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Mark T
27th December 2009, 11:20 PM
My goal for 2010 is to simplify our home "IT department" in particular by enabling our children (aged 0, 2, 6 & 7) to log into their home directory using any available computer (desktops and laptops). This would also simplify the backing-up situation of everyone's home directories.

What I'm thinking of is treating it as one might set up a small business or school IT network.

Everyone could also have their own email account on our existing but currently unused domain.

Is Snow Leopard Server suitable for all this? Or is SLS overkill?

Are there any other ideas out there about organising the "ideal" home computer network?

Thanks for any idea that I can throw around.

Mark T

adamd
28th December 2009, 02:53 AM
SLS would suit exactly what you want to do, and isn't over kill.
I'm running 10.4 server on a PowerMac G4, just for the point of having certain shared network services available in my house.
Snow Leopard Server was designed for situations like yours.

decryption
28th December 2009, 09:55 AM
Yeah, SLS would be great for that purpose. Apple's documentation for SLS can put you on the path on how to get it done: Apple - Mac OS X Server Snow Leopard - Resources - Documentation (http://www.apple.com/server/macosx/resources/documentation.html) and check out the User Management PDF.

Mark T
28th December 2009, 09:56 AM
Thanks, adamd

Can I trouble you (and any others that know their way around Mac OS X Server) with a few questions that are running around my head?

For starters, where do applications reside? For example, do I install a copy of iWork on every computer in the house, or do I just instal one copy on the server?

How do I take a laptop off-site so that I can make changes to my documents and they sync back to the server when I reconnect?

Once again, thanks for any help.

Mark T

decryption
28th December 2009, 10:00 AM
Thanks, adamd

Can I trouble you (and any others that know their way around Mac OS X Server) with a few questions that are running around my head?

For starters, where do applications reside? For example, do I install a copy of iWork on every computer in the house, or do I just instal one copy on the server?

How do I take a laptop off-site so that I can make changes to my documents and they sync back to the server when I reconnect?

Once again, thanks for any help.

Mark T

Apps still live on each computer - you can install them remotely to multiple computers at once though, via Apple Remote Desktop.

I'm not sure how file replication works - chances are you can set it up just to copy whatever is in the local machine's home folder the next time it connects to the server (i.e: the next time you log in when entering your username and password on the client computer - not just plugging it in to an ethernet port or anything - you actually need to authenticate)

Mark T
28th December 2009, 10:06 AM
Thanks, decryption

Have downloaded the pdf and will start to read over my Christmas/New Year break.

Mark

tact
28th December 2009, 05:15 PM
I am doing pretty much the same thing here. I picked up my MacMini server a few weeks before Christmas. Have been having a ball setting it up. Currently have web services (with Wiki server, blog server etc), file sharing, iChat, iCal, email etc all up for the family home intranet. That means DNS is up and the machine is a OpenDirectory master.

Have also got Software updates up too so that updates only need to be downloaded once. Might turn that off though as I have not discovered how to limit the updates that are downloaded to just the ones used in my household (e.g. all the xsan updates come in as well as G4 and powerpc updates)

At the moment do not use server based home directories. Just have it set as a time machine target.

adamd
28th December 2009, 11:10 PM
Thanks, adamd

Can I trouble you (and any others that know their way around Mac OS X Server) with a few questions that are running around my head?

For starters, where do applications reside? For example, do I install a copy of iWork on every computer in the house, or do I just instal one copy on the server?

How do I take a laptop off-site so that I can make changes to my documents and they sync back to the server when I reconnect?

Once again, thanks for any help.

Mark T

From what I know of using Snowy Server, I'm not sure of how it handles remote home folders. As for OpenDirectory authentication, I know you have to log in atleast once before you can take the machine offsite and use a network account.
I might have a shot with 10.4 server (the latest copy I have running at home) and see how it handles remote accounts.

thorevenge
29th December 2009, 12:24 PM
Its taken me a while, but I worked out how to get portable home directories working on Leopard and SL should be the same.

The key is determining what your domain is going to be. Don't confuse this with an internet domain. Your internal domain is specific to you alone.

You will need to come up with this domain and it will need to also be the DNS name of your machine. My suggestion is to use something as short as possible. I once tried to use something similar to a subdomain.domain.tld thing and it failed miserably on mounting the home directories properly.

When prompted in the setup to set the DNS name of your machine, make sure you use this domain. Note you will have to setup the server as a standalone server as well to begin with.

Once setup is complete you will need to enable DNS, AFP, Open Directory at a minimum to get portable home directories working.

In DNS, you will need to setup a zone record with the IP of your server as the same name as the domain you setup before.

You will also need to enable guest access in AFP shares.

In Open Directory, you will change from a standalone server to an Open Directory Master. This will require you to create a Directory Administrator password.

You will now need to setup a location for your home folders. If your primary HD has enough room - super! If not, you will need to create a share somewhere and permission the share as root:staff for owner:group. You will then need to use File Sharing to create a share that is auto-mountable. This will need your Dir Admin password.

Onto Workgroup Manager...

Authenticate to the node LDAPv3/127.0.0.1 with your Dir Admin details. Create your network account. Remember to check in the Homes tab and set the Home Dir to be the network share.

Once you have saved your details, then browse to Preferences for the account. Choose Login first, browse to the items tab, and enable mount on login. Click Done. Now go to Mobility.

Here you setup your portable home directory stuff including syncing. It's pretty basic to work out.

On your client machine, login with a local account, and check out Directory Utility for Leopard, or Accounts in SL. You will need to enable the server as a login destination which can be used either by IP or by canonical name.

The hardest part of this process overall is the data sync - it will take a long long time depending on how big your sync is.

By the way, its early, I'm tired, and my brain is fried and I still have issues with my setup - but this basically are the steps I took and apart from migrating an account to a new machine through migration assistant seeming to break it, syncing works on the others.

Good luck - and have fun.

Mark T
3rd January 2010, 01:21 AM
Can I purchase a Mac Mini Server without a monitor, keyboard or mouse and set it all up from scratch from my iMac or MacBook Air? Or is this asking for trouble (or unnecessary frustration)?

I currently don't have a monitor or appropriate adapter cables that would connect to the mac mini.

thorevenge
4th January 2010, 12:48 PM
You will need a monitor and keyboard for initial setup until you can get remote control enabled.

Sorry

davidcolville
5th January 2010, 02:20 AM
Yes you can setup a server remotely without a monitor, mouse and Keyboard. It will help if you still have DHCP enabled on your network.

On your iMac - assuming it's running 10.6.2, download the "Admin Tools". Server Admin Tools 10.6.2 (http://support.apple.com/kb/DL968?viewlocale=en_US)

Once installed on your computer - Open Applications:Server:Server Admin and when the server gets turned on, it'll show up as being "Ready For Install" in the left-hand column in Server Admin.

http://img.skitch.com/20100104-1dm77tu6y5h152un8p21j8hcbu.png



You can also use "Screen Sharing" to the server if you want to reformat the hard drive etc, the password will be the hardware Serial number of the server.


It may be easier to use a monitor (or at least a keyboard to hold down the "C" key), but it's not essential.


By all means IM me if I can help out.

DeKa
23rd June 2010, 01:39 PM
Mark T, did you ever go ahead with setting this up?
I'm interested in something similar.

Jacko30
24th June 2010, 05:39 PM
I am considering having the same setup and i also have a couple of questions.
1. Is there seamless integration with windows?
2. Can i set it up on an iMac and still use that computer as i normally would
3. Is it easy to setup? How much command line do you need to know?

Currawong
24th June 2010, 09:53 PM
Jacko30:

1. I haven't ever set it up, but Mac OS X Server does provide services to Windows as well.
2. Yes.
3. Zero command line, it's all set up via the GUI. There are command-line versions of many of the tools so it is possible to set it up that way I believe.

cosmichobo
24th June 2010, 10:12 PM
So, you say that Mac OS X Server still allows you to use the server as a normal computer too... Does it act as a full Mac OS X, with extras? Just an app/s you keep running in the background?

With 4 operational Macs in this house now, I've been starting to wonder about server options too.

chip
24th June 2010, 10:53 PM
So, you say that Mac OS X Server still allows you to use the server as a normal computer too... Does it act as a full Mac OS X, with extras? Just an app/s you keep running in the background?

Yes, it's got the full OS X GUI (the biggest difference you'd notice first up is the default desktop image is a different colour) and you can install your normal software and work/play etc on it.

lord
24th June 2010, 10:56 PM
I really don't see the point here. A server that will be turned on and off, and cost a lot of money for what is essentially a control panel?

A normal copy of osx with AFP enabled will cover all this, for free.

Currawong
24th June 2010, 11:37 PM
I really don't see the point here. A server that will be turned on and off, and cost a lot of money for what is essentially a control panel?

A normal copy of osx with AFP enabled will cover all this, for free.

If you're only going to share files, yes. Server is overkill for most purposes. However, it is NOT just Mac OS X with a fancy control panel. The actual system is considerably different, with a large amount of added server software and related changes to the underlying system. However, in answer to the question about using it as a normal computer, this is perfectly possible, with only a few differences in that aspect.

Mark T
25th June 2010, 12:25 AM
Mark T, did you ever go ahead with setting this up?
I'm interested in something similar.

Yes, I have set this up and it's currently running well.

My setup and usage details have been as follows:-

Installation
Wanted to raid the two hard drives, so I needed to use Disk Utility from the Install DVD. Used the MacBook Air Superdrive and plugged in a spare usb keyboard. No monitor was required. Used screen sharing from memory.

Reinstalled the server software several times, mainly to reset names/accounts etc. No great drama there.

Network accounts
Set up Open Directory
Set up user accounts on the server for each family member.
The kids can log into their home account from any spare computer.
I can send messages to them and disconnect them from the server if necessary.

Mobile accounts
I have not set these up yet but the documentation explains how it's all done and it doesn't look too difficult

Email
Have not set up email yet but plan to soon. I think I may need static IP address for this to work properly. Must do some more research.

Software update
I turned this on on once - oops
Server then downloaded all available updates (18GB) and used up nearly all my monthly broadband allowance in one night! But server did not download Mac OS X 10.6 updates when they became available so something funny going on there.

Calendars & iChat
Plan to set these up later this year
I may set up the print server also. May even set up print quotas (the kids print anything that moves!)

Wiki
May try to set this up in the future.

Windows integration
Not planning to do this (but may install Virtual Box and Window at a later date)

Things to sort out later
iTunes on server. At the moment I am still using the iMac as my main machine (local account) and iTunes library in on this. I may look into transferring it to the server later.

Problems encountered
Network users must log out before another user logs in on same machine. So no fast user switching unlike when using local accounts. I may be able to get around this by changing share points.

Sometimes the AirPort network seem flakey (kids use the laptops mainly). If they can't connect to the server, they can't log in.

Overall, very easy to setup and use, but should read Apple's server documentation for a grounding.

chip
25th June 2010, 11:17 AM
Email
Have not set up email yet but plan to soon. I think I may need static IP address for this to work properly. Must do some more research.

Seeing as you mentioned earlier that you own a domain, you will need a static public IP address for the DNS entries you need to set up the MX records for your domain.



Software update
I turned this on on once - oops
Server then downloaded all available updates (18GB) and used up nearly all my monthly broadband allowance in one night! But server did not download Mac OS X 10.6 updates when they became available so something funny going on there.

Are you going to set up your client machines to update themselves from your home server? If all your client machines are the same OS X version, you can configure the Software Update Server to only download updates for that version, which should end up saving you a fair bit of your quota as the updates will only be downloaded onece.

lord
25th June 2010, 06:22 PM
If you're only going to share files, yes. Server is overkill for most purposes. However, it is NOT just Mac OS X with a fancy control panel. The actual system is considerably different, with a large amount of added server software and related changes to the underlying system. However, in answer to the question about using it as a normal computer, this is perfectly possible, with only a few differences in that aspect.

In the way its going to be used here, it is nothing more than file sharing.