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Archive for the ‘Mac OS X Server’ Category

Portable home directories will not work on macOS Sierra

September 3, 2016 13 comments

As part of the pre-release announcements about macOS Sierra, Apple released the following KBase article:

https://support.apple.com/HT206871

As part of the KBase article, Apple included a Changes coming with macOS Sierra section which featured this note:

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Portable home directories (PHDs) were Apple’s attempt at providing roaming user profiles. Starting in Mac OS X 10.3.x, you could configure a person’s account so that the data in their home folder resided on a server in a network home folder. The data on the server was then synchronized with copies of the same data residing on the one or more Macs that particular person used on a day-to-day basis.

Portable home directories

It was also possible to configure what data was synchronized between the Mac(s) and the server, to conserve space on the server for only essential data.

Portable Sync Rules

Unfortunately, the idea was better in concept than it was in execution. Depending on how much data needed to be synchronized, the copying process between the server and the individual Macs could take a while.

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Synchronization conflicts were also left for the user to figure out, which usually meant a call to the local help desk.

Phd conflict resolution

The synchronization agent itself was prone to crashing when working particularly hard.

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The problems with the synchronization process, coupled with the increasing availability of continuous backup solutions like CrashPlan and Apple’s diminishing support for PHDs, helped make portable home directory deployment something many Mac admins avoided. Nine OS releases after PHDs’ initial debut in 10.3.x., it appears Apple now agrees with that sentiment.

Automating the setup of OS X Server on El Capitan and Yosemite

October 29, 2015 Leave a comment

As part of the development of Mac OS X, Apple has also developed Mac OS X Server as a way to provide access to both additional services on OS X and the management tools needed to administrate those services. While Mac OS X and Mac OS X Server used to be separate operating systems, Apple combined them into one release re-branded as OS X and moved the server-specific services and management tools into an OS X Server application available from the Mac App Store.

As part of the move to an application-based installation process, there was a capability removed from OS X Server: The ability to automate its setup entirely from the command line.

In order to run the initial setup of OS X Server, the following manually-run process was needed:

1. Log into the Mac using an account with administrator rights
2. Launch /Applications/Server.app

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3. Agree to the OS X Server license

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4. Provide administrator authorization when prompted.

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5. The initial setup of OS X Server would then proceed.

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For Mac sysadmins who needed to set up multiple instances of OS X Server, having this manual step involved slowed the setup process down considerably. To find out why this part needed to run manually, while at WWDC 2015 I asked the relevant Apple engineer why this was the case. The response was that the OS X Server license needed to be agreed to, to which I mentioned that Xcode had a similar requirement but that there was a way to agree to the license from the command line. The Apple engineer in question took that feedback and said it was a valid point.

At this point, the story skips forward to Brad Chapman discovering a new and undocumented way to agree to the license from the command line in OS X Server 5.0.x. Charles Edge built on that discovery and created an expect script to handle agreeing to the license and providing admin authorization. Charles’s method incorporated the use of an existing admin user’s username and password in the script, so in turn I’ve built on Charles’s work to create a completely automated setup script which does the following:

  1. Create a temporary user with a randomly generated password
  2. Give the temporary user admin privileges
  3. Run the initial setup and configuration of OS X Server’s services.
  4. Delete the temporary user

As part of the initial setup process:

  • Agree to the license
  • Authorize the setup process using the temporary user’s username and password

For more details, see below the jump.

Read more…

Downloading Server.app for Mavericks and Mountain Lion

November 1, 2014 19 comments

I’ve noticed that the Server.app installers for Mavericks and Mountain Lion have now vanished from my list of Purchases in the App Store, and searching for “OS X Server” will only give you the option of Server.app 4.0 for Yosemite. However, Server.app 2.2.5 for Mountain Lion and Server.app 3.2.2 for Mavericks are still available. You just need the right Mac App Store URL.

As of November 1, 2014, here are the Mac App Store URLs for Server.app 2.2.5 for OS X 10.8.5 and Server.app 3.2.2 for 10.9.5:

To help safeguard against a day where they may not be available at all, I recommend downloading a copy of the Server.app installer packages from the MAS.

Update 1-6-2015: Apple has a KBase article that also shows how to download and install Server.app for Mountain Lion and Mavericks:

http://support.apple.com/en-us/HT203137

/etc/hostconfig removed from Yosemite

October 28, 2014 Leave a comment

Apple has been warning folks for the past few OS releases that the /etc/hostconfig file was going away and it looks like they decided that Mavericks was the hostconfig file’s last hurrah.

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As of OS X Yosemite, /etc/hostconfig is no longer installed as part of the OS.

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Thanks to Dan O’Donnell for the heads-up:

Categories: Mac OS X, Mac OS X Server

Stopping unwanted collabd errors in /var/log/system.log on Mavericks Server

September 5, 2014 4 comments

As part of standing up a new DeployStudio server on Mavericks Server in my shop, I noticed that I had a lot of errors showing up in /var/log/system.log that looked like this:

September 5 10:21:16 servername_here collabd[240]: [CSConnectionPool.m:196 fa7d000 +9998ms] Could not open a connection to Postgres. Please make sure it is running and has the correct access.
September 5 10:21:16 servername_here collabd[240]: [CSXCWorkSchedulerService.m:196 fa7d000 +0ms] Failed to open DB connection, retrying in 10s: [CSDatabaseError] Connection to DB failed

This error is caused by OS X Server’s wiki service trying and failing to get a database connection. Googling for those errors led me to a lot of results on how to fix a busted Wiki on OS X Server, but I wasn’t interested in running OS X’s wiki service on this box. If you’re in a similar situation, the collabd service can be stopped via Mavericks Server’s serveradmin tool to fix this issue.

To stop the collabd service, run the following command:

sudo serveradmin stop collabd

After a few minutes, you should see the following output:

collabd:state = "STOPPED"

The errors should also stop appearing in /var/log/system.log.

Open Directory in Mavericks no longer requires multiple processors

November 22, 2013 Leave a comment

In Mac OS X Server 10.7.x and 10.8.x, there’s been an issue that Mac admins have run into more than once:

“I’m trying to set up Open Directory in this VM, but the service won’t enable.”

Profile Manager in 10.7.x and 10.8.x also has an known issue where it crashes when set up in a VM. The root cause is the same: Profile Manager needs to have Open Directory running and Open Directory won’t turn on.

The fix for this issue in 10.7.x Server and 10.8.x Server is simple – give your VM more than one processor. Once you give the VM multiple processors (two is fine), Open Directory should begin working. This will also fix the Profile Manager crashing issue, as Open Directory should now enable properly.

In Mavericks, it appears Apple has addressed this issue. In my testing, Open Directory no longer requires multiple processors.

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Now that Open Directory can run with one processor, Profile Manager also now runs properly on a one-processor VM.

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Downloading Apple’s Server.app installer package

August 22, 2013 23 comments

As part of building a custom OS X installer ISO for my ESXi server, I wanted the ability to include Server.app as part of my installation process. One problem with that is that Server.app is only available via the Mac App Store and doesn’t have a separate installer available for download.

However, if you have already purchased Server.app, it is possible to get a copy of the Server.app installer from the Mac App Store. See below the jump for details.

Read more…

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