What does the OS X Server have/do that I can't do on a Desktop mashine?


Me and some of the guys a work where wondering if the OS X Server was worth it. Me and my coworkers are Sun Solaris System Administrators. We see that OS X is BSD or UNIX so what does the OS X server give you that can't be added to the desktop version? You can install web, app, LDAP, DNS, or any other services, right? Does apple prevent this some how? I have seen projects where people turn there Macs into a file/media servers online.

So can someone tell me what is gained or lost using the OS X as a server instead of using OS X server?

We like the Mac and are just wondering.

Thank you for reading this question.


For home use there probably isn'y a whole lot. It makes more sense in business. A few things:

Quicktime streaming server
iCal server
host netusers
net booting
Remote management
Hot swappable drives
configurable to three levels of management.

Yes, I have a 1st gen rack mounted x-serve at home. no-one NEEDS it for home. I just wanted to play with the technology.


U.S.D.A. Prime
The desktop flavor of OS X can do everything that the server flavor of OS X can do.

The "incentive" for the Mac OS X Server package is that Apple provides some slick GUI tools for configuring various parts of the server package (mail, database, user auth, calendars, instant message, etc.).

If you're an experienced UNIX/Linux systems administrator and are familiar and comfortable with installing and configuring all or some of those services via the command-line or via various web-based config tools, then OS X Server may not seem "worth it" to you (anything that will compile and install on UNIX can do so under regular old OS X)... but that's not to say that it doesn't hold value elsewhere.

Mac OS X Server is a pretty slick package that has considerably dropped in cost over the past year or so. Is it the lowest-cost solution available? Of course not. Can you build a Linux or UNIX server that has identical functionality for less than the cost of a Mac and OS X Server (~$999)? Of course you can. Does every systems administrator know the Linux or UNIX command-line by heart and can hack through long, plaintext config files as well as install a package or RPM or compile source code while satisfying all dependencies? Of course not.

OS X Server isn't for all of us -- but to answer your question, no, there isn't anything that OS X Server can do that you can't replicate with the desktop flavor of OS X, either with what's built-in already or by adding various, freely-available software packages (the latest php, mySQL, Apache, etc.).


Thank you for the info. Me and my coworkers thought it might be like this thanks. The info was most informative.


Sorry for resurrecting an old thread. So, does that probably mean that if you're a Solaris administrator, getting OS X to do what you want it to do via CLI probably isn't anything THAT out of the ordinary or that difficult.

But it might be more for like the "Windows" crowd or those that DON'T have a great deal of experience with CLI - so the GUIs are nice; just like the server flavours of popular Linux distros.