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, for brevity’s sake). is more or less a replacement for Server Preferences, the dumbed-down administration interface that came with past versions of OS X Server. 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 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 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 and the Server Admin Tools in this review.
Installation and Server Admin Overview
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  • Wizzdo - Wednesday, August 3, 2011 - link

    Lion's web server IS Apache. LOL.
  • jigglywiggly - Tuesday, August 2, 2011 - link

    I am too much of an elitist fag to succumb to this.
    I just installed my Debian GUI-less server today to replace my o'll ubuntu 10.04 LTS GUI server, got everyhting setup, mysql, apache, php, samba settings, everything gud to go with only 100 megs of ram usage.
    Sure it took much longer to setup, but I am an elitist fag
  • don_k - Wednesday, August 3, 2011 - link

    Since when is netboot unique to OSX server? Last I checked all *nix variants have had that ability for decades.

    But really, organisations concerned about the sticker price on their server software are not going to go get an apple 'server' for $1k when they can download an iso in 5min and get going are they?
    Not to mention the complete lack of necessary system tools (archiving, compiing especially) without installing macports or something.

    Call it like it is - 1k to manage all those damn pads and phones everyone in the company demands they are able to access the company intranet.
  • johnbouy - Wednesday, August 3, 2011 - link

    Time Machine took a big step backwards with Lion Server. In Snow Leopard Server you could allow time machine backups on individual share points. This allows you to partition a disk and set up individual partitions for specific Time Machine backups. I use this to control how much disk space is allocated for a backup. In Lion you get to nominate one share point/partition as the Time Machine backup storage point. Hence any client that backs up to the server uses the same disk space. A real step backwards!

    Another issue is that rewets .config files when started up so you potentially lose any changes you were forced to make due to the lousy Lion Web service interface.
  • digitalzombie - Wednesday, August 3, 2011 - link

    I like the idea but still... I wouldn't do it. Apparently they got desperate enough to offer it for 50 bucks. Good job for noticing that no one give a damn since Linux is free and both Linux and Window is established already. I still wouldn't give em my money when they tried to charge in the past an arm and a leg. Who the hell do they think they're going fool? The platform isn't the most active for server development tools. Linux got cloud all up in there and it's actively evolving in many area especially server. Don't even try to bring out that pathetic iCloud. It's not open so nothing is going to back that crap other than Apple, openstack have 50 vendors, big companies, backing that project up compare to iCloud. Apple probably won't ever be able to compete in the server sector but they can leverage their UI and simplicity for their user base, such as the gui sys admin tools described in this articles. They should just stick with consumer base products, trying to compete in the server space market is going to kill em.
  • matthi - Wednesday, August 3, 2011 - link

    On page 4 of this review, it says ".. our next entries are Accounts and Stats under the Status heading". 'Accounts' should be replaced with 'Alerts'.
  • slayernine - Wednesday, August 3, 2011 - link

    If only this was a review of Windows Server it might be useful. I have never met a fellow tech person/geek who uses any version of Apple Server products. (aside from one customer about 3 years ago who was curious about them).

    It is just the simple facts that apple products are know for a lack of an ability to upgrade, locked to features that Apple thinks you should have and a lack of price efficiency. Windows and Linux offer far superior server products that will run on pretty much any hardware that suits your needs and the only reason I can see there being a point to review this product is due to Apple padding your pockets.
  • Schafdog - Wednesday, August 3, 2011 - link

    I know that it seems like Apple (or Steve) has lost faith in the PC as a hub, but I would really love seeing a iTunes Server that multiple users can control using iOS devices playing on Airplay or iOS device itself.

    Some NAS is now getting this features, so I might drop the OS X Server for one of those instead.
  • sodi - Wednesday, August 3, 2011 - link

    What kind of crazy organization would use a Lion Server? At works, standard is a necessity. A Lion Server is just oddball.
  • Oscarcharliezulu - Thursday, August 4, 2011 - link

    This seems a bit like OSX Server Lite and Easy rather than a true upgrade to Snow Leopard Server. I wasPthinking of converting an older 'mini to Lion Server (to serve a small business which has MBPs and iMacs, but now I think getting a copy of Snow Leopard Server would be better if I could somehow get it cheap (yet legal).

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