XServe Online

One distraction after another for weeks has kept me from spending much time prepping the XServe, but got to get cozy again with it this week. Today finally dropped it in the rack and went into production. The Win2K machine had become so fragile and unpredictable I really didn’t expect it to live this long – could no longer start or stop any services, drag files, or access any properties panels. Windows eats itself, scares the hell out of me sometimes (virus hunts turned up nothing). For the first time since I’ve been at the J-School, I feel 100% good about the server situation.

The dual 1GHz XServe is lightning fast, a dream to work with, but it was surprising to discover how different from OS X client it is. Lots of prefs panels moved to other locations or integrated into other functions, and lots of new utilities not found in X client. They’ve done a pretty good job of creating a workable GUI for the most-used Apache config options, including virtual hosts. This is tricky though, since it means a GUI panel reading and writing text files. So what they’ve done is provided a standard httpd.conf, which in turn has an include for httpd_macosxserver.conf. The latter is machine read/writable. You can hand-edit either of them, with a few caveats.

Other stuff present in OS X Server not found in client (though most anything can be installed in client, they’ve done a great job of integrating and providing interfaces for this stuff in Server): Tomcat (JSP), PHP/MySQL, QuickTime Streaming Server, LDAP / Active Directory integration, full user/group mountpoints/permissions controls (using either locally stored or directory users), WebObjects, MacManager (for remote management of lab Macs), NetBoot (lets you host a disk image that networked client OS X machines will seek out and boot from), POP/SMTP/IMAP mail serving (being overhauled for Panther), a full suite of server monitoring tools (CPU temp, blower speed, disk space etc. — will email or page notifications on problems), a full suite of remote control apps, fully configurable FTP server, SLP tools… the list goes on.

Migrating from Win2K was mostly a matter of transferring my httpd config options into the new arrangement, adjusting a bunch of PHP includes, appropriately unix-ifying permissions on the MySQL databases, setting up logins and shares parallel to what we had, locking things down as necessary. Still have some less-apparent work to do (most notably getting a replacement search engine set up), but it’s going to be great to not have to sit under the fans in the server room to do it!

Music: Etta James :: All I Could Do Was Cry

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