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Using Mac OS X Lion Server by Charles Edge

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Organization and Structure

One of the most important aspects of writing a book is to tell a cohesive story. However, technical books are often a bit more jumpy. Still, I have tried to establish a logical progression through the services covered. But as with most technical books, if you’re looking to complete a specific task on a server, it may be a bit more like a Choose Your Own Adventure book.

The first two chapters of this book are about planning and installation. My recommendation is that you read Chapter 1 before you buy a server, Chapter 2 to help get it set up, and then the chapters that correspond to the services you will be running.

Chapter 1, Planning, covers various aspects of planning for a server installation. This includes choosing the correct hardware, and so is meant to be read before buying a computer to run Lion Server. This chapter also gives new administrators an idea of what goes into configuring the network to accommodate a server. More details for managing the network are mentioned in subsequent chapters, but the global aspects are covered here.

Chapter 2, Installation, provides a detailed look at installing Lion Server on a Mac OS X computer. This chapter does not cover upgrades, as Apple has done a good job of documenting the upgrade process on a per-server basis at support.apple.com. However, this chapter will prepare you for the various scenarios in Apple’s support guides, coach you through correctly setting up the server on your first shot, and provide tips to keep at bay the gremlins that often necessitate a reinstallation.

In Chapter 3, Sharing and Backing Up Files, I discuss the most common service run on any server: sharing files. The chapter begins with managing the permissions to files, because if you cannot control access to data then it probably shouldn’t be shared in the first place. Then I dive into a basic installation and look at connecting Windows, Mac, and iOS clients to the server. The chapter also covers backing up the server and clients using Apple’s Time Machine and Time Machine Server.

Chapter 4, Sharing Address Books, Calendars, and iChat, covers groupware, or shared contacts, schedules, and instant messaging. I also cover configuring the Apple client applications to communicate with the server. Because managing a mail server now also involves mobile devices, contacts, calendars, and instant messaging, the mail component of modern groupware systems is handled in Chapter 6, Building a Mail Server.

Most installations of Mac OS X Server will likely end up running the web service at this point. Whether you need access to calendars, software updates, mail, podcasts, files for iOS devices or even client management resources (e.g., Profile Manager), these all require a functional web service. In Chapter 5, Wikis, Webs, and Blogs, I look at setting up the web service, as well as leveraging Apple’s collaboration services: wikis and blogs.

Mail is one of the most under-appreciated services that are hosted by any server. Until mail goes down, that is. Much of the complexity of managing a mail server is in the ecosystem that is required to foster mail flowing to users (much of which is due to spammers). In Chapter 6, Building a Mail Server, I look at setting up the mail server. But more importantly, readers will be interested in the steps required to keep mail flowing and keep all of the various aspects of the systems surrounding the mail server healthy.

The iPod led to podcasts. Lion Server takes one of the hardest services to configure and makes it as simple as clicking an ON switch. Once set up though, there is a lot of work that goes into making your podcast available to anyone in the world. In Chapter 7, Building Your Own Podcasting Server, we’ll look at those steps. And in no time, we’ll have you explaining to the world why “Space Age Love Song” is your favorite song ever!

In Chapter 8, Managing Apple Computers and iOS Devices, we look at Managed Preferences and Profiles. Managed Preferences are the traditional method for managing the settings that get applied to Apple computers. Profiles are a new opt-in system from Apple that extends the concept of Managed Preferences to a Mobile Device Management (MDM) solution, capable of managing Lion and iOS-based devices alike.

Chapter 9, Network Services, helps initiate services for the rest of the network. This includes providing IP addresses to clients (DHCP), configuring name resolution so users don’t have to keep track of the IP address of servers (DNS), using the server as a router, and Apple’s favorite: VPNs. I also take a look at using Lion Server to manage AirPort base stations in the section on RADIUS.

Finally, Chapter 10, Deploying Mac OS X Computers, provides a guide to the mass deployment aspects built into Lion Server. These revolve around System Image Utility, NetRestore, NetInstall, and NetBoot.

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