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Tiny Deathstars of Foulness

Now that Mac OS X Server 10.6 has been out for a little while and the new features have able to sink in a bit, it seems like a good time to lay out what those new features are. While on the outside Mac OS X Server 10.6 has been described as a minor update outside of the whole 64-bit thing, it’s worth noting that it sports about as many new features as every version of Mac OS X Server that it follows. These include:
  1. NetRestore has been integrated with System Image Utility to facilitate easier creation of NetRestore NetBoot sets, allowing for asr-based restores (asr has not been given a GUI though)
  2. There’s now an option to enable and disable directory services binding discovery on servers
  3. Wide Area Bonjour support in the DNS service
  4. Mobile Access service has been added which allows you to proxy incoming connections for all the included groupware services through the server
  5. Push Notification service has been added to enhance iPhone integration with Mac OS X Server
  6. The mail server now uses Dovecot, which now has a GUI option in Server Admin and Server Preferences for relaying outgoing mail through a separate SMTP server
  7. Podcast Producer got a pretty big overhaul in Podcast Producer 2, making workflows easier to be created and managed with an assistant and making the server itself much easier to set up with another assistant
  8. Podcast Producer has been integrated ever-so-slightly with Final Cut Server workflows
  9. New 802.1x features in networksetup
  10. New command, mcxrefresh, used for refreshing managed preferences on clients
  11. Users now have a splash page that allows for a number of fairly self-service options including setting up easy-to-use mail rules
  12. A lot of GUI logic has been added; for example, when you promote to an Open Directory Master Server Admin checks existing bindings and if they are present provides a different prompt; also the toolbar in Directory Utility was cleaned up and DHCP supplied LDAP mysteriously removed
  13. You can use Server Preferences and the Server Admin/Workgroup Manager pseudo-interchangeably rather than switching between Standard, Workgroup and Advanced (that whole idea died with 10.5)
  14. GUI iChat Server federation to allow for multiple iChat servers for an organization
  15. Client & Server updates most likely to impact Server admins more than users:
  • You can now move journaling to a dedicated drive (ie – SSD) to offload potential IO performance bottlenecks
  • Directory Utility was moved to CoreServices and can now be accessed through the Accounts System Preference pane
  • Hard drive spaces now reported more accurately, changing the game in capacity planning for all those Nagios/Zenoss hooha’s
There’s also more, which I’ll write up as I get some of the details sorted out. If there’s a glaring omission please feel free to drop it into a comment!  🙂 Looking at the difference between 10.5 Server and 10.6 it seems this is a similar enhancement in terms of the number of new features. Some are more subtle but will allow for more agile development of features in subsequent releases.

September 24th, 2009

Posted In: Mac OS X Server

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If you have a web host that supports cPanel (a number do) then moving to Google Apps for Mail couldn’t be simpler. Just log in to your cPanel account and click on the Mail icon in the top left corner. From here, click on the last item in the list, Modify Mail Exchanger (MX Entry). Then click on change an MX Entry. In the Change MX for… drop down list, select the appropriate domain (if you only have one then there should be only the one to change and then enter aspmx.l.google.com in the to: field, clicking Change when you are done. According to the TTL value you will then need to wait for DNS replication to occur (it can take up 72 hours in some cases). In the meantime, mail should start to flow into your Google Apps mailboxes. The next step is to actually migrate your mail. Assuming your administrator supports IMAP for your mailboxes this should be a fairly straight forward process. From the Google Apps administrative dashboard click on Advanced Tools in the blue toolbar. Then click on Migrate mail from mail server on the Advanced page and you will see a screen asking you to enter some information about your source IMAP server (the one that currently has all your data). In the Host field, type your domain name. cPanel uses Exim, which can work with the Dovecot setting in the Server software: field. Then enter 143 into the port number field (unless you use a different port) and if you use an IMAP prefix enter it now. You will also need to enter a maximum number of connections (according to how much data you want it to attempt to migrate at once). Now you select the users whose data you will be moving. Click Next, and then choose whether to upload one or many accounts. Assuming one, you would simply enter the originating user name, target user name (in most cases these are the same) and then the password of the mailbox in cPanel. This means you need to know all your passwords, or reset them at the time of migration. Assuming many users, you would do the same thing in a csv file, creating a spreadsheet with username, source username, and source password as the columns and then populating the information from cPanel. Once done, save as csv and then use this screen to upload the file. Whichever option you chose, click on Start Migration to migrate the mail and then wait for the migration to complete. If mail will not migrate using the stock example, searching Google for answers is a start but many may need to script solutions using the Google Apps email migration API. POP mail will stay in the mailbox it was downloaded into. However, once you are done, POP users might end up redownloading mail. Contacts and calendars should be stored on your local devices and if you wish to migrate those you can (although this is going to be a more complicated process). You will also need to change the local settings if you haven’t built a CNAME in DNS to point your old incoming and outgoing server addresses to the incoming addresses that Google uses. Client configuration should be a username of the full email address, the password you entered into your Google Apps domain dashboard and the incoming server name of imap.gmail.com. The outgoing mail server (SMTP) will be smtp.gmail.com and it will require authentication with the same information used for incoming (POP or IMAP) mail.

July 10th, 2009

Posted In: Mac OS X

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