Saturday, April 4, 2009

OSX Server Day 1

Now that we were limping along from an IT perspective it was time to get a real server created. I took my OSX Server, 10 Client edition, popped it in my new MacPro (Nehalem) turned it on and got a white screen. Nothing. Odd. I booted off the pre-installed Leopard and it was fine. So from there I decided to just install it from the CD versus booting the CD. It installed fine and I rebooted and had OSX server. Then I was presented with a LOT of system management options and terminology and concepts I didn't know. I thought OSX server was supposed to be easy? Turns out there are 3 modes to OSX server - Standard (simple), Workgroup, and Advanced. When you install the way I had to it treats it as a server upgrade and forces advanced mode. 

Why couldn't I boot the CD? Turns out the OSX server I bought (several months ago) was older than the hardware I had just bought and was missing drivers etc and I could not swap the disk for a newer one without paying $500 to apple again. This was nuts, I got on the phone and after speaking to 5 Apple people (just to get to the correct department), I got told that since my OSX server was purchased a while back, and even though it wasn't used, they shouldn't be supporting me. Nice, so much for planning ahead. But then they said, if you do the install by booting Leopard and then running only a piece of the OSX server install package it may let me avoid advanced mode. I got one blurb from them on how to do this:

"Install OS X client onto unit, creating an admin user with the name & password that you want on the server. 
Update all SW and then insert OS X Server install disc into unit. 
Go to Finder>Go>Volumes.
The name of the metapackage file to be run is "MacOSXServerInstall.mpkg", which is located in /Volumes/Mac OS X Server Install Disc/System/Installation/Packages.
Run this metapackage file to install OS X Server on unit. "

Nevermind the fact that this information was limited and flawed, it gave me just enough to find the package I needed. The best way I found was to do this through the terminal and then "open" the referenced package. After doing this I got OSX server setup in the way it was meant to be. 

It took a great deal of time because each attempt required OSX updates (over my crazy aircard setup) as well as OSX server updates. A few times as they were setting up the rest of my network I had wrong IP addresses/configurations which were difficult to change in OSX server so I had the pleasure of doing this several times.

In the end I think the steps are something like this (none of which I could find with google searches):

1) Boot Leopard install CD (even if your new MacPro has Leopard pre-installed)
2) Go into disk utility and set up your disks the way you want (OSX server install would have had this step but you can't boot that). Your options may be more limited than OSX server but I had 4 1TB drives and created 2 mirrored 1TB volumes. One I called "OS" and one I called "Data". I'm so creative.
3) Now install Leopard and do all the updates. If you're doing this with an Aircard bring a good book.
4) Now, while logged into leopard after all the updates/reboots are done, put in the OSX server CD and run the package above. You'll walk through OSX server install. Oddly it doesnt force a reboot. 
5) Next, don't do any updates (if you do, start over at #1 - found that the hard way), eject CD and reboot.
6) Now you get the OSX server install screen asking you about standard (stand alone) vs workgroup vs advanced. I originally chose standard but later found out I should have chosen workgroup so I started over again.
7) Now once it comes up you can do the OSX server update (another 200MB+ over the aircard). Note that if you plan on making mistakes like I did its helpful to download these update packages and squirrel them away (I put them on the data drive that I wasn't wiping on each attempt).
8) Now you have an installed OSX server. Time to figure out what it can and cant do. Thats for another episode.

The alternative is to buy/get an OSX server CD that works with your hardware. My first experience with OSX server has not been pleasant.