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What's new in Leopard Server

October 28, 2007 12:00 PM ET
Enhanced collaborative tools

In addition to iCal Server, Leopard Server includes Web-based collaborative tools and a new organizational information tool called Directory, explained in more detail below. New Web-based tools include an easy-to-configure wiki and blogs that can be created for any group. Group calendars offer a very slick and polished Web 2.0 interface that both looks and functions excellently, and the choice of several site templates. As with all versions of Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server, Web services are handled by Apache.

Newly Enabled Wiki Under Mac OS X Server

The newly enabled wiki under Mac OS X Server. (Click for larger view.)

The new Directory application included with Leopard gives users access a wide variety of organizational information about users, groups, office/school locations and other types of available resources. It maintains both general user contact information, including address and phone number, as well as organizational information such as who reports to whom.

Location information can include maps, address and descriptions, and can be as granular as a person's desk location within an office. Resources can include anything from copiers to company cars. Resources and locations can even be scheduled, thanks to integration with iCal Server.


The new Directory. (Click for larger view.)

Directory offers an option for creating a single-source reference for employee, departmental and organizationwide information. The option for employees to edit their own information -- including photos of themselves -- and the breadth of material that can be included are impressive.

If the system could be integrated with other business applications such as payroll or time and attendance systems, Directory could serve as a complete tool for maintaining employee information. This integration might be able to be done via LDAP queries, as the Directory information appears to reside mostly in Open Directory.

With the variety of commercial and homegrown tools for employee management, however, it would be impossible for Apple alone to develop this type of integration. Third parties may be able to do so independently or working with Apple.

The downside is that there is no comparable Windows setup, which will limit Directory's ultimate application for many larger organizations that are dealing with a variety of client systems and software.

New managed preferences

Apple has updated its managed preferences architecture to include new built-in preferences and expand several existing options. New preferences include Parental Controls, which mirror the Parental Controls found in Leopard client, and Time Machine, which allows an administrator to define a share point to be used for backing up workstations with Leopard's Time Machine. Options in Time Machine can also be set to define which volumes get backed up, whether system files are backed up and to limit the total storage space for backups.

Managed preferences that have received major updates include Applications, Login and Mobility. With the new Applications setup, administrators can restrict not only which applications may be launched but also restrict the launching of applications in specific folders. Additionally, administrators can define which Dashboard widgets may be run and whether access to Front Row, Apple's media center, is allowed.

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