PSA - macOS server changes

Posted on
Sat Mar 31, 2018 7:12 pm
lanbrown online
Posts: 674
Joined: Sep 26, 2017

PSA - macOS server changes

With the release of High Sierra 10.13.4 and Server 5.6, Apple has announced some changes coming this fall as well as new deployments using 5.6. Apple is going to remove more functionality from the Server app.

https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT208312

In fall 2018, Apple will stop bundling open source services such as Calendar Server, Contacts Server, the Mail Server, DNS, DHCP, VPN Server, and Websites with macOS Server. Customers can get these same services directly from open-source providers. This way, macOS Server customers can install the most secure and up-to-date services as soon as they’re available.


The are going to focus more on what Apple develops in house.

Apple will continue to develop and support macOS Server, which includes Open Directory, Profile Manager, and Xsan management.


They already removed some features from the Server app starting with High Sierra.

The most popular server features—Caching Server, File Sharing Server, and Time Machine Server—have been bundled with every installation of macOS High Sierra since its release in fall 2017, so that even more customers have access to these essential services at no extra cost.


Every release of the Server app, Apple just keeps taking things out. I did run an OD deployment way back when and moved away from it due to the complexity of it and at other time the lack of features. I had corruption and had to restore from a backup and by doing so, the synchronization still worked but you couldn't see the other nodes listed. Apple made great strides in supporting AD and other forms of LDAP outside of OD, but OD is still required in some cases. I moved back to AD and then the macOS servers still run a local OD instance that ties into AD. This setup allows Profile Manager to query OD which then queries AD, so the same username and password used on the Apple computers that are tied to AD also work on Profile Manager. 802.1x used for wireless authentication also is tied to AD via Radius (Microsoft NPS). With the changes that Apple has made, there is not much use of the Server app starting this fall. I moved away from using their DNS and DHCP services due to the lack of features in a distributed environment.

At some point I will have to setup a High Sierra (or its successor) to handle the caching, file sharing server and Time Machine to replace the Sierra/High Sierra variants that I currently run.

It just really seems like Apple is going backwards here and if their intent was to have those three features available to the masses for free, they could have offered two Server app variants, the first would be free and would include those three features and then the paid for Server app that had the remaining features.

Anyway, for anyone setting up a new server instance up, the features that Apple will be removing this fall will not show up on new installs on the lefthand pane. If you are upgrading, they will still show up...for now. So anyone running them, might want to start planning for the changes coming this fall. Anyone wanting to use them for a new install, might as well as seek out the third-party packages now.

Posted on
Sun Apr 01, 2018 5:16 am
nlagaros offline
Posts: 1590
Joined: Dec 20, 2010

Re: PSA - macOS server changes

I recently migrated some home services (email, contacts, calendar, DNS, DHCP, VPN) away from MacOS knowing this was coming. My Mac Mini is pretty much limited to Indigo and a web server that hosts the plugin. I can't see Apple releasing an updated Mac Mini (even though Tim Cook said it was important). Would one buy it simply as a controller for device management? I would think an Apple TV could do the same job (I don't have one) - perhaps it will in the future.

I have a NAS (circa 2010) for file sharing and Time Machine backups. I highly recommend over running on MacOS. Costs have come down significantly over the past couple of years.

Posted on
Sun Apr 01, 2018 11:14 am
jay (support) offline
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Location: Austin, Texas

Re: PSA - macOS server changes

This shouldn't surprise anyone who's been paying attention to Apple's moves over the past several years. With each release and move it's clearer that they don't believe that Macs should be used in any kind of server-like configuration. Firing Sal, hiding the web server, letting AppleScript languish, falling behind on other scripting technologies, making it harder and harder to keep Macs awake, poor testing around drivers, and now this.

It seems pretty clear that they just don't care about Macs as always-on computers. I, too, will be very surprised to see a new Mac mini. It was always primarily (from Apple's perspective) a way to get switchers. But that's not a major (and maybe even minor) goal any more - the world has moved on and it's all about mobile computing, an area where Microsoft/Windows just isn't the 800lb gorilla.

Jay (Indigo Support)
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