A guided tour of Apple's Leopard Server OS

Recently, I had a chance to sit down with a few folks from Apple Computer who gave me a guided tour of Apple's upcoming server operating system, which is slated for release sometime in the spring of 2007. Mac OS X Server 10.5, or Leopard, will be the seventh release of the server operating system since 2000 and the second version to run natively on Intel processors.

Since the release of the new operating system is not too far around the corner, be sure to purchase server maintenance, which provides 36 months of upgrades for US$999. Given the release history, that could tun into three upgrades for the price of one -- a very good deal.

Overview

Leopard server is a 64-bit operating system that can seamlessly run 32-bit applications and extensions. Unlike other operating systems, there is just one version of the software, and any application and driver, be it 64- or 32-bit, will run natively and without penalty.

This iteration of the server operating system is not just Unix-based, but will be certified as UnixAE, meaning that it can run any Unix-certified application after being recompiled for the platform and does not require any modification to application programming interfaces or other code. Included in Leopard Server will be 64-bit versions of MySQL 4, MySQL 5, Apache 2 and improved 64-bit versions of Postfix and Cyrus for mail handling.

Installation

The setup shows that there are two core audiences: professional IT/data center workers and the small business/workgroup environment. You can choose to build the box as a simple stand-alone server that uses only the basic services, you can choose to be in a workgroup environment where the server will automatically integrate with an existing directory server and mail system, or IT pros can choose advanced setup and customize the server build as they have always done.

A new feature called network health check will query the addresses and ports required for selected services and inform the administrator of availability issues prior to executing the build. As part of the stand-alone build for small and midsize businesses, the administrator can define user accounts during the build. The workgroup build allows the administrator to import user accounts from an existing directory services system, pointing to that account for authentication, not replicating it. When client machines are built and connected to the server, their account information and configurations will automatically be pushed out to the client machine, simplifying setup and the overall administration process.

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