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Apple Xserve Is A Tasty Server

I approached Apple's Xserve with some trepidation. I hadn't touched a Macintosh in years, and the idea of an Apple server was as foreign to me as sushi once was. However, after testing the Xserve, I found that my experience with the product was a lot like my experience with raw fish--I liked it. The Xserve is a worthy little machine that's easy to manage, configure and install.

You should consider the Xserve if your company supports a small complement of Macintoshes, or if you're a small office that needs a centralized file server and/or departmental server. Compatibility-wise, the Xserve is comparable to Intel and Sun boxes -- except it's easier to use. The simple procedure for applying patches and updates to the Apple's OSX 10.2 is refreshing.

However, I wasn't quite so fond of all the product's aspects. (All you rabid Apple fans who may be tempted to deluge my inbox with hate mail, note that I am a longtime Intel user who is considering the Xserve for enterprise use.) Unfortunately, the Xserve requires a Macintosh machine for remote management in a graphical environment. You can get in via the console port or telnet/SSH into the machine, but that doesn't connect you with the ease-of-use server features that are the Xserve's main benefit. I also had trouble hooking up the Xserve to our older Cybex KVM (keyboard-video-mouse) equipment. Xserve does not support PS/2 ports, so I had to hook up the keyboard and mouse locally. This was inconvenient but surmountable.

One of the biggest problems I had to overcome using the Xserve -- and the iBook Apple sent me to manage the Xserve--was getting used to the fact that there's no hidden setting or control panel. Everything is up front. I spent a lot of time thrashing around in search of things that were right in front of me. Once I realized I was making tasks harder than they had to be, I found the machine wonderfully simple.

U.S.S. Xserve

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