The End of macOS Server (from Monterey)

Another announcement has been made by Apple positively entitled “the future of macOS Server”; which of course is Apple speak for “destroying macOS Server”. As of April 21, 2022, Apple has discontinued macOS Server. Although existing customers can still keep running the final version (5.12.2), but this will not work beyond macOS Monterey. This means that macOS Server becomes more difficult to secure as a web facing service on an operating system that within a few years will likely remain unpatched as new security flaws are discovered and publicised. It’s time to move away now!

Apple suggest the use of third party MDM solutions, and documents integration of macOS into Azure AD, and Microsoft Active Directory. macOS supports integration into standard LDAP and Kerberos environments so user information could also be provided with something like 386 Directory Server on Linux, amongst other standards compliant solutions.

The Macintosh Rescue Solution

I enjoyed the convenience of Apple Profile Manager, and Open Directory, but I have decided to go without an MDM solution as it’s just myself and one other using this network at the moment. I will just use local user accounts on my modern Mac’s and Linux systems and free up resources on my network. I have an M1 Mac mini now spare!

Because I have a bit of a Macintosh museum going on here I have decided to implement Open Directory internally from my Mac OS X Server (Leopard) VirtualBox. To modernise the setup a little I have dug out a Mac OS X Server (Snow Leopard) package and am installing this operating system into another VirtualBox. Apple supports administering the old Mac OS X Server systems with admin tools from one significant Mac OS X version increment, which actually means that you get to expand the capabilities of the older server using the newer Server Admin Tools. My setup for vintage Mac management will be Mac OS X Server 10.5 (Leopard) administered from Mac OS X Server 10.6 (Snow Leopard). Once you start administering a Mac OS X Server with newer Server Admin Tools you must keep using the newer versions and cease using the Server Admin Tools included with the Mac OS X Server that you are administering.

My Logic

Using Mac OS X Server (Leopard) allows the broadest range of client version compatibility of any Apple Server release. The file sharing capabilities support classic Macintosh operating systems, allows one to NetBoot Mac OS 9 clients, and still share files with macOS Monterey.

By Administering from Mac OS X Server (Snow Leopard) I get to use the a latter version of Workgroup Manager with enhanced management capabilities without loosing compatibility. This setup will never be exposed to the internet, and is hosted on Apples last supported piece of server hardware: Mac mini 2012 (Server); this gives gigabit Ethernet capability to the VirtualBox hosted server operating systems, and I will probably get a spare on eBay to kit out with two SSD’s and use in the eventual inevitable failure. All my other service needs will be hosted on non Apple hardware likely running Linux of some kind.

Bye Bye macOS Server!