Before You Upgrade to macOS Server 5.4 on High Sierra (macOS 10.13)

The latest version of the Apple Server app is out (macOS Server 5.4), and before you upgrade, there are a few points to review:
  • As always, make a clone of your computer before upgrading.
  • During the upgrade to High Sierra, if the operating system is running on a solid state drive, the drive will automatically upgrade to APFS. You cannot share APFS volumes over AFP, so if you’re running file services, make sure you’re aware of that. You can choose not to upgrade to APFS using the command line to upgrade a server. Even though the file sharing services are not in the Server app, you can still configure ACLs using the Storage tab under the server’s main screen.
  • The FTP Service is gone.
  • Time Machine service is gone, so if you were relying on that, rethink your backup strategy. Some options:
    • A third party backup tool.
    • A share that Time Machine on client systems can backup to.
    • Don’t upgrade.
  • Xcode Server is gone. You can still leverage third party tools to get build automations in place, but this is no longer a built-in component of macOS Server. 
  • Imaging is dead. But NetInstall still works. Because you need to run a firmware update for High Sierra (and APFS), there are caveats to imaging. You can run a NetInstall to install High Sierra onto clients (which does the firmware update). You can do a NetRestore (and Define NetRestore Sources for NetBoot) from a volume that’s already been converted to APFS to another volume that’s already been converted to APFS. But you can’t NetRestore an HFS+ volume onto an APFS volume or High Sierra on APFS onto a volume running HFS+. Long live DEP.
  • If you’re running Calendar, Contacts, and/or Mail, then you should consider moving to Google Apps or Office 365.
  • Running the Wiki service configures passwords to use a less secure way of storing passwords.
  • Alerts, Certificates, Logs, Stats, creating users, Calendar, Contacts, Mail, Messages, VPN, Websites, Wiki, DHCP, DNS, and Xsan haven’t changed in forevers, and remain pretty static in this version.
  • Open Directory and Software Update aren’t in the Services or Advanced area of the Server sidebar. You’ll access those through the View menu. The slapconfig and other binaries that comprise OD remain pretty much untouched where they are.
  • If you’re running software like anti-virus that has Kernel Extensions, those should work upon upgrade (provided they’re High Sierra compatible). If you reinstall software with Kernel Extensions, you may have to accept the installation of the Kernel Extension, due to a new and more secure way of interacting with Kernel Extensions.
  • There are new options in Profile Manager. 
Provided that you’re ok with all this, we can proceed with the upgrade!

12 thoughts on “Before You Upgrade to macOS Server 5.4 on High Sierra (macOS 10.13)”

  1. Once again, Apple is getting rid of good, and fully functional services.

    Mail, calendar, contacts, Time Machine are so efficient, cheap, stable and useful in SMBs.

    People may not have the bandwidth to use online services, not everyone has fiber…
    They may want confidentiality, which is highly questionable online.
    They may not want to pay for recurring services.
    They can not afford to spend money on a Windows / Exhchange infrastructure will all their constraints.

    I just can not understand the strategy there… They keep Xsan and throw away Time Machine ?
    DHCP ? Come on, that’s really a service you run on a router…
    Profile Manager is fine, but MDM are so cheap now and more powerful, more convenient on the cloud…

    It’s good to offer Caching, Time Machine services and some more advanced file sharing outside Server.
    But why, again, remove statistics a consolidated interface from Server ? They could keep both.

    And honestly, the configuration of those services in the sharing prefpane is just a shame from a company like Apple. The GUI is certainly one of the worst for a long time…

    APFS could do so many things for servers… why kill servers the day they introduce it ??
    iOS 11 now offers direct macOS Server connection, and you hide WebDAV and File sharing ? Who has decided this ?

    Yes, Apple, I’m annoyed. I’m supporting this company and my users for 30 years, and the path is not right.

    I’m starting an open letter to complain… everyone who wants to join is welcome, just contact me.

    1. I’m adding to this letter.
      Appel is doing not logic decisions about its server system (application).
      They have so cute it out that there isn’t usable … We cannot change many server parts, adding many extensions and now they remove needed services …

    2. Me too. Server app has let me, a non-sysop, have mail on my own server for years. I don’t even know where to begin… Tim Cook is being an idiot.

  2. Hmm, what’s the point of even using macOS Server 5.4? It’s becoming less and less useful as a server.

    You might be better off with a NAS device and some Linux virtual machines. TimeMachine runs over SMB Shares. Install Avahi & Samba 4.7 requires a vfs_fruit patch newer version may include the patch when it is released and the Time Capsule magic is configured thusly

  3. Why say “If you’re running Calendar, Contacts, and/or Mail, then you should consider moving to Google Apps or Office 365.”??? Server 5.4 actually comes with a newer version of dovecot than 5.3 did (fixing a crash I reported).

    And the Time Machine service is not “gone”, it’s moved out of and into the regular client OS.

  4. WTF is going on with Apple, I get it it’s their thing to don’t give a fck and shake things without explanation but come on, these are servers. “Thankfully” I moved to Active Directory a while ago and while it’s been a nightmare compare with Apple’s simplicity, at least when there’s a problem on Windows Server it’s not a complete kiss off, you’ll cry but you’ll get it back. At Apple’s, there’s only trashing the install and start over, sure, it’ll take a minute a not even bother with a restart but you’ll lose your data.

    For a while now I have been only using Profile Manager now and I was going to user websites to move from Squarespace to self-hosted but Apple’s PHP and other modules are not up to date to install October CMS without possibly effing up Profile Manager or something. If Apple’s getting rid of real useful stuff like WebDAV they should at least put it an IKEv2 server component into Server and site-to-site stuff too.

    Then, last week while cursing Apple because my keychain was basically not working and I had to get over a dozen certs again I found out about Sharepoint Server, I had heard the name before but never bothered finding out more. It seems interesting but being a Microsoft product I’m cautious about it.

  5. So Apple built this really slick high performance race car. Then they took it to the races and perfected it. And now that it’s got some licks, they are taking it to the demolition derby.

  6. Ugh! I was considering setting up a Mac Server for a small workgroup, but is it worth it at this point?

    1. Sorry for the delay. You should still be able to see them in the View menu or start them with the serveradmin command (e.g. `serveradmin start dns`)

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