Chapter 16. Using Mac OS X as a Server

While most people think of Mac OS X as a client system only, you can also run Mac OS X as a server. If you need Apple’s advanced administration tools, you could purchase and use Mac OS X Server (, but if you’re comfortable with the command line, the client version can easily run as a server.

The following services that power the Sharing preference panel are based on the same servers that provide the foundation for everything from private networks to the Internet:

  • OpenSSH for remote login

  • Samba for Windows file sharing

  • Apache for web publishing

However, the System Preferences are limited in what they will let you do. To unleash the full power of Mac OS X as a server, you’ll need to install your own administrative tools or edit the configuration files by hand. Once you’ve unleashed the server lurking inside your Mac, there are many services you can set up. Here are some of the possibilities:

Secure mail server

If your email provider isn’t reliable, or doesn’t support the way you want to access your email, you can forward all your email to your personal server and retrieve it from there—whether you’re in your home office or on the road.

SSH server

When you’re on the road, there might be some things you want to access back at the home office. Or perhaps you want to help a family member troubleshoot a computer problem while you’re on the road.

VNC/Remote Desktop/X11

One step up from a VPN or SSH connection is a remote ...

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