Leopard Server: The people's Unix
Mac OS X v10.5 is true Unix on the inside, novice admin friendly on the outside, and born for collaboration, with turnkey-simple blog, wiki, IM, and calendar servicesFollow @infoworld
Although Leopard Server has the outward appearance of a gentle, unintimidating client that magically makes collaboration, general server, and edge services appear on your network, it wears its Unix-ness with pride. Leopard Server is Unix with a "U," the real deal, with Open Group Unix 03 certification for the first time in OS X history. That puts Leopard Server in the rarified company of AIX, Solaris, and HP-UX. The Big Three is now the Big Four. The point is, if you're concerned that Apple's having brought client ease of use to servers means that Unix gearheads have to clear a lot of brush to work their craft, don't worry about it. Leopard Server is source-level compatibility with any Unix software in the wild, or at least that which adheres to Unix standards. Further, a full set of commands -- including command-line administration of its entire feature set -- means that Leopard Server is both pretty to look at and well-muscled, a fine specimen all around.
For the short rack
If Leopard Server has a shortcoming, it is its limited scalability. This is a legitimate concern for IT, but then IT is neither Apple's target for Leopard Server nor the most likely purchaser of turnkey, user-friendly servers. Again, Leopard Server passes muster in the general purpose category, and linking in Apple's Xsan SAN filesystem opens Leopard Server's intrinsic scalability. But the turnkey features that make Leopard Server so appealing don't scale with the use of the GUI tools. The tools themselves fall short of an experienced admin's expectations, especially with regard to real-time reporting. Apple thoughtfully made all of its admin tools operable remotely so that you don't have to resort to VNC or a remote shell; the console administrative GUI runs on any Mac client, and the tools are free. But when a remote management connection goes down mid-session, the admin tools handle it poorly. There is no notification that the link to the server has been cut. Rather, stale stats persist on-screen until the admin tool is restarted, at which point a broken connection is reported.
Leopard Server does all of the things that Tiger Server did (see the review, "Tiger burns bright"), with modernization that's particularly visible in its default security and the GUI interfaces that operate it. You'll also find that often-used features like the setting up of network shares have been moved to top-level management interfaces. Leopard Server is a much easier OS to run even when your requirements exceed that which the desktop-like GUI can manage.
Just add users
Wiki, blog, calendar, and instant messaging are pulled together as Web services, and Apple took a brilliant approach. When you create a new user on Leopard Server -- of course, you can link to Windows Active Directory and arbitrary LDAP directories as well, with Leopard providing single sign-on -- Leopard Server sets up homes for the user's blog and calendar and shared address book ("Directory"). When you create a group, Leopard Server automatically wires that group's members into selected Web services, with configurable access by users outside the group. For example, the group gets its own Wiki and group mailing list, and a calendar that permits full-group invites. That's just a hint of the "do it in one place, it shows up everywhere" integration that's familiar to Mac client users. It is just as pervasive in Leopard Server.