How to Create Server-based Home Folders on Lion Server

Any Open Directory user can have a home folder on the Lion server. On a Mac, the home folder is the directory that’s named after the user. This folder contains all of a user’s data, settings, bookmarks, and so on.

When you locate users’ home folders on the server, they log in to a Mac and authenticate to the server. Users then can log in to different computers and still get the same access to their home folders.

When you create home folders for your users, take care to select the correct file-sharing protocol. For Mac clients, the home folder must be shared with the AFP protocol. (Don’t use SMB for a Mac home folder.) Home folders for Windows clients must use SMB. Linux clients use SMB.

Server-based home folders can put a heavy burden on the server and take a lot of storage, but you can assign a limit to the size of the folder. Follow these steps to create a home folder on the server:

  1. In the Server app, share the /Users directory, select Make Available for Home Directories, and click Done.

  2. In Workgroup Manager, click the Accounts button, select a user, and then click the Home tab.

  3. In the list of share points, select the Users folder (or other folder).

    If you don’t see it, click the Refresh icon in the toolbar.

  4. Click the Create Home Now button.

  5. Click the Save button.

    Workgroup Manager creates a home folder with the user’s short name (for example, /Users/ronmckernan).

If you go to the Finder and look inside the new home folder, you’ll see that Workgroup Manager has created the hierarchy of folders that a home folder contains to store a user’s files and settings, including Documents, Library (which includes Preferences), Desktop, Downloads, and Pictures and Music.

(In Lion, the Library folder in a user’s home folder is now invisible, so you’ll have to go to the Finder’s Go menu, choose Connect to Folder, and type ~/Library.)

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