Apple's latest Leopard Server seed packs some punch

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Apple is distributing a new pre-release versions of its next-generation server operating system software that packs significant boosts to flexibility and stability, but also carries enough problems to put off any expectations of a near-term release, AppleInsider has learned.

Offered in conjunction with the new client build distributed to testers last week, Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard Server build 9A344 represents the first pre-release server edition of the upcoming OS to make its way into developers' hands in 2007.

Testers experienced with this latest version said that its changes are more substantial than those of its mainstream sibling and revolve around substantial reworkings of the workgroup import process and Server Admin utilities, amongst other enhancements.

Network operators now have the option of bringing in one or more groups to an Open Directory domain while keeping their entire user lists intact, people familiar with the software say. Those part of the larger corporate directory can also be added quickly for limited access to calendaring and file sharing tools. Automatic binding and setup of clients for the network's service are also said to be much improved.

Those familiar with the software add that the Server Admin utility has been graced with a much-needed overhaul of its front end, with special attention given to the DNS configuration pane as well as tweaks to controls for calendars and VPNs. IT managers can now set up hierarchical admin levels that give some clients partial administrator access, and have the choice of setting up multiple iChat hosts or location-based web realms.

Other fixes and improvements made since the last 2006 release reportedly include Portable Home Directories, QuickTime Streaming Service, and Xgrid. NetInstall has allegedly seen a fix that allows the creation of new app images directly from DVDs.

In spite of the enhancements, there are too many glitches in the new build to suggest that Apple has entered the late stages of development. Crucially, Apple Remote Desktop is broken, as are basic functions such as logging into the FTP server or editing several elements in the Directory tool. Even disconnecting from the network while connected to the Leopard Server system could trigger a hard system lock, those familiar with the software say.

Apple is said to have warned users only to update Leopard to 9A344 using the Erase and Install option and has issued multiple workarounds for broken or missing implementations.


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