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
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  • Kristian Vättö - Tuesday, August 2, 2011 - link

    Your Twitter was right, this really is endless Reply
  • CharonPDX - Tuesday, August 2, 2011 - link

    It was that pesky loop that started on page 23 that circled you back to page 8. By the time you'd read page 23, you'd forgotten what was on page 8, so you didn't notice you were in a loop until you were at what you thought was page 157... Reply
  • B3an - Tuesday, August 2, 2011 - link

    Very in depth article... but i feel you've wasted time on this. No one in there right mind would use OSX as a server. Apart from Apple fanboys that choose an inferior product over better alternatives because it has an Apple logo, but i emphasize the words "right mind". Reply
  • FATCamaro - Tuesday, August 2, 2011 - link

    For enterprise work, or a Windows-only network this is certainly true. For SMB, or even 500 mac/mixed users I think it could work if you can provide some glue to handle fail-over.
    Windows server is better for Office for sure as is Linux for web & applications.
    Reply
  • Spivonious - Wednesday, August 3, 2011 - link

    I can run a web server on the client version of Windows. It's just not installed by default. Reply
  • mino - Saturday, August 6, 2011 - link

    Hint: for how many users/connections ....

    If it was THAT simple there would be no Web Edition, mind you.
    Reply
  • AlBanting - Friday, August 19, 2011 - link

    Same thing for client version of Mac OS X. I've done this for years. Reply
  • KPOM - Tuesday, August 2, 2011 - link

    True, for an enterprise user. However, a small business or tech-savvy home user trying to manage multiple Windows PCs, Macs, and iOS devices might well be tempted by the $50 price tag.

    If should be obvious by the price drop and the discontinuation of the XServe that Apple no longer intends to compete with Windows Server or Linux in the enterprise market. They are a consumer-oriented company, and released a server OS intended for a consumer market.
    Reply
  • zorxd - Tuesday, August 2, 2011 - link

    Tech-savvy home user will run a free linux distro for a server. Plus it will work on any hardware, not only on a Mac. Many use older PCs as servers.
    Also the Mac Pro is too expensive and the Mac Mini can't even have 3.5" drives which mean that it is a bad solution for a file server.
    Reply
  • richardr - Tuesday, August 2, 2011 - link

    Actually, I have a real use case, though it may be a bit specialised for your tastes... non-computing departments of universities are full of people with underused desktops running Word, but also have other people doing analyses that take ages to run on their machines. Making them all Macs (you'll never persuade them to use linux) and wiring them up with xgrid and OSX Server is a pretty pain-free way of running my analyses on their machines without too much disruption to their lives... Reply

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