Apple unleashes Panther at sysadmin conference

Looking to further increase its status as an enterprise IT systems provider, Apple has demonstrated the management capabilities of OS X, and has hinted at how the version – codenamed Panther – will integrate such tools.

During a demonstration at the SAGE-AU (System Administrators Guild of Australia) conference in Hobart this week, Apple systems engineers Joseph Cox and Struan Robertson spoke about how the company’s move to open standards will help it become more of a commercial player.

“In the past Apple has often done its own thing,” Cox said. “Now we are moving embracing both open source and open standards to ensure interoperability between systems.”

The demonstration involved the use of Mac OS X server tools to remotely monitor and manage other OS X systems.

“OS X’s workgroup manager uses directory-based management tools to manage users and groups on the network,” Cox said. “System administration such as access to applications, user preferences, Internet access, and printing quotas can all be managed centrally.”

Robertson said that an improvement over previous releases of OS X is the way version 10.2 supports group selection of computers so that it is possible to manage many computers at once over the network.

“Our management tools enable more of a ‘roaming profile’ approach to users’ desktops rather than the thin-client approach,” Robertson said. “Systems can be stringently locked down or given as much administrative privilege as possible.”

Panther, or OS X 10.3, is now in developer preview and will have many enhancements to its system administration abilities, according to Cox.

“The system management tools that now ship as separate applications in Jaguar will be unified in Panther,” Cox said. “We are moving to LDAP version 3 for the main directory services and Panther will have native Active Directory support.”

Other additions to Panther include an automatic server set-up tool, support for single sign-on, IPSec VPNs, and better NFS, Cox said.

“Some of the functionality of backup utilities Carbon Copy Cloner and NetRestore will also appear in Panther,” Robertson said. “Also, the Sendmail mail server will be replaced with Postfix.”

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