So, you’ve installed Lion Server, and you’re ready to get started - go ahead and launch the new Server program (hereafter referred to as Server.app, for brevity’s sake).

Server.app is more or less a replacement for Server Preferences, the dumbed-down administration interface that came with past versions of OS X Server. Server.app is a much better tool for novices and experienced administrators alike, and strikes a decent balance between functionality and usability. However, if you’ve had experience with previous versions of the software, you may be a little horrified right about now - where are all the services? The advanced configuration options?

If you’re one of those people, don’t get too worried yet - you can restore most of your lost functionality by installing the Server Admin Tools from Apple’s support website. This will install Server Admin, Workgroup Manager, the System Image Utility, Server Monitor, Podcast Composer, and XGrid Admin, all of which expose most of the functionality you’re used to in a familiar way.

Of these, Server Admin is the most important, since it has historically provided the most information and control over your different services, but even its importance has been lessened in Lion Server - it now provides access only to services that Server.app doesn’t manage, rather than advanced configuration setting for all services (if you’ve still got Snow Leopard servers to manage, don’t worry - Lion’s Server Admin can still manage all services on a Snow Leopard server just as before).

My main gripe with Server.app is that it doesn’t offer access to everything OS X Server can do - OS X Server without the Server Admin Tools is a much less functional product. People wanting to expose all of OS X Server’s functionality will have to use both apps, and as such I’ll do my best to cover both Server.app and the Server Admin Tools in this review.
Installation Server.app and Server Admin Overview
POST A COMMENT

77 Comments

View All Comments

  • ex2bot - Friday, August 5, 2011 - link

    Upgrading OS X is not much of a pain, as Repo says. Plus, it's practical to skip at least every other upgrade. So, upgrading every four years (2 + 2) at $60 isn't a big deal and the improvements are worth it.

    I especially appreciate Expose', Time Machine, Spotlight, and Quick Look and use them regularly And every Mac user has benefitted from Quartz GL (uses 3d graphics card to speed up screen draws).. There have been myriad "invisible" or subtle improvements as well. See Apple's "Mac OS X" section for details.

    Four years between OS upgrades is not bad, as I said. Longhorn was supposed to come out about 4 or 5 years after XP. Microsoft just had eyes bigger than its stomach and it was delayed. But Windows 7 was worth the wait. Especially features like the display compositor + aesthetically pleasing UI + improved security (and no more yellow speech bubbles popping up all the time)

    Ex2bot
    Automated System Process
    Reply
  • ex2bot - Friday, August 5, 2011 - link

    BTW, Expose's successor is called "Mission Control." Reply
  • Sahrin - Tuesday, August 2, 2011 - link

    a reduction in advertising, if you guys are going to do all these paid reviews for Apple. Reply
  • Johnmcl7 - Tuesday, August 2, 2011 - link

    It's getting a bit of a joke these days that anything with the Apple badge will get a news article, preview, in depth review the moment it's out dwarfing everything else which barely seems to get a look-in. I get that Anand likes Apple stuff and if I don't I should go elsewhere but I like the non-Apple reviews when they do occasionally get published.

    John
    Reply
  • ex2bot - Friday, August 5, 2011 - link

    It's no joke. Check Anand's mailbox some time*.

    Ex2bot

    *Crazies, please don't mess with his mailbox.
    Reply
  • ex2bot - Friday, August 5, 2011 - link

    I know for a fact that Apple employees stuff money into Anand's mailbox*. Lots and lots of money. They use $20s and $50s straight from Jobs' car, who burns them to light his cigs.

    Ex2bot
    Currency Calculating Mac Fanbot

    * Anand, I don't really believe this. I was kidding, as I'm sure you've figured out. Actually, I'm sure they are $100s, not $20s and $50s. After all, he's a Billionaire.
    Reply
  • the_engineer - Tuesday, August 2, 2011 - link

    Thanks for this great in-depth look at Lion Servers new & continued functionality, I learned a lot reading this. However, I'm still very confused at where XSAN fits into the picture. As a storage power-user I've used software Linux raid, semi-hardware windows raid (Intel, Highpoint), and I've lately dabbled into ZFS because it seems like it's really got everything I could ever want as far as straight storage capabilities are concerned (I'm running a raidz6 with 6 750GB drives currently running on Nexenta). I'd really like to put Lion Server on a mac and install a generic SATA card and add 6 3TB hard drives and do a great big raid5 in a mac pro, but am very confused as to whether or not this will work. I was very hopeful that Lion Server would integrate 'software' RAID5 or similar functionality, but it's not clear anywhere whether it does this or not. Simply put, Do I still need to buy a dedicated raid5 card to have a redundant array of inexpensive disks on a mac or am I missing something still?

    -Looking for a great user experience AND a ton of redundant storage
    Reply
  • HMTK - Wednesday, August 3, 2011 - link

    Why not set up a NAS with iSCSI or NFS ? Reply
  • the_engineer - Wednesday, August 3, 2011 - link

    LONG story short, geting a deidciated NAS box means spending more money than ought to be necessary at this point (I have an i7 desktop and a core2 desktop, both capable of running Lion, Windows, FreeBSD, you name it... Just fine, as well as plenty of vanilla SATA ports & cards available). I'm Trying to weigh all purely software options available to me, with ZFS/BSD sitting on top of the heap for storage features but OSX sitting on top of the heap from a usability standpoint. The longer I look at it the more likely I am to end up running one huge 20-drive ZFS based NAS under FreeBSD but was trying to avoid getting to this point. Reply
  • HMTK - Wednesday, August 3, 2011 - link

    If you put it on the network you can access it with all decent OS's. I've got a little HP mini proliant just for that. Reply

Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now