Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard Server: A First Look

Apple released Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard to the public last Friday. Instead of getting my client upgrade, like most other Mac Users, I opted to upgrade my copy of Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard Server. I had a couple of options with my upgrade. I could have purchased the Mac OS X Server Maintenance for $499 or I could have purchased a copy of 10.6 Snow Leopard Server for the same price.

I opted to get Snow Leopard Server. I chose this because now I have two copies of Mac OS X Server. I can do with them as I please. If I would have chosen the Apple Maintenance Program, I would have received the upgrades for the next three years, but they are strictly upgrades, if I understand the language correctly.

Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, like its client counterpart, is highly refined with all of the Power-PC support removed. I decided not to upgrade my installation of Leopard Server due to the many issues I was having with the install. Instead I chose to do a 100% fresh clean installation.

There are some definite new features within Snow Leopard Server. The first being that Apple has removed the three roles that 10.5 Leopard Server had an administrator choose upon first logon. Under Snow Leopard Server you can choose to use any of the three applications: Server Preferences, Workgroup Manager, or Server Admin, or a combination of the three products, to administer your server.

If you only want the basics of turning on or off specific services and configure basic options then using Server Preferences is your best bet. Server Preferences is also the fastest and simplest way to get a new install of Snow Leopard Server up and running with the services that you choose.

Workgroup Admin does not enable or disable services. Workgroup Admin is used to allow control over users within a directory. This can be anything from completely locking down a user because you do not want them to access certain aspects of the operating system to completely opening up a user because they are a trusted power user.

Server Admin, previously only available within the ‘Advanced’ configuration is now available all of the time. Server Admin is the power tool that configures every little aspect of each of the services on your Snow Leopard server. You can configure email to be internal only, a VPN connection, or even Mobile Access and push notification services via Server Admin.

As for an overall, Snow Leopard Server is much faster than Leopard Server. The extraction of the PowerPC libraries has allowed optimization of many of the underlying aspects of Snow Leopard Server.

Some of the other updated aspects are what some would expect. PHP, Apache, Ruby and the other web-based development tools have all been updated. PHP is now version 5.3.0, Apache has been updated to 2.2.11 with OpenSSL0.9.8k. All of said updates address security bugs that were present within each package.

Overall Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard Server is a good upgrade at $499. You get the unlimited clients, Intel-only optimized executables and services, 64-bit right out of the box and all of the upgrades that went with Mac OS X 10.6 Client. I’ll be doing more on Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard server in the coming months. If you have a specific area you would like covered, please let me know.

I'm into everything technology related, particularly anything Apple related. I enjoy programming and tend to lean towards server-based technologies over client-based. You can contact me on twitter, via e-mail, or follow me on friendfeed.