How Managed Preferences Are Inherited, Combined, and Overridden in Lion Server

By John Rizzo

Because managed preferences can be applied to all types of accounts, you have a specific hierarchy for inheritance, combining, and overriding preferences in Lion Server. Some settings, such as controlling which items are opened at login, are cumulative because no one particular setting overrides another — any number of items can be opened at login.

Some settings are inherited from workgroups to the user level or from within nested workgroups. Settings with only one ultimate outcome — such as the position of the Dock onscreen — use an order of priority to override the same setting for different account levels. The prioritization of conflicting preferences to override the same setting also applies for inheritance. The order of inheritance and overriding preferences is

  • Workgroup (the least specific level)

  • Computer group

  • Computer

  • User (the most specific level)

For example, a preference set at the workgroup level can’t override the same preference set for the computer group, computer, or user level. In this sense, a preference set for the user always wins when overriding other levels.

However, setting preferences at the user level can be time-consuming and complicated to manage. Managing at the workgroup or computer-group level saves time and energy, and making your life a little easier is always welcome.