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Tuesday, June 29, 2004, 10:00 am PT (01:00 pm ET)

Mac OS X Server "Tiger" features Xgrid, iChat and Blog server

Following the first public demonstration of Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger yesterday, Apple quietly previewed the next major release of its server OS, Mac OS X Server 10.4 Tiger.

According to Apple, Tiger Server offers over 200 new features and builds on more than 100 open source projects, delivering a world-class UNIX-based server solution that’s easy to deploy and manage.

64-bit Power

With Tiger Server, Apple delivers 64-bit application support, enabling users to run demanding applications — such as server applications and background processes used by renderers and computational engines — as 64-bit applications. These 64-bit applications can take advantage of 64-bit virtual memory addressing and up to 4 terabytes of physical memory. Apple says that Tiger will deliver 64-bit computing without compromising performance and support for 32-bit applications.

Access Control Lists

Tiger Server will include Access Control Lists (ACLs), which allow administrators to set a whole group as the owner of a file or folder rather than just an individual, even allowing unique access permissions for multiple users and groups. The ACLs used in Tiger will be compatible with those in Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP.

iChat and Blog Servers

Tiger Server also includes iChat and Blog servers to offer two of the more popular communication media.

The iChat server will allow organizations or companies to deploy and run their own private and secure IM server. Apple has based the iChat server on the open source Jabber project, which uses SSL/TLS encryption to ensure privacy, and Kerboros for authorization. The iChat server works with both the iChat client in Mac OS X Tiger and most other popular open source clients available for Windows, Linux and even PDAs.

Tiger Server's Weblog server, based on the popular open source project Blojsom, will provide users with calendar-based navigation, customizable themes, and work with Open Directory for user accounts and authentication. The server is also fully compatible with Safari RSS and enables posting entries using built-in web-based functionality or with weblog clients that support XML-RPC or the ATOM API.

Home Away from Home

Mobile Home Directories will allow users to centrally manage the home directories of their portable Mac clients and yet allow each user online and offline access from the office and the road. When a user goes offline, her home directory goes with her, so she can continue to work just as she would back at the office. In addition, the user's public folder remains accessible to the network while she’s away, so her co-workers can still drop files into her folder as well as see her public files. When the user reconnects her iBook or PowerBook to the network, Tiger server will automatically syncs up the home directory with the one on the server.

NT Migration Tool

Apple continues its push into the enterprise market, this time bundling an NT Migration Tool with Tiger Server, making it even easier to upgrade an "aging Windows NT network" to a Mac OS X server. The new NT Migration Tool automatically extracts all user and group account information from an existing Windows Primary Domain Controller and moves it into Open Directory. Tiger Server can then take over as the Primary Domain Controller for Windows clients and even host Windows users’ home directories, group folders, roaming profiles and shared printers.

Regulated Software Updates

Administrators using the Software Update Server in Tiger Server can now control when users receive updates, allowing for a full evaluation of software updates before end-users begin installations. The Update server also allows admins to download each Apple software update just once — instead of having each user download the update — and then distribute it to users over the local network.

Gateway Assistant

Perfect for small offices and home offices, a new Gateway Assistant in Tiger Server will make it easy for anyone to set up her own Internet Gateway, Firewall and VPN, Apple says. Gateway Assistant will: automatically configure servers as a router; configure DHCP and VPN address ranges; enable DHCP and NAT; configure firewall rules; and enable DNS caching.

Xgrid

With Tiger Server, Apple will be bundling its new Xgrid software, which gives scientists and researchers all the tools they need to easily build a superpowered computational cluster. Xgrid 1.0 supports up to 10,000 queued jobs, 10,000 tasks per job, 2GB of data per submitted job, 1GB of data per task and over 10GB of total returned results.

While running Tiger Server, admins can set up Xgrid right from the Server Admin tool in Tiger Server. To authenticate users of your cluster, Xgrid uses Kerboros and Open Directory. A new Software Developer's Kit that enables developers to create their own applications to run on Xgrid is also bundled with the software.

Dozens of improvements

Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger Server will feature several additional enhancements to mail, virtual private networks, and Open Directory.

Tiger Server will reportedly sport improved email services with support for virtual hosts, flexible quotas, mail server clustering and Spam Assassin for junk mail filtering. Site-to-Site VPN will gain support for IP tunneling with IPSec encryption and remain compatible with DSL and cable broadband services.

Meanwhile, Tiger Server will mark the debut of Open Directory 3.0, which includes significant updates to Directory Services, Network Authentication and Service Discovery.

Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger Server was first announced yesterday, but is not expected to ship until sometime in the first half of 2005.