Hands-on: Making Leopard servers simple

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Workgroup mode offers an unusual mix of functionality. On the one hand, it does allow users in a larger environment to use the same username and password for a departmental or workgroup server that they do for other services within a network. On the other hand, it also keeps the new server somewhat separate from the larger network in that only a subset of users will be able to log in and access resources hosted by the server.

One situation in which this could be particularly attractive is in a Windows Server/Active Directory environment where only a single department uses Macs. A power user or technician can provide Mac users with server support without the need for exceptional effort on the part of the Windows systems administration staff, which might not have the knowledge or desire to offer much Mac server support. In that situation, server or network managers don't need to put in a lot of effort to serve users.

It seems a little less practical to implement a workgroup server in an environment where services are being provided by an advanced Mac OS X Server/Open Directory infrastructure or an integrated Active Directory/Open Directory environment. In these cases, it would seem more logical to provide services using Leopard Server's advanced mode. There are, however, some situations in which workgroup mode might useful within an Open Directory environment. One possibility is where a satellite office or remote department might not have sufficient technical staffers to set up and manage Mac OS X servers.

Management via Server Preferences

When operating in standard or workgroup mode, Leopard Server is managed using the Server Preferences utility, either locally on the server or remotely on a Mac running Leopard. As you can see, the design of Server Preferences borrows many elements from the System Preferences utility used in Mac OS X. Server Preferences is divided into sections for managing users and groups, available services and system-level tools.

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Server Preferences

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User management is extremely simple and is, again, almost identical to its counterpart in System Preferences -- the Accounts pane in Mac OS X. Four simple tabs allow identification and editing of a user's account information, contact information, any services that the user is allowed to access and groups to which the user belongs.

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