9 Replies Latest reply: Feb 23, 2006 3:05 PM by Joe Urbz
Shahin Level 2 Level 2 (215 points)
I have just taken over management of a small site that uses OS X Server 10.4 with about 10 client machines. There are a lot of problems with this network and the server machine itself (crashes, hang ups and can not run any disk utilities on it), and we have come to the agreement that things have just gotten out of hand and need to be reworked. I am very proficient in most stand alone Mac issues but have limited server experience.

I would like to reformat the server and do a fresh installation of OS X 10.4 on it. My question is what is the best methodology for doing a fresh installation and yet maintaining all user info and data, etc. The user directories are stored on a separate external raid array, so I do not need to back them up or do anything to them in order to reformat the main drive in the server and start fresh, but is there an easy way for me to just tell the server to start using the same old directories and sharepoints, or do I have to set up all users from scratch and then just move their data into the new directories?

Of course I think there is some file corruption in terms of user preferences and settings as well, so I am thinking that I MAY WANT TO set up all new users directories.

Anyway, I am just looking for some tips or hints as to the best way to do this.


PowerMac G5 Dual 2GH, Mac OS X (10.4.1)
  • 1. Re: Re-Installing OS X Server
    HociMan Level 3 Level 3 (710 points)
    One way to do this would be reinstall Tiger Server, and recreate the user accounts with Workgroup Manager, and specify the current RAID location as the user's home directory in the process.*

    *How I would do it with Panther Server. I haven't attempted such a feat with Tiger Server.
  • 2. Re: Re-Installing OS X Server
    Shahin Level 2 Level 2 (215 points)
    Thanks for the response.

    I am unclear about one thing though. Isn't the server going to want to create NEW user directories as I create user accounts with the Workgroup Manager? Or will it "see" that directories exist for a givern username and use the existing directories?
  • 3. Re: Re-Installing OS X Server
    HociMan Level 3 Level 3 (710 points)
    With Panther Server, nothing is officially set, including the user's home directory, until you click the Save button in the Workgroup Manager window. I have yet to install Tiger Server, but if it's Workgroup Manager operates the same way, you will be able to specify the location of the home directory before clicking save, and if the directory is already in that location, it will use it.
  • 4. Re: Re-Installing OS X Server
    David Walton1 Level 4 Level 4 (1,635 points)
    User home directories aren't created unless you explicitly ask WM to do it (by clicking the "Create home now" button, then clicking "Save"). Before you set up your user accounts, set up the share point on the RAID, and create a network mount for it. Provided you use the same short names and uidNumbers for your users, you can point to the existing home directories on the RAID, and the server will use them automatically; it won't recreate them if they already exist.

    What I would do in your situation is to use WM to export your users, then re-import them once you've re-installed and configured the server. This will not preserve passwords. There's not much you can do about that, unless you want to back up and re-use your Password Server database, but given that you're having problems, that may just re-introduce the same instability. You can use a utility like Passenger (check versiontracker.com) to generate and import passwords if you like.

    The most important thing to remember: before you set up your newly-installed server as an Open Directory Master, make sure you have forward and reverse DNS lookups working. Then, set up the network mount for your RAID and re-import your users. Assuming DNS works, short names match, and uidNumbers match, you should then be set to go.

  • 5. Re: Re-Installing OS X Server
    Shahin Level 2 Level 2 (215 points)
    Thanks. Sounds like I should be able to take care of this then and keep everything intact.

    However, seeing that I think there is possible corrupted pref files, etc. in the user directories, is it prudent to just back up the user directories and then go ahead and set up new users and groups from scracth, and then just move over any important user data (actual documenst they have created an dnot any system related files) from the existing direcories into the newly created directories? I am only dealing with 10 users, so his would not be that much work. So they would loose some of their user preferences, desktops, etc., but nothing major.

    Any issues you can see with doing this?
  • 6. Re: Re-Installing OS X Server
    Shahin Level 2 Level 2 (215 points)
    Also an additional question:

    Since I am not entirely comfortable with doing this yet, is it possible for me to just do the fresh install on an external drive, set everything up and then restrat the server off of this external drive, and then proceed with everything. This way I can leave the present server totally intact, in case something goes wrong and I can not get everythng done over the weekend, I can have them up and running back on their existing server by starting from the internal drive, and we would be back where we started.

    Then the question is, assuming everything is all set up on the external, could I then wipe the internal and just do an image transfer from the external to the internal (using something like CarbonCopy Cloner for example), thus just moving the entire new setup to the internal drive? (I hope this makes sense).

    This way I can take my time getting the "new" server all set up on the external and work on it after hours when I can bring everyone down, w/o worring about downtime at all, and when it is all set to go, I will just switch over by copying everything from the external to the internal.

    Any issues with this method?
  • 7. Re: Re-Installing OS X Server
    Polarbear Level 1 Level 1 (145 points)
    Yes that´s not a problem as long as the external drive is a firewire drive. And in Tiger you can just use Disc Copy for making an image to the internal drive. Just choose the source and destination under the tab "Restore" in disc copy and also check the "Erase destination" checkbox and the copy will just take a couple of minutes. Disc Copy is the tool to use for things like these, it actually copies block by block from the drive (and therefore makes an exact image) and not like CCC that just copies over the files (and CCC dont work reliably under tiger, go for superduper!)

    Oh and this of course requires that you boot the server from another machine in target disc mode. Remeber that the only drive that will show up when you boot in target mode is the boot drive.
  • 8. Re: Re-Installing OS X Server
    David Walton1 Level 4 Level 4 (1,635 points)

    Your strategies seem fine on both points (creating new home directories and cloning your boot volume). Particularly on the second one: it's important to be able to go back quickly if something goes wrong. I typically make an ASR image with NetRestore Helper before I do any upgrades--that allows me to put the boot disk anywhere I want it.

    A couple of thoughts:

    - When copying back your users' files, you'll need to make sure that ownership and permissions are correct. I would probably use ditto or cp -p to copy the files when you initially back them up, and the same when you copy them back. Then, issue a chown -R command to make sure the owner is set (e.g., for user Joe Schmoe, chown -R schmoej /Volumes/RAID/Users/schmoej).

    - On cloning your boot volume, I would probably reverse how you plan to do things. I'd put the clone of your existing system on the firewire drive and the new system on the server's internal hard drive. That way, you don't have to clone everything from the firewire drive to the internal system disk when everything is stable. On the other hand, you may have good reasons for doing it the other way. As for what software to use, it's up to you. CCC should work fine for what you're doing; there are some issues under 10.4 with scheduled tasks in CCC 2.3, but manual clones shouldn't be an issue.

    David Walton
  • 9. Re: Re-Installing OS X Server
    Joe Urbz Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
    Similar Situation:

    I am running a Tiger Server/RAID with about 700 user names (high school server). The mountain area went through a severe winter storm and electricty was ubruptly shut off during the holiday weekend. Thus, the UPS batteries drained and the whole system shut off without backups. The OS on the boot drive became corrupt. I tried using Disk Utility, the latest version of DiskWarrior, but the system went bad. There is an additional internal hard drive in the server, where I have installed a fresh copy of Tiger, however, I do not have an exported users list from WGM. (I did not erase the original boot up hard drive yet).

    How would I re-connect the users' data (profiles for Windows and Users' Directories are on the RAID) without the list of users from the previous Workgroup Manager? Is there a file from the original configuration I could find and use? I am not concerned with passwords, and I am aware of the work behind re-setting permissions.

    ANY help with this would be MOST appreciated.