Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Apple Snow Leopard Rant

I recently became an OS X server admin and after the first week I want to share my opinion of this "marvel" as some people want to call it.

This is a post that I wrote on the Apple Discussions.
Ok, so my school bought a brand spanking new xserve, and I started configuring it. After the initial setup, I mounted my linux NFS export to the xserve. The way I did it coming from a Linux background is: I created a folder on / and then mounted by NFS my linux exported folder. After a few seconds, I press command-shift+G and type / and there it is. I can access the folder perfectly.

Then I exported all my users from my Ubuntu LDAP server (850 of them) in an LDIF format and tried to import them using this thing called Workgroup Management. What do you know, it does not accept the LDIF format!!! I then exported the users to a standard CSV file, used that WGM again to do the mapping of the fields to the CSV file and pressed import but to no avail. Countless of hours later, I come to find out that the only way to import into an Open Directory server I needed to purchase this other software called Passenger. $$$ later, I exported all my users to a format that is only readable by OD. The information was VERY basic. Full name, short name (which I guess in the Mac world is username), userID, primary groupID and the most important homeDirectory. All passwords were set to type crypt and the same one word. My user structure is pretty simple. All teachers have a home directory at
students have

Now the next step was to figure out if I had to create a static entry on each client computer in /etc/fstab (around 80 laptops and iMacs) or use automount using AFP. I opened up some other nice GUI called server admin and went to sharing. Then I clicked a butting called share points, selected the drive I had mounted earlier with NFS, click the checkbox to use this for user homes, enabled guest access as it was suggested by the countless mac geniuses, clicked OK and everything seemed to work good.

So I fired up an 10.6 MacBook Pro set it up as an OD client, put in a domain username and password and it logged in. It worked, but the documents of the user were not showing up. I dropped down to the terminal and did a pwd. The result was /ldaphomes/teachers/username ...What happened?

Back at the server, I go the the user's account and saw that there are 2 home directories listed in the LDAP record. /ldaphomes/teachers/username and another with an afp://\server/.../ldaphomes/username .....Why did this get imported wrong? I tried to change it but I could not.

A few hours went by playing around with AFP until eventually the server crapped out. Ever since I can only be logged on the server with ARD for a few hours and then it crashes. I can ping the server but I cannot control it or ssh to it. I need to do a hard reset to get back in. Has anyone that is still reading experienced something like this? I have not mentioned DNS but host ip-address works and hostname works too.

My Linux servers have been sharing network drives over 6TB each on my network for over 3 years. The only time I had a problem with network folders was when the power went out and the server sis not boot up. There I had an NFS stale drive. Reboot clients and everything is perfect.

This stupid AFP protocol is totally useless. It is the lease reliable network sharing protocol that I have worked with. Sometimes the shares are there, sometimes they are not and sometimes they never appear. NFS will always be available, hell even samba is reliable. I would rather work with 100 virus stiken, spyware crippled windows 98 machines than try to share folders between 2 Apple computers using AFP.

I set up an Ubuntu LDAP server with 900 users in 3 days using only the command line but with "the most advance server" OS X 10.6 it still has not happened.

Why do people waste upwards of 7k on a server that is worse than a self build $1500 Linux server? Is it the nice shiny silver box? The nice GUIs that dont work? The "Mac Geniuses" that are always helping some teenager transfer settings on their iPod? The Apple help docs that tell you what checkbox to check but never explain what the hell that checkbox does?

So I guess if you have the money to waste, send it to me and I will send you back a nice powerful Linux server and I promise I will paint a nice Penguin on the side eating an apple.

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