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Take Control of OS X Server
Feb 18, 2016

Take Control of OS X Server

Learn to run your own server for file, calendar, backup, and other services!

We won’t beat around the bush — running Apple’s OS X Server requires a lot more knowledge and effort than most other activities on the Mac. No matter how easy Apple makes working within the Server app, there are terms, concepts, and procedures you should understand before tackling server installation and management. Unless you know what to enter and why, your server won’t work, or worse, its important data will be vulnerable to outside attack or hardware failure.

For anyone in a home or small office situation who needs help with OS X Server, Charles Edge draws on years of experience as the CTO of a national consultancy and managed services provider to give you the essential background explanations, step-by-step instructions, and real-world advice you need to set up and run OS X Server successfully. You’ll learn how to set up file sharing, create shared calendars, run your own Web server and wiki, coordinate Mac and iOS software updates for your users, manage your organization’s iOS devices (MDM), and provide networked Time Machine backups, among much else. A final chapter offers advice on how to keep your server running smoothly.

Older versions? This book describes 10.11 El Capitan and OS X Server 5. Readers who have OS X Server 3, known as Mavericks Server, should download the 1.0 version of this book. And those who have OS X Server 4, also known as Yosemite Server, can download the 1.1 version. To download these older books, once you’ve bought this title, click Ebook Extras (page 3 of the PDF) and look in the blog.

More Info

You’ll find answers to many OS X Server-related questions, including:

  • What’s the best Mac to use as a server?
  • How much RAM and drive space should my server have?
  • What’s the best way to speed up a server whose performance is lagging?
  • Why is it important to set up directory services early on?
  • Which ports need to be opened to make services available to the Internet?
  • What’s the big deal about running a mail server?
  • Is there a good way to share contacts between people? (No, sorry.)
  • Can OS X Server provide a private messaging service?
  • Will I be able to enforce iPad device restrictions via Profile Manager?
  • Does setting up an organization wiki requires the Websites service?
  • Should I use the Software Update or Caching service, or both?
  • What should I do if Time Machine on a client Mac can’t connect to the server?

Note: This book assumes that the average reader has one router, one network, and one server (although there are a few spots where it discusses how multiple servers interact). Large installations will have different configurations by necessity. Similarly, the book does not cover imaging, Xsan, or VPNs.

What's New

What’s New in Version 1.2

This is the third version of this book, with the 1.0 version looking at Server 3 in 10.9 Mavericks and the 1.1 update focusing on Server 4 in 10.10 Yosemite. This new version, 1.2, continues the trend, covering Server 5 in 10.11 El Capitan. Despite the change in operating system requirements, differences in the visual interface, and a variety of small functional tweaks, the basic features of Server have changed little.

Here’s a list of the most notable changes:

  • Updated screenshots to reflect Server 5’s visual changes

  • Updated text to reflect Apple’s new terms and names in Server 5

  • Updated the former “What’s New in Yosemite Server” chapter to describe What’s New in Server 5. This chapter has handy links to make it easy to find Server 5–related content in this book.

  • Revised the former “Upgrade from Mavericks Server” chapter to discuss how to Upgrade to Server 5 from Server 4 .

  • Updated paths to files that changed between Server 4 and Server 5 due to System Integrity Protection (SIP), Apple’s new way of protecting the operating system from tampering

What Was New in Version 1.1

Version 1.0 of this book covered Mavericks Server, but in version 1.1 I’ve switched the focus to Yosemite Server. Here’s a quick list of the important changes:

  • Replaced many of the screenshots with new ones that show Yosemite Server.

  • Added two new chapters: What’s New in Yosemite Server and Upgrade from Mavericks Server.

  • Added coverage of access options that hadn’t previously been in Mavericks Server; see Check Service Permissions.

  • Tweaked the password policies discussion to reflect changes in Server app’s interface—see Configure Password Policies.

  • Mentioned that file sharing connections can now be encrypted; see Create a New Shared Folder.

  • Removed quotas and added email aliases when discussing how to Add a User.

Reader Comments

Charles’s server book is something I desperately needed for my day job. It is one of several I’ve read on the topic over the years and proved even more valuable than even the ones in the Apple Training/Peachpit series. —Ric Getter

ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL. What a great resource for casual admins and pros alike. Mr. Edge’s explanations are clear, and technically concise. His practical approach and careful explanations make this Yosemite-ready OS X Server book the ideal choice for anyone interested in learning or using Apple’s amazing new OS X Server. —Michael Sidoric, CapMac Users Group

This Server book from Charles is great. These Take Control books are invaluable to us Apple Consultants. They truly help me do a better job. —Barry Maloney

Update Plans

September 9, 2016 - The Take Control team is talking about a possible update to Take Control of OS X Server to keep pace with a few small changes Apple plans to roll out this fall. A release date will be determined if an update to the book comes to be.

Posted by Lauri Reinhardt

  1. Charles Talks OS X Server 5 with Chuck Joiner

    Yes, Server 5 is alive, and so is Charles’ book about it, which means it is time for Charles to explain to Chuck Joiner of MacVoices what has changed, what hasn’t, and the pros and cons of running your own server. This far-ranging conversation has much to offer your inner sysop.

    Posted by Michael Cohen (Permalink)

  2. OS X Server 5 Is Alive!

    If you’ve been running Yosemite Server (OS X Server version 4), you may have received an App Store notice about a free upgrade to OS X Server 5. According to Apple, OS X Server 5 is “operating system independent,” meaning that it can run on both 10.10.5 Yosemite (and later) and 10.11 El Capitan. Charles, nonetheless, says that while OS X Server 5 does run on Yosemite, he doesn’t really recommend doing so. He also notes that OS X Server 4 won’t run on El Capitan.

    So, bottom line, if you plan to upgrade your server Mac to El Capitan, get the OS X Server upgrade at that time—not before. Also, we recommend that you wait until people like Charles test Server 5 and report back.

    Posted by Michael Cohen (Permalink)

  3. Setting Up The VPN Server and Client on Yosemite Server

    If you have been wondering how you can set up a VPN server on Yosemite Server, wonder no more: Charles has you covered. His article Setup The VPN Server and Client On Yosemite Server provides the information you need to get VPN running, whether your preferred protocol is PPTP or L2TP (Charles recommends the latter, but you can run both). Don’t be daunted, the VPN service is simple to setup and even simpler to manage.

    Posted by Michael Cohen (Permalink)

The Author

Charles Edge has written 14 books and over 4,000 blog posts on technology, with a focus on large-scale systems and server management. When he started writing this book, he was a partner and the chief technology officer of 318, a national consultancy and managed services provider with a focus on Apple’s platforms. Charles then joined JAMF Software as the product manager for Bushel. Charles is now the Director of Professional Services at JAMF Software. When not playing with computers at work, he can probably be found at home tinkering with computers for fun.