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Hands on: Using Apple's Workgroup Manager

By Ryan Faas
June 20, 2007 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - While you can edit several attributes of user, group and computer accounts in Mac OS X Server using traditional command-line tools and configuration files as in other Unix environments, Workgroup Manager is the preferred way to go. It helps manage share points and user accounts in Mac OS X Server. It's designed to interoperate with the various technologies that have been bundled to create Open Directory and supports the way other services integrate with Open Directory.

In two earlier articles, I discussed the theory behind Apple's Open Directory architecture and how to configure Open Directory under Mac OS X Server to provide directory services in Mac and multiplatform environments. This article continues that discussion with a hands-on guide to Workgroup Manager.

Workgroup Manager has four primary areas that it can be used to manage: share points, accounts (including users, groups and computer lists) and preferences that define the user experience for clients bound to an Open Directory domain using Apple's managed preferences architecture. The final management area includes network views that determine what Mac users see when they use the Network globe icon to browse a network.

Each of these four areas can be managed by selecting the appropriate button in the Workgroup Manager tool bar (see Figure 1). The default tool bar also contains a button labeled "Admin" for launching the Server Admin application and another button for adding new items such as users or groups and connecting or disconnecting from a server. Like Server Admin, Workgroup Manager can run locally on a server or can run on a remote Mac.

Other potential new items that can be added include tools for refreshing the displayed information, opening a new window and searching accounts. In an upcoming article, I'll take a detailed look at managed preferences and network views.

The Workgroup Manager Window. (Click image for larger view.)
Figure 1: The Workgroup Manager Window. (Click image for larger view.)
Workgroup Manager can be used to manage accounts and related records in a server's local NetInfo domain and records that have been stored in your directory services domain. Typically, this will be an Open Directory domain host in a Mac OS X Server, though some advanced multiplatform configurations allow for modifying records in other directory services such as Microsoft's Active Directory.

It is important to understand which domain (also referred to as a directory node) you are working with. Only those accounts stored in a directory services domain can be used to log into workstations and to access resources on multiple servers within your network via single-sign-on. Accounts stored in a server's local NetInfo domain can be used to access resources such as share points on that server remotely, but they can't be used to log into workstations or for single-sign-on.

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