Currently Being ModeratedMay 1, 2012 12:49 AM (in response to AJsApple)
I think you're over-thinking this.
I doubt you really want each machine to boot off a disk image on the server.
For what it is, that's do-able, but probably not want you want. The fact these machines are portable imply you're going to want to pick them up and move them, or take them out with you to work, Starbucks, etc., but as soon a they leave the local network they're nothing more than bricks because their entire data is back on the home LAN.
Instead what I suggest you want is mobile home directories. In this way you install the core operating system on each machine - each machine is entirely bootable and can run standalone, but the difference is that your accounts' home directories are stored on the server, not on each machine.
Then you have two accounts - one for home and one for work - and it's now a simple matter of logging into the home or work account. The system will automatically connect to the server to get your home directory - all your documents, preferences, etc., and it doesn't matter which machine you log in to, the home directory is the same.
If you do want to take your machine away with you, you can do that too. With mobile home synching, the system keeps a copy of your home directory data on the local machine as well as the server. You run off the local home directory stored on the machine, but it's automatically synched to the server so you can pick up at any time on the other machine. This sounds to me more like the scenario you want/need.
On that basis, both Snow Leopard Server and Lion Server are capable of doing this. It will just take a little setup, though, depending on your skills on managing the server
Currently Being ModeratedMay 1, 2012 7:24 AM (in response to Camelot)
OS X Server search fodder: Portable Home Directory or PHD.
With a PHD implementation (which is what Camelot is referencing) you can have a central store of your login files on a server, mirrored locally, and with the password and related data also mirrored.
The PHD configuration works best when you don't have a whole lot of files accumulated in your login directory and when you have either wired gigabit Ethernet or 5 GHz dual-slot WiFi, though. The more you have stored in your login directory, the longer the synchronization takes, and the more bandwidth required.
Currently Being ModeratedMay 1, 2012 6:57 PM (in response to MrHoffman)
Over-thinking something aludes that one has some knowledge of it. I don't plan on taking a walk with it while I'm up and running.
What I'm looking for is so when I'm home, doing taxes, research (non-work related), etc., I'm looking at the same desktop, and have the same folders in my user account regardless of which "hardware" I'm using. Think of it as if I booted to an external HDD with another copy of SL client, and booted from that instead of whatever laptop's internal drive I was using.
MrHoffman, I thought I knew a lot about Macs. Apparently I don't because I havn't a clue what you described. What's the best way to start learning about how to set up a server? Or, to do what you've described assuming that serves my purpose?
Currently Being ModeratedMay 2, 2012 7:07 AM (in response to AJsApple)
Here is the Lion Server documentation; see the advanced section, in managing users > managing users and groups. Lion Server is considerably simplified from Snow Leopard, both in terms of its management and its documentation.
The Snow Leopard Server documentation has the User Management manual, which has a more complete introduction and rather more detail in its Chapter 8: Managing Portable Computers documentation. From that chapter:
About Portable Home Directories
A portable home directory is a synced subset of a user’s local and network home folders. You can configure which folders to sync and how often to sync them. Users can also initiate syncing. By syncing key folders, a user can work on or off the network and experience the same work environment.
Because the user has a local home folder that only syncs periodically or at login and logout, the mobile account reduces network traffic, expediting server connections for users who need to access the server.
If you are not dealing with laptops (portable computers), then you can (assuming the local wired or wireless network is sufficiently fast) store all of your login directory and your files on the server and server storage, and all of the clients can access those files directly. This is called a Network Home directory. You don't need Portable Home Directories. The files are not stored on the client boxes and are not (as is the case with PHDs) mirrored to the local clients, which means all clients connected to the server have the same view, irrespective of where you log in, and there are no local directory copies.
In any case, see the Snow Leopard Server User Adminstration manual for some details on this topic.
The Snow Leopard Server documentation is rather more extensive than the Lion Server documentation.
Currently Being ModeratedMay 4, 2012 5:53 PM (in response to MrHoffman)
Thank you for the links. I will read them over. I referenced Snow Leopard server because that is what I was given, and because I am still using Snow Leopard client on my laptops. I like the traditional OS X as opposed to iOS-like operating systems.
I like the idea of Portable Home Directories. What happens when you boot up away from home? Does it recognize that your server is not present and disist from continually attempting to sync?
Additionally, can a local desktop be configured as a Network Home Directory, and a portable with the PHD? Or, is it one or the other?
Currently Being ModeratedMay 4, 2012 6:01 PM (in response to AJsApple)
I also wanted to ask if it's possible to run a server in the background, but still be able to use applications as if you were on a desktop? I've noticed that, for example, Mac Pros that are configured for a server have a slower processor and less memory than one set up with a client operating system. Why is that? Are server operating systems limited to only hosting other computers's files?
Currently Being ModeratedMay 4, 2012 8:22 PM (in response to AJsApple)
You can run server while using applications developed for the client OS.
There is no difference between the kernels of Mac OS X and Mac OS X server. They are identical, the only thing that differs are the services that server brings to the table. Server is more robust from the standpoint, that it has services that allow it to serve, i.e DHCP, VPN, DNS, LDAP, Mail, Web (Apache) etc.
Most linux operating systems are the base OS with packages you can download from various repositories to add whichever services you wish to run. It really is no different in theory with Mac and the darwin kernel.
So yes, you can run anything on a Mac Server OS that you can run on a client OS. There will be no differences in performance, unless you have imporperly configured your server. DNS is bad, as in it cannot resolve it's hostname to its IP address. Or you have many services running, improperly configured or even worse, turned on doing nothing.
A fine tuned server runs better than the client OS, I think resources are utilized better on the server side, mainly because a you are more prone to pay attention to your environment on a server and are aware of the processes and performance. At least from my experience, and I have a lot of Mac OS X Server and client experience.
Currently Being ModeratedMay 5, 2012 10:17 AM (in response to AJsApple)
I also wanted to ask if it's possible to run a server in the background, but still be able to use applications as if you were on a desktop?
Yes, you can do it.
But consider the conflicting goals lurking within that request.
A server is usually serving up (and variously critical) tasks for other clients such as security, disk services, iChat services, etc.
A local client is generally serving the needs of a single user, and rebooting a client system generally effects just one user.
A client outage arising from a misconfiguration or another error means that one user is effected, and possibly not even particularly effected - particularly if that user's home directories might be hosted on a server, and can be retargeted to another "spare" client box.
A server outage due to a misconfiguration, or a software error, or a hardware error, or a volume corruption can mean that multiple users can be effected. Both due to the home directories being offline, but also with network effects due to DNS services being out, etc.
Even rebooting a server can effect multiple computers and multiple users.
I've noticed that, for example, Mac Pros that are configured for a server have a slower processor and less memory than one set up with a client operating system. Why is that?
Servers aren't generally looking for brute-force per-thread speeds nor for applications with gonzo memory requirements, they're usually optimized for performing services; for serving out disk storage and related tasks.
Client boxes and users working on client boxes usually like the go-fast.
Servers like extra parallelism, and widgets that can provide higher reliability; RAID, for instance.
That's a different mix.
Are server operating systems limited to only hosting other computers's files?
No. With OS X Server and OS X, the server configuration is a superset of client. (Not quite a proper superset. There have been a few divergences here, such as the removal of a few client-targeted features such as Boot Camp, some Bluetooth pieces, Internet Connection Sharing, from versions of Server. But yes, the two are very, very similar.)
And I find the iOS-isms in 10.7 are actually getting to be nice. It took a while to unlearn various habits (file saving, for instance), to adjust to new and different gestures, to having the applications automatically restarted, and to switching from the old application folders and even the dock to Mission Command. It's thinking different(ly), yes, but then that's Apple.
Currently Being ModeratedMay 5, 2012 5:34 PM (in response to MrHoffman)
Thank you for your help. I do realize the importance, under business and professional circumstances for example, of keeping a server secluded from other tasks and dedicated to being, well, just a server. The reason I'm delving into learning how to run a home-based server is to expand my learning and knowledge of one, with the intension of running one in my small business in the future. But for now, this one will be for my use only, at home. With the help of regular backups, which I do anyway, I'm not too worried about server interuptions while I learn and familiarize myself.
Having said that, is there a way to import, or migrate, my client home folder into the server? I just started reading the User Management Manual, and am trying to figure out if hosting a Portable Home Directory will allow me to use it on the same machine. I am installing SLS as I type.
Currently Being ModeratedMay 6, 2012 12:13 AM (in response to MrHoffman)
I've been trying for a few hours now to start/create a PHD with no avail. Unfortunautely, the instructions that Apple gives are dependant on having previous knowledge of servers. It seems I can create a local network over my LAN, and I can create a Computer Account. From there, I can't figure out "To create a mobile account using Workgroup Manager:"
Is there a specific discussions section I should be asking all this in?
Currently Being ModeratedMay 6, 2012 7:19 AM (in response to AJsApple)
To ensure one detail is clear: OS X and OS X Server are different environments. OS X Server is an add-on to the more familiar OS X client package, and adds a variety of features and capabilities. Versions of OS X Server 10.5 and earlier were available in two versions, a 10-client-connections package, and an unlimited-client-connections package. These licenses controlled the numbers of connections, and did not include licenses for the client software itself. 10.6 eliminated the 10-client packaging. Pricing was US$999 for the unlimited-connections for 10.5, US$499 for 10.6. It's US$49.99 for 10.7.
The core tools for managing OS X Server are the Server Admin.app and Workgroup Manager.app tools, though Apple is migrating from these toward Server.app. See the 10.6 Snow Leopard Server documentation linked earlier for details of OS X Server.
With OS X Server, the first thing you need here is proper networking, then properly configured DNS services. DNS services are absolutely critical to getting the rest of the stack to work, and it is not possible to use ISP-based DNS or any other off-LAN DNS services with a NAT'd network configuration.
Currently Being ModeratedMay 6, 2012 7:27 AM (in response to MrHoffman)
Proper networking... that would be my router here, correct... the 192.168.4.x address?
Currently, I'm stuck on the server itself. Somehow, I've got two: Local and an LDAPv3 directory. With the former, the Workgroup Manager tells me that it isn't visible to the network. However, the LDAPv3 will not recognize my admin user name and password when I authenticate. So, I can't change anything on that.
It seems that every time I start on something, I come upon a "See 'Some other section in this manual'", and have to go figure out another aspect. I'm getting stuck very quickly and easily. OS X Server for Dummies would come in very handy.