back to article Apple whispers farewell to macOS Server

Apple appears to have all but killed macOS Server by deprecating most of what distinguishes it from a desktop OS. The company slipped out news of the software's demise in a nondescript forum post that details how Cupertino plans to stop supporting DHCP, DNS, mail, messages, NetInstall, VPN, the Web server, the Wiki, as well as …

Silver badge
Gimp

I can see why they are saying goodbye

The product was actually a lot more capable than people gave it credit for, in the right environment - i.e. to deploy iOS or manage a small business. For places that had Macs, it filled a gap left in the market by products like Microsoft's original Small Business Server which could be managed by someone in the business; or by small/medium business outside contractors and software developers (including my company). Microsoft gutted SBS (partly because of pressure from the larger contractors) when they decided that everything, that they could force, was going into Microsoft's cloud to give them a reliable income stream.

I guess that Apple looked at the revenue and decided that it was not worth continuing with the amount of resources that it needed. A fair bit of the "server" can be replaced by a NAS, but the integration of Mail, Calendar, website, etc for up to 50 users was more than feasable on a Mac mini (until they cut the number of cores down to 2).

32
2
Anonymous Coward

Re: I can see why they are saying goodbye

I fear 'tis all clouds round these parts nowadays.

These days the stock answer for small businesses wanting their own on site IT is "good luck, it'll cost, but you should be using <insert my choice of online service provider who pays me commission> instead". I suspect that it's actually quite difficult to get an MS reseller to sell you anything because you're not big enough to interest their commission-sensitive tentacles. Apple aren't even bothering now.

It's beginning to happen to larger businesses too. The lot I work for is headed towards Office 365 (God help us), hosted in the USA. No that doesn't make much sense; it's a UK company, but as we have an office in the US it's basically not legally possible to host our stuff in the EU. Or that's what we're told. Glad it's not me setting any of this up.

33
1
Silver badge

Re: I can see why they are saying goodbye

"it's a UK company, but as we have an office in the US it's basically not legally possible to host our stuff in the EU."

Never take legal advice from the vendor's sales vampire.

29
0
Silver badge
Big Brother

Re: I can see why they are saying goodbye

As you have an office in the EU, it is not really possible to host anything confidential in the USA.

There may be a sham agreement at present but it will eventually go the way of the "Safe Harbor" (sic) as soon as someone has got around to taking it to court.

Basically, because of dodgy US courts and an unanswerable load of spooks, your stuff is up for grabs and will then make its way to anyone who can pay for it.

22
2
Silver badge
Unhappy

Re: I can see why they are saying goodbye

Yes but the US isn't the only dodgy lot of spooks so you are not saying much.

GCHQ , German FIS, French DSGE also have form in this area.

15
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: I can see why they are saying goodbye

The product was actually a lot more capable than people gave it credit for, in the right environment - i.e. to deploy iOS or manage a small business.

True, but given that even a half decent NAS has most of the functionality built in (or, more accurately, made available to the end user as most of these things run a form of Linux anyway) or any simple inux box can offer this I can see why there wasn't much takeup, and it makes sense to end a product then and spend the resources elsewhere.

2
4
Silver badge

Re: I can see why they are saying goodbye

"No that doesn't make much sense; it's a UK company, but as we have an office in the US it's basically not legally possible to host our stuff in the EU."

Seriously, you need to examine this carefully.

I'm assuming you're thinking in terms of 3 geographical entities here: US, UK ex EU and EU.

Let's dispose of the UK ex EU vs EU bit first. GDPR will apply to the UK before Brexit. It goes live on the 18th of May this year. The current Data Protection Bill going through Parliament is going to have to become a new Act before then in order to give effect to it. I can't see it being ditched in less than a year as the UK is going to need implementation of GDPR in the future in order to trade with the EU. So in practical terms, post Brexit you're looking at UK+EU as being covered by a single regulatory regime.

Disposing of that issue let's look at what GDPR deals with. It deals with PII of any EU resident irrespective of where the data is kept and irrespective of where the company holding or processing the data is headquartered. If a company is handling PII of any resident of UK+EU (see previous paragraph) it's going to have to comply with GDPR unless it contrives to avoid enforcement by not having any legal toe-hold in UK+EU - which is probably going to be difficult on a practical level if it's doing business that leads to it holding such data. And in your case, as you say you're a UK business, impossible.

So if the "legally impossible" bit is aimed at avoiding compliance with GDPR not hosting in UK+EU isn't going to work. You're going to have to comply. Now all that's left for you to decide is how that's best achieved. UK or any EU country will have a GDPR-compliant legal framework in place by May 18th or is going to be chased by the EU heavy mob. The US isn't. Where do you think you have the best chance of getting compliant hosting if you don't host it yourself? And where do you think you have the best choice of hosting it yourself, assuming that's your preference, bearing in mind the US's recently renewed legal framework for barging in to collect data and applying a gagging order?

7
0

Re: I can see why they are saying goodbye

A couple of years ago I was saying the same thing about SBS, however even without Microsoft pushing cloud, the majority of SME's going for O365 is through the roof. (I work for a mid sized MSP). So Windows Server Essentials or whatever it's called these days is actually pretty reasonable. Does pretty much everything MacOS server offers plus a load more. (GPO, WDS). Only thing missing is email/collaboration, and let's face it no small business needs the overhead of running their own mail server these days, not when Exchange Online is £3 a month a user or thereabouts.

0
1
Silver badge
Linux

A server OS without any actual services

Is a bit like Coke Zero.

As in zero point.

3
2
Anonymous Coward

Re: I can see why they are saying goodbye

"...but as we have an office in the US it's basically not legally possible to host our stuff in the EU. Or that's what we're told."

Just tell them that you guys use internet biscuits instead of internet cookies, and that they are incompatible in the US.

/joke

3
0
Silver badge

Re: I can see why they are saying goodbye

I like to think that spooks on this side of the pond are (slightly) less in the pocket of US big lawyers, big corporates and the republican party.

Agreed, ours are certainly not perfect but at least other European spooks know where and what the UK is!

2
1
Silver badge
Coat

Re: I can see why they are saying goodbye

Odd the company i work for is going O365 now, we were blocked from this previously by our German parent company but they let that pass when Microsoft agreed to cloud host in Ireland, maybe this is because they are big enough for a "Microsoft Enterprise Licence Agreement"?

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: I can see why they are saying goodbye

I read that as 'commission-sensitive testicles'. Which would explain the behaviour of a lot of salespeople, actually.

2
0

I don't see why they think it has to go...

Maintaining macOS Server isn't that hard for them. It's not like it actually does very much (which they acknowledge by pointing to so many poorly resourced but brilliant open source alternatives, much of which theirs is based on). It is a part of the market that only competes against the cloud nowadays, so would take very little investment to make 'a thing'; such as partnering with other software vendors like Atlassian to build a suite that small companies really need (I never saw a company buy macOS over SBS, it was more like they would use it over gmail. Not everyone 'just' wants to use cloud based services (many are wary of getting locked in to the Borg, MS or anyone else) and putting all your files in the places that don't belong to you is not something everyone actually wants to do.

But the cloudy types at Apple are getting all the oxygen so they are dumping something that is actually very good, even if it needed some love.

My Mac mini server has run for 7 years now. In the beginning I setup a mirror RAID 1, easily possible using their old AppleRAID (and mdadm) at the CLI, very easily. Apple never chose to even support AppleRAID on the mini, despite it working so well. I even made it support the OS's DRP. The array ran 24x7 for 5 years, supporting two guest VMs, a database and two webservers, all on 2 500GB 2.5" HDDs.

Never halted. Never failed despite not having ECC memory.

Then I swapped it to an SSD and a HDD (no RAID), and it still runs flawlessly. Not even the fans have failed, and the OS is supported as well as it was on day one with very little effort to maintain on my behalf (I hope).

What a tremendous piece of work, Steve Jobs. So what to do? Scrap it.

Not very smart, Apple. Eyes are all off the ball in terms of security and real product now. All hands are instead on making hot air in the upper atmosphere instead. It'll bite them in the tail, IMHO.

52
3
Silver badge

Re: I don't see why they think it has to go...

Maintaining macOS Server isn't that hard for them. It's not like it actually does very much

…or earns them very much. Support means resources (people) and they need paying. If the server set is mainly based around existing open source packages, where's the added value for the administrator in comparison to BSD or Linux on good hardware?

10
2
Silver badge

Re: I don't see why they think it has to go...

"where's the added value for the administrator in comparison to BSD or Linux on good hardware?"

If it was being sold to SMBs on the basis of not needing an administrator it's not so much the value as the cost that matters. Of course it's perfectly possible for a business to put together a product which would be as simple and as reliable and sell it but they'd be up against the problem of not having an Apple logo.

6
1

The never really charged for it.

It came free on a Mac mini or a Mac Server.

But then after a year or three they tried to make the buyer pay USD35 (it was an App store app) to restore it to disk, every time you chose to upgrade to a new OS without thinking about might happen to the server app you never knew was 'separately installed'.

And to make it worse, there was no marketing, no development, just maintenance.

Server lived in a dark room in the basement all its life, kinda like many of the IT crowd that forgot about it every time it was time for a free OS upgrade.

Why Apple didn't add something new every now and then so people wanted to pay to upgrade, rather than wait for them to upgrade and lose something they were using is plain silly. It wasn't exchange, it was wiki and web and basic stuff. They never integrated it with their desktop offerings, nor put in all the good things that they could have added, instead it was forced into the dampest part of the cellar, whilst the clouds became ever darker.

4
0
Silver badge

CUPS

echo "I wonder what will happen to CUPS" >> lpr

7
4
Silver badge

Re: CUPS

It shouldn't be that hard to replace it if need be. I don't see Apple getting rid of it, they still make Darwin releases after all, though you can't get binaries anymore.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: CUPS

Well done, you just created a file called 'lpr'. Try using pipe (|) next time...

42
2
Anonymous Coward

Re: CUPS

I'm sure CUPS will be fine: having a standardised printing system must make it much easier for printer manufacturers (or other developers) to develop printer drivers, and also has the undeniably very useful side benefit of improving printer support for Linux as well (which I suspect CUPS would not have managed quite so successfully had Apple not also adopted it as well).

6
0

Re: CUPS

CUPS is also installed on client machines. So Apple would still need it, or write a whole new printing system.

It's also used by many Linux distributions. Even if Apple did move to a new (closed) system, someone will pick up development.

5
0

Re: CUPS

Did Linux suddenly disappear?

3
0
Silver badge

Re: CUPS

> Well done, you just created a file called 'lpr'. Try using pipe (|) next time...

And try using the actual /dev/lpr device (or /dev/usb/lpr0 in my case)

2
0
Silver badge

Re: CUPS

Oh, don't spoil the gag - it was early when I posted that...

(Mea culpa anyway)

2
0
Silver badge

Re: lpr

Real story.

Back in the mists of time (1982?), I was working on a PDP-11 running UNIX V7, and trying to get the 22 bit addressing working with the Calgary kernel buffer mods on a non-separate ID PDP-11/34 (it was a SYSTIME special, with non standard features). Had the system single user mode, i.e. as root with no lpd running.

I got into the habit of doing "cat file > /dev/lp0" (the standard name for an lp11 parallel printer driver) to print things I wanted on paper.

Unfortunately, the character /dev entry for the OS disk was rp0...

Even though "l" and "r" are some distance from each other on the keyboard, you can guess what I did. Overwrote the bootstrap, superblock and the first 20 odd K of the inodes (inode 0 was the one for /) on my experimental disk pack, which had my current modifications to the kernel on it with no backup.

Fortunately, it did not prevent me from bringing the system back to normal operation by swapping the (removable) disk packs over, but it did give me several hours work to recover my changes.

6
0
Bronze badge

Re: lpr

I think this deserves to be in the new "Who, me?" section. I've nuked disks myself based on sda and sdc being very close to one another on the keyboard...

0
0
Silver badge

Re: lpr

I think this deserves to be in the new "Who, me?" section. I've nuked disks myself based on sda and sdc being very close to one another on the keyboard...

And the old favourite of doing a 'rm -rf /tmp/* ' and accidentally hitting the spacebar between the / and the tmp..

Or put it this way - Windows assumes that operators are idiots and so prevents them from doing stuff that might hurt the machine (try typing "format c:" and see what happens). Linux assumes that the operator has a modicum of ability and, therefore, knows what they are doing..

Which, in my case, led to all of /etc/ and most of /bin disappearing before ctrl-c managed to stop it. Ho hum. I've not done it since (and it wasn't a production server) so I guess I've learnt my lesson.

3
0
JLV
Silver badge
Headmaster

Re: CUPS

Technically he only created it if didn't exist.

If he often prints that way, he likely just added a bit more to it ;-)

3
0
Silver badge

Stupid, short-sighted, beancountery

Everything that's wrong with Apple these days.

And so Macs get strangled a little bit more.

31
3
Silver badge

Macs were never servers.

I have two Mac Mini "servers" (as sold to my employer) sitting next to me. I mean... come on... one hard drive, not even proper RAM, nothing. You couldn't rely on them to do anything at all. And if the only difference was a £25 software upgrade, you know they aren't going to be anything special. That's pretty much why they had to buy two... just in case one went pop.

Literally, I turned one off several years ago because at that point MacOS clients could directly join to LDAP without all the OpenDirectory / golden-triangle junk. The other is kept running because it supervises our iPads but even that I'm regretting (and, in fact, we're scrapping iPads too). If I could, I would gather them all in, wipe them all out and supervise them on an online service (Google Apps lets you do it).

Neither devices were my choice of hardware, but certainly classing anything Apple as "a server" is a complete lie. And, yes, I have had RAM and disk failures in them.

Good riddance to a complete misuse of the word server.

17
31

Mac Minis, yes they were never proper servers but the late lamented Xserves both PowerPC and Intel most certainly were, they were really nice pieces of kit.

As for OS X/MacOs Server, that did become essentially a tool for managing iThings. It peaked in usefulness at Leopard/Snow Leopard IMHO and it was downhill from that point.

I agree about the golden triangle setup though, that was a total pain although it was better than editing AD attributes, I still have nightmares about that.

20
0

Macs were never servers.

The xserves certainly were.

You couldn't rely on them to do anything at all.

Plenty of people did, could and do, whether it was as headless render clusters to throw stuff at from FCP, build servers for macOS/iOS development or as a small-business/home server.

Apple hardware c. 2010 was cracking. My 2008 unibody Macbook is still going strong. Sadly of course they've gutted the minis, ruined the Macbook Pros and haven't done anything sensible regarding multi-touch support for macOS that could compete with the MS Surface Pro :(

34
1
Anonymous Coward

"Macs were never servers."

Apple fans are the last to believe a server is just a normal PC put on its side, as you did in the early days of Windows NT. Sure, you can have a number of "success stories", it was the same in 1996 with PCs and NT - just, I won't get back to those times, even for a small office setup.

Today a proper "server" is far more than just a server OS or anything running a daemon.

If you want an "on premises" server there are still good models available, even at the low-end, and if you don't want to run Windows Server (Essentials) there's always Linux or *BSD.

5
15
Silver badge

Xserves...

... Were indeed fab-u-lous. And yes, having to get OS X Server just to manage iThings was... a PITA. Oh well.

3
0
TRT
Silver badge

Re: Xserves...

I still have 5 Xserves going strong in my basement rack, one Intel, four G5. They are all stacked together in an NFS ring, and provide an Xgrid as well. They were absolutely incomparable at their heyday. A 1U chassis, with one or two of the most powerful CPUs around, easily serviceable modules... add to that hardware RAID, dual redundant PSU, dual homed, two expansion card slots. You simply couldn't get anything else that came close.

As for what the software is good for... well that was back in the days where Apple had an eye on education. I had three suites in a college of art & design, totalling 118 iMacs, where I could NetBoot a machine and restore it in a matter of minutes, could have roaming profiles, Remote Desktop and Support with two way chat and audio, license management and audit, policy zoning, default printer setting by machine or profile... I mean, it was an administrative dream!

I guess you have to sell a lot of hardware to make it worthwhile, hence the idiotic designation of the Mac Mini as a Server machine. The Xserve's 1U format was possible due to advances made in laptop design. It's time they started knocking the socks off other rack mount competitors using the same trick coupled with some of their mobile knowhow. Can you imagine what a server loaded with A10s could do, for example?

22
0
Silver badge

in fact, we're scrapping iPads too

Just out of interest, why?

(Speaking of someone who has never really understood the education fashion of iPad-for-everything)

M.

5
0
Silver badge

Re: Xserves...

And yes, having to get OS X Server just to manage iThings was... a PITA

Of course, nowadays you can use Caspar Suite for managing iBeasts and so, don't actually need a Mac. Still, it means I added a Mac to the desk machine menagerie so it can't be all bad.

0
0
Thumb Down

Steve Jobs was a software and hardware guy...

...Tim Cook is a beancounter.

And accountants sap creativity.

30
3
Silver badge

Re: Steve Jobs was a software and hardware guy...

Under Jobs, Cook's expert management of the supply chain actually facilitated creativity. R&D spending at Apple grown exponentially under Cook. Whatever faults he may or may not have, withholding funds to designers and engineers isn't one of them.

7
6
Silver badge

It is strange they are still supporting it at all

If they are still producing updates for it, why shut off the parts people presumably bought it for? Just announce that the next update will be the last, and be done with it. If they quit selling it eight years ago, no one is going to be too put out that updates have stopped.

4
2

Re: It is strange they are still supporting it at all

They didn't quit selling it, Mac server has been in the App store for years. And all that time, it was well supported.

They just never marketed it.

3
0
Silver badge
Windows

Mac OS X Server should have taken over ... it had a proper, clean, BSD network stack, nice polished point and click interfaces to all the FFS/ISC goodies, you know, the stuff that powers the Intertubes I use to write this comment. No reboot when TextEdit.app or Safari.app get an update, unlike Windows Server with notepad.exe and iexplore.exe or MicrosoftEdge??.exe.

They even had proper server hardware until 2010 and incredible licensing, $1000, all unlimited ... some people could not count ... then again, those who knew what was in MacOS X Server were using FreeBSD, OpenBSD, or Linux anyway, those who did not, our Window Cleaner and Surface experts, aka point and click brigade, were stuck with MS, paying through their noses for security sieves.

25
6

How can it compete with Linux or the BSDs? Mac OS requires expensive, proprietary hardware and the cost adds up. You end up with a server OS that only appeals to people who want to use it as the back-end for their Mac desktops, large server deploys just don't make any sense. Mac OS server was always destined for failure.

5
5

How can Linux or BSD compete?

They require a lot of support. Mac server was dead easy to maintain.

Configuration was far simpler too.

And the hardware was most reliable too, so the outlay was cheap vs HP/IBM who gave little added value.

2
1

@Jonathan 27

Mac OS requires expensive, proprietary hardware and the cost adds up

Apple XServe servers were, IIRC, fairly competitively priced. Server quality hardware ain't cheap, regardless of what OS you're running on it. Once you took into account the fact that you had a nice big name supporting the things they actually made a decent case for themselves - especially when targeted at people who find administering *nix servers somewhat intimidating and would be more likely to chose Windows Server rather than anything FOSS.

Once the dedicated hardware went away tho, the writing was on the wall for Mac OS Server. I'm just surprised it's still hanging on in there even in this sorry state.

0
0

There were quite a few hints that something was up when 5.4, was released following the launch of High Sierra. For instance, File Sharing had been removed, now being controlled by High Sierra itself. Nevertheless, this is a very popular product and, anecdotally, I see about 2 macOS Server deployments for every 3 of Windows Server Essentials or 4 of Synology DSM in small business setups.

The list of alternatives provided by Apple is interesting. For instance, KerioConnect is suggested as an email product. In the UK, this costs £353 for 5 users for the first year. Quite a difference to macOS Server, which includes this and other functionality for £19.99 all in.

13
0
Silver badge

In-house at Apple?

Does anyone know what Apple use in-house? I assume they have 10s of thousands of Macs and quite a few iphones too.

4
0
Silver badge
Joke

Re: In-house at Apple?

Does anyone know what Apple use in-house?

I'm going out on a limb here, to suggest Mentats.

I mean, they must do. The mac is a mostly poseur OS these days, increasingly gutted of it's more unique features.

4
6
Anonymous Coward

Re: In-house at Apple?

A poseur? It is UNIX (unlike the others ...).

4
0

Page:

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Forums

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2018