Previous 1 2 3 Next 36 Replies Latest reply: Jan 10, 2014 7:04 PM by PleaseandThankYou
Gerben Wierda Level 1 Level 1
Mac OS X

I have a Mac mini Server running 10.6.8. Now that 10.8 is out, Apple will probably stop supporting 10.6 (as is their policy) and that means either slowly eroding security or moving to 10.8. I have been looking at the documentation and it seems underneath it all is still by an large the same basic unix-stuff like postfix, dovecot, a dns system, etc. Giving the lack of support for GUI-managing the more complex setups, I'll probably be doing it command-line (stuff like multiple virtual mail domains, multiple web domains, etc.). Not fun (and a business opportunity for some enterprising software engineer).


But what I haven't been able to see in the documentation or anywhere else is Portable Home Directories. In my current setup, I have a 10.6.8 Server and 10.7 clients. On these clients is a single local administrator acocunt and the rest are 'managed mobile accounts'. These are local acocunts. They work when away form the network on which the server is, but when in range of the server, the server may push settings and stuff. And on login/logout and when connected to the LAN and during work, the home directory of the user is constantly synchronized with a copy of the user's home directory on the server. This means my users can take any computer and get their own account and a synchronized copy of their home directory. They can also take a laptop off line for a while and when they return to my LAN (either physically or by VPN), any changes will be synced. This is a sweet setup and it works with 10.7 clients and 10.6.8 server.


But what I haven't been able to find if this will still work with 10.8 Server. I have looked at teh 10.8 Server documentation and haven't found anything about it. Will it still work somehow and if not, is there a good alternative?

2010 iMac 27" i7, 2009 MBA SSD, 2010 mini server, NeXTdimension Cube
Solved by DenisF on Jul 29, 2012 2:28 PM Solved
Yes, I have done it.You don't need to use terminal.I think it works as before.Probably it can be configured by profile manager but I have not been so far. What I have done is: Create local network users on the server.Go to the client. You need an administrator password.In the preference users and groups go to the Option and enable network account server. Each user can change its account to mobile user and configure what has to be synchronised and when.
  • DenisF Level 2 Level 2

    Yes, I have done it.

    You don't need to use terminal.

    I think it works as before.

    Probably it can be configured by profile manager but I have not been so far. What I have done is:


    Create local network users on the server.

    Go to the client. You need an administrator password.

    In the preference users and groups go to the Option and enable network account server.

    Each user can change its account to mobile user and configure what has to be synchronised and when.

  • Gerben Wierda Level 1 Level 1
    Mac OS X

    It is probably asking too much to have an easy upgrade path from 10.6.8 Server to 10.8 Server?

  • cdolan92 Level 1 Level 1

    Not sure,


    I've had a ton of trouble with Lion Server in a variety of issues, but normally you'd have to get to the regular Lion Client, then ML client, then ML server.


    You probably need to export the settings and information from your 10.6.8 Open Directry, etc, and then import them into ML. Hoepfully it is easier for you than that though

  • Kirk Carver Level 1 Level 1


    It sounds like you have a basic handle on how to manage portable home directories.  I'm just getting started in this area, and was wondering if I could get you thoughts on how it works prior to 10.8.  Take a look at my post here:


    If you have a chance to provide your input, I'd appreciate it.



  • Stefan R Level 1 Level 1

    Mobile home directories work but wait... don't pgrade yet. There are a lot of issues with 10.8 upgrade.


    Wait for 10.8.1 !


    They have speeded up Workgroup manager it seems, but it is the same as the old one. is much better and has most of the settings that you use to have in the Server So now you need only :-)


    I am using remote accounts both synchronized and non-synchronized and it works just like before.

  • Kirk Carver Level 1 Level 1


    Thanks for the reply.  I've already upgraded the Mini to 10.8... however, it doesn't have anything on it so there's no harm.


    I don't know how the "synchronized and non-synchronized" accounts worked before.  Can you link me to something that will help me understand how to properly set this up?



  • Gerben Wierda Level 1 Level 1
    Mac OS X

    It is pretty simple:

    1. You create accounts on the server

    2. You connect the client to the Open Directory of the server so it can use the accounts of the server

    3. You log in for the first time on the client and you will get a panel asking you if you want to login with the server account and create a local account copy using the server account. You do. (I forget the exact phrasing).


    After that, OS X on the Client sets up a local account, but one which is managed by settings that are pushed form the server. Such settings include for instance settings to synch the local home directory with the remote user directory on the server.


    If the Open DIrectory master is not avaiable, syncing just fails because the client cannot mount the home directory on the server. When you're in range of the server, syncing proceeds.


    It is above all useful for two things in my opinion:

    1. Having multiple clients in a home and make it possible for all users to acces their own accounts on all clients (though preferably not concurrently because of the added complexity of multiple concurrent syncs)

    2. Taking your laptop out of range of the server and be able to work with your personal stuff then having everything synced back to the server when you're back in range (something that can also be arrived at by setting up a VPN from off site client back to the server)


    Furthermore, I have set up backup on the server (using CrashPlan), so the local clients do not have to back up. When in range of the server, PHD syncing is once every 20 minutes or so and CrashPlan backup is too. Restoring is a bit more complex than with Time Machine (you need to do the restore on the server which then can propagate back to the clients)


    The only thing I would doubt about is that remote Mac you use. To use the server this way it would require something like a permanent VPN connection to your home network and that will seriously slow down its network traffic.


    I am currently using 1.6.8 Server and 10.7 clients. I will be updating to 10.8 Server and 10.8 clients as soon as 10.8 becomes a little more mature.

  • Kirk Carver Level 1 Level 1


    Thank you for the overview.  Assume  that one must install the server app first before configuring any of the other items.


    When you write in your #1 above that you create accounts on the server, do you create local users on the server that then get registered on the server app as remote users?


    If I already have accounts on my current MacBook Pro, would you suggest transfering the accounts directly to the server machine using something like migration assistant ( ) then clean install Mt Lion on the laptop?  Will the server appear as a login option from the laptop at that point, or do you need to create local users on the laptop that match the user names on the server?


    Thanks for the help.

  • Eric. Level 6 Level 6

    Kirk, yes you need to install Server first. You'll then want to set up Open directory which is need to manage network users. You'll need file sharing on, with at least one share available for network home. Once you've done that, in you can create the network users and direct their homes to 'home' share. You don't create local users for portable homes.


    The only thing I didn't quite get is whether Gerben also used/needed profile manager or workgroup manager to make portabile/mobile directories available to users.

  • Gerben Wierda Level 1 Level 1
    Mac OS X

    I have no experience yet with Lion Server or Mountain Lion Server. I'll migrate in a couple of months to MLS.


    The user accounts need to be on the server and these need to be network accounts, not local accounts (they need to be in the network directory, not the local directory).


    So, my guess would be that it is good to migrate the accounts to ML first, then turn ML into a server and then (if still neessary) change the local accounts on MLS to network accounts. Not having experience with MLS yet, I do not know if this is the correct order.

  • Kirk Carver Level 1 Level 1


    Thank you for the reply.


    I understand that the the user accounts that are to be "mobile" need to have their accounts int he Open Directory. Does this mean that these same users can't be local users too?  I ask this because I was planning to use Migration Assistant to move the contents of three users accounts (one of them being the Shared account) from an older MacBook Pro (which will itself get upgraded later) to the Mini server.  The three accounts would essentially be the network accounts that would have mobile homes.   However, there may be an easier approach than using Migration Assistant.


    Now, from what I gather, there needs to be a "Home" share (per Eric's note).  Does this share need to reside on one of the internal HD's (there are two 500 gb hd's on the Mini) or can it be on an External drive? 


    I'm also wondering what size these home shares need to be in order to adequately accomodate the user's information.  I plan (key word here) to place media on a separate external 2 GB hd that is attached via Firewire to the Mini.  This would leave the two internal HD's open for use.  I could, I suppose, RAID the drives into a JBOD configuration to maximize space, and have all of the User home data on the same logical drive as the OS.  Or, I could split the OS onto one drive, and use the other drive as the home share drive -- not sure if this is enough space.  If you could spare your advice on this subject, I'd appreciate it.


    In the meantime, I could load the OSx Server App on the Mini and look through it.  Does anyone know if there is a good documentation link for the Server App?


    Again, thanks for the input.



  • Gerben Wierda Level 1 Level 1
    Mac OS X

    (My knowledge is restricted to 10.6.8)


    All accounts are in Open Directory. The local accounts are in node /Local/Default/ and the network accounts are in node /LDAPv3/ My network accounts have their home directories in the same place as the local accounts (I have two local accounts, one system administrator and one itunes account, the latter to serve itunes to the rest of the home).


    The local accounts have their home directory in /Users on the server (e.g. Users/itunes) and the network acocunts have their home directory there too, however in WorkGroup manager this is set up for user foo as afp://myservername/Users/foo and according to WorkGroup Manager, the full path is /Network/Servers/myservername/Users/foo.


    In other words, I have made /Users as a mount point in Server Admin.


    The trick is (as I remember this, because it is a while ago and I have been running like this since) that if you log in on a client machine, you let it create a local account (which is populated by an initial portable home dir sync). In case you log in to the server for the first time it will also offer to create a 'mobile' copy of your fome directory. On the server you say no, and you get your home directory direct, not in copy form.


    Now, I think what you can do is this (but there probably is a better route): copy the users over to the (to be) server. These are then local acocunts with home directories in /User. You can create the users a second time in the network directory and you do not create a home dir. You point the users to the old directory via the mount point. You delete the users from the local directory without removing the home dir. You go into terminal and chown the home directory of the user to the correct (network directory) uid.


    Or: you create the users anew in the network directory, you replace their home directories with the content of what is on the MacBook (TDM is your friend) and do the chmod. Easier still.


    I think a 2GB HD is a bit small these days ;-) Anyway, I have the users home directories on the internal RAID (even the FW800 is not as fast as the internal drives and using a mirror RAID makes the storage more robust). I have set up a backup from the internal RAID to an external drive (and remote storage). The PHD syncing syncs every 20 minutes or so from client to server and the server backs up every 20 minutes or so to the backup destinations. To get something back is a bit of work (you need to restore on the server and them use PHD syncing to get it back to the clients).

  • Eric. Level 6 Level 6

    Gerben Wierda wrote:


    Or: you create the users anew in the network directory, you replace their home directories with the content of what is on the MacBook (TDM is your friend) and do the chmod. Easier still.


    That way, I suggest the migration in that way; because, you can test everything out before the data gets moved over. There's nothing like something going wrong in the setup/migration, and you have to do it all over again.


    Kirk, you can always put the Home directories/folder on an external. But if you do, you'll probably want to run this command in Terminal:


    sudo defaults write /Library/Preferences/SystemConfiguration/autodiskmount AutomountDisksWithoutUserLogin -bool YES

    That sets the system-wide setting to mount external HDs on startup. The default behavior  in OS X, probably around 10.3 onward (but Apple may have flip-flopped on this), is to mount externals on user GUI-login, not on startup like internal HDs. The default behavior is a huge problem with network users, whose home directories reside on the external, since the external on GUI login often mounts "too late" and new "phantom" home directories are created (along with warning messages that the home directory can't be found) and you sometimes get duplicate mount points. In short, the default behavior creates a bit of mess. To spare you some frustration, run that command, which will mount the externals on startup, so the home folders are always available.


    It's also handy if you plan on creating other shares on the external; it prevents some flaky behavior.


    Gerben's "general description" can be applied to Lion and Mountain Lion, although with Mountain Lion you have fewer tools, and you'll often be working in rather than some of the older tools like Server Admin.


    Again, basically you need to:


    (1) Setup file sharing, where you designate a directory/folder as a share to hold the network home directories. On the default install, Apple makes /Users a share, and you could (similar to what Gerben did) use that to hold not only local accounts' but also the network accounts' home directories. In that setup all users' home directories reside in the same place. All you have to do then is check the box "Make available for home directories over" and leave "AFP". See below; note the very last checkbox; that needs to be checked:



    I preferred to keep the local and network users separate, so I actually use a different share for the network users, and not /Users. If you go that route, pay attention to the permissions, it's somewhat easy to get them wrong. I think I cheated and used Carbon Copy Cloner to clone the /Users directory to another HD, then just renamed the directory. FYI you're actually not seeing this in these screen shots, since I'm using a "fresh install" virtual machine to make the screen shots.


    Also if you don't need it, I'd probably uncheck "Share with Windows clients (SMB).


    2. You need to setup Open Directory, so you can manage Network Users. Since you want portable home directories, then you might consider using Profile Manager (introduced in Lion Server), which is Apple's latest tool for that. You can also download separate Workgroup Manager as well. Not sure which is better, or exactly why there are both. I think the documention indicated for older pre-Lion OSes, Workgroup Manager is still around.

    2a - If you go straight to Profile Manager, and set it up, it will first make you setup Open Directory, then the rest of the setup for Profile Manager itself.

    2b - Or you can always "two-step", first setup Open Directory, then later if you want "Profile Manager".


    3. Once you have OD (step 2), and the share setup for network home directories (step), you use to create the network users, and assign their home directory to the share not local. Note the entry "Home Folder"; use the pull-down menu to select your share. See below.


    If you forget to set the Home Folder, you can always "edit" the user and change the Home Folder to the share, and not Local Only.


    4. To get portable Home directories, I'm pretty sure you're going to have to setup and activate Profile Manager or use Workgroup Manager. Sorry not much details I can provide there, I've only played with it a bit, and was planning on upgrading my MacBook Pro to Mountain Lion before giving it a go again.

  • Gerben Wierda Level 1 Level 1
    Mac OS X

    For disks that need to be mounted always, there is also still good old /etc/fstab to make sure stuff gets mounted at boot time. For instance, I have a /usr/local partition that is case-sensitive and is mounted at boot time with this in /etc/fstab


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