• I’m replacing my 2006 MBP with a shiny new one which will arrive this week – a fully loaded 15”.
• What’s the best migration approach?
• I use SuperDuper to back up to local disks at home and at the office.
• Shared drive for the family network – mainly as a music server – just hang a drive off the Airport extreme?
• My colleagues and I are ready to transition away from an in-house Microsoft environment – we have an Exchange server for 4 people – to Gmail, cloud storage, etc.
• Upgrade the home network – right now running one Airport extreme which is not sufficient to cover the house – at some point I may need a wiring guy to enable broader wireless coverage.
|Attached: Our Current Methods|
http://bit.ly/j2currentmethods I am inspired to create a doc that has all of our current methodologies. I'm going to update it from time to time, and rely on Google Docs to keep revisions.
The Usual Scenario
Client buys a new Mac
Single CPU for home or small biz. Client should walk out of the Apple Store with at least:
I think everyone should have a laptop as their main computer, buy maybe they really want an iMac.
Maaaybe someone wants to buy at Best Buy and get their extra coverage, but I want every Mac to have AppleCare. Businesses can negotiate for custom AppleCare quotes.
- External hard drive
(See the section on Backups for current software selections.)
This can be a 1TB or 2TB Time Capsule, but if they already have a wireless router, then an external drive with FireWire is essential. In San Antonio, the 3 brands that both are available and don’t suck completely are LaCie and G-Tech (Apple Store) and Seagate (Best Buy).
The number of LaCie d2 Quadra drives we have unpacked and installed has probably entered 3 digits: FireWire 800 is now standard on every Mac except the MacBook, and the extra option of eSATA rocks. Until recently, we spec’ed the 500GB model, but since the 1TB unit is $154 on Amazon, that size has entered the sweet spot of price-per-gigabyte.
If a client uses an email address given them by their ISP, we immediately start pushing them to sign up for a Gmail address. If they don’t want to do it, fine, but it’s easy to assure them that the process, described below, is quite easy and painless.
So, obviously you sign ‘em up http://gmail.com. Then we turn on forwarding in the ISP’s webmail, and the vacation responder as well, to say, “Thanks for writing me. Please know that, from now on, you can find me at firstname.lastname@example.org.” Also, in Gmail settings, we configure a filter that “labels” any mail sent to the old address as, for example, “satx.rr.com” or “sbcglobal” or whatever.
Other Gmail settings to tweak are: keyboard shortcuts ON, IMAP enabled, and HTTPS/SSL enforced.
Obviously, we are usually going to configure Apple’s Mail.app. See this hint for a good tweaking of Google’s recommended config for Mail (I am going to comment on that hint with a couple of amendments that I have found useful). But I want people to get familiar with the Google webmail interface. Show them filters and labels. Consider showing them Docs, Calendar, and Buzz, and even Wave if they’re a bit nerdy.
Business clients are always asked who their email host is, if any.
New Mac setup
- Run Software Update.
- Next, System Preferences:
- Desktop & Screen Saver: Turn off “Translucent menu bar,” and demo RSS screensaver.
- Security: Turn on the Firewall and enable Stealth Mode. Consider “Require password to wake from sleep.”
- Keyboard: Turn on “All controls” for a tab-able interface.
- Trackpad: Turn on “Tap to click.”
- Sharing: Anonymize computer name. Consider File and Screen Sharing for desktops, but turn off every service on laptops.
- Accounts: Configure second admin account called “Administrator,” with the same password as the primary user. On laptops, turn off “Automatic login.” On any Mac, turn on “Allow guests to log in,” and turn off “Allow guests to connect to shared folders.” Consider additional user accounts and fast user switching.
- Date & Time: Make sure network time service is enabled.
- Time Machine: (See section on Backups.)
- Next, install freeware: See this blog post for Things I Download on Every Mac. Direct links are included.
- Safari: Turn on Autofill for “User names and passwords,” and “When a new tab or window opens, make it active.” Set new windows and new tabs to open to “Empty Page.”
- Mail.app: Bold unread messages. See above for configuring Mail for Gmail.
1 Partition on external hard drive. SuperDuper backup will live side-by-side with Time Machine.Time MachineSuperDuper (Carbon Copy Cloner is great, but just not as clean, and not anywhere near as FAST as SuperDuper. Also, CCC can’t co-exist with Time Machine backing up to the same partition.)
p>I remember the first time I became aware of the word “server.” For some reason it sounded very mysterious, something that required arcane tools and deep learning with the elves in the mountains.
p>Eventually, I came to figure out that a “server” is simply a computer — any computer — that provides “services” to other computers. If you computer can share its files, it’s a file server. If you turn iTunes music sharing on, your computer becomes a music server. If you have a shared printer, your computer has become a print server.
p>Apple makes it super-easy to turn any Mac into a server by going to Apple menu > System Preferences > Sharing (or Spotlight “sharing”) and turning on any of the services you need. Your Mac will then show up in the “Shared” section of any Finder window. Boom, you got a server.
p>That said, when most people refer to a server, they’re talking about some machine that doesn’t do anything else, a box that’s tucked away, maybe in a rack or a closet, and always on, with a nice big battery backup, maybe a few hard drives, and fans like a wind tunnel. And most servers on the planet should be that robust; I need Google’s mail servers or my web server at GoDaddy never to go down, or at least, if they do need a reboot, that there’s a backup server waiting next to it in the data center to kick in as soon as its brother goes down.
A lot of businesses have one or more servers at the workplace. Sometimes they’re just file servers, a central repository for the documents that everyone needs access. Sometimes they’re also mail servers. Running your email through a Windows Exchange Server housed in your office was a popular option among Microsoft-certified professionals at a time when outsourced email hosts weren’t as flexible or affordable as they are now.
p>Again, to be clear: most organizations with fewer than 40 or 50 users would be wasting precious money to purchase Microsoft Small Business Server, when they can sign up with Google Apps either for free or for $50/user/year (40 users for $2,000/year, versus an easy $5,000 just to install and configure, not to mention maintain and troubleshoot, a Windows Server).
p>So let’s say you just need to share documents among more than 10 people, and you need them available all the time, and time without them costs money. Until this last Tuesday, the best value in a server-class machine was Apple’s Xserve.
p>Way powerful, way configurable, way manageable – The specs on each generation of Xserve have been increasingly impressive, and it starts at a $3,000 base price that has always included the $1,000 OS X Server (unlimited-client; Windows Server starts at 5 users, and costs $50 per user after that). Most Xserve buyers should expect to pay at least $5,000-6,000 for a properly configured unit with 3 hard drives, a redundant supply, external backups, and if one is smart, the AppleCare server support plan. I can usually have a new OS X Server set up, with a few connected workstations, in under 6 hours.
p>A Bit of History
p>Apple’s server software (a.k.a. server operating system, or “OS”) is Mac OS X Server, now in version 10.6 (a.k.a. Snow Leopard Server). For so many years, AppleShare server products (still promoted in Australia!) distinguished themselves in IT discourse only by being pretty crappy. It just didn’t have the moxy that system admins were used to getting from Microsoft Windows NT or its descendants. And when OS X Server came out — it was actually the first release of OS X — it was really more of a theory than an operating system. Even though it was built on the well-established UNIX platform, it was buggy and slow, and it had these really weird quirks that made it very frustrating. Certainly it was impossible for an IT administrator to recommend that a business rely on this system for their day-to-day operations.
p>Today, OS X Server has evolved into a robust, stable platform, one that’s easy to set up, easy to expand and scale, and like the basic OS X (we might call it “OS X client”), Server is impressively compatible with other platforms and standards. Since OS X Server and the Xserve came into their own, and given products such as Xsan and Final Cut Server, Apple is officially a viable player in the world of business and enterprise.
p>The Value of a Server
p>Is all of this worth several thousand dollars to your organization? It sure can be, once you realize the other things you can do with a server, which I’ll get to in a second. First, I have to say that this article is inspired by Apple’s announcement today of a Mac mini server. This $1,000 box is now potentially my favorite item in the entire product line, as I think it spells great things for businesses large and small. Considering that Apple has now slashed the price of the software itself to an unbeatable $500 for unlimited users, buying into a Microsoft server product now just seems unwise and wasteful.
p>So what can you do with a server? Check this out:
File Sharing, Network homes, and Backups: We can tie all of your Macs to your server so that the “home folder” for each user account is stored on the server. This means anybody can use any Mac in the house, and use their own desktop and files and email and settings. And if one computer dies, you put a new one in its place, log that person in, et voila! You’re back in business.
- Portable Home Directories: This includes laptops, which can sync their accounts to the server, backing themselves up whenever they’re in the office.
Software Updates: We can have the server download all your software updates, and the administrator can pick and choose which one should be rolled out. When someone logs in, even a non-admin user, they’ll have an opportunity to install the approved updates, and their Mac only has to go across the office network, not all the way back to Apple’s servers.
Preferences: You can choose apply settings for all users in one fell swoop: adding a printer, adding items to the Dock, or automatically mounting a share point [definition]; or perhaps restricting things along the order of parental controls, or preventing or allowing certain applications.
NetBoot & NetRestore: You can actually have your Macs start up from a disk image [definition] on the server. If you need to update all Macs, just update the image. A variation on this idea is to have the Macs install themselves from a central image.
p>Of all of these possibilities, certainly it is having a centralized place for data storage and backup, and for backing up your workstations, that makes in-house servers attractive, and possibly essential, for any organization of any size.
p>Keep your head in the cloud
p>I say possibly essential, because there are now services on the internet, such as Google Docs and DropBox, that have begun replacing server hardware for many people. I am all in favor of using these online applications, with the sole caution that we don’t rely on them to back up our data. It is crucial to keep an on-premises copy of every piece of data that means anything to you, just as keeping an offsite copy is de rigueur in any comprehensive backup scheme. I use a Firefox plug-in that downloads all my Google docs, and I backup that folder to an external hard drive.
p>But if you need fast, reliable storage that all your computers can see, to centralize your data and keep your Macs humming in unison, there’s nothing like a properly configured OS X Server.
<p style="font-size: 10px;"> <a href="http://posterous.com">Posted via email</a> from <a href="http://j2mac.posterous.com/do-we-need-a-server">J2 Tech Blog</a> </p>
p>I like it. I like the speed. I like the sturdiness. I like that I can finally put the muthaflippin date in the slipper-lickin menu bar.
p>Big and small changes have made upgrading to 10.6 worth my effort. The assessments I’m most in line with say that Apple has dug in the closet for all the projects they’ve put off in the decade of OS X’s existence, and even some ― like date-next-to-time ― that have lingered since the 1984 Mac.
p>Before I go farther, I want to restate our official recommendation to clients: If you don’t have a compelling reason to upgrade, please wait to install Snow Leopard. Let Apple release at least the 10.6.1 or 10.6.2 update, to ensure that you don’t get bit by any of the bigger bugs. And please make sure you have complete backups before you install. Also, there are a couple of additional installers at the end that you may need.
p>Since the arrival of 10.6, I have listened to some maligning of 10.5. But our experience with the penultimate system was really smooth. So for me, Apple really didn’t have that far to go. Still, onward and upward.
p>I’m not going to list the little glitches and speedbumps I’ve encountered, as they are almost all quite picayune; I’ll venture that most non-power users who get into 10.6 early will have a very good experience. That said, problem-havers are always the loudest voices, on the Internet as elsewhere, and sites such as macfixit.com detail the issues many are having. The one I’ll mention, which is pretty specific, is that many of the system hacks and tweaks I have come to rely on, especially SafariStand, don’t work reliably in Snow Leopard, because Apple has deprecated the InputManager API. Developers will hopefully be able to find a way around that, because I need my Safari AdBlock, bad!
p>Finally, I’m very happy to report that I have Snow Leopard Server running on my network, and am similarly very pleased with its smoothness. It was a nice excuse to clean out the cobwebs and the failed experiments. So far, network homes and portable homes work great, and no issues with permissions or file sharing. I haven’t gotten Address Book or Calendar Servers up, but I’ve barely tried. iChat Server is logging something weird that I can’t find a fix for in the forums.
p>Less than briefly,
This is a nice thing to do before running an iPhone software update.
1) Click on the iTunes menu, and go to Preferences…
2) Click on Devices.
3) In the list of Device Backups, with the dates, click on each of your backups, then below, click the button called Delete Backup.
4) In the left-hand column in iTunes, right-click on your iPhone, and click Backup.
LaCie wrote this free backup app called SilverKeeper a long time ago, and I quite liked it, but I had a hard time counting on it. It seemed like they weren’t serious about it. But they recently updated it to be a fully OS X Leopard-compatible, universal binary app. I’m testing it out now on a network volume, and will update this post with my findings.
Update: So far so good. I have SilverKeeper installed at a couple of environments, and it appears to be reliable and unobtrusive.
I started getting this really annoying error in iTunes, when trying to check for updates in the App Store:
“We could not complete your iTunes Store request. An unknown error occurred (5002). There was an error in the iTunes Store. Please try again later.”
I had resolved this once in the past by deleting and redownloading apps, but that didn’t work this time. So, since the 2.1 update seemed to go so well with just a straight “Update”, I thought I’d see if the iPhone backup process really was fixed. I didn’t mention in Parts I or II that the 2.0 backup-and-restore system, besides taking an obnoxiously long time, also failed to restore all the preferences to the phone, thus requiring at least a partial reconfiguration of my device.
After ensuring that my backups were turned on, and that the MobileSync folder had a recent backup (only 7.9MB!), your intrepid correspondent hit the Restore button in iTunes. And…
…It worked! The restore process itself was pretty quick, though It took a while to reïnstall all the apps and the music and the photos and the podcasts, but that’s due to my own particular digital gluttony. All my app preferences and other configs and address book and SMS messages and everything came back. All I had to do was reörganize the apps on the Springboard (they installed alphabetically, which is understandable, though I still want Apple to make that easy).
The stupid iTunes error remains. Last time, I tried changing my iTS password and reëntering my credit card info, according to suggestions in the Apple discussions, but that didn’t work, and I really don’t think that’s a reasonable fix, since Apple doesn’t let you use the same password that you’ve used in the last year.
I’m going to do further research on that, but the successful restore was worth an immediate post.
P.S. I like umlauts.
I have a G4 running 10.4. I upgraded the processor last year. It’s now panicking often. Blue screens. Freezes. Fun, fun. I am sure the original processor is somewhere, nearby, packed in a moving box. The only thing I really want to save on that tower is, predictably, my iTunes library which is on a 2nd hard drive which is mounted separately from the original disk. I suspect a new Mac will be purchased very soon. I have an original Drobo, but have yet to purchase drives for it. Allow the yelling about backing up to commence.
I’m a bit biased here, as I have always distrusted processor upgrades. They just seemed more trouble and expense than benefit. Now with the Intel machines, I figure they’re pretty much irrelevant.
Your G4 may be salvageable, but I really do think you need a new Mac. Bite that bullet, bubba. And to get your data off the G4, if it won’t boot to FireWire target disk mode by booting while holding down the “T” key, you can buy a Firewire enclosure or even better, a data cable such as this one, for the internal hard drives from which you need to rescue data.
Excellent work buying that Drobo. Now about those drives…
And then… BAAAAAAACCKK UPPPPPPPP!!!!
I haven’t gotten a chance to post my iPhone saga. Gonna do that next, but right here I just want to record that I was able to run the plain ol’ software update from within iTunes, and it went smooth as silk. So far, the phone is behaving, and backups in iTunes do happen a lot faster, as promised, so this post should be less relevant from here on out.
I haven’t put battery life to the full test. Here’s hoping…!