Like the client version of Lion, Lion Server is now a download from the Mac App Store, and as with Lion client this means that there are some changes in the installation process.

A server upgrade install from Snow Leopard Server is performed the same way as a client upgrade install - fire up the App Store, download the installer, and let it do its thing. If you’re running the upgrade from a Snow Leopard server, the App Store is smart enough to prompt you to buy the Server app if you haven’t already. You can also convert any Lion client install to a server install by downloading the Server app from the App Store, and then running it - it will download and install some additional components, and the next time you reboot your Lion client, it’ll be a server instead.

Don't make fun of my test server, okay?

Upgraders should note that OS X Server upgrades tend not to go as smoothly as their client counterparts, and the App Store reviews for Lion Server indicate that this hasn’t changed - if you haven’t already backed up all the data that’s important to you (including a full-disk backup of the hard drive, if you can), make sure you do it before you upgrade. I would recommend doing a clean install if you can, but your mileage may vary - just know that the more you’ve customized Snow Leopard Server, the more likely the upgrade is to break something.

Interestingly, Lion Server removes Snow Leopard Server’s requirement that the software be installed on a desktop Mac system - if, for whatever reason, you want to use a laptop as a server, you can do it without any workarounds. I would generally recommend against this except in light-use or home-use scenarios, since slow-spinning 5400 RPM drives and higher heat are going to give you less-than-stellar performance in workloads that require lots of disk usage - the ability to install Lion Server on a laptop is more useful for remote management of a desktop server, which we’ll talk a little bit about in the next section.
Introduction and the Server Admin Tools
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  • jedimed - Thursday, August 4, 2011 - link

    Does anyone know if Lion Server supports any DLNA media streaming?
  • jay2901 - Saturday, August 6, 2011 - link

    sorry if this has been answered already...but if you aren't interested in legacy nt domain controller functionality, can you join a windows 7 pc to lion server's open directory? would love to use this in a mixed (50-50) environment with mac/pcs without needing active directory.
  • ATOmega - Monday, August 8, 2011 - link

    Such a limiting selection of hardware and functionality.

    Running a server, it makes more sense to take advantage of the strong updates and packages in Debian/Ubuntu and just run with that.

    I mean, if you're crazy about the Apple hardware, go nuts! But it's clear what Apple really does with server is integrate a handful of half baked UIs with otherwise free software packages. Calling it a "server edition" changes little from an existential perspective.

    I'll never understand the appeal of paying up to 3x more to get the same if not less...
  • tumme_totte - Tuesday, August 9, 2011 - link

    Andrew, you say that Windows computers can't join the OD since a Lion OD Master can't be Primary Domain Master for Windows. But in the documentation Apple says something else:

    Can this be verified? Windows 7 machines can't be joined to Leopard Server (neither Server 2008) and I was hoping Lion would solve this.
  • Te-Moz - Sunday, August 14, 2011 - link

    Andrew, you can set up device management with a self signed SSL certificate.
    Obviously it's 'nicer' to have one that's authority signed, but for us, we just need Lion server to control our Macs and iPads, push updates and provide some shared storage. (Educational setting)

    Great article, and if you wanted to do one on setting up a golden triangle with Lion Server OD and Win AD, then I'm sure a lot of folk would fine that really helpful also. ;)
  • reese637 - Saturday, December 24, 2011 - link

    Hi all. I'm a young tech enthusiast who likes to get his hands dirty in networks and servers and what not. As of now, I've been running our home network with two Time Capsule routers (acting as access points, web servers, backup drives, and file sharing), and many mac desktops and laptops (I believe four MacBooks and two iMacs). For a while now, I've been interested in upgrading to the Server edition of OSX, but I was afraid that it had too many requirements such as xserves, server domains, etc. Now that Lion Server seems to be a bit more consumer friendly and a lot cheaper, I was seriously thinking in upgrading. Would any of you please be able to let me know if there is anything else I need to buy/do in order for OSX Lion Server to actually work in my home? Thank you.
  • Ron Blatto - Thursday, February 2, 2012 - link

    I'm new to using any kind of server software and your guide is exactly what I was looking for.

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