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Configure A Mavericks File Server

File Services are perhaps the most important aspect of any server because file servers are often the first server an organization purchases. There are a number of protocols built into OS X Mavericks Server dedicated to serving files, including AFP, SMB and WebDAV. These services, combined comprise the File Sharing service in OS X Mavericks Server (Server 3).

File servers have shares. In OS X Mavericks Server we refer to these as Share Points. By default:

  • File Sharing has some built-in Share Points that not all environments will require.
  • Each of these shares is also served by AFP and SMB, something else you might not want (many purely Mac environments might not even need SMB). Or if you have iOS devices, you may only require WebDAV sharing.
  • Each share has permissions that Apple provides which will work for some but not all.

In short, the default configuration probably isn’t going to work for everyone. Therefore, before we do anything else, let’s edit the shares to make them secure. The first step is to create all of your users and groups (or at least the ones that will get permissions to the shares). This is done in Server app using the Users and Groups entries in the List Pane. Once users and groups are created, open the Server app and then click on the File Sharing service in the SERVICES list in the List Pane. Here, you will see a list of the shares on the server.

Screen Shot 2013-10-05 at 9.33.49 PMIn our example configuration we’re going to disable the built-in share. To do so, click on Groups one time and then click on the minus button on the screen.

Screen Shot 2013-10-05 at 9.34.51 PMAs mentioned, shares can be shared out using different protocols. Next, we’re going to disable SMB for Public. To do so, double-click on Public and then uncheck the SMB protocol checkbox for the share.

Screen Shot 2013-10-05 at 9.37.14 PMWhen you’ve disabled SMB, click on the Done button to save the changes to the server. Next, we’re going to create a new share for iPads to be able to put their work, above and beyond the WebDAV instance automatically used by the Wiki service. To create the share, first we’re going to create a directory for the share to live in on the computer, in this case in the /Shared Items/iPads directory. Then from the File Sharing pane in Server app, click on the plus sign (“+”).

Screen Shot 2013-10-05 at 9.38.49 PMAt the browse dialog, browse to the location of your iPad directory and then click on the Choose button.

Screen Shot 2013-10-05 at 9.39.23 PMAt the File Sharing pane, double-click on the new iPads share.

Screen Shot 2013-10-05 at 9.40.06 PMAt the screen for the iPads share, feel free to edit the name of the share (how it appears to users) as it by default uses the name of the directory for the name of the share. Then, it’s time to configure who has access to what on the share. Here, use the plus sign (“+”) in the Access section of the pane to add groups that should be able to have permission to access the share. Also, change the groups in the list that should have access by double-clicking on the name of the group and providing a new group name or clicking on the plus sign to add a user or group.

Screen Shot 2013-10-05 at 9.40.47 PM

The permissions available in this screen for users that are added are Read & Write, Read Only/Read and Write. POSIX permissions (the bottom three entries) also have the option for No Access, but ACLs (the top entries comprise an Access Control List) don’t need such an option as if there is no ACE (Access Control Entry) for the object then No Access is assumed.

If more granular permissions are required then click on the name of the server in the Server app (the top item in the List Pane) and click on the Storage tab. Here, browse to the directory and click on Edit Permissions.

Screen Shot 2013-10-05 at 9.42.06 PMAs can be seen, there are a number of other options that more granularly allow you to control permissions to files and directories in this view. If you make a share a home folder, you can use that share to store a home folder for a user account provided the server uses Open Directory. Once a share has been made an option for home folders it appears in both Workgroup Manager and the Server app as an available Home Folder location for users in that directory service.

Once you have created all the appropriate shares, deleted all the shares you no longer need and configured the appropriate permissions for the share, click on the ON button to start the File Sharing service.

Screen Shot 2013-10-05 at 9.46.18 PMTo connect to a share, use the Connect to Server dialog, available by clicking Connect to Server in the Go menu. A change in Mavericks is that when you enter an address, the client connects over SMB. If you’d like to connect over AFP, enter afp:// in front of the address and then click Connect.

The File Sharing service can also be controlled from the command line. Mac OS X Server provides the sharing command. You can create, delete and augment information for share points using sharing. To create a share point for AFP you can use the following command:

sharing -a <path> -A <share name>

So let’s say you have a directory at /Shares/Public and you want to create a share point called PUBLIC. You can use the following command:

sharing -a /Shares/Public -A PUBLIC

Now, the -a here will create the share for AFP but what if you want to create a share for other protocols? Well, -F does FTP and -S does SMB. Once created you can disable the share using the following command:

sharing -r PUBLIC

To then get a listing of shares you can use the following command:

sharing -l

You can also use the serveradmin command to manage file shares as well as the sharing service. To see settings for file shares, use the serveradmin command along with the settings option and then define the sharing service:

sudo serveradmin settings sharing

Sharing settings include the following:

sharing:sharePointList:_array_id:/Users/admin/Public:smbName = "administrator's Public Folder"
sharing:sharePointList:_array_id:/Users/admin/Public:nfsExportRecord = _empty_array
sharing:sharePointList:_array_id:/Users/admin/Public:afpIsGuestAccessEnabled = yes
sharing:sharePointList:_array_id:/Users/admin/Public:isIndexingEnabled = no
sharing:sharePointList:_array_id:/Users/admin/Public:dsAttrTypeNative\:sharepoint_group_id = "35DF29D6-D5F3-4F16-8F20-B50BCDFD8743"
sharing:sharePointList:_array_id:/Users/admin/Public:mountedOnPath = "/"
sharing:sharePointList:_array_id:/Users/admin/Public:dsAttrTypeNative\:sharepoint_account_uuid = "51BC33DC-1362-489E-8989-93286B77BD4C"
sharing:sharePointList:_array_id:/Users/admin/Public:path = "/Users/admin/Public"
sharing:sharePointList:_array_id:/Users/admin/Public:smbIsShared = yes
sharing:sharePointList:_array_id:/Users/admin/Public:smbIsGuestAccessEnabled = yes
sharing:sharePointList:_array_id:/Users/admin/Public:afpName = "administrator's Public Folder"
sharing:sharePointList:_array_id:/Users/admin/Public:dsAttrTypeStandard\:GeneratedUID = "4646E019-352D-40D5-B62C-8A82AAE39762"
sharing:sharePointList:_array_id:/Users/admin/Public:smbDirectoryMask = "755"
sharing:sharePointList:_array_id:/Users/admin/Public:afpIsShared = yes
sharing:sharePointList:_array_id:/Users/admin/Public:smbCreateMask = "644"
sharing:sharePointList:_array_id:/Users/admin/Public:ftpName = "administrator's Public Folder"
sharing:sharePointList:_array_id:/Users/admin/Public:name = "administrator's Public Folder"

To see settings for the services use the serveradmin command with the settings option followed by the services: afp and smb:

sudo serveradmin settings afp

AFP settings include:

afp:maxConnections = -1
afp:kerberosPrincipal = "afpserver/LKDC:SHA1.978EED40F79A72F4309A272E6586CF0A3B8C062E@LKDC:SHA1.978EED40F79A72F4309A272E6586CF0A3B8C062E"
afp:fullServerMode = yes
afp:allowSendMessage = yes
afp:maxGuests = -1
afp:activityLog = yes

To see a run-down of some of the options for afp, see this article I did previously. Additionally, for a run-down of smb options, see this one.

Mac OS X Server

FTP In Mavericks Server

FTP went away in OS X Lion Server (kinda’) and came back in OS X Mountain Lion Server (kinda’). Mavericks Server (Server 3) sees little change here. Instead of sharing out each directory the new incantation of the FTP service allows administrators to share a single directory out. This directory can be any share that has previously been configured in the File Sharing service or a website configured in the Websites service.

Screen Shot 2013-10-05 at 4.07.50 PM

To setup FTP, first open the Server app and then click on the FTP service.

Screen Shot 2013-10-05 at 4.08.52 PM

Once open, use the Share: drop-down list to select a share that already exists (output of sharing -l basically) and click on one of the shares or Custom to create a new share for FTP. Then, set the permissions as appropriate on the share and hit the ON button for the FTP service.

Now, let’s test from a client. I like to use the ftp command line interface built into OS X. To test, type ftp followed by the address of the site (and I like to put the username followed by @ before the hostname, as follows:

ftp robin@mavserver.krypted.lan

When prompted, provide a password. Then, assuming your get the following, you’re in:

230 User robin logged in.
Remote system type is UNIX
Using binary mode to transfer files.

Here, type ls to see a list of the directories contents. Or pwd to see what directory you are in (relative to the root of the ftp share). And of course, type get followed by the name of a file to transfer it locally:

get myfile.txt

Open a terminal window on the server and let’s look at the few options you have to configure FTP from the command line. We already discussed sharing -l to see a list of the available shares. Additionally, you can use the serveradmin command, where ftp is the name of the service. Let’s look at the status of the service, first:

sudo serveradmin fullstatus ftp

Now let’s look at status:

sudo serveradmin status ftp

Same thing, right? Let’s look at all the settings:

sudo serveradmin settings ftp

If you have spaces in the name of a share that you configure from the Server app the thing will fail. Good stuff, so use serveradmin to manually set shares with spaces or other special characters in the names:

sudo serveradmin settings ftp:DocumentRoot = “/Shared Items/Krypted”

Overall, this ftp implementation is meant for users who just need to access their web server where all the files live in a web root of some sort. Otherwise, I’d still recommend most people use a third party tool. But if you just need to log into one share and you don’t need a lot of fancy features on top of your protocols that haven’t changed much since 1985 then this implementation will still work for ya’ without any extra work.

Since we mentioned 1985, let’s look at some other things that are as old, although perhaps not as dated:

  • Back To the Future is Released
  • Coke introduces one of the largest marketing fails of all time, New Coke. It is so bad it opens a hole in the Ozone, also discovered in this year by Al Gore
  • Rambo Part II and Rocky Part IV come out, Sly doesn’t come out
  • Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome teaches us that Tina Turner’s still got it – Bill Schroeder doesn’t have it, no relation to Ricky, he leaves the hospital part-cyborg with the first artificial heart.
  • A View To A Kill finally ends the Roger Moore era of James Bond. Computer nerds, keep in mind, he saved Silicon Valley. This movie had Christopher Walken and Duran Duran. What more could you ask for? Oh, right – Tanya Roberts! Oh, and Thomas Patrick Cavanaugh actually gets life for being a real spy.
  • Since Police Academy was a hit, the producers figured they’d screw it up by making a second movie: Police Academy 2 comes out
  • After watching Cocoon I now know I’ll never have to grow old, so I can treat my body however I want…
  • The unabomber is at the half way point of his career with 2 bombings this year, The Rainbow Warrior sinks (no known relation to the unabomber, unless he was a French antieco-terrorist), flight 847 is hijacked and Gorbachev becomes the leader of the largest pain in President Reagan’s bung hole: Russia (OMG Commies – Run!!!). In order to pay for the tail end of the cold war, Reagan lowers taxes and sends America into debt for the first time since 1914, a debt we are still in (evil Democrats, always incurring more American debt!). Meanwhile, Margaret Thatcher has shoulder pads surgically implanted because health care is free in Great Britain and all. Actually, National Health Service contributes little to England’s national debt, which was about as low in percentage of GDP as it had been since before WWI under her and due to her terms as PM. It was at its highest in the early 1800s, far before shoulder pads were in fashion… Having said that, the US, who went into debt for the first time had to sell Reagan’s autobiography rights in order to pay for his colon surgery since there’s not NHS here… He could have asked Gotti, who became the leader of the Gambinos in 1985 for a loan, but I hear he was too busy playing Tetris, which also came out in 1985…
  • British Telecom phases out red telephone boxes – almost as a result a single season of Dr. Who airs on TV.
  • In 1985, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Michael Jackson, Billy Joel, Cyndi Lauper, Willie Nelson, Lionel Richie, Smokey Robinson, Kenny Rogers, Diana Ross, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Daryl Hall, Kenny Loggins, Huey Lewis and of course Al Jarreau sang We Are The World. Prince wouldn’t show and Waylon Jennings stormed out. Jane Fonda hosted a HBO special in between workout videos. Live Aid happens too, and is far cooler. But, at least Rich Ramirez (the Night Stalker) got nabbed in LA.Top singles on the charts include Madonna, Wham!, Simple Minds, Duran Duran, Phil Collins, Dire Straits, Starship, Lionel Richie, Foreigner and REO Speedwagon.
  • Top TV shows include the sweaters from the Cosby Show, Family Ties, Murder She Wrote, Dynasty, The Golden Girls, Miami Vice, Cheers, Knots Landing, Growing Pains and of course, DALLAS
  • The Ford Taurus and the Mercury Sable bring a new low point to American automobile engineering – luckily The Nintendo came out and no one cared for a decade or more…
  • The Commodore Amiga is launched.
  • The Free Software Foundation is founded by rms, author of great cookie recipes, tips on women and GNU Manifestos.
  • And most importantly, Steve Jobs starts NeXT
Mac OS X Mac OS X Server

10 Features I Miss From Mountain Lion & Mountain Lion Server

Apple’s not going to slow down innovation just to make me happy. I get that. But what have I noticed most about the differences between Mountain Lion and Mountain Lion Server and their predecessors, and maybe what to do to get some of them back?

  1. Podcast Producer: I am going to just put it out there. I liked Podcast Producer. I hope it shows back up in the future, even though I’m controlling my expectations. As someone who deals with a lot of video, there are a number of features that were really helpful to me, with or without Xgrid. I’ve replaced the command line aspects with tools such as ffmpeg, which we used in addition to at times, but some of the ways that pcastaction did things were really elegant comparably. On the graphical side, much of the functionality is available in the various sites that produce video streams and of course, there’s always YouTube. Either way, in regards to Mountain Lion Server, this represents one of the most substantial changes for those of us that deal with video.
  2. DHCP: I know, I know… I wrote an article on how to keep using DHCP. That doesn’t mean that the lack of GUI options is any less irritating. Every time I manually edit a config file that should have a GUI front-end it makes me ornery. Not that I’m not always ornery, but that’s not the point here…
  3. RSS: This is more of a client thing. But Mail.app and Safari used to give me the ability to quickly and easily look at RSS feeds and handled them in a way that was very streamlined with my experience across the rest of the operating system. I am now using more and more Google Reader along with tools like Reeder, but I liked the fact that everything I needed for RSS madness was installed on even the test systems I used
  4. X11: I know, I know… Use XQuartz. It was nice having it built in though…
  5. Web Sharing: I guess the answer here is to just buy OS X Server. You can still fire up the LaunchDaemon and use Apache, but it’s a bit of a challenge. And the version in Server isn’t identical to Apache in Mountain Lion. There are two ways I’ve handled this. The first is to install Mountain Lion Server and then use the command `webpromotion demote` to switch the Apache configuration back to that of a client computer. The second is to fire up the LaunchDaemon directly using launchctl. If you’d like, there are also a number of free and/or 3rd party web servers, such as MAMP.
  6. Negative Mode: Well, I covered this already, and while the keystroke was gone, the feature never was – but here’s how to fix. Also, @sacrilicious turned me on to nocturne, which is pretty cool as well!
  7. iCal, Address Book and NetBoot: Actually, they’re now called Calendar, Contacts and NetInstall respectively. But still there. I actually like the renaming a lot, so I guess I don’t really miss any of them.
  8. Radius: OK, it’s there. Just command line only (unless you’re using an Apple AirPort). Maybe I should write an article about radius…
  9. The Server command line options: Actually, they just moved to a relative path to /Applications/Server.app/Contents/ServerRoot, as I mentioned here.
  10. Server Admin: I was going to say FTP, then I remembered it’s back. And then I remembered I never missed it in the first place. But dropping the remainder of the GUI tools for servers represents a bit of a challenge, mostly in figuring out how to do a few of the minor things, like enabling Server Side File Tracking, etc.
Mac OS X Mac OS X Server

Using The New FTP Service in Mac OS X Mountain Lion Server

FTP went away in OS X Lion Server (kinda’) and now it’s back in OS X Mountain Lion Server (kinda’). Instead of sharing out each directory the new incantation of the FTP service allows administrators to share a single directory out. This directory can be any share that has previously been configured in the File Sharing service or a website configured in the Websites service.

To setup FTP, first open the Server app and then click on the FTP service.

Once open, use the Share: drop-down list to select a share that already exists (output of sharing -l basically) and click on one of the shares or Custom to create a new share for FTP. Then, set the permissions as appropriate on the share and hit the ON button for the FTP service.

Now, let’s test from a client. I like to use the ftp command line interface built into OS X. To test, type ftp followed by the address of the site (and I like to put the username followed by @ before the hostname, as follows:

ftp robin@ftp.pretendco.com

When prompted, provide a password. Then, assuming your get the following, you’re in:

230 User robin logged in.
Remote system type is UNIX
Using binary mode to transfer files.

Here, type  ls to see a list of the directories contents. Or pwd to see what directory you are in (relative to the root of the ftp share). And of course, type get followed by the name of a file to transfer it locally:

get myfile.txt

Open a terminal window on the server and let’s look at the few options you have to configure FTP from the command line. We already discussed sharing -l to see a list of the available shares. Additionally, you can use the serveradmin command, where ftp is the name of the service. Let’s look at the status of the service, first:

sudo serveradmin fullstatus ftp

Now let’s look at status:

sudo serveradmin status ftp

Same thing, right? Let’s look at all the settings:

sudo serveradmin settings ftp

If you have spaces in the name of a share that you configure from the Server app the thing will fail. Good stuff, so use serveradmin to manually set shares with spaces or other special characters in the names:

sudo serveradmin settings ftp:DocumentRoot = "/Shared Items/Krypted"

Overall, this ftp implementation is meant for users who just need to access their web server where all the files live in a web root of some sort. Otherwise, I’d still recommend most people use a third party tool. But if you just need to log into one share and you don’t need a lot of fancy features on top of your protocols that haven’t changed much since 1985 then this implementation will still work for ya’ without any extra work.

Since we mentioned 1985, let’s look at some other things that are as old, although perhaps not as dated:

  • Back To the Future is Released
  • Coke introduces one of the largest marketing fails of all time, New Coke. It is so bad it opens a hole in the Ozone, also discovered in this year by Al Gore
  • Rambo Part II and Rocky Part IV come out, Sly doesn’t come out
  • Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome teaches us that Tina Turner’s still got it - Bill Schroeder doesn’t have it, no relation to Ricky, he leaves the hospital part-cyborg with the first artificial heart.
  • A View To A Kill finally ends the Roger Moore era of James Bond. Computer nerds, keep in mind, he saved Silicon Valley. This movie had Christopher Walken and Duran Duran. What more could you ask for? Oh, right – Tanya Roberts! Oh, and Thomas Patrick Cavanaugh actually gets life for being a real spy.
  • Since Police Academy was a hit, the producers figured they’d screw it up by making a second movie: Police Academy 2 comes out
  • After watching Cocoon I now know I’ll never have to grow old, so I can treat my body however I want…
  • The unabomber is at the half way point of his career with 2 bombings this year, The Rainbow Warrior sinks (no known relation to the unabomber, unless he was a French antieco-terrorist), flight 847 is hijacked and Gorbachev becomes the leader of the largest pain in President Reagan’s bung hole: Russia (OMG Commies – Run!!!). In order to pay for the tail end of the cold war, Reagan lowers taxes and sends America into debt for the first time since 1914, a debt we are still in (evil Democrats, always incurring more American debt!). Meanwhile, Margaret Thatcher has shoulder pads surgically implanted because health care is free in Great Britain and all. Actually, National Health Service contributes little to England’s national debt, which was about as low in percentage of GDP as it had been since before WWI under her and due to her terms as PM. It was at its highest in the early 1800s, far before shoulder pads were in fashion… Having said that, the US, who went into debt for the first time had to sell Reagan’s autobiography rights in order to pay for his colon surgery since there’s not NHS here… He could have asked Gotti, who became the leader of the Gambinos in 1985 for a loan, but I hear he was too busy playing Tetris, which also came out in 1985…
  • British Telecom phases out red telephone boxes – almost as a result a single season of Dr. Who airs on TV.
  • In 1985, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Michael Jackson, Billy Joel, Cyndi Lauper, Willie Nelson, Lionel Richie, Smokey Robinson, Kenny Rogers, Diana Ross, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Daryl Hall, Kenny Loggins, Huey Lewis and of course Al Jarreau sang We Are The World. Prince wouldn’t show and Waylon Jennings stormed out. Jane Fonda hosted a HBO special in between workout videos. Live Aid happens too, and is far cooler. But, at least Rich Ramirez (the Night Stalker) got nabbed in LA.
  • Top singles on the charts include Madonna, Wham!, Simple Minds, Duran Duran, Phil Collins, Dire Straits, Starship, Lionel Richie, Foreigner and REO Speedwagon.
  • Top TV shows include the sweaters from the Cosby Show, Family Ties, Murder She Wrote, Dynasty, The Golden Girls, Miami Vice, Cheers, Knots Landing, Growing Pains and of course, DALLAS
  • The Ford Taurus and the Mercury Sable bring a new low point to American automobile engineering – luckily The Nintendo came out and no one cared for a decade or more…
  • The Commodore Amiga is launched.
  • The Free Software Foundation is founded by rms, author of great cookie recipes, tips on women and GNU Manifestos.
  • And most importantly, Steve Jobs starts NeXT
Mac OS X Server

Changes in Mountain Lion Server

Mountain Lion Server is now available on the OS X App Store and as with the last few updates there are some things missing that you might be expecting and depending on. First up, three major services are gone: Podcast Producer, RADIUS and dhcp. You can still do dhcp as you always did with OS X client as those features work on OS X Server, but the more granular controls available in OS X Server are now gone. The biggest impact of dhcp is probably in testing NetBoot services when there are network issues and you need to prove to network admins that it’s the network and not your server…

I had written an article before about FTP still being in OS X Server from the command line, but now it’s back in the GUI, which should make many an administrator happy. NAT is also gone from the GUI, but natd and natutil are still available from the command line. Might as well just use the Sharing System Preference pane for such things though… Server Admin is now gone (long live Server Admin!) and Workgroup Manager is now a download to be performed and installed following installation. Support for Managed Preferences is gone, even though most manifests technically still work.

Many services also got some pretty nice updates. These include:

  • Calendar – There are a few updates on the client side, but not on the server side. Most notably, the option to publish calendars is now gone. If you used that, it’s time to get used to manually exporting, copying to a share and then distributing links. This is going to likely cause more use of the Calendar server itself, to some degree. Also, it’s not iCal or iCal Server, it’s now Calendar and Calendar server. Seems to me that this isn’t obviously an Apple-centric naming structure as with most other things they do, but sometimes you’re gonna’ have that…
  • Contacts – Nope, it’s not called Address Book server, it’s the Contacts service. Same with the client side application.
  • DNS – DNS management is moved into the Server application. You can also now restrict who you do lookups for in the GUI. Under the hood very little changes.
  • File Sharing – Nothing really changes with file sharing, except the wiki integration described in the Wiki section in a little bit.
  • Firewall – The firewall option is gone, as is the ipfilter at the command line, but pf is easy to configure from the command line.
  • FTP – It’s a quick and easy single share solution from the GUI. Using the sharing command there’s still tons available to administrators.
  • Mail – Authentication mechanisms and domains are in the GUI, but very little changes otherwise.
  • Messages – The service name has changed from iChat to Messages in the GUI but is still jabber from the command line. The big change with this service is that the client side is now able to leverage iCloud to instant message mobile devices as well. Therefore, the text messaging component is client-side and has no impact on the jabber service itself.
  • NetInstall – The “NetInstall” service is NetBoot. It can host NetRestore or NetInstall images, but the heavy lifting for that stuff is done in System Image Utility. And the output of the SIU commands are now more scriptable through the automator command line interface. The NetInstall screen is now in Server app and is a good port from Server Admin in that it’s similar in look and feel to the NetBoot screen in Server Admin. A feature that isn’t in the GUI is diskless NetBoot, which is fine because I documented how to do it when I realized it would be an issue for a few customers.
  • Open Directory – Given that Server Admin is gone, something had to happen with Open Directory. The Open Directory screens have been moved to Server app where it’s fast to setup and tear down Open Directory. Open Directory based Users and Groups are also created through the Server App, although Workgroup Manager can be downloaded and used still. Immediately following upgrades, the add and remove users buttons are gone for previously stand-alone hosts. Also the Manage Network Accounts option is now gone from Server app, replaced with the traditional ON button supplied by Apple for other services.
  • Profile Manager – This deserves its own post, which is in the queue, but suffice it to say that while you can’t tell when looking in Server app, there are a number of upgrades to Profile Manager.
  • Software Update – Management of the service is moved from Server Admin to Server app. There are now fewer options in the GUI, but the same in the command line. Cascading is a little different.
  • Time Machine – Time Machine server is the same… The versions option from the Time Machine Server preference pane is gone and the layout is a little changed, but the server component is identical in functionality as well as look and feel.
  • VPN – Unless you add another supported VPN protocol there’s not much to do after fixing most issues in 10.7.4. Except fixing the last issue with search bases, seemingly resolved as it’s working for me pretty well.
  • Websites – There are more options in the GUI for new sites. The default site appears twice (once for 80 and once for 443), but there are more options, such as the Web App functionality that comes with a default Python “Hello World” app. Also the server is still called web from the serveradmin command line, but is now called Websites through the GUI.
  • Wiki – The wiki has themes again, although they’re just color schemes. And you can create your own custom banners and upload, which brings back two of the most common feature requests from people that hack the look and feel of the wiki in versions previous to Lion. But the most substantial aspect of the Wiki to change to me is the document management options, available to users in WebDAV or through the portal. This allows for a very mobile-friendly file management tool. Blogs and wikis for the most part stay the same and have a very clean upgrade process from Lion. The command line tools also feature some new options for indexing, etc., which many will find helpful.
  • Xsan – cvadmin, cvlabel, cvversions, etc are now stored in /System/Library/Filesystems/acfs.fs/Contents/bin/ and Xsan has its own entry in the Server app. Despite hearing people question its future, I’ve never seen as many questions flying around about how to do things with Xsan than I do now. Storage sales are up, monkey chatter on the web is up, deployments are being booked and Xsan looks here to stay. The Server app only really shows you a status of things, but the Xsan Admin app is now embedded in the Server app and available through the Server app Tools directory.

Configuring Websites in Server app

The Alerts options are much more robust in Mountain Lion than they were previously. You  can now get alerts on a myriad of things, incuding certs, disks, space, storage quotas, virus detection, network changes and software updates.

Configuring Alerts in Mountain Lion Server

The Server commands also moved and in fact the whole file and folder structure mostly fit nicely inside of the Server app. There are certain things that haven’t been dealt with in this regard such as NetBoot’s library, but for the most part Apple is getting Server to the point where it’s very self-contained. The ramification of which is that upgrades for future releases (and from Lion to Mountain Lion for that matter) are much simpler. Simply downloading a new version informs administrators that the app has been replaced and is good to go, service data in tact. In real world, this has been a little hit or miss but should prove to make our lives much easier in the future.

Reducing scope, aligning with better development practices and all the work to merge all of the remaining services into Server app are huge undertakings. I would fully expect no further support or updates to Workgroup Manager, no more testing of managed preferences in deference to profiles and a few other culture shifts that still need to shake themselves out. Most of us are going to seem underwhelmed (if that’s a word, no it’s not ’cause I looked it up -> awesome video below –> ’cause affection has 2 fs, especially when you’re dealin’ with me). But here’s the thing, with an incremental update, you’re not going to get massive changes. Instead we will get slow and steady updates hopefully continuing to build faster towards a better end goal. What’s important is that the foundation is actually better now, given changes to other parts of OS X and so Server is likely now better positioned than ever for great new features in subsequent releases.

Oh, and did I forget to mention that Xgrid is gone. I guess no one really noticed anyway…

public speaking

MacTech InDepth In New York

I have been added as a speaker at MacTech InDepth in New York. If you haven’t signed up yet, and you work with Mac OS X Server then you should really check out the sessions that have been planned:

  • The Elephant in the Room: The New Lion OS X is out, now what? There are a lot of differences to contend with between Lion and Snow Leopard. Now with the new Mountain Lion update, what changes can we expect to see? We discuss the differences in advanced services, GUI simplicity, and Apache management GUI’s. We help you understand the updates in the new OS and make the transition easier. We go over the new updates of Lion over the Snow Leopard server.
  • Setting solid foundations: To truly grasp the power of Lion, you need to set up solid foundations. We go over minimum requirements for internet DNS, and tackle router tricks. We discuss open directory and what it was used for.
  • Mobile Device Management 101: Apple’s IPCU/Apple Configurator: Mobile Device Management is vital to businesses, large or small. We have an extensive overview of profile manager and how you can use mobile device management on OS X. For those still using Snow Leopard, we go over your options and discuss the possibility of using third parties as a solution.
  • DNS, Ahh, run away, run away: In this session, we tackle DNS and break it down and show how simple it is to work with. We go over how DNS works and cover different components such as internet DNS and internal DNS.
  • Administering a Server with just Server.app: We show you how to use server.app and control administrative programs. For the services, we go over Address Book, iCal, iChat, and Mail.
  • Web Administration of OS X Server : Web Admin on Lion Server versus Snow Leopard is covered, dealing with the differences and how to use each system effectively. On Lion server, we cover using FTP without a GUI.
  • Going old school, using the old tools: After getting used to Snow Leopard we go over the major differences between Snow and Lion and how you can handle the transition. We go over server admin and what is still left in the program and why it has been left.
  • Deployment Part I: Tools & Concepts: In tools and concepts we learn that there aren’t stark differences between Lion server and Snow Leopard. NetBoot, NetRestore and third party tools are covered; we talk about how NetBoot works and what the differences between NetBoot and NetRestore are. Along with this we cover Network configuration requirements and using software update server.
  • Deployment Part II: DeployStudio: DeployStudio is covered in-depth; we cover creation techniques and management techniques.

Overall, this represents a nice, fast way to update your skills to allow for managing Lion Server and to get up to speed with those new to the platform. One thing I like about the session list is that it goes beyond the stock server implementation and looks at DeployStudio, MDM and other important topics not purely server oriented. I hope to see you all there!

These vagabond shoes, are longing to stray
Right through the very heart of it – New York, New York

Articles and Books iPhone Mac OS X Mac OS X Server Mac Security Mass Deployment

My OS X Server Book From O'Reilly On Amazon!

I usually don’t like to discuss books (except in person with friends/colleagues) very much until I have an ISBN number. Well, here it is! My next book is going to address what I consider the most important challenge to Apple Server nerds like myself: can a server really be installed off the app store with no technical skills? I also tackle the meaning of life (somewhere on page 42) in this book, but that’s not nearly as interesting a topic… I am about 80 percent done with it and it should be out within the next 5 to 6 weeks. One of the things that really impresses me about O’Reilly is how fast they can turn my work around, due to their automated publishing environment (if you’ve never written a book in DocBook/XML, you might want to try a chapter or two before you sign a contract as it is nothing like writing in Word or Pages!).

Now that it has an ISBN, the book can now be found on Amazon using the link below. Again, it won’t be out for a few weeks, but it will be fully updated to 10.7.2 and will cover Profile Manager/MDM, the new Podcast Producer and of course Time Machine Server. I go into round tripping WebDAV data w/ iPad/Pages and other oddities specific to iOS as well. Oh, and I added a special appendix on FTP for those still living in the 90s (complete with flannel and greasy hair)!

BTW, the animal is not a Lion, ’cause it was taken…

Mac OS X Mac OS X Server Mac Security

FTP On Lion Server

Much has been made about the demise of FTP on OS X Server. Well, while it may be badly burned, it’s not dead yet. Let’s look at enabling FTP first on the server and then per share.

Enable FTP on the Server

The first thing to do on a server that you want to expose through FTP is enable tnftpd. To do so, open Workgroup Manager or Server and create a group that has user who you want to provide FTP services to. In this example we are going to assume a dedicated FTP server and open access to everyone, but feel free to swap out your group name for the everyone group we use here. Once you have your group (everybody exists by default so we won’t need to create that one), use dseditgroup to create a group called com.aple.access_ftp (everything in this article requires sudo btw):

dseditgroup -o create . com.apple.access_ftp

By default the group is empty and so once enabled, no one will have access to the FTP service. So let’s add everybody:

dseditgroup -o edit . -a everyone -t com.apple.access_ftp

Now let’s fire up FTP using the ftp.plist Apple kindly left us in /System/Library/LaunchDaemons:

launchctl load -w /System/Library/LaunchDaemons/ftp.plist

Enable FTP on Shares

By default share points in Lion have AFP and SMB enabled. The sharing command can be used to list and augment shares. To list:

sharing -l

Make note of the name for a share that you would like to enable FTP for, as well as whether AFP and SMB are enabled. Think of 3 boolean slots, with the first slot being AFP, the second FTP and the third SMB. Let’s use an example share of Seldon. Let’s also say AFP and SMB are enabled on Seldon by default. So sharing can be used to make a change (-e for edit) on the Seldon share, setting the services (-s) to 111:

sharing -e Seldon -s 111

Or to enable just FTP (given that this example is a dedicated FTP server):

sharing -e Seldon -s 010

And let’s say Seldon is a bit promiscuous and so we’re also going to enable guest for the FTP share:

sharing -e Seldon -g 010

Finally, provide the permissions via chmod to grant or deny access at a file and folder level and you’re done. FTP on future shares can be enabled with two or three commands so FTP management really isn’t all that big a deal. Command line doesn’t always mean hard. In fact, some times it’s easier ’cause you’re not hunting around in nested screens for what to click on. Having said that, who knows if this is a temporary reprieve from Apple to finally get away from a protocol older than I am. We would all do well to switch to something more secure…

Windows Server

Setting FTP Banners in IIS

IIS is a pretty straight forward system to manage. One of the more common post-flight tasks for setups of IIS is to configure FTP banners. In Server 2003, this can be done by opening Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager from Start > Administrative Tools. Then, browse to the server name > FTP Sites > Default FTP Site (or the name of the one you would like to configure if you have multiple per server) and then click on the Properties for the site.

At the FTP Site Properties pane, click on the Messages tab. Here, you can provide a Banner to be shown to unauthorized users, a Welcome page, to be shown to authorized users, an Exit and define the maximum number of connections.

Click Apply to commit your changes and then restart the site (right-click on it in IIS Manager and click Stop, then Start).

In Server 2008 the process is pretty straight forward as well. Open Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager from Start > Administrative Tools. Then click on Connections > server name > name of the site > FTP Messages. Then uncheck the box to Suppress Default Banner. Check the box for Support User Variables. Then in the banner field, provide the message to be shown to FTP users that have not yet authenticated. Then in the Welcome Message field, provide a welcome message (you can use Windows variables here). For example, I like ”Welcome %UserName% would you like to play a game”. At the Exit Message field you can provide a message to display authenticated users when they log out of the system. Click on Apply and restart the sites that are changed.

This can also be done via appcmd.exe or simply using the set command, setting a config to the site path and a message:

set config -section:system.applicationHost/sites /[name='ftp.krypted.com'].ftpServer.messages.bannerMessage:"Welcome to Krypted.com" /commit:apphost

set config -section:system.applicationHost/sites /[name='ftp.krypted.com'].ftpServer.messages.suppressDefaultBanner:"True" /commit:apphost

Mac OS X MobileMe

Flow: Amazon S3, iDisk

Flow is a nice little FTP client. But it also supports WebDAV and SFTP as well as Amazon’s S3 and mounting an iDisk from a Mobile Me account. Unlike JungleDisk it doesn’t seem to mount S3 as an actual disk in Mac OS X, but it can be used to take files from iDisk to S3, which is fairly interesting. Flow also supports discovering all of the local services over Bonjour, which can be pretty helpful. Overall, it’s a nice little application that’s pretty sleek and I look forward to seeing where they go with it.