Sunday, January 17, 2010

Snow Leopard Server

So as you can tell from previous posts, we moved from Leopard Server to Snow Leopard server. The move wasn't without a TON of pain. The hope was that things would be significantly better on the new version. Some things (unlimited client licenses) are better, but most things are just.. different.

There's still plenty of signs that its a mostly untested piece of software from apple. The fact that there's a button in the mail configuration to enable antivirus but when you push it it doesnt work shows that basic testing hasn't been done. If you run into this, as we did, you can find solutions online.

There are other annoyances/totally broken areas, i'll list a few:

  • Groups don't work as mail distribution lists anymore. Not sure how they broke this, but they did
  • Calendar invites from outside your domain do not go to your domain calendar, and if you try to copy/place it on the right calendar you get: The server responded: "HTTP/1.1 403 Forbidden" to operation CalDAVWriteEntityQueueableOperation.
  • You still have to hack the server to enable RADIUS for VPN authentication. Apple has it fixed to do wifi auth and didn't think this through
  • Mail aliases still are not supported so you still have to sudo vi /etc/aliases in the terminal to manage these. Then you need to deal with any races in it overwriting on its periodic updates as you edit the file
  • They have not thought through the whole internal versus external naming/conventions around their web mail/management interface to the point that its almost impossible to make use of

Thats just the list from the top of my head. The main point being that if you're thinking about using OSX Server for your business, and as much as it hurts me to say so, i'd say don't and go use Exchange. Sure its more expensive, harder to manage, etc, but the thing works and Microsoft, unlike Apple, seems to care about it.

Leopard Server = No Time Machine

In upgrading from Leopard Server to Snow Leopard Server our IT consultant made the assumption that Time Machine had his back on the upgrade. Generally Time Machine was backing up the Leopard server, but what wasnt obvious until we poked around in the backups is that on Leopard Server it does not backup mail. I had previously looked into mail backup and had mailbfr installed, but it hadn't run recently as he prepared for the upgrade. Apple fixed this major deficiency in Snow Leopard and now mail is indeed backed up with Time Machine on Snow Leopard server. 

It makes you wonder though, Apple claims to be making business class servers and software. They include their own backup software, but it has a major omission around mail backup. This is just another point that apple is not serious about running the servers for businesses.

OSX DNS issues

Is your mac behaving oddly with regards to DNS in that its not honoring the DNS server? I found out the hard way that apple, with its mDNSResponder service, broke tried and tested DNS on OSX. There are plenty of places on the net you can find this mentioned and its surprising and frustrating that Apple hasnt fixed it yet. Anyway, if DNS is behaving oddly on your mac, start with:

sudo killall mDNSResponder

It will restart itself and refresh DNS.

Google Voice - not moving?

I was excited by Google taking over Grand Central, I thought it was finally going to start going somewhere. There were some short term changes but after that... nothing. Google for many years behaved like a startup and its products and ideas moved quickly. In recent years Google has begun to stagnate with fewer changes around the applications it delivers to the consumers and more focus on monetizing its work. Sure, thats not surprising, they have to make a living. Buts its a shame that they had to slow down their innovation so much as they chase the precious dollar. Google Voice is just one more example of google slowing down. Disagree? Let me know.

Where'd I go?

Sorry folks, things got crazy all over. No, they're not less crazy yet, but there's a bit of light at the end of the tunnel. Its been fun though. Anyway, i'll try to catch up on some pending blog entries. Thanks for sticking with me!

I was at an airport recently for a delayed flight and on the laptop. The thing started cooking my lap. I looked and saw that spotlight was busy indexing my hard drive while I was on battery. This seems like a simple, "if on battery dont update spotlight" decision. Battery life is precious enough, to waste it for spotlight seems like a poor decision. Its a wonder some poor decisions like this last for so long in software.