to be an Open Brand Unix 03 Registered Product. Being a Unix-based Server, you can expect from Mac OS X Server all capabilities of UNIX operating system like protected memory, multi-threading, multi-processing, etc.

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    Mac OS X Server Doesn’t Scale Well

    Mac OS X Server actually scales very well, it supports clustering of many different services and high speed SAN support. One of the points that could go against Mac OS X Server is lack of options in Open Directory, although it is a bit easier to manage and use than eDirectory or Active Directory, it does not offer features and flexibility suitable for large environments.

    Open Directory can handle up to 1024 individual directory servers and a large number of accounts, it really doesn’t imply that it does not scale well. But Mac OS X still tends to follow one master server with multiple replica servers style rather than multi-master approach of Active Directory.

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    Mac OS X Server Management Requires a Specialized Skill Set

    This is a common myth. Mac OS X Server is based on open source technologies basic concepts such as IP addressing, namespace, client management, directory services are similar. Managing Mac OS X Server is very easy and in Leopard Server the management is much simpler. Environments, businesses needing more than basic servers services like printing, file sharing, web hosting, etc, installing and managing Mac OS X does demand good understanding and skills but this is also true with any other Server platform.
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    There is No Enterprise-Level Disaster Recovery or Fault Tolerance Options

    Mac OS X Server provides a number of fault tolerance features. It lets you use RAID and SAN, it supports IP failover for the AFP file service and Open Directory supports failover to any directory server.

    Mac OS X Server does not ship with a backup tool for disaster recovery but there are a number of backup solutions available for Mac OS X Server and most of them are multi-platform solutions. Some of the most common options include NetVault, BRU and Retrospect.