I'm the administrator for a group of creative artists and have a number of Macs (of most all flavors) running on our network. While I love OS X Server, it remains (for me) too hard and complex to do what I need. I want an easy path to manage all my Mac users on a central server farm (preferably HP servers, since that is what our IT department has in our data center). I've heard about Mac OS X server running virtually, but only on Xserve.
My quest for running OS X virtually only led to more frustration:
I don't really want to virtualize OS X Server.
I don't need or want to manage two licenses (one on the server and one on the client).
We don't have Xserves and probably never will.
Then Bingo! I found DiscCloud -- and it works perfectly, with the help of this hint, of course! Here are some tips to help get it running:
The first mistake I made was downloading the wrong version of VMware Server. You'll need the older version, located here. Be sure to pick the right download for your system (our HP servers run Windows).
To demo the full version of DiscCloud, you'll need an eval license. You used to have to dig around on the DiscCloud forums to find this, but now they've added it to their download page.
That did the trick. I was able to follow the video instructions (with the exception of the VMware installation bit, as mine is for Windows), and create a MacBook Air user having a one terbayte home directory! I can back up the MacBook as a virtual machine running on our HPs -- I love it!
[robg adds: To download the trial, you'll need to register for a free account. I haven't tested this one beyond verifying the download works.]
On the Macs in my home, we have permissions issues when copying files into other users' Drop Boxes. If my wife, for example, sends me a file via the Drop Box, and I move it to another folder, the permissions are not appropriate for me -- files only open as read only, because the ownership is not correct. So to use files sent this way, we have to Option-drag them from the Drop Box. This creates a copy, with the appropriate ownership.
I'm not sure if this happens to others, but for us, it's an annoyance. As long, however, as we Option-drag, we can use the files as we want to.
[robg adds: I don't see this issue here, and in talking with Kirk about the problem, we compared the Permissions section of the Get Info dialog for our Drop Box folders. On my machines, including a brand-new iMac that's fresh from the factory, there are two entries for my user in the Permissions section -- one with Custom privileges, and one with Read & Write privileges. On his machines, the Custom permissions entry is missing.
I found this thread on our forums that talks about the same problem ... what makes this really odd, though, is that it doesn't seem to be universal, as it's working well here. If anyone has an explanation/permanent fix for this odd behavior, please post in the comments -- repairing permissions doesn't help, because that won't change things within the user's folder (and yes, Kirk tried it anyway).]
A lot of 3G (or EDGE) external modems (USB or ExpressCard) require special software to build up a connection. My two modems from different providers use GlobeTrotter Connect and E-plus Online Connect (the latter a re-branding by my provider). As I understand it, these applications set up new network interfaces and group them in a new location setting. All existing network interfaces get disabled when a connection is established and the system is switched to this location.
This may be obvious, but it took me a while before I tried it out. One can simply re-add other network interface (i.e. Wifi or Ethernet) to these locations, and then be connected to both the internet via the 3G modem, and to local networks at the same time (eg, for streaming to an Airport Express).
I may have found a culprit in the OS X10.5 Active Directory integration problem (see the comments on this post at AFP548.com for more info on the problem). I noticed that after a 10.5 machine is bound, it mostly freezes up when it's trying to authenticate. I started looking around and noticed interesting things in the /Library/Preferences/edu.mit.Kerberos file.
I've been running djbdns on all of my servers for several years. I've also been running it on OSX for about three years.
Under 10.4 and earlier, when I specified a custom nameserver, the system would use only the nameserver(s) I specified. However, under 10.5 Apple has apparently changed that behavior, and uses my specified nameservers in addition to the DNS servers specified by the DHCP server. It shows the DHCP-provided server IP on the list, greyed out, so you can't delete it.
For a while, I adopted a "grin and bear it" attitude -- after all, the DHCP server at home is handing out the IP of my internal Linux server (also running djbdns) as the DNS server, so I was only unsafe when I used the laptop outside the house. However, with the recently announced vulnerability in the DNS protocol, the massive world-wide patch effort by major DNS vendors, and the fact that many networks haven't applied the patches yet, I don't really feel safe relying on anybody else's nameservers.
To make this hint work, you need to have a FireWire drive with two ports on it, two FireWire cables, and two Macs with built-in FireWire. To make things easier, I turned off AirPort and disconnected the Ethernet -- I wanted to make sure that I was getting the full speed of the FireWire, as my second Mac only has 100base Ethernet capabilities.
Connect the FireWire drive to a Mac with file sharing set up on it, and then connect that drive's other FireWire port to any other Mac. Next enable networking over FireWire in the Networking System Preferences panel. In the setup panel, give the computers manual IP addresses -- I used 10.0.0.2 and 10.0.0.3, and a subnet mask of 255.255.255.0. Finally, simply connect to the Mac with the drive showing up in the Finder, and it will show up in sharing!
This allows you to network over FireWire and share a hard drive, which for me is useful for today's task of backing up all of my DVDs onto the drive. It could be useful for a multitude of tasks -- especially for older computers with FireWire and slower Ethernet.
My friend has a much-loved 12" PowerBook G4. Unfortunately, it has developed a VRAM error (confirmed by Apple Hardware Test) that makes it impossible to boot in "normal" mode. However, it can boot in Safe Mode, which seems to bypass the VRAM. The graphics are obviously not as good, but the computer is quite usable in Safe Mode.
My friend wants to use it as a surfing/email computer for his wife -- but doesn't want to shell out the $300+ for a new logic board installation to fix the VRAM. The only problem is that Safe Mode disables wireless networking! I searched in vain (via Google) for any tips to enable AirPort in Safe Mode. After a bit of thinking, I found a way to get wireless running in Safe Mode (on OS X 10.4, at least).
If you're a Mac user who often uses VPN connections, you'll notice one very disappointing thing about connecting to your corporate or personal network over such tunneled connections: typically, Bonjour-style addresses (such as computer-name.local) don't work. This is because multicast DNS (or mDNS) doesn't work over a tunnel. Though there are ways to get it functional, they are pretty complicated and require that you have a lot of esoteric networking knowledge.
However, if the services you typically access via Bonjour use static IP addresses, then there is one age-old networking technique you can use to simulate Bonjour-style naming conventions without actually using Bonjour. This, of course, is the /etc/hosts file.
The /etc/hosts file is a simple, static, text-based mapping of computer names to IP addresses. It does exactly what Bonjour does, except it doesn't keep itself up to date when things change. Of course, if you're using static IPs for the services you want access to, you can pretty safely assume that things aren't going to be changing frequently anyway. Long-time sysadmins will laugh at this, but I say let them laugh. This is remarkably useful and very easy to implement.
One thing I dislike about using most VNC viewers is the inability to use commands like Command-Tab for switching applications, or Command-Space (my Quicksilver shortcut). A previous comment (and this hint) described using Teleport. And others have pointed out a VNC viewer that is built into OS X. This hint simply points out the beauty of combining those two bits of info.
If you use Apple's VNC and Teleport, you can simply drag the mouse off-screen while still viewing your VNC display, and have full keyboard access to the remote machine. Command-tab program switching and launching is a lot easier, as is activation of the Dock if you have it set up to appear when the mouse is dragged off-screen.
Now, if only, copy/paste and drag/drop worked between the machines. Then I'd be totally set.
[robg adds: Using a utility like ClipboardSharing and/or DropCopy can help with drag/drop and copy/paste problems. ClipboardSharing includes an Autosync panel that will automatically sync a clipboard between multiple machines, and DropCopy creates a small drop zone on all machines to make it easy to drag an drop files across the network.]
VMware Fusion provides two options for the network connections in a virtual machine: direct (Bridged) and by sharing the host's connection (NAT).
I have found that if you want to connect to a VPN from within a virtual machine, you must use the Bridged option. If you want the virtual machine to use the Mac's VPN connection, you must use the NAT option.
I have also found that connecting to the VPN from within a Windows Vista virtual machine on my MacBook Pro running OS X 10.5.2 is not reliable -- the connection frequently drops out. However, if I connect using the host machine (NAT), the virtual machine uses that connection perfectly, and I have had no disconnection issues.