Apple's Mac OS X 10.4

Improvements to the OS, including a better interface, new services, increased security, link aggregation and open-source support, give Mac users a needed boost.

June 3, 2005

4 Min Read
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One of the most advanced new features of Tiger 10.4 is access-control lists. Because Apple has not yet put ACL support into the file system beyond conventional Unix group rights, ACLs are placed on shared directories rather than on individual files within the Finder. User permissions include read, write, list files in folder, delete files, delete folders, create files and append data. It's easy to add multiple user and group policies, as well as create custom access-control policies. ACLs should be extended into the whole file system, similar to what's available in NTFS.

OS X 10.4 InterfaceClick to Enlarge

Tiger 10.4 includes support for link aggregation or IEEE 802.3ad. If your switch supports it, this lets you marry multiple network connections on one virtual connection with a single IP address for added throughput and failover. The switch I used didn't support 802.3ad, but I bound the two NICs in my Xserve into failover mode. When I unplugged the primary network adapter, the secondary NIC took over in 10 to 15 seconds--kind of slow, but I wasn't using an 802.3ad-enabled switch.

Tiger 10.4 maintains session states during the transition, but some existing connections may time out. In my tests, an FTP transfer from my Tiger 10.4 laptop continued after the failover occurred, but the Windows FTP program did not.

Apple has added several open-source packages for new services. All services are configured through ServerAdmin, an OS X program that can be run on the local server or remotely from another Mac. System-configuration tools are Mac-only, but I could change configuration settings and view log files, connections and graphs for almost every service.

Good

• Simple configuration of services• No client licenses needed for streaming media• ACL support for shared folders

Bad

• Mac OS X supports only remote configuration tools• Limited patch-management support• Limited ACL support

**mac os x server 10.4, 10-client, $499; unlimited client, $999.Apple Computer,(800) MY-APPLE,(408) 996-1010. www.apple.com

Mail and IM Services

SpamAssassin and ClamAV are bundled into the Tiger 10.4 mail service. Options for junk-mail filtering include bouncing, deleting, delivering with a modified subject line and redirecting to a quarantine e-mail address. I set a systemwide threshold for acting on the spam score. When I looked at the headers of an e-mail message, the spam score was also placed there for client-side filtering.Virus-infected e-mail can be bounced, deleted or sent to a single quarantine e-mail address. I used the Eicar standard virus test to verify that virus filtering was working. All four Eicar tests, including looking at zip files, proved that the Tiger 10.4 was doing its job. Mailman, an open-source mailing list package, was easily configurable. I dragged and dropped users and groups into lists.

Tiger 10.4 comes with a jabber IM server called iChat service, but configuration options are limited to changing a welcome message and setting an SSL certificate. I used iChat on my PowerBook to connect to my Tiger 10.4 Server, then contacted other Tiger 10.4 users to get permission to add them to my contact list. There was one glitch: Although I could see how many users were logging in on the Tiger 10.4 server, there isn't a list of users to see exactly who's logged in.

Converging Media

QuickTime streaming server has received a massive interface upgrade as well, including improvements to its Web configuration interface. From the QTSS Publisher, I could drag and drop media files into streaming playlists, which could then be grouped to create Web pages.

It was easy to create and maintain a blog on the system, though the features are limited. You can't embed files or graphics directly into a blog posting, but you can hyperlink and use the HTML tag img src=. A feature that lets you create categories and subcategories in blog posts is a welcome addition.Patches are downloaded from Apple's Web site and may be deployed to locally managed Macs. I specified which updates to enable. As with Microsoft SUS, you can't limit an update to a specified group of machines.

Michael J. DeMaria is a technology editor based at Network Computing's Syracuse University's Real-World Labs®. Write to him at [email protected].

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