Lion Server Management Tools beyond Server and Server Admin - dummies

Lion Server Management Tools beyond Server and Server Admin

By John Rizzo

Lion Server provides a number of management tools in addition to the most used Server and Server Admin applications. These tools do everything from managing client disk images and security policies to monitoring servers and disk storage.

Lion Server’s Workgroup Manager

Lion Server’s Workgroup Manager is a more advanced tool for setting and managing user accounts than the Server app. You can use Workgroup Manager to control aspects of users’ computers. For example, you can require users to change passwords at regular intervals, create standardized preference settings for client Macs, or allow only certain applications to run.

You can also use Workgroup Manager to configure certain security measures, such as blocking computers from seeing external hard drives or from burning CDs and DVDs. And you can create groups to manage settings for multiple sets of computers at once.

Server Status Dashboard widget

Mac OS X Server has a Server Status Dashboard widget that you can use on the server or on any Mac on the network.


Lion displays Dashboard widgets differently from previous versions of Mac OS X. Instead of overlaying the widgets on the screen, it switches to a different space, hiding all the current open applications.

You can, however, set Dashboard to use the previous method of displaying widgets as an overlay. To do this, open System Preferences from the Dock or from the Apple menu and click Exposé & Spaces. Now uncheck Show Dashboard as a Space at the bottom of the screen.

Podcast Composer

You can use Podcast Composer to create and edit podcast workflows. It guides you through the required steps, where you can choose titles, videos, and effects for a podcast.

Server Monitor

Server Monitor lets you keep tabs on Apple’s Xserve server hardware. Apple discontinued Xserve in early 2011, but you can still run Lion Server on it.

Server Monitor can display a graph of the internal temperature of one or more Xserve(s), list warnings and failures, display the power usage, and show how much hard drive space and memory are in the Xserves on your network. You can set Server Monitor to send you an e-mail message if it detects a hardware problem in an Xserve box.

System Image Utility

You can use System Image Utility to create Mac OS X disk images to be used to boot Macs from the server with NetBoot or to install on multiple Macs with NetInstall.

You can create a NetInstall or NetBoot disk image in two steps, or you can customize settings to include your own items in the disk image. You can also include a Boot Camp partition in a disk image if you want a client Mac to have the option of booting with Microsoft Windows.

Xgrid Admin

Xgrid Admin is designed to monitor arrays of Macs working together as one entity. The most practical use that Apple gives is with Podcast Producer, which can use Xgrid to spread the work of processing video across multiple Macs automatically. Xgrid Admin enables you to monitor an Xgrid and to manage computing jobs that are going on.

Apple includes Xgrid Admin along with the more everyday server administration tools, almost as a dare to find out what you can do with it. If you tie together enough Macs, you can have ordinary user Macs by day and the combined power of a supercomputer by night. Stanford University uses an Xgrid of several hundred Macs to perform complex calculations related to molecular physiology and pharmacology.

Xsan Admin

Xsan is Apple’s cluster file system for accessing terabytes of storage arrays. Xsan Admin is where you set up, configure, and monitor an Xsan system.